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!
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.
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 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!