I have been a bit of a slacker & not updated what we were doing.
K & I are now back in Europe, but in different countries; he's off on a sailing weekend in Germany & i'm in France chez the Parental Sins (was in severe need of my winter clothes & they're all in boxes here - think i mentioned that before)
I think i left off in Ko Phi Phi (seems like a distance memory now that i am sitting here in a sweater with the heating on, looking out on a grey & drizzly day)
I wasn't keeping my journal towards the end of the trip, so things are a bit hazy. I will try my best to remember what we did...
Day 61: Tuesday 10th November
This was our last full day in Ko Phi Phi. K went diving, I had a Thai massage and in the evening we met up with K's dive instructor & co diver (Rob) and proceeded to have a stupid night. And yes, it did involve bucket cocktails...
Day 62: Wednesday 11th November
Luckily, I hadn't booked ourselves on the 9am ferry to Phuket; we were on the 2:30pm. This meant checking out of our bungalow, having breakfast, hanging out on the beach & then making our way to the ferry.
In Phuket, we were met (eventually) by the driver from Khao Lak Scuba Adventures who took us to Khao Lak - about 3 hours from Phuket port. Once there, we filled out loads of forms & waited around for a while & then boarded out liveaboard. For those of you who haven't heard of liveaboards, they are boats for divers where you live & breathe diving. We had booked ourselves on a 4 night/4 day trip to the Similan Islands; which included 15 dives for K & snorkelling for me.
At around 7pm, we boarded our boat (Manta Queen II) and headed out to the Similans (one of the world's best dive spots, apparently. Jacques Cousteau has been here, so it MUST be good!)
Day 63 - 66 (Thurs. 12th to Sun. 15th November)
This was our liveaboard time. Everyday involved diving, sleeping, eating & maybe a few beers in the evening. There were 19 customers onboard & 18 were divers. And there was me, the only snorkeller, but it actually turned out OK. The boat crew looked out for me & i had my own tuk tuk dinghy that picked me up when i'd had enough snorkelling. As a snorkeller though, i saw pretty much the same things every time as i was always at the same (surface) level. The divers, however, saw loads of amazing things as they could go anywhere up to 30m deep. K told me about eels, shark, octopuses (octopi? Never sure which is correct...), beautifully coloured coral and that's just a few of the things he saw. Me, i saw squirrel fish, box fish, parrot fish & Nemos (anenome clown fish) It was a really good experience - the staff on board were really nice & helpful and the other divers were all really nice people.
Once we got back on Sunday evening, we met up with 2 other couples who were also staying in Khao Lak and had dinner & drinks. It was a fun evening, but i had really bad land sickness. Never thought about it - but i had got so used to being on the boat that once i got off & i felt dizzy & nauseous for about 24 hours. Was a really bizarre feeling.
Day 67 - 71 (Mon. 16th to Friday 21st November)
Once we got our feet back on dry land & after 4 intense days of diving, K decided that he wanted to continue his diving education & enrolled in a rescue diver course. This involved him first doing an Emergency First Response (EFR) course for one day, then 2 days of rescue diving. Both course meant lots of role-playing & dealing with panicking/unconscious divers. I had a quick flick through his manual, and it seems that most problems occur because of diver carelessness or over confidence. Just goes goes to show that you should never EVER underestimate the power of the ocean.
And while K was doing his rescue course, what was i doing?
Believe it or not, i was attempting once more to get my Open Water Diving License. And guess what? This time i actually passed it! I AM A LICENSED DIVER!!!!! WOOHOO! It wasn't easy & it was a touch and go for a little while, but once i had got through the skills (ie taking and replacing my mask off underwater or practicing an emergency swimming ascent) and gone underwater in the ocean, i was a lot calmer & began to enjoy diving a lot more.
Day 72 (Saturday 21st November)
K & me went diving together! We had a day trip out to the Similan Islands, had two dives & had Irish Dave the Dive Master as our guide (in K's course, Dave was the panicking victim for the role plays - was really nice having a Dive Master that we both knew & knew us - me the nervous diver, K the eager rescue diver).
On the first dive, K was in full Rescue Diver mode & was constantly checking to see if i was OK. With both him & Dave checking, i felt really safe & relaxed a lot more. It was also relaxing knowing i didn't have to practice/pass any skills. I could just enjoy the view.
On the second dive, K was a lot more relaxed too, knowing that i was OK. And so we both had a great day. It was so cool that i could finally enjoy diving with K. I wish i had managed to get my licence earlier in our travels, but i don't think i would have been ready. I needed to do a lot more snorkelling & build my confidence in the water before i tackled diving again. And the liveaboard experience was the turning point for me, as i was snorkelling on my own in the ocean. I felt a lot more comfortable in/with the water & could quite easily jump off the boat into the sea. Bear in mind that at the beginning of the holiday, i could only swim in shallow water...so i have come a long way during our 2 months travelling!
Day 73 (Sunday 22nd November)
This was our last full day in Thailand. And in Asia. And on holiday.
We actually didn't do much either. Just relaxed & enjoyed our last day there. We would have gone diving again if we could, but because of pressure changes & other technical stuff, you can't fly 18-24+ hours after diving. We decided to stay safe & have a mellow day - and even packed our bags the night before.
That meant we could enjoy our last evening in Khao Lak...
Day 74 (Monday 23rd November)
We had booked a taxi for 5am. We woke up at 5:30am.
Luckily, the taxi driver was still waiting for us, so we threw ourselves together (thank goodness we'd packed our bags!!!) Drove to Phuket airport, flew to Bangkok. Had 4 hours in Bangkok, then flew to Dusseldorf & back to reality again.
Was a long day, but it was a relatively easy day. Bangkok airport is well designed and it's really easy to change from domestic to international flights; just have to go up a few escalators. The only downer were the 2 annoying kids sitting behind us. They were constantly kicking our seats, moaning, fighting & basically all round little brats. I finally complained (politely) to their mother when one of the kids ended up UNDER my seat and was grabbing my flip flops. They were a bit quieter after that, but it made the 12 hour flight seem a lot longer...
And that was our great adventure. It was a great trip; sometimes frustrating, sometimes really hard, but mostly fascinating, inspiring, relaxing, and fun. I am really glad we went & i really had a wonderful time & met really lovely people pretty much everywhere we went. And i think that will be my overwhelming memory from this trip - the people. However, considering the fact that K & I did pretty much no sightseeing (e.g. we visited absolutely no temples) and spent much of our time diving/snorkelling/relaxing, people are the only local culture that we encountered. Then again, people ARE the culture.
But, yes, it was a fantastic adventure. And i want to go again...