Posts Tagged ‘Khao Lak’

After Khao Lak

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Singapore night

I had planned to complete the season in Khao Lak and from Christmas onwards I dived pretty much every day. While doing so I applied for instructor jobs anywhere in the world with sunny weather and warm water. One of the multitude of  applications finally paid off and I was offered a full-time permanent position at a 5-star resort in Indonesia, starting early in March. It was too good to turn down so I set off from Khao Lak a few days before the end of February.

First stop was Pulau Tioman in Malaysia to sample the diving there. I flew from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur and took a bus to Mersing. Mersing is rather like Pakse in Laos; there is no good reason to go there except to go somewhere else. Bus and ferry timetables meant staying the night. While out and about I got a lot of hard, unfriendly stares from the locals, especially the men. The town did nothing to redeem itself  on the culinary front, offering some of the worst food I’ve encountered while travelling. At least it wasn’t bugs on sticks and didn’t result in a day spent sitting on the toilet. Riverside Hotel was cleanish and functional but not particularly cheap.

The diving season in Tioman was just getting started when I arrived and only some hotels and dive centres were actually open and operating. I stayed at Babura Seaview in Tekek and dived with Tioman Dive Centre which was right next door. The hotel was cleaner and cheaper than that in Mersing and the room was more comfortable but with garish green walls. I didn’t have an ocean front room but could hear the sea from it anyway. Visibility on the dives wasn’t great, mostly around 8m, but the corals were pretty and there were plenty of fish. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable and I enjoyed the six dives I did with them. The food in Tioman still wasn’t great but it was better than in Mersing.

A ferry and bus got me from Tioman to Singapore in a little under nine hours. While there I got a visa for Indonesia, visited a friend from my round the world trip, went to a dentist, and did some sightseeing and shopping. I left with a new camera and underwater housing, that Christmas present I kind of promised myself last November. It wasn’t the one I had planned to get; I got bamboozled by the salesman, but it will do for starters. There are some fishy pics which I have taken since over at Flickr.

From Singapore to Bali was a short flight. The planned one night in Kuta (kind of like Koh Tao but in Indonesia) turned into three since I got bumped from the floatplane which covered the final leg of the journey to Moyo.

Non diving days

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Breakfast

I had a few more of these than I would have liked while in Khao Lak. There’s really not a lot to do there on non-diving days. A typical such day started with getting up late and breakfast or brunch at Ten Star (pictured above). So long as I bought something they were happy to let me sit using their electricity and wifi for hours at a time .

Breakfast, Khao Lak

 

 

Standard breakfast: muesli, fruit and yoghurt with a good book on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch

 

 

 

 

Followed a couple of hours later by McNuggets or a double cheeseburger meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then a walk down to the beach to my favourite massage place.

Favourite massage spot, Khao Lak

 

An hour later I’d sit in one of the beach recliners for a bit more reading and then wander back along the beach to my room. The guest house provided free tea and coffee all day so I’d drink a few cups of tea while reading or getting a bit of a facebook and email fix. Around 7pm it was time to head to Khao Lak family seafood restaurant for dinner.

Dinner

 

If I was lucky my phone would ring before leaving the restaurant with an offer of work for the next day. If not I’d do pretty much exactly the same thing all over again the next day. One or two of these in a row wasn’t so bad, but three or four got to be seriously boring. I read a LOT of books while I was in Khao Lak. Thank goodness for my Kindle.

 

A bit of disclosure: if you click that Kindle link and actually buy one while on the Amazon page I’ll get a tiny commission. It won’t make any difference to how much you pay, and it won’t make me rich, but if Amazon are prepared to give me a slice of their profits then I’m happy to accept them.

Similan islands liveaboard

Friday, November 9th, 2012

While twiddling my thumbs in Khao Lak, waiting for the phone to start ringing and offers of freelance instructor or dive master work to flood in I needed to do some diving. There is no shortage of dive shops to choose from and basically three types of diving – day trips, liveaboards and hybrid platform trips.

  • Day trips generally leave in the morning on a speed boat. They visit local dive sites around Khao Lak – like the Boonsung wreck, or more remote sites in the Similan Islands or Surin national park. There are usually two dives, one in the morning, a second in the afternoon. Lunch is provided in between the dives. The boat returns mid- to late-afternoon. Prices are around 3000-6000 baht including equipment and refreshments and depending on how remote the dive sites are.
  • Liveaboards make multi-day trips with guests sleeping onboard overnight in varying degrees of comfort. Trips are anywhere from three to six days in duration. Shorter trips tend to concentrate on just the Similan islands, or just Surin national park. Longer trips are likely to include both areas. Prices start around 15000 baht for a three day trip including a two or four bunk shared cabin, meals and refreshments but excluding alcoholic drinks, national park fees and equipment rental. A three day trip usually includes 10 dives, a four day trip 14 dives, a five day trip 18 dives. They are intense.
  • Platform trips are a combination using speed boats or longtails to deliver customers to a large boat which functions as a dive platform and may also function as a liveaboard.

I chose to do a four night, four day liveaboard trip with Big Blue Khao Lak. It was the first outing of the 2012/3 season for their new boat, M/V Hallelujah. And it was brilliant. Everything about it was brilliant – the boat, the accommodation, the catering, the crew, the staff and of course, the diving. We did 14 dives (three days of four dives per day, plus two dives on the last day); six in the Similan islands, two at Koh Bon, two at Koh Tachai, three at Richelieu Rock and one at the Boonsung wreck just off Khao Lak. I saw more lion fish on the first dive than I have seen on Koh Tao in over eight months, and more porcupine fish on one dive on Boonsung wreck than in all my previous dives combined. The visibility was generally excellent – often as much as 30m and the water so clear on some dives it felt like we were in an aquarium. We were inundated with lion fish, box fish, trumpet fish, cuttle fish, octopus, porcupine fish, box fish, trigger fish and moray eels. There were also plenty of nudibranchs for the macro lovers, a tiger tail seahorse, a peacock manta shrimp and a white tipped reef shark and a leopard shark. Sadly we didn’t see any manta rays (too early in the season for them) or whale sharks (but I’ve seen lots of them in Koh Tao recently).

Many people had told me how good the diving from Khao Lak was, how much better it was than the diving in Koh Tao. So I was expecting to be blown away and I was. Really there aren’t enough superlatives to describe how good this trip was.

Unfortunately I have no photos from the diving; I need an underwater housing for my camera or better still, a new camera and an underwater housing. Wonder what I’ll be buying myself for Christmas? In a way though, that was a good thing. It meant I got to spend more time looking at more critters than if I had been busy pointing a camera at a few of them trying to get the perfect shot.

Have you dived the Similans or Richelieu Rock? Have you dived anywhere you think is better? Tell me in the comments and maybe I’ll go there next year.