Archive for August, 2011

Randoms in Bangkok

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

It’s my last day in “Asia” and it’s raining in Bangkok – hard. The weather is changing in Koh Tao too. The wind is up, the water temperature is down. Monsoon shouldn’t arrive until November but it’s not as nice as it was two months ago. Seems like a good time to move on. Actually it seemed like a good time to move on about two seconds after arriving here last night, getting mobbed by taxi drivers and hotel touts before even getting off the bus.

Why are the Bangkok taxi drivers so useless? Around Sukhumvit Soi 38 last night I stopped two and asked to go to Khao San Road (about 11 miles and 30-60 minutes). It was raining hard last night too. “Ooooh, too far” said one, “Long way” said the other. “And you get paid for it” replied I. “No, raining, too far”. Useless muppets. Third time lucky.

Why don’t they understand maps? And why if they don’t know where somewhere is do they say they do? An extension of that Asian face-saving refusing to admit you don’t know something mentality, I guess.

It’s an internet/admin day. I don’t know how often I’ll get internet access in China or how reliable it will be. I’ll be moving around a lot and often on overnight trains. I’m couchsurfing in Beijing but I’ll make sure I have a plan B. I was supposed to be sleeping on a friend’s couch last night and that didn’t work out as planned! At least Bangkok is slightly familiar now; Beijing will be a complete unknown. I’m looking forward to it.

One of my couchsurfing hosts in Beijing is a dancer, although not a tanguera. There’s a possibility of a milonga on Tuesday night. Hurrah!

If you’re considering buying an Android smart phone don’t buy a Star A9000. The dual-SIM feature works well. Everything else about the phone is crap. Probably the result of an underpowered processor. Mine is in bits after flying across the room and hitting the wall at high speed. More collateral damage/expense associated with dive master training. Well, the alarm had just failed to go off on the first day I was supposed to be leading customers. Luckily I still got to the boat (just) in time. Not having a mobile phone is a pain. I’ll see what they’ve got in the duty free shops at Bangkok and Hong Kong airports tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll skip the dual-SIM capability this time. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good Android phone?

Zero to dive master

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

On Monday I completed my Dive Control Specialist (it’s so much easier just to say Dive Master) course. All the paperwork went in on Tuesday and yesterday I got the “Hello Mr Dive Professional” email from SSI. My certification card arrived this morning. Hurrah!

When I arrived here two months ago I had never dived and had no idea it would be so addictive. It probably helped that Koh Tao is a really nice place to be. It’s not perfect though. Here’s a short list of some of the best and worst aspects of the island.

Best

  • Pretty scenery – places like Mango Bay are just beautiful. It was the turquoise water, white sand, bungalows, palm trees and jungle backdrop that persuaded me to extend my stay here and do more diving.
  • Pretty scenery – I’m a bloke; if girls walk down the beach in their bikinis I’m going to look.
  • Diving on the Sattakut wreck the day after it was moved and seeing a turtle there.
  • One particular dive on Chumphon pinnacle; I’ve never seen such variety and abundance of fish.
  • One night dive. Chasing the barracuda around as they chased and chomped on their prey.
  • Great people – my new diving friends.
  • Fried chicken and cashew nuts at Mint Kitchen.

Worst

  • Motorbikes, mopeds and quadbikes. And the idiots who ride them. Especially the really noisy ones.
  • Dogs. Running around everywhere, barking.
  • Noisy drunken oafs blundering around.

The pros easily outweigh the cons.

I’ve got one final full day trip to Sail Rock tomorrow; one last chance to see a whale shark before I leave. Fingers crossed.

Five weeks later

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

 

Five and a half weeks later to be precise. Since my last post I’ve done little except diving. Pretty much every day. My tango friend from Istanbul visited for a couple of weeks and we spent two days doing non-diving things. She went home almost convinced to quit work, buy a round the world ticket and go travelling. But otherwise it has been diving, diving and more diving, and some study/academic stuff. In the next few days I will complete the dive master (strictly speaking Dive Control Specialist) course. It has been lots of fun, but also hard work, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

I’ve been debating internally the merits of being a perpetual DMT (Dive Master trainee – generic term applied to anyone on the Dive Master or Dive Control Specialist courses). We get up to five “free” dives every day and have almost no responsibilities. It would be easy to stay here but would be a waste of the money I spent on the round the world ticket. So I will be leaving Koh Tao on August 27 and continuing my journey back to Buenos Aires. I will tango in the milongas again. Beijing will be my next stop after a night or two in Bangkok.

Today I made my one hundredth dive. Tradition has it the century dive is made in the nude. Poor visibility and warm water were very welcome.