Somehow I've managed to avoid the Similans for nearly 5 years, each year after hearing reports from friends I'd promise myself a trip during the next season, November to March is the best time for diving off the West Coast of Thailand. I'd then either be in South America, or recovering from dengue - I deserve a little more sympathy for the second reason. This year life has been about building the business in Kuala Lumpur, although I get a lot less freedom, it also allows for a little more stability and enables planning. This year I booked a liveaboard in advance!
The gateway to the Similans is the Thai town of Koh Lak, itself home to some interesting wreck dives (next time) - and a couple of nice long beaches, and a few resorts popular with German tourists. (Strange how little sub-areas of Thailand become popular with certain nationalities, you can't swing a Go-go girl in Kata beach, Phuket without hitting a Swede - and the Brits seem to flock to Patong...)
The M/V Mariner One was home for a week, operated by Seadragon Dive Center
(happy to recommend) - the boat was clean, staff friendly and hard working, divemasters
enthusiastic about every dive including the night-dives... Meals were prepared and magically appear between dives, scuba equipment was whisked from my back the moment I stepped back on the boat, washing up was done on my behalf, and all I had to concentrate on is the diving.
I love liveaboards. According to my spellchecker it's not even a word - neither is spellchecker but that's by the by, back on topic - I love liveaboards.
This was my second time on a liveaboard, the first being to an as un-yet blogged location back in 2008, I'd promised myself since that time I'd go again. For seven blissful days my phone doesn't work, I can't connect to the net, I'm away from everything and everyone except my fellow divers.
During the week I made 17 dives, all of them were stunning. Highlights included Richalloue Rock, chasing after a whale-shark (which was never found) surrounded by a huge pod of dolphins (seen only from the boat - those guys move so fast), I finally saw Harlequin Shrimp, and found some form again with my underwater photos. The underwater topography of the region is stunning, granite boulders forming areas for
fish to hide and divers to explore, and underwater visibility was generally 20+m.
If you're a diver and you haven't gone on a liveaboard or to the Similans - I recommend them both.
Such a great week, thanks to my fellow divers; Matteo, Antonio, Michelle, Chris, Tet, Steffi and Daniel for the company during the week, thanks to the wonderful crew of Mariner One and our DM Lizzie.
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