Monday, 23 April 2007

Thailand: Similan Islands Diving

Similan Islands provided close to, if not the best diving I have ever done (Tonga coming in very close if not slightly better). We did 6 dives over two days - we were meant to do 7 but didn't have the stamina for a night dive after a 5:30am rise, a 3 hour bus/speedboat trip and 3 dives!

Ready to go

The crystal clear warm waters of the Similan held much to discover. We saw sharks (leopard, black tip reef), blue spotted rays, lionfish, moray eels with cleaner shrimp), garden eels, colourful nudibranchs, massive schools of fusiliers, 1 lone tuna (yum yum), a frogfish, flutefish, clownfish, many fish....and heaps of much coral!! You get the idea - was amazing!

Our boat, the South Siam 4, was fully equipped and very comfortable with a large upper deck, air conditioned lounge, dive platform, sundeck and basic double cabins. The food was fantastic too - a full Thai and western buffet for breakfast lunch and dinner.

South Siam Divers - Boat 4

We arrived to a boat full of Swedish divers, who left that afternoon leaving just 4 divers and a snorkeler. We slept well (and early) that night, rising early for our first dive just as the sun was coming up - magic! We were very lucky to get a quiet night as the next day we swapped over with a very large crowd of very noisy Russians with very little English and questionable diving skills.

Would highly recommend any divers heading to Thailand make the effort to go out to the Similans and South Siam Divers are well worth looking up to get you there.

Next Up: Kata Beach, Bangla Rd, Elephants and the rest.

Don't forget, for a more detailed account, go here, and for more photos, go here.

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Thailand - Phi Phi Island

Still clutching to the remnants of a fantastic holiday its time to tell you all about it. Sarah has been busy blogging a day by day account here, but my brain is still in muddled holiday mode and a little less concise than Sarah's so you get the mixed up broad overview from me - I haven't even done mine in order! For no particular reason, lets start with Phi Phi...

Phi Phi Island

Keen to escape the ubiquitous European Speedo clad men of Kata we arranged for 4 nights on Phi Phi Don at the PP Cassita hotel. Arriving at the wharf we were presented with the usual throng of hawkers and long boat drivers and (eventually) ushered onwards, hot tailing a porter who led us through the rabbit warren to our hotel.

Although Phi Phi has come a long way to recover since the tsunami in 2004 there are still reminders everywhere - the place is a construction zone, with building supplies steadily flowing from the pier to the various new buildings in trolleys (there are no cars on Phi Phi).

Despite the construction Phi Phi is still a haven for backpackers from all over the world, again providing some quality people-watching fodder! Some tips for young players:
  • Don't bother getting out of bed before lunch, Phi Phi doesn't "open" till midday
  • Alcohol is consumed from a bucket - a much faster and cheaper route to becoming inebriated enough to fight your friend in the Thai boxing ring (to win another bucket of course!)
  • For a cheap and delicious meal with friendly service and great ambiance, try "the Rock", find it on the other side of the construction zone. Best Tom Yum Goong on Phi Phi!
While on Phi Phi...
  • Sarah and Brent braved the cliff and went rock climbing while Duncan and I watched from the beach.
  • Brent Rock Climbing

  • Brent and Duncan caught themselves a King Mackerel each with (quite a lot of) help from our Thai fisherman guide.

Duncan's King Mackerel

  • Went of a sunset trip to the uninhabited Phi Phi Le (where the Beach movie was filmed) where we went snorkeling and then took the secret cave entrance to Maya bay and sailed back to Phi Phi Don while watching the sunset.
  • Spent 4 relaxing evenings at various beach bars drinking cocktails, delicious fruit shakes and watching fire dancers.

Beach bar

  • Got a relaxing $12 massage and my toenails painted by a lady boy as her (real) girl friends serenaded her with Brittany Spears, Not a girl, not yet a woman.
  • Visited Long Beach for a bit of a snorkel and to get away from the bustle of the main town.

Long Beach, Phi Phi Don

Next Up: Diving in the Similans.

Dont forget, for a more detailed account, go here, and for more photos, go here.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Kob khun kha Thailand

Arrived back in Sydney this morning. Although its good to be home, I hate that feeling when you walk in the door and realise that all you have in front of you is lots of washing, an empty fridge and the imminant return to work.

I really enjoyed Thailand, plenty of fun stuff to do but enough time to just chill out also. Highlights were... getting saturated on Thai new year (Songkran), Diving in the Similans, Phi Phi island hopping, kayaking the hidden caves on PhangNga and riding the elephants.

I will write up some more later though when I post some photos.

To keep you interested though, my dive buddy, El, has posted some photos here:

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Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Weather report - HOT with an evening thunderstorm.

Arrived in Thailand a week ago now. You can pretty much sum up Thailand in one word - HOT - I am melting! The heat is so oppressive that even the shortest wander will leave you in a bath of sweat. Lucky there are lots of lovely beaches (and resort pools, with pool bars!) to stay cool in!

Have spent time on Kata Beach, checked out the interesting nightlife in Patong, done a cooking course and are now on Phi Phi island. We also did a night on a liveaboard dive boat in the Similan Islands - the diving was close to the best I have ever done - spectacular.

Will write more and post pictures when we get home.

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