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Published: January 29th 2008
A Scuba Diving entry without underwater pictures? Yes, that's unfortunately, what we have here. I seemed to have completely forgotten my underwater camera(a Reefmaster Mini)
. Arriving to the dive shop I knew something was missing, but it certainly wasnt people! It was a very busy and crowded morning, with many different groups leaving at once. An intense multi-day Rescue Diver course, snorkelers and day divers. Soon we were loaded on the back of a truck with a wire cage, apparently a popular taxi along the Thai Coast?
The drive was an hour away, passing many portraits of the King, a few large trees and conversations of dive stories, bars and work. Finally arriving, I remembered a stink in the air. Yes, it was the sour and rich smell of a fishing village. On the plus side I also noticed a pleasant drop in temperature. We loaded up and made our way into the ocean. Technically it was the Gulf of Siam, and the lack of open ocean expsoure means you can dive 365 days a year here. While conditions are not like others in Thailand, the year round diving season made for very happy instructors!
Its a good thing, for we
were to dive the Hardeep- an old cargo ship sunk during WWII
. The Hardeep was a Thai boat that was anchored in Sattahip full of fuel for the Japanese army. This is when the Royal Air Force made their move and provides a glimpse into the courage of a world at war: Imagine 23 B-24 Bombers flying a 13 hour mission, 6 hours of flying from near Calcutta India, 20 minutes over targets and then 6 hours back to India. Now add monsoon weather, 10000 feet altitude and 4 massive 1000hp, 14 cylinder propeller engines. They badly damaged 6 ships and sunk 2 others- one being the Hardeep. Now it rests 26 meters deep on its side; covered in reef, littered with sponges and home to spotted blue rays. http://sphaydenphotography.com/images/hardeepx.jpg
We also dove a 10 meter reef that was fun, covered in black urchings with long spikes. I saw gigantic sponges, huge table hard corals, flourescent bluish crabs and colonies intersting marine worms. It was a great day diving and I was exhausted by late afternoon. I watched Thai fights that night at the Fairtex Arena, slept in the next day and still managed to catch the 10am bus to Suvarnabhumi Airport to catch
my flight back to Phnom Penh.
Thailand was a great experience, and I have a lot more of that country to see, especially the Andaman Coast and the Northern Areas. But I must also admit it felt like a lot of Thailand is purely built up from tourism offices. I saw highways and cities, franchises and fat people- the true signs of development. Russians, Europeans, Americans, Asians- the entrance to the Royal Palace was like Disneyland. Certain men dont even come for the Thai culture or the fantastic landscapes, instead they seek girlfriends for hire and parties. I think I just wasn't expecting anything negative like lots of development or such an interesting tourist scene. To be honest, I couldnt wait to get back to Cambodia, to the friendly faces and open arms of Khmer culture. I also can't wait to go back to Thailand!
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