A Travellerspoint blog

November 2011

Phuket - Open Water Dive Course

all seasons in one day 30 °C
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The first half of day 1 of the dive course consisted of us sitting in the classroom and watching the Padi instructional DVD’s and doing some written theory tests. Our instructors name is Darren, an expat Australian, he’s an awesome teacher and we got pretty lucky getting an Australian, there’s something about Australians understanding other Australians so we flew through the theory really quickly. After lunch we got fully kitted up and did some practice dives in the deep pool. It was heaps of fun and we had no problems at all which made us both even more excited for getting out to the reefs and experiencing the real thing!

Day 2 of our open water dive course and we were up bright and early, excited and waiting for the mini-bus to pick us up and take us to the boat. Unfortunately the weather was pretty shit today and it was rough as guts heading out. But nothing could quell the excitement and anticipation of our first dive, so while some of the veteran divers were looking pretty down we were buzzing with enthusiasm to hop in! We were scheduled to do Shark Point but because it was too rough we ended up doing all 3 dives that day on Phi Phi Lay. Some of the older divers weren’t too impressed but for us it was amazing! That first initial feeling of sinking into the deep blue when you deflate your BCD is something I’m finding very hard to explain. When you look down and there is nothing but that deep green and the noise of all the commotion on deck disappears a deep calm seems to wash over your body. I’m glad that for me it was an extreme sense of calmness that washed over my body because I’ve heard for some people its extreme terror and panic.

We saw a lot of cool stuff over the 3 dives which you can see in the pictures below – by the way Darren is an awesome underwater photographer! The deepest we went today is 13.7m and each dive was around 45 – 50 minutes long – which is great, but I was never ready to hop out :)!!

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^^ Pretty bloody excited!

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^^ Heading out

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^^ Me diving Phi Phi Ley

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^^ Banded Sea Krate

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^^ Kirby and Nemo

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^^ Awesome Scorpion Fish

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^^ Loving every moment

The weather ended up getting worse and Darren kindly organised for us to have a couple days break to let the bad weather pass – otherwise we would probably have had to dive the same spots again – he’s a super nice guy!

So on the 14th we found ourselves once again eagerly awaiting the mini-bus for another day of adventuring the deep blue seas. The weather was a bit better today and we ended up doing a dive on Shark Point and 2 dives off Koh Doc Mai.

When Darren told us that we were just about arriving at Shark Point I excitedly leapt up and ran to look out the window to see what it was like. All I saw was a small rock poking out of the swell. I don’t know why I was expecting to see something; I guess I was just still not used to the whole idea of everything being under the water. In fact I don’t know how people even find out that these are great dive sites because they look pretty boring from the surface. But as soon as we delved into the depths there was an explosion of colour as we dropped through schools of small fish to the reef below. There were heaps of anemones around with their clownfish counterparts and large snapper patrolled the outlying rocks, but the big draw is the prospect of seeing a leopard shark. They give Shark Point its name and are often found hanging out on the sandy bottom next to the reef. Unfortunately because the current was still fairly strong from the weeks bad weather we were unable to make it to the sandy patch, so no leopard sharks this time. The dive was still really amazing and we ended up getting a bit deeper to 18m.

The next two dives were at Koh Doc Mai which was completely different once again! Koh Doc Mai is a sheer wall and you basically just drift along it with the current. It was a very relaxing change to the energetic, high-current dive that we had just done at Shark Point. We saw heaps of cool stuff; eels, sea snakes, caves filled with big-eyed nocturnal fish, colourful nudibranchs, not to mention the large pelagic hunters like jacks that cruise the wall. Visibility was fairly poor – only like 7m but because you are right next to the wall that’s not a problem and Darren let us use his torch – legend. Once again we got down to 18m.

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^^ Koh Doc Mai - amazing wall dive

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^^ Colourful nudibranchs

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^^ Little box fish not bothered by us

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^^ In the deep blue whale shark spotting while we made our safety stop. No luck though.

We ended up paying 12,500 baht per person which is about $390. We thought it was a pretty good deal for the 3 day course and 6 dives – including all equipment.

After our last dive we were a bit sad that it was all over and instead of feeling fulfilled with our experience we were left with the insatiable lust for more. So the decision was pretty much made up for us, we enrolled in the advanced open water course and another 6 dives!! Wooo! Plus it was only another 10,000 baht or $310 for the course and 6 more dives. A good deal I reckon – go All4Diving!

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 13:08 Archived in Thailand Tagged diving thailand scuba dive phuket shark whale eel phi_phi_ley koh_doc_mai shark_point krate open_water_dive_course all4diving Comments (3)

Thailand Visa - Doing a Border Run

overcast 29 °C
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Because we made the mistake of crossing the land border into Thailand without a pre-arranged visa it meant we could only stay for 15 days. But because we want to stay longer we had to do a border run to get a new 15 day visa.

Thankfully there are a lot of companies that specialize in this sort of ‘tour’ – we ended up paying 1500 baht ($46) per person.
It’s pretty straight forward – you basically stamp out of Thailand for half an hour and then stamp straight back in for another 15 days. Unfortunately it’s a big day trip from Phuket, most of which is in the mini-bus.

We were picked up at 6am and drove for 4 hours to Ranong. We stamped out of Thailand at Ranong jetty and took a 30 minute boat ride across to Burma. We stamped in…and then out of Burma and after an hour wait on the Burmese jetty telling the persistent kids that we didn’t want any weed, morphine, ketamine, or Viagra we were back on the boat into Thailand where we got a new stamp & 15 extra days.

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Once we were back in Patong we organised to do our open water dive course with All4Diving. Can’t wait to start!!

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 13:01 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand new burma visa myanmar phuket ranong border_run 15_days Comments (0)

Patong Beach - Time to Party!

sunny 32 °C
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Today was a great day. We just hung out in Patong Beach and checked out the area, markets etc. Ellie and Steven treated themselves to fish eating the dead skin off their feet and then we headed down to the beach.

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We saw some crazy locals whose job it is to hang off the parasailing parachute to help guide/land the tourists when the ride is over. They get pretty bloody high! I’d be shitting myself if I was them clinging on without a harness.

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^^ Crazy

After relaxing around the beach we decided that tonight would be the night to party! So we headed off to the 7/11 to get some booze. Turns out you can buy a bottle of Sangsum whiskey, 2 bottles of coke, and a bag of ice for 200 baht ($6.20) - not bad! The girls also got some vodka and mixers for cocktails.

That afternoon we all just drank and laughed in Ellie and Steven’s hotel room. It had been a while since Kirby and I had hung out just having a great time with friends, so it was a particularly awesome day for us, and the night had yet to even begin :).

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After we finished our bottles and had a swim we headed out and had a MASSIVE feast! We ordered something like 7 dishes for the four of us and they were all incredible (making my mouth water as I write this!).

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Going out in Patong was a heap of fun, especially with good friends. It takes a little while to get used to all the sleaziness though, pretty much every bar has girls dancing on poles (albeit while they text on their phones) and prostitutes prowl the streets outside for drunken tourists, but I guess that’s part of the fun and something you come to expect of Thailand.

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^^ Pimp my Tuk Tuk!

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^^ Drunk people....the perfect customers for knives and killy things

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We found a little street bar that had ‘Connect 4’ – which I proceeded to get thrashed at 10 times in a row. They also had buy 1 get one free shots which got us really happy. The rest of the night is a blur of dancing, laughing, and good times :)!

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^^ Cheers

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^^ Getting dominated

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The next day was a lazy one; we just chilled at the pool and ate all day.

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Then it was time to say goodbye to Ellie and Steven as they headed back home to Australia. We had heaps of fun meeting up with you guys so feel free to join us on our adventure anytime you want :)!!!!

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 12:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged market thailand club feast party phuket parasailing nightclub patong patong_beach sangsum connect4 Comments (2)

Phi Phi Island

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Today was our first day in southern Thailand and what better way to introduce ourselves to this paradise than with a day trip around Phi Phi Island!

We were picked up by a minibus and taken to the dock where we each received an orange sticker and pointed in the general direction of several boats. Things got weird when we were rushed at by five Thai people who promptly each took our photo without saying a word. Our initial thought was that they would sell them to the news if they lost us, but it turns out they print your awkward mugshot onto a small plate with the hopes that you will purchase a plate with a surprised you on it, we passed on this one.
We went with Sea Angel cruises and it cost 950 baht which is around $30. It took 1hr 30min to get out there but a few beers and a cup of noodles made time fly.

On the way to Phi Phi Don we passed by Phi Phi Lay and got to see Maya Bay, where Leonardo’s ‘The Beach’ was filmed; a really beautiful spot, but didn’t see any football field sized marijuana crops.

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^^ Maya Bay

We also stopped by ‘Monkey Beach’ where hordes of tourists unload onto a 20 meter strip of sand and feed the sort-of-tame monkeys fruit and nuts. There is also a really nice patch of reef off the beach with tons of fish – also lured by food – which is where we spent most of our time. We also did a bit of kayaking but that only lasted a few minutes as the temptation to hop in and snorkel was too great :).

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^^ Monkey Beach

We then had a buffet lunch on Phi Phi Don which I must say was very delicious, and then headed out for some more snorkelling. We didn’t get very many pictures because we spent most of the day in the water and didn’t particularly want to carry the camera around and then leave it on the beach while we went in.

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^^ haha cracks me up every time I see it!

On the way back we had a few more drinks on the boat and relaxed in the setting sun.

When we were back on Phuket Island Ellie and Steven rushed off to ‘Fantasea’ – a circus-esque show, while Kirby succumbed to a day in the sun and had a nap. I on the other hand headed down to a bar and watched the State of Origin where Queensland thrashed NSW…again. All-in-all a great day; nothing better than sun, friends, snorkelling, eating, drinking, football, and monkeys :).

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 12:18 Archived in Thailand Tagged boat thailand phuket phi_phi_island day_trip phi_phi_don phi_phi_lay monkey_beach maya_bay Comments (2)

Bangkok to Phuket

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In the morning after our raging ‘ping pong’ night everyone decided to go shopping for clothes. Uninterested though I decided to treat myself to a few extra hours of beauty sleep. Apparently it was all very non-eventful though; as when I met up with them later there were no funny stories or anything that should be mentioned on this blog, other than that Kirby purchased a shirt from a local designer with purple werewolves’ heads all over it.

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^^ Khao San Road

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We decided to head over to Paragon shopping centre. Apparently reserved for the elite of Bangkok and aimed to please the rich international clientele from Dubai. But nothing is too richy for Australians in their Billabong thongs so we invited ourselves in and instantly felt stupid that we didn’t wear our tailor made Ralph Lauren suits. Talk about fancy, this shopping centre is several floors high and boasts both a Lamborghini and Maserati showroom, not to mention the Versace, Armani, and jewellery stores that have a man in a tuxedo to buzz you through the bullet proof glass doors. After perusing shops that we could only dream of trading at, we headed down past the aquarium and to the food court. The food was amazing! It was food court cheap, but Paragon standard. I had roasted duck with a crispy pork salad and rice for like $4.

After getting sick of being looked down on we headed to a more mainstream shopping centre called Central World where we watched the newest Transformers movie. After that we just got some beers from the 7/11 and chilled in Ellie and Stevens hotel room drinking.

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The next day Steven and Ellie headed off to Chiang Mi and Kirby and I had a few more days in Bangkok waiting for our Indian Visa to get processed. We were pretty bored waiting around, and had definitely had enough of Bangkok. In fact in the little book that I write notes down in to jog my memory for when I write these blogs has only one thing written for the next couple of days, ‘Kirby hair cut’; Pretty exciting event, turned out alright as well. Kirby also checked out the Chatuchak market which she informs me was very good and a must-do in Bangkok, although at the time I was feeling less than ordinary and spent the day in bed booking flights to India.

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^^ Chatuchak weekend market

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^^ We also checked out the Bangkok Art Centre

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Anyway, on the 3rd we thought it was Monday and checked out of our hotel to make our way to the Indian Embassy to get our passports and head to the train station to get the hell out of Bangkok. Unfortunately somehow we had made a major error and in fact the 3rd was Sunday! So looking like dickheads we headed back to our hotel and checked back in for another night! What an amateur mistake haha :). We saw some fighting on TV over the election but luckily it wasn’t near us.

On the 4th we finally knew 100% that it was Monday and we once again checked out and headed off to the Indian Embassy. Kirby’s visa was ready to be picked up but apparently my passport was still with the consulate and had yet to be delivered back to the Embassy. What a joke, we sat around the whole time it was open hoping that my passport would arrive and by some miracle 1 minute before they closed my passport waltz through the door in the arms of a courier boy. YAY. So we can escape Bangkok!

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^^ Got some weird deep fried banana from a group of ladies that run out between all of the cars stopped at a red light

We went and got a taxi to the train station but the taxi driver was muttering something incoherent in Thai and saying ‘MRT’ over and over. We finally realised when we hit a traffic jam as far as the eye could see that ‘MRT’ is the Bangkok subway system. So we said goodbye to our helpful taxi driver and headed underground. The train was quick and painless and before we knew it we were standing at the ticket desk trying to buy something that went in the direction of Phuket. All of the air-con sleepers were sold out so we had to rough it with the locals (450 baht p/p) overnight. It wouldn’t have been so bad had our carriages broken fan just not worked instead of clunking tirelessly all night, hoping to complete its percolating rotation sooo bad it just wouldn’t die, unlike our thoughts of sleep.

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^^ Bangkok train station

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^^ Not happy

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Oh well so on the 5th we made it as far south as the train goes and caught a 4 hour bus (220 baht p/p) to Patong Beach. The bus drivers however were arseholes and decided that in the middle of nowhere they would pull over and demand another 150 baht each to continue. I was really dirty at those bastards robbing another $10 out of us, but oh well we eventually made it to Patong Beach and found a guesthouse called Vech Guesthouse with rooms for $10 – good value. We then arranged a tour to Phi Phi Island for tomorrow. Hopefully the weather is good, as some relaxing is in order after our dodgy journey from Bangkok.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 07:13 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok phuket phi_phi_island chatuchak mrt paragon_shopping_centre patong_beach Comments (1)

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