Did I mention I went back to Thailand for Christmas?

Did I mention I went back to Thailand for Christmas?

Oh, yes, thank you Phuket.

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Leaving on a jet plane

Sitting in the incongruously English “whittards” coffee shop at Koh Samui airport I am irrationally sad. I miss Koh Tao and the sense of challenge and focus I had from learning something new and having daily physical goals. Of course, this over-emotionality could also be caused by being utterly knackered, which I am. I fell asleep a 9.30 pm last night and slept for 11 straight hours, even though I knew the room was full of Mosquitos and there was a mysterious and large half-carcass of a spider in the bathroom (what was it, and what monster killed it?!). my legs and arms are cut and bruised from minor diving mishaps, I’m limping from several despise coral cuts acquired whilst swimming in choppy water and what feels like a strained muscle in my lower leg from fighting a very strong current yesterday wearing the wrong fins (some dickhead nicked mine out of my diving box). So, all in all, a bit of a mess in some respects, but I still feel like I had a fantastic 6 days on Koh Tao and wish I could dive some more…. In a day or two, when I feel less old and battered. The last two evenings where I had quite persistent landsickness and had to walk around my room like an old woman on a raft, hanging on to walls for support would suggest I pushed my body a bit harder than it has been used to of late.

For my troubles, however, I have a pretty great tan, I’ve lost an so far unknown amount of weight, but I can see a definite difference in my body and I am now an Advanced Open Water PADI Diver, which is very cool.

In the last couple of days, beyond my basic diving skills, I had a night dive: quite scary for me, awakened some claustrophobic fears but I did get to see biophosphorescence at 16 meters, and a ship wreck at night, and a huge huge crab; I did a navigation dive which my buddy and I absolutely nailed in quite bad visibility; I did the naturalist adventure dive and saw 30 different species of fish, coral and invertebrate, including a massive sea turtle and a sting ray; worked on my Peak Performance Buoyancy (far from perfect there, but it’s getting better). I div in very choppy waters and experienced trying to get back into the boat when you’re getting smashed around all over the place, and dived in a strong current which was exhausting but also great experience. so, I have 9 dives now and the next time I dive I won’t be a student, but merely a very inexperienced AOW diver-huzzah!

Koh Tao itself is beautiful….probably. I didn’t actually see much of it above water, since I was busy enough to stay on the resort at Tanote Bay but it was a paradise and the bays I saw from the boat and below the waves were all gorgeous. I can see why people go for a week and never come back.

So, Im at Koh Samui airport, waiting for mum to appear from her yoga retreat and then we fly back to Bangkok for one night and then tomorrow on to London, for one final night before I eventually get back to Berlin on Saturday afternoon, probably limpy, stinky and knackered 🙂

Islands

As I write I am sitting on the darkened beach of Tanote Bay on the east coast of Koh Tao. The sun went down two hours ago, and the beach is now a collection of small groups of deck chairs, lit by small, flickering candles. The waves are breaking on the beach 10 feet in front of me and I’m sipping a Tiger Beer and trying not the drop my iPad in the sand. I’m a lucky bitch.

I’m here to learn to dive so I’ll be beginning my PADI open water training tomorrow at 9am, which will be in a busy class of….. One. me, just me. So, the teaching will be intensive, can’t argue with a teacher to pupil ratio like that, but I had been hoping to make some temporary friends on the course, which now seems preeeeeetty unlikely.

in shock news, it turns out an almost 30 year old woman and her 60 year old mother can’t share a room for 3 weeks without tensions arising, and since mum has no interest in diving, she elected to stay on Koh Samui by herself for the next 5 days and do a scary, expensive yoga retreat. SO, she’s probably there right now, sitting in the lotus position and eschewing fun and booze….. Yeah right.

So, the islands. We arrived on Koh samui on Wednesday after a very stress free two-leg flight from Bangkok with Bangkok airways, which is posh and expensive, but the best thing was that from bangkok to samui we had a twin prop plane. It was all very Castaway. Except with an inflight meal.

Koh samui airport is so pretty! I know, it’s weird to say that, but it really is, all dark wood and plants, and blessed, blessed air conditioning. from there we took a taxi to our hotel, Baan Haad Ngam, which was pure luxury. The kind of hotel where they give you a cool drink and cold washcloth on arrival and give you an unnecessary flower bracelet. The kind of place I really couldn’t afford, you know, that kind of place. The pool was lovely and it was a few shirt steps to the sea, which was warmer than some baths I have had. I was wandering through the surf grinning like a happy little retard.

We visited chaweng and Lamai in the couple of days I was there, had some nice food, worked on our tans and I got a nice dose of sunstroke which necessitated a long cold bath and quite a lot of sleeping and then today I got the ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao and arrived, with a healthy dose of mild sunburn, at about 3pm.

The hotel picked me up in their jeep at the pier and it was a fun, bumpy, treacherous and mountainous ride to Montalay Beach resort where I’ve been checking in and bumming around ever since.

My room is a TINY little cottage with space for little more than a big double bed, a fridge and presumably quite a few geckos later, but it has air con, so I’m happy enough for now. this evening I passed a few hours watching the PADI videos to prepare for the course starting tomorrow and now I am blogging on the beach, trying to look peaceful rather than sad, pathetic and friendless. There’s a lot of couples and families and…. Me. However, tomorrow is a new day and maybe I will succeed in making an acquaintance or two, but even if not, I’m very, very happy to be sitting on this tropical island, drinking this beer and listening to the waves.

Back in the Land of Smiles

So, it’s five years since I was last in Thailand…. Wait, not just about five years but EXACTLY five years and so much has changed in that time I can scarcely believe it, but ain’t that always the way? Has much changed in Thailand? Undoubtedly. political upheaval, tsunami, flooding, and much more, but I have to be honest and confess that even though I love this country, I have never been the type to keep up to date with international news and politics and most of that, apart from the tsunami of course, has gone almost completely over my head. Which I shall now duly hang in shame.

As I write I am sitting in Bangkok airport waiting for our flight to Chiang Mai having a coffee and listening to mum read out a list of jetlag symptoms since for the last 3 days or so we have both been having some lightheaded dizzy spells. I’m having one right now, it’s like being pissed but freeeeeee!

Bangkok was good but hectic: I’m glad we’re leaving after only a couple of days. It was a useful interlude to let us settle into a different time zone and remember what Thailand is all about, but I personally wouldn’t enjoy a stay there of longer than 2 days. I’m looking forward to being able to move around a smaller city a bit more easily and with less stress than Bangkok allows. However, I’m glad to have finally experienced a little bit of it.

So, how was it? Our hotel was lovely. Luxurious, clean, quiet, amazing staff, and an outdoor pool which provided welcome coolness in this mid-thirties heat. For all Bangkok’s legendary (infamous?) night life, my favorite bit was yesterday’s 6am wake up swim after finding myself wide awake at 4am and lying in bed for 2 hours, futilely attempting sleep. What better way, in my opinion, to see the Bangkok sky than floating in cool water on your back?

Anyway, our first night we got in after…. (mentally calculating….) 28 hrs constant traveling and having not really slept the night before leaving I was, as the French say, fucked. The journey itself was unremarkable, except for Mumbai airport, which was remarkably cockroach infested and awful. We both fell blissfully unconscious and woke up late and went for a brief walk to the local mall to find sim cards and have a coffee and some breakfast, having gotten up too late to have hotel breakfast. We had a wander and then in the afternoon I took a deathdefying, super fun motorcycle taxi ride half an hour to Jitti Gym to do some Muay Thai. Jitti Gym is quite famous in UK Muay Thai circles since Bad Company fighters, who are the best in the UK, tend to train there. My pad man was lovely and very patient of my wheezing and needing to take 3 minute breaks for every 1minute round, bless him. Skipping, pad work, then intermittent wheezing and bag work, then technique training and back home for a swim in the pool.

Thursday we woke up early, hence the 6am swimming, and took a guided tour of Bangkok that we didn’t really want but sort of got Britished into out of fear of saying no. we saw the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, then got pushed into a long tail boat ride down Chao Phraya river and taken via the clothing and jewellery shops of our guide’s friends but succeeded in buying nothing. THoroughly travel sick and knackered we ended up at MBK shopping center, on the recommendation that we should see the “crazy” electronics floor…. Which is where I bought this iPad I’m typing on now…. Whoops! (awesome). Finally we made it home with no more energy or will to live than would permit swimming and room service and wondrous, blessed sleep.

The following morning, we packed our bags, bid farewell to the pool and let our tricky yet nice guide drive us to the airport to head for Chiang Mai, which is where I waffle from right now. So, hopefully tomorrow I won’t have to try and recount 5 days worth of information in 1 post and can do a marginally better job.