The Daily – 12/2

Word of the Day: Giddy-up
Notable / Highlight of the Day: We were off to Richelieu Rock, one of the too-rated dive sites in the world and the seas were stirring but the sun was out. We did our first dive of the day near Koh Tachai and then spent a few hours heading towards Richelieu. Richelieu is really just a huge rock that maybe sticks a few feet out of the water at low tide.
The mood on the boat matched the queasiness the sea was inducing, though, I still cannot figure out for the life of me anyone can be unhappy on a boat. I was practically ready to move onboard. Part of the reason I booked the trip was because I knew the weather was going to be crappy and it was going to be super windy, but I’m not sure everyone else checked the weather.

Toni the German guy and I enjoying a sunny day.

Toni, the German guy also kept a big smile on his face, but Cecile and Brigit were grumpy and whiny, and most everyone else didn’t speak much English. Lucas was starting to grow on me though, in his clumsy way he was enjoying himself and him and Bogdan were clearly becoming buddies and enjoying smoking maybe 15 packs a day in the dining area.
Something happened before we got to Richelieu though. I was napping in the saloon and Tiago woke me up and asked if he could use it for a bit. As I was stepping out the crowd of Chinese divers filed in with Wilson. I didn’t know what was going on, but it was clearly more complaining.
I hung out, snacking on some cereal and reading up when Tiago came to sit next to me, looking like he just went through the wringer. The Chinese team were all diving on Nitrox and I assumed it must have been something with the blend on one of their tanks. Meanwhile I heard Birgit and Cecile complaining about the evening dives and wanting them to be night dives instead.
Our first dive to Richelieu was, well, bumpy. Willy started descending before we got to the buoy and we had to cancel our first descent. Tiago got us back on the boat and had us dropped closer but we were a bit low on air. It didn’t matter though, he brought us to a protected spot and we just floated for about 10 minutes looking at the busiest and most diverse dive spot I’d ever seen (though I haven’t seen anything outside of Thailand and haven’t seen too many dive spots anyways).
It was amazing though. Even the rock itself was beautiful. The corals painted it purple, green, yellow and you literally had to swat away the glass fish they were so thick over the rocks. It was like being in New York City at rush hour with all the lights, sounds, and colors (no pizza though).
I kind of decided I never wanted to leave, but our oxygen tanks only held so much air. After a bit of a tour we ascended back to rough seas.
When we got back we found out team Cecile, Brigit, Toni, and Bogdan had decided not to reattempt their dive because they also missed the buoy and wanted full tanks of air…what a mistake.
We dove Richelieu a bit later in the afternoon and this time were somehow dropped right on top of the reef. The entire dive was filled with life and was just incredible. There is supposedly a seahorse on one of the corals but I missed it. It was also fun to see other dive masters recognize Tiago, they blew him air rings, kisses, and did some other silly moves. Those more time I spent with them, the more I loved the diving culture and wished I was wealthy.
When we came up the seas were still angry though the sky was blue. During our dive we had found someone’s air gauge and picked it up to throw it away. It turns out it was from Cecile’s BCD and their team had again foregone the dive because of it. It was extra a shame because the captain had decided it was too rough and we needed to leave. I think all the green passengers agreed, even though most of us were on a steady diet of sea sick pills.
I took my usual spot in the lounge and Tiago threw on some Futurama while we traveled back to a safe harbor for our final dive and place to sleep. The saloon made me realize also that bean bag chairs, if made properly, are pretty much the comfiest thing and perfect for naps.
Our last dive of the day was my buoyancy test. Tiago brought some weights and made me do a few drills to learn some maneuvers. He also had fun pushing me into the sand when I was hovering or doing swim-unders. It was really interesting to see how a change of a couple pounds could make such a difference and how close i could actually get to the bottom without touching. It honestly gave me more comfort in the water and I wish I had done it during the first dive.
We spent the evening hanging out, eating, and spending more time on the bow of the ship watching the night clouds. And my god I never wanted to leave.
Current Location: Similan Islands
Cost of Tea: included
Miles Traveled: no idea
Miles Walked: 0
Dollars Spent Today: 0
Mood Emoji:🌊🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🀒🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🌊

The Daily – 12/1

Word of the Day: Identification, Please
Notable / Highlight of the Day: Tiago was amused with all my fish identification questions but was also looking to stop answering them.Β  After every dive I was grabbing the reference books and grilling him on which fish was this and what fish was that.Β  So, he started teaching me what to look for eg. body shapes/depth/what the fish are near/shape of mouth/location of fins etc.
And so we went diving!Β  Another day packed with dives and some more rough seas.Β  Alister was finally getting his bags he had managed to forget at the shop…just in time to get picked up but to be put on another boat.Β  He was still too shaken up by his second dive.Β  Tiago had brought him out on an easy, shallow dive, but Alister was hanging up his fins.Β  He had no interest in ever diving again after his panic attack, it was too frightening and he felt better on dry land.
Β Again, we did four dives in total.Β  I saw anΒ octopus swimming for the first time and a giant triggerfish ripping apart a sea urchin.Β  I should note the giant triggerfish are quite large, they’re about the size of my torso and go to town on whatever they happen to be eating or destroying.Β  Tiago also pointed out the adorable little baby box fish which you can’t help but squee at.Β  We also saw these beautiful navyΒ sea sponges that looked like velvet with black spots.
On one of our dives, there was a big wall of soft corals completely dressed for easter.Β  It was all pastel pink, green, blue and purple and just beautiful and crawling with life.Β  Our last dive Tiago asked me to identify all the fish but I still had to use the reference book for several when we came up.Β  One of the coolest things I saw was a feather star walking, it legitimately looked like an alien.
I spent the evening enjoying dinner, hanging out with the crew and went to bed early.Β  The funny thing about diving is that it takes a lot of energy.Β  I nap a ton during the day but am still ready to go to sleep around 10 or 11 pm.
I was finding myself snuggling up in the saloon often, reading books, watching training videos, and napping.Β  It was such a comfy space and it has been so long since I’ve had any semblance of a living room I took full advantage of it.Β  And because I was the only one using it, I could shut off the AC and keep it nice and warm.
Current Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
Cost of Tea: Included
Miles Traveled: not sure
Miles Walked: 0
Dollars Spent Today: 0
Mood Emoji:🐠🐟🐑

The Daily – 11/30

Word of the Day: Crap
Notable / Highlight of the Day: The weather turned from kinda crap to shit. It rained off and on all day, was super gusty, and we had huge swells. So, what better way to spend the day than in the warm ocean hanging with octopi and friendly fishies!
I seemed to be one of the few on the boat with this attitude though. The crew kept upbeat, but the guests were starting to grumble. I was so happy to have a comfy home base while diving four times a day. The pace is relaxed here and you don’t have much to worry about.
On our first dive of the day, our descent was trough some little critters that glowed neon blue and green, but if you got too close, they’d go invisible. Once at the bottom Tiago got too close to a clown trigger fish’s nest, which chased him away after several nips at his flippers. Willy and Lucas were along too, but each of them had issues separately and I was shuffled into different groups a few times as Tiago had to shallow up with each of them. We even got to do a swim though, but missed another because of the one of the switch offs.
The next two dives were also full of life, hunting turtles, a turtle taking a rest, a moray eel swimming to a new hiding spot, a few swim throughs, a few white tip reef sharks, and a big school of ling-tailed banner fish. Alex had brought me out on one of the dives because Tiago was bringing Alister out to get him in the water once more.
Alex was just as speedy through the water and his Russian team was fun to dive with!Β  Everyone had good spacial awareness and no one bumped into anyone else. Which was extra amazing because it was an intense dive for me as the currents made it feel like I was diving through a turbine. Everyone else I was diving with was far more skilled than me, thank goodness I was fit enough to keep up!
Willy also seemed to have decided to start talking with the Chinese girls instead of me. He wanted to go diving with them and was following them around instead of me because I wouldn’t talk to him. I was relieved but felt a bit badly for them.
The final dive of the night was my navigation and buoyancy tests. Tiago and I went on our own. I managed to jump in without my weight belt, so we cancelled the buoyancy test. However I did just fine on navigation once I focused and stopped laughing at myself.
Tiago and I were starting to really understand each other underwater and have more playful dives. Because I was getting more comfortable in the water I was swimming around, flipping upside down, and doing other acrobatics that burn your air but are fun to do.
I spent the evening hanging out on the roof with Alex and Aisha for the most part.Β  Tiago came up for a bit too, but Willy was entertaining his Chinese team.Β  Alex and I watched the clouds, talked about his diving adventures, and enjoyed an incredible moonbow, a rainbow that had circled the moon.Β  I was starting to see all sorts of corals and fish forming in the dark, ethereal clouds.
Current Location: Similan Islands, Thailand
Cost of Tea: included
Miles Traveled: not sure
Miles Walked: 0
Dollars Spent Today: 0
Number of Dogs Seen / Dog of the Day: do sharks count?
Mood Emoji: 🐠🐠🐠🐠🐠

The Daily – 11/29

Word of the Day: Bioluminescence
Notable / Highlight of the Day: 100 feet. That’s how far I was going under the surface of the sea and the first time with a dive computer.
We woke up to a grey day and an early morning dive. Well, 7 am, and I wasn’t sure how to get dressed for it since we’d be doing a dive briefing before jumping in. We’d also be learning who our buddies were and our group leads.
I was teamed with Willy πŸ˜’ and Tiago, our trip lead. Tiago was also going to be my instructor, so I knew at least a few dives would be just the two of us as no one wants to just observe a navigation or buoyancy dive. I pulled him aside to let him know about my discomfort with Willy just so he was aware and mindful. I was also going to do another wreck dive and a night dive. Everything sounded exhilarating except the night dive, which I thought would be terrifying.
Our first dive was a deep, but easy dive. We went down to 27 meters and cruised around spotting some really beautiful sea-life including sea snakes, huge triggerfish, damselfish hiding in stag-horn coral, and a very well-fed moray eel. In all we did four dives and saw countless fish along with a sea turtle!!!
My mask however, had other plans and was leaking like a sieve. I tried adjusting it numerous times, and managed instead to break the mask mid-dive. Tiago for some reason, had a back-up in his pocket and rescued me from swimming while holding my mask.
The weather was a bit prohibitive and we weren’t heading to all the sites we were supposed to see. Since I don’t have an underwater camera I don’t have any sea-life photos.
That afternoon, I has hanging out in the saloon, reading and napping, when Aisha came in to see if I wanted to go to the beach. I opted not to and napped instead. But it did look pretty.
The night dive was far less scary than I thought it would be. We went at dusk and came up in the dark, but between all the lights from the boats, all the underwater flashlights, and the moon, you could see quite a bit, the flashlights really just focus you and you see different animal behavior than you do in the daytime because everyone is hunting for dinner.
Oh, and the best part, swimming with the bioluminescence. We found a darker spot and just started moving around. All around us were little green algae that lit up! It has been something I’ve wanted to see most of my life and now I was completely surrounded.
The ship keeps us well-fed and comfortable, the boat boys always have big smiles on their faces, and there are so many great opportunities to nap. As I’m taking my advanced course though, I have some studying, videos, and tests to do between dives.
Current Location: Similan Islands<<<<<
f tea: included<<<<<
traveled: 50 miles off the coast of Thailand
Mood Emoji: πŸ¦€πŸ¦‚πŸ πŸ¦πŸŸπŸ‘πŸ™πŸ¦ˆ

The Daily – 11/28

Word of the Day: Chop
Notable / Highlight of the Day: I woke up later than I had planned. I really wanted to check out Phuket’s old town, but I didn’t have enough time. I ended up enjoying a leisurely breakfast next door while watching people learn to surf on a wave machine.
Around 2pm I had to be back to wait for my shuttle up to Khao Lak, so I waited in the lobby until he came. And then we drove and drove, picking up people along the way until we reached the dive shop. I had originally thought it was a random shuttle full of people, but it turns out we were all heading to the same destination and the same boat.
In addition to me there were a Russian couple, two Polish guys, a South African guy, three chinese girls and a Chinese guy, a French woman, a German guy, a French guy, and a German woman.
We were supposed to do our initial briefing at 6:30, but a few people had wandered and needed to be tracked down. At check in, I decided to do my Advanced Open Water training while aboard to allow me to do some of the more complex/interesting dives. I figured I’d also be helpful for the rest of my trip.
I chatted with Willy, the French guy for a while. He was super friendly and chatty, but all of a sudden I found myself unable to extract myself from him. We loaded the shuttle bus to the dock and while I tried to place myself next to new people, but he stuck like fly paper.
We boarded the ship and watched as the boat hands hauled all our luggage aboard. I positioned myself again to try and sit with new people, but Willy still stuck close, so I simply stopped responding when he talked to me … especially when he recommended that we share a room so we wouldn’t ‘get stuck’ with too many roommates.
I was assigned to a room with Sabrina, the only Chinese girl who also spoke english. After dumping our stuff we all came back to the dining area for a late dinner. And boy did we eat! The first meal included one of my favorites, pumpkin curry. I should have gotten a second helping but was trying to not get fat on this trip.
The sea was choppy, very very choppy. As we were trying to fall asleep the captain was sailing us to our first drop for the morning and it was a sleep full of movement. I had checked the weather before going out and knew we were going to be sailing through the tail end of a monsoon. So I wasn’t surprised.
Current Location: Phuket to Khao Lak
Cost of Tea: included
Miles Traveled: 75
Dollars Spent Today: $750 on dive boat adventure including advanced open water training and dive watch, $15 on a really yummy breakfast
Mood Emoji: πŸ˜΄πŸ€€β˜•οΈπŸ₯πŸ₯—πŸšβ›΄πŸ˜’πŸ™‚πŸ˜‹πŸ˜΄

The Daily – 11/27

Word of the Day: Olympic
Notable / Highlight of the Day: I wanted to see a bit of the island but first needed to do some research, secure my birthday gift to myself (the scuba trip) and do some laundry.
I went upstairs to the cafe for breakfast and chatted with Sam while another traveler was sitting and being surly at the other side of the table. Sam was from outside of Manchester and used to deliver milk in Chadderton, the town my mum grew up in. We chatted for a bit and I shared the enormous fruit plate I had ordered for breakfast.
Once I finally got everything sorted I went out and finally found a place to rent motorbikes. And I was off! I drove to the southern edge of the island checking out a few beaches, towns and viewpoints.
I headed back and settled in on the roof for a bit sharing a few beers with a group of English and Australians for a few hours, but I was meeting up with Chris and his friend (who’s name is escaping me) so left the brits and aussies to their beers.
I should mention that if there were a perfect human specimen, Christian might be it. He’s tall, fit, speaks at least two languages, shy but interesting, oh, and a former olympian. Talk about feeling like you haven’t accomplished anything in life relative to someone else. He went to law school while training for the olympics. On top of that, his friend, also very accomplished, engineer/dj/social butterfly.

(Christian’s friend who was dressed up like the bar girls)
Anyhow, besides feeling a bit like an under-achiever, we had a ton of fun. We went to the arcade and Chris kicked our asses at air hockey. We sat at a beach-front bar and people-watched, and even ate some street food and ice cream :).
Patong has this odd way of making you lose sense of time. I realized it was three am and immediately realized I was exhausted and needed to go to sleep. We parted ways and said our goodbyes. They were off to Vietnam and Cambodia.
Current Location: Patong, Phuket
Cost of Tea: included
Dollars Spent Today: $3 on breakfast, $8 on lunch, $14 on hostel, $12 on motorbike rental, $15 on misc stuff
Mood Emoji: πŸŽ½πŸ…

The Daily – 11/26

Word of the Day: Thaitanium
Notable / Highlight of the Day: The weather forecast was calling for a monsoon to sweep trough southern thailand and the rain was not letting up. I really wanted to go to Koh Lipe, but it looked like it was going to rain nearly the entire time, per windy.com.
I made a split-second decision and decided to book my live-aboard birthday scuba adventure for the 28th. And because of this, I headed up to Phuket to check out the island and hopefully see a little sunshine.
I visited the doctor once more before leaving, and she changed my prescription because clearly the strep I had was resistant to the drugs I was on. I swallowed the first pill as soon as she handed me the prescription.
I checked out of my hotel and had the front desk help me with my last-minute ferry to Phuket. On the way, I met Josephina, an Argentinian attorney who, like me, was taking a big, worldwide trip and had quit her job. We chatted the whole way to Phi Phi where we parted ways and I was off to Phuket.
The ferry was uneventful and I had arranged for a taxi transfer to Patong. It ended up being a party, Antonio and Viviana from Italy, the South African girls, and the four Indian guys partying and dancing away the entire ride. Viviana invited m to join them for drinks later, and miraculously, I was actually feeling better, but still had no plans on drinking.
I checked into Bearpacker, because, how could I not with a name like that. It’s so well-branded and clean and the front desk was friendly and even the faucets are bear-shaped. Since I wasn’t heading up to the Similan islands until Tuesday I booked another night.
All of a sudden, I realized that for the first time in a week I could painlessly swallow. The drugs were working.
I was doing some research on what to see and next stops and I fell asleep, missing Viviana’s message and waking up at 10pm. I hesitated for a minute but decided I had to at least walk down the strip and check out the nightlife. And it was chaos. People trying to sell you on girly shows and drinks and flashing lights everywhere. While out I also caught up with Ally on facetime for a bit.
I came back to my hostel and was getting ready to head to bed when I bumped into one of my dorm mates, Charly, who invited me out with a group of guys. I figured I could always leave when I got tired, so I happily accepted his invitation.
As we made our way downstairs we collected about 7-8 other guys and made our way over to the main nightlife street in Patong and went to a nightclub. But not just any nightclub: it had air conditioning. They also had Thaitanium, what I can only describe as Thailand’s version of an edgy boy band, complete with Thai fan girls.
It was so much fun. Charly and the guys were great dancers and just fun to hang out with. We danced all night under a ceiling that kept releasing confetti and balloons. I called it a night way earlier than the rest of them but was so happy to have gone out.
Current Location: Koh Lanta to Phuket
Cost of Tea: included
Miles Traveled: 100?
Dollars Spent Today: $12 ferry ticket, $6 taxi ride, $14 hostel, $7 breakfast, $3 dinner, $3 on beer
Dog of the day: this poor pupper who is in over his head.
Mood Emoji: πŸŒ§πŸš•β›΄πŸš•πŸ•Ί