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Published: February 13th 2011
It’s been a long time since I last wrote and told you all how I was doing... but there has been a good reason (ish!) for my slack blogging skills – i’ve not been travelling! Let me explain.
I arrived on Koh Lanta at the end of November and since then have not budged. In fact I have been on Koh Lanta now for 80 days... and I love it here. When I last wrote I had just arrived with Jason (more about Jason later) and we did a few touristy things before he left and I started my dive master training. Well I am now a PADI certified dive master and have been working as a freelance dive master on Koh Lanta for the past few weeks. I have loved every minute spent under water. Let me go back a bit further though and explain what’s been going on!
Once I had arrived I rented a motorcycle (a must for this island as it is long and thin and to get about you need wheels.. and i’m not about to start cycling in this heat!) I found a lovely ‘apartment’ style place to live – not the bamboo
hut on the beach that you might have pictured in your head, but rather, a bright green apartment on the side of the road opposite a mosque (I have learnt to sleep through the 5.30 AM call to prayer!) with t.v, fridge, ac and fan but bizarrely no sink! (I bought a bucket!) And then I started my DMT (dive master training – I have all the ‘lingo’ now!!)at Blue Planet Divers. And i’ve loved it!! . It took me just under two months to complete the course (including 5 exams – one of which was physics!! and a ‘stress’ test – you have to exchange your equipment with another diver whilst under water, sharing a regulator whilst a few other things might be thrown your way to see if you can deal with stress!) and now I am getting a bit of work with Blue Planet and a few other dive shops on the island... and I LOVE it. I’m getting paid to guide people around these beautiful sites showing them amazing marine life – it is so peaceful under water, I really love it... my only complaint is that i’d like to be working more!
The whole crazy bunch!
The Blue Planet Team at our Christmas Party
Christmas Day on the beach with a few mates and then had christmas supper with my friends at Blue Planet.. i even got a roast dinner!! (minus the meat since i'm being pescatarian at the moment!!) We even had a Blue Planet Christmas Party (i was Santa's elf!) and a big party (any excuse for a party!!) I then spent New Years Eve in style at a beach bar surrounded by all the lovely people i've met on this island.. it got very messy and i ended up dancing on the bar at Ozone.. sober!!! ha ha brilliant! (start the year as you mean to go on!!)
I must tell you about the 3 day sailing trip I did with my mates here. One of my very good friends here (Called Chops due to his massive lamp chops!!) has a sail boat and so he took me and three other mates (Hannah, James and Ollie) for a little trip. It was such a laugh. I slept under the stars surrounded by nothing but beautiful blue sea, twinkly stars in a clear black sky and the occasional uninhabited island/craggy rock jutting out of the sea! It really was idyllic. We
New Years Eve 2010
CHops, Me, James and Hannah.. my lovely friends!
had some very memorable moments during those three days;
• My 100th dive, which I did (as is tradition) naked (well almost naked!) with Chops as my witness!!
• The marine toilet seemed a little redundant so every time we needed the loo we either went off the back deck (if we were moored up) or rather more amusingly, when we were moving, we’d don our fins, masks and snorkels, jump in behind the boat, grab onto the dinghy rope and go whilst being dragged behind the boat. The only problem with this was trying to get back into the boat after the deed was done. For Hannah and Ollie this didn’t seem to prove too much of a problem – they just nimbly leapt back on board... I however am not known for my nimble-ness (!?) and had rather more problems! Most of the time i’d get dragged behind the dinghy whilst trying to breath between hysterical laughter and either beach myself on the side of the dinghy and then flop in or have to get dragged aboard. Not my most graceful moment I have to say... but definitely an amusing one!! So the sailing trip was definitely a
• Wandering about an uninhabited island near where we were moored up.
• Cleaning the underside of the boat with little scrapers and scuba tanks and then when we’d finished watching all the sergeant major fish coming in to eat all the little shrimps we’d unearthed!
It really was such an amazing trip and one I won’t forget in a hurry.
Talking of things I won’t forget in a hurry... my snorkel test – this occurred when I finished my DMT and it is a tradition that the person finishing their training receives a little ‘test’. This usually involves and obscene amount of alcohol which is usually funnelled down a snorkel into the waiting mouth of the poor trainee. However, as a lot of you know I don’t drink and so right from the start it promised to be a little different! I finished my course at the same time as a lovely guy from Belgium called Steve (well actually his name is David but when he arrived to do the course there were too many David’s so someone said he should be called Steve... and it stuck!!) Anyway. Steve and I did our snorkel test together –
it was in the style of ‘i’m a celebrity get me out of here!’ – What this meant was that I got gross things to eat and if I didn’t do it Steve had to drink! I ended up drinking a weird mushed up Thai herb concoction that was greeny/black in colour and then a glass of fish sauce (I gagged so much a bucket was bought out!!) however I turned down whizzed up fish liver (oh my god that smelt!) a cockroach (I don’t eat meat.. well that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it!) and another glass of something that looked and smelt disgusting! Poor Steve... he got drunk!! We also had to do a few other ‘games’ one involving me wearing a white t-shirt and getting water squirted at me (!) and a lot of sand!! It was a really great evening and a fun way of ending my course.
Recently there was the Andaman Freediving Competition. It was held at a local resort by Blue Planet Divers and one of my great friends here was competing. It was amazing; these crazy competitors have to hold their breath for extraordinary lengths of time whilst diving to
depths that i haven’t even dived to with a scuba tank!! I watched on the day they did at the pool – which was riveting (i think any sport where there is a chance a person could pass out and possibly die is always going to be exciting to watch!!) ... Anyway it was a great day at the end of which my mate Jim came second – he rocked it! And of course the day was finished off with a big knees up at a local bar!! Woo hoo.
As you can see i’ve made some great friends out here. But I’ve also had some surprise visits from friends back home which has been really nice. My mate Vern dropped into Lanta on his way through Thailand so I hung out with him and a few of his sailing buddies (he was sailing from Malaysia to Phuket – I think?!) and then a mate from London had her honeymoon in Thailand and so I hung out with her and her new husband for a day or two which was fun. More recently my lovely mum and dad came to stay which was amazing. They stayed in the south
The sailing gang
The best group of sailing buddies you could wish for.. it was such a laugh!! (way too many photos to put on here sadly!)
of the island in a very fancy resort and so I got to hang out with them and see ‘how the other half live’ here on the island!!! It was so much fun and I am so glad they came – we snorkelled, walked on the beach, ate delicious food and played cards... I even tried to take them for a spin in a tuktuk but gave up on that idea when I managed to send the tuktuk careering down a hill backwards landing with us all in a ditch a millimetre away from a dangerous drop!! Not one of my finer driving moments but good for a laugh afterwards!! I did, however, manage to get both mum and dad on the back of my moped which was hysterical! (Not at the same time I hasten to add!!) And as you can well imagine, they spoiled me rotten the whole 10 days they were here and I was very sad to see them go (as was my stomach!)
Not long after mum and dad left a guy called Phil arrived. I met Phil in Udaipur in India last year and he popped into Lanta on another of his travels
hanging off the back of a moving sailing boat
Going to the loo was easy.. the hard part was getting back on the boat!
which was really nice... I even persuaded him to do an open water dive course!!
So as you can see, i’ve not been on my own here!! Far from it; besides all the people i’ve seen from the UK I spend every evening here with the lovely friends i’ve made on the island, and am even discussing meeting some of them in other parts of the world for more travels!! .. I’ll keep you posted!
So 2 months doing my DMT and then 2 weeks working and here (maybe 3 actually?) I am waiting for Jason to come and visit again. Remember him? I met him in Krabi (at the top of Tiger Temple and we travelled to Lanta via Au Nang and Phi Phi?) anyway he is coming back out to spend 3 weeks with me so I reckon I will be leaving the island to do some more Thai travel with him. After 3 months here I am getting itchy feet, and whilst I love the diving and the island itself I am ready to move on and explore some pastures new... I can always come back!!! But in the mean time I will be getting
more of a tan, eating more great food, diving, diving and more diving, and spending my time with great people, of whom there seems to be an endless supply out here!
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