Into the Blue – Thailand

In the summer of 07, July to be exact, a plan was hatched to storm the country of Thailand with half a dozen of the roughest toughest hombres in the desert. However, as in all things, the plan missed the mark when reality took it’s toll. In the end, our 6 became 2.

Ronny was an unknown to me. A friend of a friend with tentative but pleasant associations directly. When traveling it is a serious risk to have an unknown as your wing man. As such I am sure we had mutual reservations about the arrangement.

Such reservations were quickly quelled as we realized we had very similar outlooks on life. Ergo our concepts of “Rest” and “Relaxation” were equally idiosyncratic and warped. The wonderful symphony of which can be summed up as the following.

Live Fast, Die Young, Leave a good Looking Corpse.

My inspiration for the trip came from a single movie. The only one, I believe, featuring anything more than pleasant and nearly anonymous backdrops of green jungles and clear waters from Thailand . The only movie I know of that actually attempted to harness some of the feeling of the place onto ever constraining sheets of celluloid. Starring one of the few characters which long ago shaped some of my most fundamental views of traveling. I am of course referencing Leonardo DiCaprio’s role as “Richard” in the film released in the very month of my birth in the year 2000, The Beach. I wish I could say my muse was the book, but that would be inaccurate as I have only read the book in response to the movie.

While traversing the various locales of this tropical paradise, I was consistently coaxed onward by Richard’s example. In some cases the specific sites and sounds from the film, but most often by an idea best summed up in the words from the film….

“…For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

And so it was that we arrived thirsty, eager, and open.

We flew in to Bangkok on the ever exquisite Emirates Airlines. This was my first shot at business class travel. The ride in the air was nice, however, I discovered that my discomfort from being immobile was not deterred by the larger seat and greater leg room. The greatest point of interest for business class travelers is indeed not in the air at all. It is the most delightful lounges provided by Emirates. A relatively quiet place to enjoy some complimentary food, drink, alcohol, and relax a bit is almost worth the price difference on these shorter flights when traveling to destinations unknown. However if you know the airports you will be visiting, you probably know of a watering hole or restaurant where you can get your warm and fuzzy feeling before/in between/after your flights and will forgo the expense.

However I can imagine there are those affluent enough to truly not care that you pay fifty to hundreds of points of interest (depending on your particular flight) for a ten percent better experience. For me, economy will suffice, as I am asleep the vast majority of any flight anyways. However I still need to see what first class is like before I close the book on this particular query.



Spilling out of the arrivals terminal and through customs at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok is a relatively straightforward process of being tagged and thrown to the wolves. Once through customs and baggage collection you walk a short way down to a wonderful area full of people just waiting to set you up with whatever you may require. Be it taxi, hotel, or connecting flight, It seems at times you are required by law to say “No, Thank You” at least 25 times before you make it to the curb outside. However if you are ever looking for a place you can show up plan free, this is it. There in the lobby will be hundreds of people happy to set you up with whatever you need. This was a lucky happenstance for us.

Our plan formulated from the words of a coworker, fellow traveler, and purveyor of Thai knowledge. In many of his sermons he described the ease of which one could procure tickets to Phuket from Bangkok, and that reservations in advance were unnecessary. The statement “unless there is a Buddha festival in Phuket” should have been added.

So with no flights to Phuket available for 2 days, we made an executive decision to have a pit stop in the much famed Pattaya before we heading down to Phuket. Luckily one of those helpful people that informed us of our inability to get a flight down, was more than happy to make the dozens of calls and such to make arrangements for us in town.

A short time later we were being whisked down the highway to our first stop.

We asked out driver to pull off so we could get some supplies. He pulled off into the only set of stores we saw on the way.

I managed to find the coolest looking redbull bottles. I have no idea what they have against cans, but all of their energy drinks come in TINY bottles.

We made it into Pattaya in the early evening. Our hotel elevator offered a splendid view of Pattaya bay.

After some trouble adjusting to real world food, a shower, and a quick nap, we hit the town. Pictured below is the world famous Walking Street. Home to more bars, clubs, and restaurants than any other place I have ever seen. Much like the population of China, these bars breed and evolve at such a rate that even at a liver cr
inging pace you could never drink at every bar, as there would be new and different bars by the time you made it down 3-4 streets.

The picture you see above the sign is a regular trademark of everything Thai. They LOVE their king. I mean they ADORE their king. No, no really, they L O V E their king. If you want to know why you can read about him here, and it does make for an interesting skim. I certainly respect the man for his many accomplishments. Just in case you think I am making it up, from the linked article “He is immensely popular in Thailand, and is revered as a semi-divine figure by a number of Thais”.

So now that his level of greatness has been properly defined, you will more easily understand the reason his picture, often with his wife, will adorn the wall of nearly any structure or sign it will fit on. I mean Jesus in Italy or Coca Cola in The States are the only comparisons I can make with accuracy. Nearly any event is initiated with a moment for the king. Before a movie, the king’s song plays, a compilation of clip of the king is displayed, and EVERYONE stands. You couldn’t get this level of participation in the states if you payed. Same for Monday, that’s right, an entire day of the week. The king was born on Monday, so the king’s color yellow is supposed to be worn and displayed. The participation level is blinding. I read somewhere that the country actually ran out of yellow shirts when the practice was first enacted.

I quickly discovered that the best position for a tourist on the king is neutral good. Stand when everyone else does, don’t stare or point at pictures, try not to defame any cash (the king’s picture is on all of the bills) and in general refrain from conversation about any of the royal family. If asked keep it brief and positive, any flourishes on the greatness of the monarch will most certainly be taken as sarcasm or worse. Anything sufficiently negative about the royal family is really the only way I know of to get beaten by anyone within earshot and incarcerated.

Walking Street is much like any other party district. Covered in bright lights vieing for your attention and baht. The innumerable bars, clubs, and gogos offer every taste, setting, style,selection you require. Or as you hear often while you are there “Up to you!”

This is a SOI. Soi basically means street. Sometimes this is actually a street, other times the street is inside a building. This is an example from walking street. You can see several bars, each one with a different sign and pool tables. The only thing they share is the DJ, who pumps music throughout the entire place. I have never really established a method for choosing which bar to sit at. People tend to clump together, so if they manage to get one or two customers, everyone else assumes that’s the good one and says “I guess ill drink there”. I personally enjoy being the first group to walk up to a bar, as the servers are just waiting to pour you another. Never fear being the only one at the bar, whoever is behind the bar is always willing to eviscerate you at connect four or various other games. I have had the rare pleasure of schooling one or two at a game, but it was much too rare for my taste.
We made our way around Walking Street, had a few to many drinks, and ate some fantastic seafood. I really must remember to take pictures of the places we eat and such from the outside so I can remember their names.

The next morning my view out on the town was fantastic.

We managed to crawl out of bed and trick our livers into following us back out of the hotel. We grabbed a Tuktuk. …

Oh right….well a Tuktuk is a taxi of sorts. The evolution of which you can read about at the link. The current incarnation is a small pickup with bench seats and a top. There are more specialized versions but they very much resemble the pickup version pictured below. So when in Thailand, Tuk Tuk is the standard vehicle for being taken places, Taxi means sitting in the back of an actual car, and is usually pricier, though not much.

….and headed down out to find some food. We were requested to bring back a shirt from a Hard Rock while we were in town, and our driver assured us he knew where one was. Hard Rock is international for food as well, so we reasoned we could kill two birds with one stone.

We found the Hard Rock in short order…

and wondered into the gift shop. We not only found the usual bevy of collectibles, but some unique additions. Like these Hard Rock “Love all, Protect All” condoms.
Our shirts in hand we looked around for the restaurant and were disappointed to see there was only a hotel buffet. Our first whole day in town, it was decided we had to eat locally. So we walked down the street and walked into a place that was only a restaurant by smell. I don’t think it even had a name. After a long attempt at finding out what locals would eat, we simply asked some locals to order for us. We were treated to what became a norm that has grown near and dear to me. Half the menu arrived on our table. The idea of which is that everyone picks and prods from the various dishes. Most people use forks and spoons as utensils so you will not feel out of place using them.

It was at this point I discovered a very important fact about my newly acquired wingman. He execrates fish, all forms of fish, especially the kind with eyes that look at you from their delicately fried heads.
I, however, thought it was fresh and expertly prepared to a delectable finish. So if you are into fish, Thailand is an excellent place for their consumption. If a local orders, you can count on a whole fish hitting the table at some point.

While speaking of things gastronomical, I would be remiss if I did not touch on the Thai love of all things spicy. The first rule is Thai food is that if it isn’t spicy, its bland and boring, so everything has some level of spice to it. My only rebuttal to the normal problem with over spiced food, is that with every dish I had while in the country, the spiciness was strong, but truly played a supporting role in the flavors of the dish. Even in the midst of a five alarm burn out, you knew it was squid that was on fire in your mouth.

I could write an entire post on the culinary peculiarities of this culture, and I will probably do so at a later date, but for now I will only say it is important to remember one thing. The flaming red sauce that looks like it will kill you is only mild by Thai standard and can be consumed safely in reasonable quantities to great explosions of flavor enhancement for those with a decent resistance to capsaicin. However, the innocent looking sauce to the left of the fish pictured below, barely recognizable as a hot sauce, containing nothing that even looks like a pepper, will not just kill you, it is quite possibly the source of the “spontaneous combustion” myth which has scared the interweb with pictures of burnt out shoes being the only remains. If not handled with the utmost respect and caution, it will burn you to the ground and proceed to follow your grieving friends back to the hotel and burn it down as well just for fun. The source of this animosity is the little green bean looking seeds. These are the source of all evil and must be avoided at all cost. In a one on one fight I fared well I think, but my first lesson was a painful one.
Our bellies full and our tongues burnt to ash, we decided some sort of rejuvenation was a good idea. We decided to partake in another ever present Thai business, massage. You can find legit and illicit massage a plenty. You will be assaulted by bored masseuses on nearly every street corner. It has been my experience that letting some stranger rearrange your musculature in a bizarre way replenishes some unknown corner of your soul. I have never had two do even remotely the same process. Some are like an assisted yoga class, some bring weapons into play, some are more tame, but all move with a practiced motion that speaks of sheer repetition. So just lay down, breathe deep, and wait for the popping, because they all LOVE to hear the bones pop.

My particular instructor into the line between pleasure and pain is the wonderful woman sitting on the couch in the gray shirt. She treated my back like a pot of overcooked noodles, pulling every stringy sinew apart and laying it all out in a row on the table next to me. An hour later I was reassembled and covered in oil, and sent back into the world feeling like I had 2 nights sleep force fed into my body.

So we hit the mall, watched a movie, and did some other standard things people do when they are in the real world.

By the time the sun was down, we were back on walking street. After many rounds in many bars we managed to find ourselves before a mechanical bull. Hilarity of mass proportions ensued that I have not the words for. Luckily, I have video of the event.

As is most stereotypical, the batteries died. I would love to embellish on the fantastic nature of my second run, but it wouldn’t be believed anyways. Just check out my victory dance picture below, and be satisfied it was a good time.
And so it was, still soar from the nights encounters with our faux bovine nemesis, we said goodbye to Pattaya and boarded our plane to Phuket. We were staying at Patong Beach which is nearly opposite the airport on the island, so an hour drive gave us some time to discuss the finer things in life before we arrived.

A major influence of the movies had me searching for the mythical hut on the beach you see in so many films set on islands. The mythical hut does exist I am sure, but what we found instead set a whole new bar in my travels. One of the major hassles of traveling are hotels. Luxury or economy, you still have to deal with many of the same problems. Foremost among them being that you are in a giant building with neighbors on nearly every wall. I don’t care how nice the place is, it feels wrong.

Now maybe this is just Ronny and I speaking, but when you don’t have to deal with a front desk, sit in an elevator, walk down long sanitary rows of doors looking for your number, you get a feeling of ownership. When you feel the ownership for a place, you feel more comfortable in that place. When we started looking at villas, we first noticed the price per person was very reasonable. Sure it was nearly double what you pay for a decent hotel in the city, but it was on par or cheaper than many luxury hotels and well within what I call the international lodging standard. So for the price of a rathole hotel anywhere in Europe, we had a two bedroom house all to ourselves.

Our own pool, our own kitchen, our own common area, truly a place we could happily call our fortress of solitude for the trip. Not to mention the view from our patio table made for an excellent coffee in the morning.

So with our base camp established we hit the town. That evening there was a Muay Thai tournament (there are tournaments 2-3 nights a week in the tourist towns). And starting with the kids, it was worth an evening to watch. So before each match there is a dance. It looks like a good way to warm up and stretch before the match that has just been made into a sort of traditional dance. And the most annoying music in all of history is played at ear splitting volumes. I can understand its composition as the beats are frequent and there are about 30 different beat structures happening at the same time. So really you never get too settled on one rhythm, and the cacophonous result is so aggravating you want to knock your opponent out just to make the music stop.

So before proceeding I would caution you fair reader, to turn down any speakers or headphones to a safe level before playing any of the videos below.

I was definitely impressed with the aggression and conditioning of the little guys. You can tell they take this seriously.

As we got into the older/heavier matches I began to see the famed Muay Thai ferocity. While I still don’t quit feel the art itself is any more vicious or deadly than any other, particularly less that some actually. The physical hardening and general extreme level of conditioning of its disciples can certainly give that reputation. Especially when its combatants are trained to basically use the conditioning as a weapon as much as the art. Watching them bludgeon each other throughout the match, trading shots back and forth glaring defiantly into the face of the opponent made me think that while the practice is somewhat counter intuitive, it does make an impressive display. I may have to spend some time a thia boxing camp one day, see how I fare.

This Canadian guy got knocked around pretty good. Definitely entertaining as he got split open pretty good.

These two were definitely the best in show. Truly going at it. Vicious between the bells, but sportsman all in all. Excellent match.

And the only women’s match was a complete muck up. The blonde with the braids being half a head taller and probably 30% heavier it was an absolute beating. The video is of the first 30 seconds.

The initial pounding just went on and on. In the end all my respect goes to the girl in the black shirt. She never fell down, never failed to be aggressive, never hesitated at any opportunity, and never disengaged. If all she had done was remain standing I would have been amazed, but she even managed to get a few shots in here and there. I was baffled. My deepest respects go to her.

You’re good. You’re very good. My lords, my ladies, and everybody else here not sitting on a cushion!

Today… today, you find yourselves equals.

For you are all equally blessed. For I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure of introducing to you to a woman, sired by dolphins. A woman whose intellect, shinning personality, and show stopping smile can only be surpassed by her elegance and agility in her natural element. A women equally versed in preserving life and the planet. I have the distinct honor of calling her my sensei of the deep, my master in the ways beneath the waves, who taught me the science and the art that is SCUBA. She may be the 2nd best instructor on the island but she is number 1 in our hearts. The one, the only, Lady Oui von Sharkey Scuba Phuket!

All of my flowery repose aside, I do not believe we could have found a better instructor if we tried. As I am sure you can all imagine, Ronny and I were not the best of students. We never study, we can’t stop cracking jokes, we get ahead of ourselves, and we have been known to be late from time to time. Oui laughed right on with us, pulled in the reigns when necessary, and kept things rolling. Her instruction was complete, concise, and most importantly fun.

Your first day in the basic course is classroom and pool work. So after spending hours reviewing the material we should have already studied, we had our laughs and got all the “this is how not to die” and “you breath through this one” out of the way and it was time to get into the pool.

Now I won’t bore you with the particulars, but the feeling the first time you take a breath underwater is amazing! I hear it can be difficult for some, but I guess I have spent enough time snorkeling that the idea did not seem weird at all. After some basic maneuvers and techniques we had officially been SCUBA diving. A second birthday for me really.

There were some basic requirements that didn’t seem very challenging. Swim a certain distance (no time limit), and tread water for a certain amount of time. Of course we had to make this difficult. You can’t put two of us in a pool swimming a distance at the same time and expect it not to be a race. I had nothing underneath my wetsuit to do my laps in, so I had to leave it on. To counter the buoyancy of the suit, I needed to wear some weight. My smart ass decided to put them all back on. I played it off saying I was giving the old man a handicap.

And so we were off, I finished the first lap well ahead and managed to gain through the second and third lap. Now there is another element of the wet suit in addition to buoyancy that is there to help you survive in the water. Water conducts heat away from your body 25 times faster than air does, so you cool much more rapidly in water. The suit corrects for this. Which means that when swimming at maximum intensity, you overheat 25 times faster than running in open air. Also the suit is not designed for speed, and created A LOT of drag. So after 3 laps I am dead, and we had 9 more to go. As soon as I stopped planing water with the speed, the weight pulled me down and the drag of the suit kicked in. Needless to say, Ronny lapped me by the end.

Immediately following the swim is the water tread. At this point I am gasping for breath and just barely flapping my way above the water while Ronny and Oui are having a good old time at my expense.

Our day complete, we boarded the tuk tuk and made our way back to the fortress of solitude.

Early the next morning we were picked up by the tuk tuk and hauled down to Shalong peir.

As we continued our studying I learned very quickly that my car sickness transfers to the water quite well. Any attempt at studying was shot for me. So once again I had to be a pain and take my final exam back at the office late that evening.

And the next day we headed back out to finish our dives for our Basic Open Water certification.
After our orientation we were on our way.

We headed out to Koh Racha Yai and Noi. Two islands near each other, offering a wonderful slope dive.

It was on this dive that I found my new happy place. Coming off from one stag horn reef onto another, I found myself on an empty sandy bottom. As a looked out away from the island, the bottom just sloped off into oblivion, and a wall of endless blue stretched before me. I rolled over and kicked my feet up, coming to rest on the sandy bottom as if it were a lazy boy recliner, and took a moment to realize just where I was, what I was doing, and how hard I would have laughed if someone had told me 2 years previous that it would be so. I wish I had taken a picture of that moment, who knows, maybe I will find the spot again and take one next chance I have. But captured on film or not, the moment will live on with me forever.
By the way, for two days in a row, the best food we had on the island was on these dive boats. It could have been the hunger worked up from the deep, or the beautiful backdrop for our lunch, but it was fantastic.

You can begin to see the effects of the long days of diving, and the long nights partying taking their tole on our fair travelers. But we press on, so little time, and so much to do.
And after another beautiful day in the water. We were officially Basic Open Water divers.

Our task complete, we were given a day reprieve before we began our attempt at Advanced divers. So we found this wonderful little bar down near Bangala rd called simply Aussie Bar. The drinks were cold and stiff, and the pool table was all ours. Ronny took this opportunity to attempt to teach me some of the fine art of pool.
And so he diligently beat….taught me in game after game.

And eventually I learned a thing or two.

Oui and Iain (Oui’s husband and Co-owner of Sharkey Scuba) were throwing a party the next night, so we had to get moving, we refreshed ourselves on the plentiful cart food that can be found in any part of town. I really can’t explain my love of cart food enough. Fresh fruits and veggies a plenty. Meat and fish dishes, whatever you want. I even saw a dude roasting a whole pig on a spit pushing it down the road on a cart. You just walked up and pointed at the part you wanted him to hack off and bag up for you. This man was wicked fast with that knife. Slicing us up some delicious baby thai mangos, the most tart food I have ever consumed. I puckered till my lips came out of my ears.

So drunk and puckered, we hobbled our way home for some much deserved sleep….of course there were shenanigans en route.

“Nah, Ronald…Ronny isnt drunk….he’s just tired.”

But the monkey couldn’t be fooled.

“Looks like a family reunion.”

So the next day we spent lounging about the house, its amazing how much you sleep when you haven’t in a week. The spirit was willing, but the bodies failed. Our only accomplishment was a get together at the Sharkey house. We were introduced to our fellow aquanauts and passed around a few beers. Good times for all.

And really, If you haven’t noticed by now. Oui is ALWAYS smiling. And what a smile it is. There is no flash in this shot, its all her smile.

The next morning Ronny had developed a decent ear infection from the diving and would not be able to join us. It was painful, but finally I could get ahead at something.

The plan for my Advanced course, was 2 days of diving with an overnight stay on Phi Phi island. Apparently this was a slow day for the diving world as I was the only customer on the boat.
Oui brought a camera this time. Went through the process with me. I will have to buy one myself soon.

Seriously Oui and the two give masters you see lounging there, the ships crew, and me. Made for an interesting day. I could imagine a few jokes could start well with An Irishman, a Frenchman, and an American are on a boat…. And we did have a great time and many laughs on our way around.

Meanwhile Ronny had a nice sleep in, and decided to go take in some of the other tourist attractions. He began his day with an elephant trek through the jungle.

And made out with a snake.

SCUBA diving is almost an out of body experience.
When you are comfortable with the myriad of laws that you must adibe to survive the event, you begin to treat your normally subconscious bodily functions as parts of the machine.
Your breathing is not just your source of air, but your ballast, controlling your buoyancy. You breath in and out thinking not so much about the air involved, but how it will affect your displacement.
Your heart rate is a clock, the more relaxed and effortless your time spent under the water, the more of it you can have.
You sweep your vision slowly from place to place, straining to feel in all directions, as something you want to see can be anywhere around, above, below, or behind you.
Everywhere around you there is life, in abundance and splendor far greater than anything on land.
Rainforests have nothing on the reefs.
And in this great symphony of awe and wonder you are swept away from your bodily confines.

You can no longer try to reason it all out. You simply breathe and watch, everything else, is just a memory.

The islands themselves we so beautiful I couldn’t help but shoot them between the dives.

And then the museum part of diving was over. As much as as it is to sit and bask in the wonder of the bottom of the sea. Oui was kind enough to show some of the more fun things you can do down there as well. DPVs or Diver Propulsion Vehicles were made famous a James Bond film, but they have come a long way since. While they do add an element of danger (as speed always does), they are also a great tool to increase your range and time underwater by allowing you to not work as hard and therefore conserve air.

Or you can do what we did, and drag race, flips, and barrel roll, top gun style till you puke and/or the batteries die.

My muse for the trip being known to my companions, I was informed that Phi Phi Island is where “The Beach” was filmed, and that since I was the boats only customer, it should be only right that we tape a pass by it before we head in for the evening.

It looks alot different from the movie, much less secluded. But seeing the way the cliffs are arranged. I am sure if you were standing on the right parts of the beach, you could pull off the effect. I will have to watch the movie again and see if I recognize the place.


There are the caves where the swallows nest. In Thailand and Japan the nest these birds make from their saliva is a delicacy. I have now been to both countries and have never seen it on any menu, but I am told its out there somewhere. I guess I need to find fancier restaurants.

The guys climb the shakey little boards back and forth across the caves collecting the nests.

The sun was setting, and it was fine for our return to Phi Phi for our well deserved rest.

We stayed in these amazing little bungalows on the hill overlooking the bay. Beautiful, but my eyes were in my books. Being the bad student again, I spent my evening studying for the next test instead of out having a good time in the Phi Phi night life.

Meanwhile, Ronny was enjoying the cultural theme park, FantaSea.

He explained that it was a fantastic buffet and a show with a wide assortment of shopping and carnival style games. A good time all in all, it will be on my list for another trip.

Morning on Phi Phi, and its time to get back in the water.
One of the positives of an overnights on the island, is that from wake up and breakfast its about an hour total before you are the water. My morning coffee hadn’t kicked in before I was breathing from a tank.

Oui demonstrating the Thermocline effect.


I think she’s excited….

And for good reason. We spotted a huge leopard shark taking a mid morning ciesta on a nice sandy bottom.

As we approached slowly, it didn’t seem to mind us. So we crept in for more and more shots.

Until we were nearly face to face with the big cutie.

The angry little guy pictured below did not like Oui’s fin at all. Attacking her with such tenacity we thought it deserved a picture.


It was among this school of fish I learned a very important lesson. If you swim under a large school of fish, it WILL rain crap on you.
We came across a huge octopus. I have seem many pictures of videos of them previously, but I never really understood them. Everyone knows they can change the color and texture of their skin to blend in with their surrounding, but the speed and accuracy is amazing. Watching it move and hide the intelligence of the creatue was amazingly appearent. Its skin would just adapt to a place it settled, but it changed nearly as fast as the creatue was looking around searching for a place to go. And once in a nook, it settled in very quickly and became nearly invisible. Absolutely amazing, I would love to come across one again and buy him dinner.

As we headed up into the shallows we managed to spark the interest of some black tip reef sharks. They were curious little guys, probably 3-4 feet long. They have rougly our eyesite underwater, and they kept us just in sight as we rolled along the coast. I really have to get a closer encounter sometime.
We headed out for my wreck and deep dives last. The King Cruiser is Phukets only wreck dive. Its bottom is nearly 100ft down so it is an advanced dive. There were moray eels and school of fish a plenty. But the remarkable thing was that it was my first deep dive in open water. Until you are on the ship, there is no reef or wall to follow, just the rope. You find yourself at a point in the descent where the surface and the bottom are out of sight. This is a clinche moment for alot of new divers, you feel very exposed. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed the feeling. I actually stopped a moment and just floated, relaxing, realizing how small a part of it all I really was.

Diving the wreck was interesting in its own right. A reef is a happy place, happy fish, happy coral, dead or alive its abundant life is amazing. The wreck was eerie, this odd angular thing that didn’t belong there. Man made, once a working machine, now being slowly decomposed and taken over by the life of the ocean. Like a tomb or crypt but with the added gloom of the depth. A strange thing indeed. But life in the ocean attaches itself to anything. Though only 13 years old now, the King Cruiser superstructure has already collapsed, you used to be able to swim under the deck for a short span, but bubbles from divers corroded the steel till it buckled. The exterior is covered in algea and newly forming coral. Lionfish and Eels swarm every nook and cranny of the deck and beautiful angelfish like below glide around the mooring.

Since they were along for the dive, the other dive masters were kind enough to autograph my final advanced course dive entry in my log.

Congratulations….you are a certified advanced open water diver.
The diving was done, our souls were renewed. We had but one thing left to do before we left the country. We stopped at yet another cart and got ourselves some bugs.

Grasshoppers are good eatin.

Now I never saw any locals running around with bags of the salty critters to snack on, but I am told they do quite often. And considering the selection available I can only assume they do.

So we come to the end, You see the worn and exhausted faces of two new buddies who have had entirely too much fun in this most beautiful country.



No comments so far.

Leave a Reply
  (will not be published)