The Return to Thailand: Sun, Sea, Sand and Scuba
Trip Start Apr 09, 2010
23Trip End Sep 07, 2010
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We landed in Bangkok, after an easy 40 minute flight on our mini prop plane and went through to yet another departure lounge. A short wait and we were on our way to Surat Thani, landing in time to get the connecting bus and boat to Koh Pha Ngan, where we spent a night before boarding a catamaran to our intended destination. 1300km in just under 24 hours.
The catamaran over to Koh Tao was packed full of promoters trying to get you to stay and dive at their resort. Luckily this gave us an opportunity to mull the various options over before deciding to stay with Ban's. We disembarked, checked out what they had to offer, haggled hard and came out with 5 nights in an air-con room and 4 days doing our PADI Open Water course for just under ₤180. Back of the net.
Another bonus was that we had planned to meet up with some Uni friends on the island, and after a couple of missed messages and guesthouse hunting up and down the beach we found them. It was great to see them all, although a bit surreal at first but a few beers and we could have been back in Nottingham, except we were on a beach and the sun was setting. Ace. We had planned to start our diving the following afternoon, so after a good nights sleep in the comfort of air-conditioned luxury we met up with Lizzie, Louisa and Jess for breakfast before getting a boat taxi to a secluded bay for some ray-catching and snorkeling
That afternoon we met up with our instructor Rich and the rest of our diving class in the classroom. No joke, it was like being back at school, even down to the cheesy educational videos and homework. We were given our PADI 'Diving for Beginners' textbooks and spent the afternoon and the evening learning the basic physics of diving. Fun. Luckily we met up with the girls again for a farewell dinner, as they were leaving for Koh Phi Phi the following day.
The following morning was spent learning about our scuba gear and practicing our 'diving skills' in the pool. We even had to complete a swimming test - I'm pretty certain there were a few Americans that couldn't actually swim, and were hanging on to the side whilst 'treading water'. Trust the yanks. Once we'd got to grips with the equipment we headed back to the classroom for our orientation for our first dive, which would be 7:30 the next morning. We were ordered to stay off the booze, and unnerved by stories of 'the bends' we complied with an early night.
Diving is awesome. There are no words for it. It is honestly like being in another world. We did two dives that morning and we were both hooked the moment we hit the water. Its amazing how much life is down there, even though on our first dives we only went to a maximum on 12m it was still quite incredible. After a big lunch - diving knackers you out from all the nitrogen you absorb whilst your down there - we hit the classroom for our 'final exam' which you had to pass to get your diving license. Rowe & Clegg topped the class, of course they did.
Our final dives took place the morning after - taking us down to 18m, which allowed us to see even more than we had the previous day
That night we proceeded onto our night dive, which was exactly what you would expect
All scuba-ed out, we headed over to Koh Pha Ngan - party island. We were gutted that we'd missed full moon owing to the Bangkok bust-up, being sick in Laos and being unwilling to miss too much of Cambodia, but we planned instead on hitting up Black Moon, which we heard was just as good but had a more 'trancey vibe'. Good. After sunning ourselves during the day at our beach resort (we decided to splash out $30 a night on a deluxe room in a posh resort- Sarikantang) we prepared for black-moon with a stomach lining dinner, both of us complaining of a sore throat- more on that later.
We headed for Haad Rin beach for some warm-up buckets - a bottle of whiskey with Coke and Red Bull in a plastic bucket, all for about $2
Anyway, we woke up the next morning with phosphorescent (twice in one entry - impressive) faces from the paint, sore heads but more painfully, sore throats. Putting it down to a bad hangover Jen made it out for breakfast whilst James made it to the beach late on in the day, still unable to shrug off the sore throat. The following morning James couldn't swallow without feeling like Afghanistan was happening inside his throat. We extended our stay by an extra night and made our way to the doctors where he diagnosed James with a bout of Tonsilitus. Brilliant. $100 worth of pain killers and anti-biotics later (free, thanks to the insurance) we left and used the DVD player in our room and the DVDs we bought in Vietnam to good effect. The antibiotics worked their magic and feeling slightly better we departed for Koh Phi Phi the next day.