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Diving, diving, diving…

Have been in Thailand for a week now and am loving it. Love the sounds of the birds and insects (except the mosquitoes) all day and all night, the frogs pretty much put on a rock concert after the sun goes down. I forgot how much I missed that living in Oregon.

I usually get to the shop around 7am and start helping get gear set up and sorted. I asked one of the instructors, Andy from Germany with years and years of experience in almost all realms of diving, what he suspected was wrong with my camera. He reckons it might be the moisture as anything electronic doesn’t survive long in the humidity. His suggestion was to buy a bag of rice and stick it inside, try and suck out the moisture and see if there is an improvement.

However, another friend in Australia who does underwater photography fears that it might have been the pressure in the airplane when I checked the camera in my bag, and the sensor might be shot. Mmmmmmm, what to do. Just have to wait and see.

Kittens

When I arrived Momma cat had a litter of 4 kittens about a week old and now they are almost qualifying as real cats. Momma has brought them down from her hiding place and they are super cute, endless entertainment as you watch them learn and grow.

Ginger and Spot

Ginger and Spot

Shy girl peeping from behind.

Shy girl peeping from behind.

Momma Cat, note her left eye it is blue and brown.

Momma Cat, note her left eye it is blue and brown.

Diving With Gem

Gem is a Thai instructor at the shop and I got to dive with her and a student doing his open water course. Gem insisted that I cut my weights down and by the 2nd dive I had gone from 6.4 to 3.2Kg. I realised that diving in cold water you tend to control your bouyancy with your BCD (the jacket that inflates) vs your breathing like you do in warm water. It is a whole new set of skills to learn.

She also has impeccable hand signals, very clear and precise, will have to try pick up some tips from her in that regard.

As we were going down the float line we saw a whale shark, incredible as always! Later nearer the end of the dive we heard a very excited diver making noises, and turned to see another whale shark in the distance. It’s almost as awe inspiring to see them at a distance as it is to see them up close.

On the second dive I literally looked a whale shark in the eye, time seemed to slow and I felt captivated by what ever intelligence there was in there. The spell was broken when I was kind of muscled out of the way by another diver trying to follow it. Seeing whale sharks tends to make certain folks oblivious to everyone else. Unfortunately our student was low on air and we had to surface so we weren’t able to follow him.

Coconuts and Monkeys

Back at the shop I got a fright when coconuts started dropping from the trees. John said that the monkey was up there picking the ripe ones. I was about to tell him it’s not nice to say something like that just because a guy can climb a coconut palm, when I looked up…

monkey picking coconuts

monkey picking coconuts

The trainer

The trainer

Apparently, monkeys are trained to climb up and pick ripe coconuts which are then taken away and sold or used. It certainly is a great way of preventing more coconut related injuries, they are really quite hazardous to your health unless mixed with alcohol…

Driving…kind of

Managed to putt-a-putt to the 7-11 about a minute down the road for everyone else, about 3min for me. Am starting to get the hang of the bike and might even have some freedom at some point. Woohoo!

After packing my bags I went for a shower and nearly had a heart attack as I discovered I had a shower mate, who seemed to want to hang out and watch.

Shower mate, about 30cm/1ft long

Shower mate, about 30cm/1ft long

and soooo handsome!

and soooo handsome!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Thailand, Travel

 

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Learning to Ride…

Practice Makes Perfect

Since my failed attempt to ride the motobike the day before I was very leery about trying again. But with my smaller, purple bike that comes with a basket and lots of encouragement from others I decided to give it a try.

I started by doing short bursts up and down the Lotus dirt driveway, it has a circular form so I could try go round it and then back. I did that a few times and then it was decided I had to try on a longer road. Marc, the divemaster from Belgium, took me on Lucy Liu (my purple bike), down the road to the temple, got off the bike, pointed into the distance and said “go!”. Ummmm, ok. I went up and down a couple of times and then we rode back.

Carol did the same for me later in the afternoon. The first time I looped back and headed to her the look on her face made me wonder if I would ever learn to ride. She looked downright terrified for my safety and everyone else’s. Oh Lordy…..

Ricardo, my instructor, came to the shop in the late afternoon after doing a visa run to Koh Samoi, a neighboring island, and wanted to see my progress. He made me go back and forth a number of times and by the end of it I could go in a straight line reasonably well and with at least some confidence. I still put my feet out and turn manually and stopping usually involves braking, putting my feet down on either side and waddling the bike to a stop. Practice, practice and more practice.

Cafe Del Mar

One of the local places here in Chaloklum is Cafe Del Mar, run by Hinch and Francis, a Dutch couple. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday they have all you can eat, first come first serve, till it runs out meals for good prices. Marc and Linda from Belgium took me to my first visit there for roast pork, roast potatoes and coleslaw… We got there just in time to get the last few servings and it was some of the best food I had tasted for a while. It’s funny how you don’t even realise you crave western style comfort food when traveling in the east.

Cafe Del Mar is also located right on the beach so got to sit around and drink rum and pineapple juice while listening to the ocean. I could get used to this!

Sail Rock

The next day was my first dive to the famous Sail Rock, apparently the best dive site in the gulf of Thailand. 45mins from Chaloklum by boat, you reach an unassuming haystack type rock sticking out of the ocean, in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t seem overly big and rather unimpressive until you go below the water.

I can’t even list all the amazing creatures we saw, photos will help though and later I will add a video or two.

Me!

The Water Was Literally THICK With Fish

Me Looking At Bat Fish

Me Looking At…..

At This… Little Goby

One of the most nerve racking things we saw were Bull Sharks. In South Africa they are known as Zambezi Sharks and have a tendency to swim up rivers for many many miles and also have a tendency of tasting the locals. I grew up never going to swim as the mouth of a river, especially at dusk or dawn (usual feeding times), never swimming across a river near the mouth if there was another option to get across and here I was swimming with them. But apparently these are friendly Bull Sharks.

Bull Shark

Bull sharks had not been seen around these parts for over 7 years. But around 4mths ago a net, most likely dropped by a drunk fisherman, covered a large portion of the rock and trapped many fish. Divers from all around joined the effort to remove the net and save as many fish as they could. 2 days later 10 bull sharks were sighted. It’s believed the vibrations made by the dying fish attracted them…

Thai For Dinner

Back at the shop the rain was pissing on and off and so we couldn’t get any bike training in. For dinner I walked to a local place opposite the 7 11 store that Ricardo had recommended and ordered the chicken lemongrass salad. It was delicious! While I was sitting there I started to chat to a Swiss couple who were seated at the next table. Before I knew it I had booked them for diving the next day… and a nice little commission of 400baht (about $11 US) was coming my way. Might not seem like a lot but since dinner only cost 70baht, that would cover a number of meals in the future.

Home and sleep, utterly exhausted with another day on the boat in the morning!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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