A Travellerspoint blog

Pants

sunny 34 °C

Pants are rare and scarce these days. If you find a good pair of pants that are comfy, be sure to hold onto them with two hands. I have some pairs that I bought from Penneys before I left and they are the dogs knees. Except for that one pair that went crazy in the Jungle.
So I say to you now, do not take a steady supply of pressed parched pants for granted. There are some days when a pair of dry pants is like a far off dream. :)

Posted by squeakylee 00:54 Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Chau Doc - Vietnam (Part 2)

sunny 34 °C

The next day we got up relatively early! (lol) And went off to explore the market where we had great fun with some of the Vietnamese ladies. One of them wanted to run off with James. I was tempted to trade him in for a kilo of Lychees but decided against it. After all, he does have a smashing beard. ;)

We went looking for a place for lunch and finally found some type of noodle bar. There was tres little on the menu again for me (yesterday I had to put my pork in Jim’s bowl) (ooh er missus). So I decided to order the one thing that had “(no meats)” written after it. Jim ordered some porky dish (they’re mad about pork). Boy did I look a right tit, when out came a small plate of chips for me!!! I had ordered chips. LOL. I tried to pretend like I had meant to order chips as the waitress lady looked at me with amusement. We hung onto them though and Jim shared his pork around. (fnar)

After more marketeering and wandering aboot, we headed back to the ranch. We booked one of the Mekong Tours at reception. There are plenty of tours around the Mekong Delta. We weren’t sure whether or not we would do one or not, but the tours we were looking at were covering the exact areas that we had planned to hit and apparently it is a lot cheaper to do the tours than to do it yourself.
After reading that some of the private boat hires can cost up to $25 an hour, we decided to do a 3 day tour. It cost $28 each and basically included all accommodation, bus transfers, entrance fees etc from Chau Doc to Ho Chi Minh City. It brings us on a tour of Chau Doc, then on to Cantho (120km)and includes tours of Cantho, Mytho, trips to a coconut candy mill, floating markets etc etc and the bus fare to HCMC. Wowsers. Bargaintown. I can’t comment on the rest of the tour as we have only gotten to Cantho today. (as I write this I mean).

So with our tour booked, we went up, showered and I promptly fell asleep! So Jimbob worked away on a track and when Queen Talulah woke up, we went out for some more grub. Jim was disappointed with his hot pot.
I found ten thousand dong on the street (about 60c). woohoo!
Lol
It’s the simple things right.. ? ;)

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Posted by squeakylee 00:50 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Chau Doc - Vietnam (Part 1)

When I was in Nam...

sunny 33 °C

Well finally we made it out of Feckin Cambodia!
Up at the crack of dawn, we got a bus to another big bus. This drove us through some lovely Cambodian countryside and then dropped us at the ‘ferry’! (A house with a wooden walkway out the back. The ferry itself was a small boat with seats for maybe 20 people. It was hella cool!)

So after stocking up on bread and cheese rolls, we piled and we were off. It was a really relaxing journey down the Bassac river (a tributary of the Mekong). The river is very wide and quite brown and very busy with fishing boats, passenger boats and tiddly boats. There were wooden houses on stilts and houses made from corrugated iron all the way along the riverside. Young chaps were chest high in water doing some fishing and small children waved at us all the way down the river.

The boat stopped briefly to drop off about 20 bicycles that had been stashed up on the roof! Then on we went to the next stop where we were all signed out of Cambodia. Then it was back into the boat for another ten minutes. Our next stop was Vietnam immigration. We had a half hour for lunch on the Vietnam side. We were led down to a small restaurant where we had some noodle soup with pork. We chatted to these two South African ladies beside us. They were on a three week holiday through Cambodia & Nam. They said they immediately noticed the difference upon crossing the border. Thinking they meant that the Nam side was a lot brighter and smilier, I totally agreed! But they meant the opposite. They thought the Cambodian people were a bit smilier. Even though it was way too earlier for me or them to make such a judgement, I knew I was right. ;) Nam was indeed brighter.

So we got back our passports and headed to another boat, that took us all the way down the Bassac River into Chau Doc. Along the way there were plenty more young chappies in the water fishing and tons more small children and adults waved and shouted ‘hello’ at us. The shouting ‘hello’ was to become a regular thing. Everyone does it! Gringos are celebs here.

Our tour guide on the boat was a rather lovely but sweaty young Vietnamese lady. She changed our dosh into dong for us and basically divided us into two groups – those who wanted to stay in the hotel in town she was recommending, or those who wanted to stay in the hotel out of town that she was also recommending. He he. Since we had already planned to go to the one in town that she was selling, we got a free lift to the Vinh Phuoc Hotel. :) She also gave us lots of bumpf on Mekong tours that we happily perused.

The hotel room itself was huge. In Nam there is some type of confusion between getting a single room (a room with one large bed in it) or a double room (a room with two large beds in it). We got to look at them first though and seeing as how the big room with the two beds had a WINDOW!!!, a TV (that didn’t work) and was only 2 dollars extra, we splashed out on the $8 room. We dumped our stuff and had showers, whereupon Jim promptly fell asleep. Oops. Anywho, I worked away on a track and later on when Queen Talulah woke up, we went out for some grub. We were well lubed up with mosquito juice and good enough for us, there was tons of ‘em around.

Vietnamese food is not as delicious as Thai food imo (not much is) and there isn’t as much veggie options for me. I ordered some rice, shrimps & veg and Jimbob had some pork in fish sauce cooked in a clay pot (one of their star dishes no less). We washed it all down with the best tasting beer in the land – Saigon Lager Beer. Wow. It’s my new favourite beer. :)

After dinner we went in search of more beers and as we were walking down the street, we heard an almighty crash. One guy on a motorbike had crashed into a moped carrying two ladies and a little girl. It all happened in slow mo really. The second lady fell off and so did her bag of spuds. Then the little girl seemed to roll off too. Noone was hurt luckily but everyone in the street ran over to see what was going on, and there was tons of monosyllabic loud talking.

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Posted by squeakylee 00:46 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Phnomh Penh - Cambodia

PP = wee wee

rain

We jumped in a bus, got brought to another bus, jumped in that bus and got brought to another bus, then jumped in that bus and were on our way. What a ride.
It was possibly the worst bus ride ever. We were stuck right down the back with no room and the air con yokey was pulled out of the wall so we couldn’t direct it properly. I was roasting and the smell of bus fumes was a bit bleugh.
Anywho we made it to PP and booked into the Woolly Rhino – I thought it was a bit of a disappointment (for the price) as it had no window. (I have a thing against rooms without windows – sometimes you have no choice but we decided to move the next day).
But we didn’t, he he, it didn’t really matter and we got comfy.

The next day we wandered down to see the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda, but the second we got there, Jim’s flip flop broke.
LOl. A friendly tuk tuk driver called Sarim stopped to 'help' and took us to the Central Market where Jim bought some black flops. (I could tell he wasn’t completely happy with the colour! ;) ) Sarim offered to bring us to the Killing Fields and the Tsul Sleong Museum the next day.
So after the market we rambled back home. It was a bit late to head back to the palace so we decided to get the beers in instead.
Beer after beer he he. :) Ah sure we’re on holidays. ;)

Sarim never turned up. Instead this young fellow who annoyed the shite out of us all through breakfast brought us. Chancer.
We hopped in the tuk tuk for the wild dusty ride of our lives to the Killing fields of Choeung Ek.
The Fields themselves were pretty grim. There was an area where the trucks would drop all the people taken from the S21 prison during Pol Pot’s Regime. Then some of them were tortured, while others were just brought straight out into the fields and executed.
The fields were made up of a large space with huge holes dug into it everywhere. Everywhere we walked there were pieces of bone and pieces of old clothes sticking out of the ground. At the entrance to the fields, there was a stone memorial monument with glass cases inside. The glass cases housed tons and tons of skulls and bones. It all seemed a little surreal.

After the fields we went to the Tung Sleung genocide museum aka s21. S21 was a high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison during Pol Pot’s regime from 1975 to 1979. Cambodians and foreigners were taken prisoner if they were seen to oppose Angkar. Many Cambodians were offered a place working for the revolution, but even those people were not safe. Many were watched closely and killed if they were seen or heard to do anything out of line. The guards in the prison themselves were young boys who were trained to kill and be cruel. Subsequent interviews with the guards tell how they either had to kill or be killed.

Victims in the prison were taken from all walks of life, farmers, engineers, professors, teachers, students, diplomats & politicians AND all their families.

The classrooms in the school were used as detention rooms and torture rooms. Some of the rooms were divided up into individual cells about 2 feet by 3 feet. Other rooms were not divided and used as mass detention rooms. The prisoners were chained to a long bar in the room and had to sleep on the floor. There was a long line of rules they had to obey. Basically do what they were told, don’t question any order and ask permission before they did anything - even move. They were inspected 4 times a day, if their shackles were loose, they had to be replaced. Any disobedience was rewarded with lashes from a whip or electrical shocks.
Outside the classrooms, in the playground, there was a gallows used for torture. Prisoners were hoisted up, questioned and whipped until they were unconscious and then dunked in buckets of dirty smelly water to rouse them, so they could be questioned again.
There were some horrible stories and pictures in a place that used to be a place of fun for kids.

Later that evening we saw some couple chasing two guys on a moped down the street. A security guard was running after the moped too. As the moped went by, the guard whacked yer man on the front of the bike, but they didn’t stop. The tall foreigner guy kept running, but I don’t reckon he got him. We reckoned they’d robbed the girl's bag or something. :/

When we went to see if our Vietnam Visas were ready, we were told we would have to wait until Monday evening to collect them. DOH!

The next day we missed our early morning boat to Vietnam! Doh! Our alarm was set for 6pm in the evening. Ejits.
So we were doomed to ANOTHER feckin day in rainy Phnomh Penh. Sigh
We went back to sleep for the afternoon and then had some whopper sandwiches, worked on a track for the rest of the daytime and went out for some delicious Thai food.
We managed to dodge all the tuk tuk drivers & motobike madsers (a great feat in itself – not one person asked us did we want something all the way down the road) to get to the food joint. I had some delicious spicy red veg curry. Jim had some spicy chicken. His eyes were watering and I was wondering why?? Can’t take your spices Tall Boy?? He he
The challenge was on, and I ate a full one. Wehehhehhelll I should’ve kept me mouth shut. The chilli was burnier than the burniest thing I’ve ever eaten. It was like the chilli episode of the Simpsons..Sheesh.
Well we needed some more beer to knock the chilli out of us. So we headed to the fanciest internet shop in the country and Jim attempted to ring home, but to no avail.

Off to Nam tomorrow!! (we hope!)

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Posted by squeakylee 00:37 Archived in Cambodia Comments (1)

The Temples of Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

sunny 32 °C

We were picked up at 8 by our smiley tuk tuk driver, Gram, and off we went. He didn’t speak very much, just stopped at certain temples and told us where to meet him afterwards.

We stopped at quite a few impressive temples on the way to the main event. We bougth a book from some dude to explain whereabouts we were.
The stonework was very impressive and there were stone carvings and engravings of celestial nymphs and various gods (see pics).

We saw the centre town of the city of Angkor which was very cool, a long walkway covered in fantastic stonecarvings of elephants, apsaras and warriors called 'The Terrace of Elephants'.
We also saw the Terrace of Lepers and a place called Bayon. Bayon had huge big carved statues of heads. There is apparently 37 big statues and 216 pairs of eyes that look down at you from this structure.

After a delicious lunch – Jim had coconut juice straight from the coconut, finally we were brought to Angkor Wat, saving the best for last I reckon. It was very cool. It had lots of very steep steps all the way up to the top of the building that we clambered up for a brilliant view. It was amazing. :)

The day was roasting hot. We must have bought about 5 litres of water. It was an expensive enough day out as the passes themselves were 20 bucks a piece. We had decided not to get the three day passes as we didn’t really think we’d be up for three days of temple viewing. We were right. One full day is enough unless you’re a big temple buff.

We went for a few well-deserved deliciously cold beers afterwards. :)

The next day was pretty uneventful - Lazed aboot in bed til lunchtime. Had a spiffing tuna sandwich for lunch, then hotfooted it to the Nokia store to price some phones. They were all too dear so we roastingfooted it back to base camp to do some internetting.

Packed our bags ready for the off tomorrow to Phnom Penh. Woohoo

(Woohoo??? - what was I thinking) (< added later)

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Posted by squeakylee 00:33 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Siem Reap - Cambodia

Please buy something...

sunny 32 °C

We got to our guest house soon enough and bid adieu to our jolly taxidriver. When we got to reception though they didn’t have any cheapo rooms (so they said – I was dubious – they usually want u to pay for the more expensive rooms) but we got the dear one for the first night anywho. (if u can call 15 bucks dear).

We had some lizard residents in our room. We bought some postcards off a cute young fellow called ‘Tom’ (lol) who knew the capital of Ireland was Dublin and how to say ‘Conas a ta tu’. (Sheesh - who doesn't?)
We went to a restaurant called The Red Piano for some Khmer Curry. It was an old colonial French building that was ‘tastefully redecorated’ (according to Jim).

Cambodia is very hot and dusty. There are no roads as we know them and there are lots and lots of poor kids and limbless people begging for money and selling postcards. You’re not supposed to give money (for nothing) as it encourages begging, so we bought some books and postcards and gave some small money to some mine victims but it really is both heartbreaking and tiring at the same time.

The next day we decided to just relax, we moved to a cheaper room and do a bit of work on a track and some blog work. We chose to get a one day pass to the Temples of Angkor Wat & Thom etc and arranged for a tuk tuk guy to collect us in the morning and bring us around for the day.

That evening we decided to indulge in a ‘Happy Pizza’. This place was recommended by the Lonely Planet so we decided to head in and have a happy Hawaiian. We didn’t think it was going to be anything at all but a few hours later and we were laughing our socks off. We went for a few drinks aboot town and fun times were had by all.

Posted by squeakylee 00:30 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

From Bangkok to Siem Reap

May the Road Rise Up To Meet You... ;)

sunny 30 °C

We got up redinkulously early at 6am to go grab a taxi to the bus station. We made the 7.30am bus to Aranthya to cross the border into Poipet in Cambodia. There was only one other gringo couple on the bus sitting in front of us. The bus journey wasn’t too bad and was only about 5 hours.

Upon arriving at Aran, we could see the Tuk Tuk drivers lining up for business. We jumped out and the other gringo couple asked us if we would like to share a taxi from after the border to Siam Reap – the town in Cambodia nearest to Angkor Wat etc.

We thought the other couple were a bit odd, the guy seemed kind of grumpy or shy (I dunno) and the girl was worried about the mud on her shoes (she was wearing Crocs with socks!!) (and worrying about mud .. in Cambodia.. Haw HawHaw HAW)
But the more the merrier in border crossing and avoiding scams, so off the four of us went. We went through Thailand’s exit point, entered Cambodia’s visa-entry point and made it through to Cambodia immigration all accompanied by Cambodians giving us free advice. (hee hee hee)

Then on the other side we agreed on a price for the taxi to Siam Reap ($50 bucks for 3.5 hours on the worst road in the world – no messing). The guy of the couple, called Kyle, refused to pay until they got to their destination, so we agreed with our taxi driver to pay half now, half later. (this was in case he decided to drive us around the corner and dump us out the door). But I couldn’t see that happening, our taxi driver was a jovial fellow who called the road (the definitive WORST road in history) “the dancing road” and offered to get us massages for our weary arse bones afterwards.

All was going well in the cab for a while. After conversing with our two new ‘buddies’ – Stacey & Kyle from Texas & Oklahoma respectively, I noticed a few weird things dropped into conversation. Stacey was blathering on in a loud voice (choosing to talk even louder whenever our taxi driver was on the phone – which I thought was a bit rude) about Dallas & Fortworth and their rivalry etc etc.
She went on to tell us all the places she had been. We noticed she said that when she was in high school, she had gone to Honduras to do mission work.

Fair enough, I thought, she must have been forced into that.

Then she mentioned she went to Mexico to do mission work. Hmmm, I thought, she must have gone to a Holy Joe school.

After that she then went onto say that her husband hadn’t been to too many places and that she’d like to bring him somewhere. I thought this was weird on a few levels.
A – she looked about 16
B - we got the impression they were a couple, so if she had a husband then surely that would mean he was the guy in the car with us (especially as she put her hand on his knee while she said “my husband”), so then why refer to him as “my husband” if he is Kyle – the guy sitting next to her…

So that was enough for me to think they were slightly odd. Then
C- they mentioned that they had met in a Christian school. (uh oh). They had studied together, then married as soon as they left college and travelled together to China, where they now taught English. (in a Texas styleeE)

Stacey was yaparama and talked about China for nearly the whole journey. She asked me (accusingly I thought) if we were Christian, I said I was a lapsed one and avoided her glare. :/

She went on to say that they were Christians (really?). Stacey was hoping to bring the Christian Faith to the Chinese students they were teaching. She told us that she had told her students they had no human rights or freedom of religion there and it was up to them to seek the truth. (ahahahaha) At this stage we could tell Kyle was squirming in his seat a bit and we reckoned he just married her to get his end away and was probably regretting it right now. ;)

When she said that her “heart was breaking at the sight of seeing the Chinese worship little statues (AKA BUDDHA to you and me), I was thinking ‘what a loony’.
What makes her think that her religion is the correct one??
What about EVOLUTION for one thing.. lol.

I know myself and Jim have some blessed Buddha beads, but we both have some holy Jesus stuff with us aswell, just in case (we've been worshipping the wrong one all along)

But I continued to look out the window, and as her stories went on, I interjected with “Jesus that’s crazy” and “Holy Moly” and that sort of thing. Not really on purpose, everytime I said something slightly blasphemous, I was thinking ‘Shit!’ lol

Anyway it cheered up the three hour journey (on the worst road ever) no end. I nearly said “Keep the Faith” as they got out of the car, but decided to shut up.

Posted by squeakylee 00:15 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Bangkok 2 - Thailand

32 °C

We always end back up in some places, and they are usually shit holes compared to where we have just been. Bangkok is one of those places. You just can’t understand anyone ‘wanting’ to live there. It’s smelly, dirty, hot & sweaty, the traffic is terrible, the air is terrible, there’s rubbish everywhere on the streets… I dunno…

But anywho, we braved the traffic in a taxi to the general Post Office where we posted some stuff home. Then we walked for ages to the skytrain and headed off for some grub. We went to the food court. You have to buy a card first, then take your card with you around to all the different food counters that you want food from, then swipe your card for the amount and then go back to your table and wait. I was in no mood for this new approach to lunch and didn’t have much patience for it.

Afterwards we decided to get hair-dos. I didn’t like my dark look and decided to get some highlights. Our hairdresser was very nice and chatted to us about all her favourite TV shows (CSI, Lost, Fear Factor – lol). Then we yapped about who in celebland had had surgery (Melanie Griffith, Fergie, Goldie Hawn etc.
She got a phone call from her husband during my hair but she fobbed him off saying “I’ll call you later (sigh), I’,m busy with my client, I’m busy with my client”. I felt very important indeed.
Our hairs turned out satisfactory (apart from the perfunctory process of blow drying my hair into a mushroom shape) and we headed off home. We sussed out how we were going to get to Siam Reap tomorrow morning, without being ripped off by every Tom, Dick & Harry in Cambodia, and later ventured out for a bit of grub in a restaurant that looked like a jungle.

I am sad to leave Thailand, it has edged it’s way into the top spot for us.

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Posted by squeakylee 00:08 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

From Koh Tao to Bangkok

Bangkok again...

all seasons in one day 32 °C

Well we struggled to get ourselves up and out of bed to go and get the ten o clock ferry. We’ve gotten used to the lie ins and lazing aboot. Twas great, but we must up & out of ze country as we have no time left on our visas.

Before leaving we removed some tape we had used to block up some woogie holes and the tape took a wad of the varnish off some of the slats. Lol. But eek. Lets get oot of here before they catch us. (I don’t think they would have even noticed tbh) but still we hotfooted it to the ferry terminal. :) (I kept looking around to see if he had followed us on his bike. At one point our taxi driver got a call and I was wondering if we were going to be summoned back for payment, but we finally made it to the terminal safe).

As we bungled onto the ferry, we decided (due to our aversion to boat trips) that we would sit up on deck outside. But it pissed down. The wind was crazy, the rain was lashing down on us & the boat was being volleyed from side to side.
I went downstairs to try to get us some noodles for breakfast. The stormy weather was much more preferable to sitting & moving around downstairs. So we ate our noodles (very close to our face - as if you tried to eat them normally the wind blew the noodles off the fork!) up on deck and moved closer and closer to the middle of the upstairs decking. There were only about 5 of us up there in total. I’d say everyone else was inside pointing and laughing.

Finally we got to Chumphorn, where we hopped onto a very cold, aluminous pink double decker bus for our journey to Bangkok. 8 hours. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but the bus was comfy, the road was sealed and there were some videos on the TV.
(Lots of countries have videos on the TV, but in the crazy ones, usually the TV is too distorted, (ala Peru) too loud (ala Cambodia) and too gunwielding (all of the places we’ve been). However on this bus, it was juuuuusssst righhhht and the ‘movies’ were in English. All was well. We even got to stop for some rice n pea, and then back on the road again.

Just before we got into Bangkok, our bus broke down. It was sitting on the side of the road for quite some time, before we decided to investigate. At this stage, half the bussians had gotten off to get taxis already. But just as we got up to check it out, the driver yelled “Let’s Go” and off we went.

But our long day of travel was not over yet. No sirree bob. We jumped into a Tuk Tuk to take us to our hostel (which in fairness was a bit away) and got stuck in stinky, hot, dusty traffic for another hour. Our Tuk Tuk driver was pleading for more money all the way there, as soon as he realised how long it was going to take him to get us there. The traffic in Bangkok is awful.

Eventually we got to our hostel, which was freezing due to the air conditioning. Our room was like an ice box and they said the control to it was in the next room down from us! What? But we were pooped, at this stage it was half ten at night or something. We managed to find the ‘killer’ switch for the air con and went downstairs for a pretty crappy curry.
Then zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by squeakylee 00:01 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Koh Tao - Thailand

like you Know hao

sunny

Back to the port and the fast boat to Koh Tao at 7am. We made sure we were first in line to board so we could get a prime position on the open upper deck with a table and chair. The journey flew by and in no time we were arriving at Mae Nam port on the east side of the Island. Knowing we were in for the big sale from all the scuba dive centre reps as soon as we docked, we decided to pick the beach we wanted to stay in and pick a scuba centre near there. After giving all the beaches info a quite once over we decided not to stay at busiest beach but one nearby called Cheong Lok or somink. So bags into the back of a 4X4 taxi and off we zoomed. Ten bumpy minutes later we where there, after checking out a room in one place and getting some scuba course info we figured it didn’t really matter where u stayed once you were doing a scuba course. The dive centre would pay 5 euro off your accommodation for each night u stayed there during the course, so it was just a matter of picking a nice dive centre.

I took a wander down the road and came across this fancy new dive centre building called “Big Bubble 5 star PADI Dive Centre” while Lisa minded the bags up the road. When I went in everyone was so friendly and I knew straight away this was the place we were gonna dive with. The guy said he had accommodation available down the road and he would take me to look at a room. Off I popped on the back of a little moped up the road over some very steep hills and eventually to this lovely secluded beach called “Freedom Beach”. The best was yet to come, all the rooms were little wooden huts on stilts facing out to an amazing view of the rocks to our left, coconut trees below and further below the small sandy beach. The hut was pretty basic with a bed a fan facing it and a tiled bathroom attached to it. The only thing that had me thinking hmm will Lisa like this or not was the fact that all the floor boards had gaps in them so you could basically see the ground below the hut which at night could be a potential woogiefest in our room.
Although it had the gaps it had so much more character than the sterile brick room with tiles and not near the beach I had viewed earlier. So I told the guy we would take it then drove back to Lisa to pick up the bags and sort out our course that would start in a couple of days time with our soon to be instructor Klaus.

Lisa loved the place and we soon threw our stuff everywhere and settled in. But not before we went to the supermarket to pick up some masking tape to seal up those floorboards and gaps here and there. We also decided in order to get about the island without having to get taxi’s everywhere we would need a moped. So we got a nice new flashy Honda hairdryer jobby hehe and whizzed into the main beach, bar and shop area of the island called Sairee beach. This area has some lovely bars with mats on the beach surrounded by oil lamps and palms stuck into the sand. We stayed here having drinks until the sunset and the sea had come to lap against our legs. It was sooo relaxing we couldn’t help think that John and Karen would have loved it if they were still with us.

We spent the next couple of days eating great food and drinking by the beach. As our time in the hut went by we had a new big cockroach to greet us each evening when we would come home and occasionally during the day we would see a big lizard peeping his head into our loo. Luckily there were no mosquitos in our room and I don’t think we got bitten inside the hut once.

Our first day of diving was a feckin long one. We were given our open water course book to look through before starting the course and on the first day we had to watch about 4 hours of videos on the first 5 chapters of the book… booorriiinnggg. After the vids we had to do tests which Lisa and I aced (they weren’t that hard, plus the instructor leaves the room with the books still lying there) We finished at about 7pm that evening and the six of us went out for some dinner and drinks. There was one nice English girl, one German girl from Berlin, one Dutch guy and a loud yank from San Fran with a big US ARMY – IRAQ 2001-2002 tat. They were all very nice and good fun to hang out with (in small doses).

Day 2 involved us sailing to that amazing island off the north west coast we had been the week previous with John and Karen snorkelling. Before we learned to set up our equipment and do buddy checks we were told to jump into the water and swim to a boat about 20 meteres away, then back to our boat and thread water for 5 minutes. This was unexpected and was fecking tiring. This was to obviously make sure we could actually swim and therefore be allowed learn to scuba dive in open water. Klaus told us a few years ago a Korean girl drown at this part.. grim. Lisa was starting to feel nervous about doing the underwater skills. The main thing getting her all nervous was the taking out of the regulator and replacing it whilst underwater. We eventually all got into the water and swam to a shallow area (the same place with all the fishes we were in the week before) and started to do our skills. Lisa was getting very nervous under the water and didn’t want to do the skills just yet. So Klaus encouraged her to stay and just concentrate on breathing calmly underwater and watch us do our skills then maybe try herself.

The skills flew by.. regulator recovery, half mask clear, full mask clear, take off mask put on arm open eyes and replace and clear, swim around with mask off then return to same original place and replace mask, breath off your buddies alternate air supply and remove BCD and replace it. It was a lot to do but I found it a lot of fun. Unfortunately this was not the case for Lisa. She didn’t enjoy it at all and decided not to continue with the course. She felt to complete all the skills she would need a few days and maybe individual instructor attention. Klaus incoraged her to join the next group tomorrow there and do them again but she just felt too uncomfortable so decided to leave it :o(

Klaus said that he would be my buddy for the remainder of the course so I wouldn’t be buddyless scuba jim haha. The next day was great, after a buddy check we went for a 12 meter dive around a sandy / coral area for about 40mins. Doing a few more skills and checking out lots off cool sea creatures like sea slugs, sea cucumber, yellow and blue stingray a sea snake and a massive school of barracuda plus loads of other colourful fishes. We did another dive an hour later at a different dive sight again seeing some nice fishies.

The forth and final day consisted of two deeper dives at two more different dive sites. The weather was quite choppy and my ear (Full of water for the past few days) was wrecking my head, plus I didn’t have any breakfast…. So after a while I started to feel sick so in the water asap to help clam it down. We had to swim with a compass on our wrists and show we could navigate on the top of the water and later at the bottom of the sea about 20 meters deep. Then again we had to practise of fin pivoting. Scuba diving is not so much about swimming under water but more about getting your breathing and buoyancy perfect so by breathing in a certain way you float up a little and by breathing out a lil you sink a little and by breathing in and out steadily u remain neutrally buoyant and its like you are flying effortless over coral (never touching it). Its like riding a bike, you cant really teach anyone to do it, you just kind of pick it up. The feeling is truly amazing when you finally get it and are 20 meters deep just gliding over all this amazing colourful coral and surrounded by amazing sea life. On the last dive after a nearly puked a few times under the water lol and when we had performed our final task, Klaus took out an underwater board and pen and wrote “Some new divers are born” and shook all our hands as we all beamed with smiles. Before we ascended and got back on the boat we got to see a little family of clown fish (Nemos). They were so cute looking and apparently never move away from the little noodley sea coral creature they live off.

The next couple of days we spent lying on the beach during the day, going to nice restaurants during the evening and boozing it up. One of the nights we went to this amazing Italian restaurant and after dinner we were getting on our bike and driving off when we spotted a familiar face from back home…. Rob Hatchell and his motley crew of familier Dublin faces and one from Bayside (Claire Young). So off we went to have a load of drinks with Rob and his mates then onto some bar/club thingy down the beach and drank until I decided it was time to leave and I should fetch the bike from about 2 miles away and whisk us home, which I done ever so gracefully. It was good fun seeing Rob seeing as we thought he was in OZ, but it turns out he was only on his way there with some stop offs in asia. Two weeks earlier he was on the nearby island Kohphanyang for the full moon party where the eejit was jumping through hoops of fire and on one jump fell and seriously burned his arm putting him in hospital for a week.

The next week we spent laying in the sun by day and exploring the islands bars and restaurants by night. Koh Tao was so nice, a little slice of paradise. Somewhere we would defo love to revisit. The last few days the weather started to get very stormy and wet (see pics) so it was time to move on before our visa ran out.

We were sad to say goodbye to our little hut although on the last morning we removed the masking tape and a lot of the paint from the floor so we made a hasty exit before they noticed it and maybe decided to charge us for it haha.

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Posted by James R 23:38 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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