Back to the future
We drove into Thailand without any problems or delays (if you want the nitty-gritty of the border crossing, you’ll have to go to the Thailand page), still on the left hand side of the road and all the additional official papers showing us we entered on 11 March 2556…
Thailand is pretty much our only beach destination, so we indulged in some sun, sea, sand, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Our first destination was Ko Phi Phi with a jetty full of tourist touts trying to sell you anything under the sun. We ignored them all and trudged on, determined to find our little bit of paradise. It was a long and sweaty walk past Long Beach to get there, with a killer hill at the end to climb to our accommodation, aptly named Hill Top Resort. A very basic bungalow is home for the next few days, the first and only accommodation we have paid for so far on our trip.
We went diving with Ann from Black Tip Diving, great to be under water again and so worth it! A sleepy leopard shark and a few turtles were some of the ‘bigger fish’ we saw, but Ann was also very good in spotting the smaller stuff like a very cool Blue Dragon (very pretty nudibranch).
As always after a few dives, we get enthusiastic and want to dive more! And then we read about the Similan Islands, only a little further north and the idea was born to go on a liveaboard and try to get our advanced diving certificate.
As both Nathan and Michael recommended we go to Railay Beach, we stopped there first. A great place to get our kayak wet for the first time in Thailand, we spent the whole day kayaking, swimming, slack-lining over water and relaxing. And I might have snuck in another Thai massage too! Thanks to Chul we found a lovely spot for dinner and camping, yet another super friendly random person who started talking to us and gave us so many tips and advice.
Then we reach Khao Lak, a little village on the Andaman Sea that was severely hit by the tsunami back in 2004. They still have a massive metal police boat lying in the same location where the tsunami wave dumped it, about 500m inland! They now have several levels of warning systems in place, including beach alarms and signs to show you were to go when a tsunami warning is issued.
We booked ourselves onto a 2-day liveaboard and then found a little overland heaven on a beautiful strip of beach without hotels and resorts. It just had a few tiny local thatched roof restaurants and 3 overland trucks! We met Ana Laura and Hubert with their colourful Iveco 4wd ambulance called Daktari, Suzanna and Peter with their very flash home made Brech (Italian truck) and Gisella and Lorenz with their enormous truck called Logi.
Great people who all happily spoke English when we were around, even though they all spoke (Swiss) German. It was fantastic to hear their stories, but I think Jon was happiest when Suzanna told him she had been able to buy muesli pretty much everywhere… Now I am also allowed to eat muesli for breakfast 🙂
Our last night together was spent in a small circle created by our cars as we had to move for the stage of the biggest reggae singer in Thailand, a loud but very nice evening.
Diving was amazing, especially the first 2 dives on Richelieu Rock, I don’t think I have ever seen so many soft corals in one location, with schools of fish, anemones, nudibranches and eels everywhere you looked! I could dive there every day and still see new things.
Unfortunately we missed out on the mantas at Koh Bon, but we saw another 2 banded snakes instead. Annie was our super enthusiastic instructor who, despite feeling a bit sick, answered our million and one questions. As we were studying in between dives we didn’t have much time for relaxing and sleeping, but we were quite happy with that.
We completed our deep dive first (one of the 2 compulsory dives for Advanced), both passing the math test at 28m. Annie told us we didn’t need the Peak Buoyancy Performance, so we did the night, navigation (the other compulsory one), fish identification and multi-level / computer dives to complete our 5 dives and tests.
And now we are both Advanced Divers!!! Unfortunately we probably won’t be diving for the rest of the year as we have now left the coast until we get to Turkey.
You can enjoy what we saw as well as Jon has made a short movie (3.58 min) about our time in Thailand: Sun, Sea, Sand and Scuba. Have fun watching.