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Call Me Scuba Steve!

Posted by Sa Wat Dema in Thailand
October 29th, 2006

And then there was one…

I know I have been very delinguent in my blog posts, but I have much to talk about on this one and finally some time to do it, so get ready-

So many things have been going on lately –my pal Ewen got married in Phuket, Jason is off in Japan, we slept through a bachelor party, we practiced our international relations with some young Isreali ladies, Tuk Tuk Reagan is probably still playing board games with his parasites and staying away from live fowl, and I just passed my Open Water Diver Scuba certification back on Phi Phi island. All in all, it has been a very busy few days. (Speaking of board games, connect four is huge here –it is apparently the bar game of choice. Jason and I found this out the hard way at a small bar on Phuket where the seemingly innocent young thai girls working there proceeded to demolish us both at connect four – I think they were about to play for money when we hastily left.)

In addition to talking about what we have been up to, I would also like to give a few brief insights into life here and some of things we have noticed, so I am going to forgo any chronological order-

First of all, the wedding was spectacular. For those of you that don’t know, the “excuse” for this whole trip was so that I could attend the wedding of my Australian travel photographer friend, Ewen Bell. The wedding was done in tradional Buddhist style (even though both Ewen and his wife are Australian) on the beach at sunset. There were chanting monks, local traditional dancers, a water ceremony where every guests helped wash the hands of the newlyweds while whispering kind words, everyone was given brightly colored parasols –it was amazing. All of this as the sun was setting over Kata Noi beach on Phuket, literally a picture postcard setting. As a man whole has played at thousands of weddings, I can honestly say it was the best banquet hall I have ever been to.

After the ceremony, they held the reception (for the 40 guests in attendance) at the villa they had been renting out (this “villa” was ridiculous, imagine 5 small houses all centered on a pool, with maids, a cook, a gym, and a bar all connected to your compound –all for about $650 US a night). It was an incredible party (I think that happens whenever you put a lot Australians together and give them copious amounts of mojitos.) It also happened to be on my birthday, so the bottle of Black Label I brought to aid the celebrations mostly got drank by me in the form of undesired shots. Interestingly however, I lasted the night while Jason was passed out in the gymnasium by 11.

Quick Thai fact — every monday, it is tradition here to wear bright yellow, usually in the form of a polo shirt with an emblem of the king on it. They do this to honor the king (as they also do by having a standing ovation for him before they start movies and by putting his photo up literally everywhere, and not always the most flatering photos, our favorites are the ones of him doing his hobbies like photography –in the amulet market in Bangkok we actually found one of the King playing the saxophone!). Well, since it is the month of the king’s birthday, nearly every thai wears these yellow shirts almost every day. Luckily, one of the three t-shirts that I brought happens to be the exact right color of bright yellow. Though the shirt is for my Kung Fu school in Chicago, I can’t tell you how many compliments I have gotten for it.

So, after the wedding, I hightailed it back to Ko Phi Phi, literally one of the mopst beautiful places on earth. I came to do my Scuba course because I heard the sites here were fabulous and just because I liked the island so much. Though my course started out a bit rough (I was in the theory class with a 40-year-old Norwegian who didn’t understand English nearly as well as he thought and who certainly couldn’t learn Scuba in that language), the dives were spectacular. The water and the reefs here are amazing. I actually did one dive in the bay where “The Beach” was filmed. All said and done, I spent three days and did four real dives. I saw everything from crazy anenomees to lionfish, big grouper to morey eels. I am even considering staying for two more days to do the Advanced course where I get to dive on a shipwreck, at night, and very deep. The night dive starts in a couple of hours so I need to decide quick. The other option which I wish I had time for is to do a 3-day liveaboard cruise to the Similan islands and do 14 dives in 3 days. The Similans are supposed to be one of the best places in the world to dive.

Anyway, there is so much else to tell. I will have to post a bit later today (I think after my night dive!).

Brian

If I don’t stay longer on Phi Phi, the plan is to head to Railey beach to do some rock climbing. It is supposed to be a very beautiful place.

Posted by Tuk Tuk Reagan in Thailand
October 25th, 2006

Go forth Traveler Dema. Hold thight to that which binds us in youth; A desire to look behind the waterfall and discover your tomorrow.

“Trust Thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string. . “
-R. W. Emerson

Happy BDay Buddy!

Thai Witch Project

Posted by Jason del Sur in Thailand
October 23rd, 2006

As we walked past the restaurant, it looked too familiar. We looked down and saw it: the same damn turtle.

It was pushing five in the morning and we just wanted to get get back to our bungalow. It had been a long day of travel from Koh Pha-ngang to Kho Phi Phi (pronounced pee-pee. It never gets old). After two days of bucket drinking (a plastic bucket one flask of vodka or whiskey, one coke, and one super-concentrated Red Bull with about 10 straws – so tasty, but so dangerous) on the beach in Pha-ngang and an attempt to stay up all night we woke up at 5:50 just in time to catch our bus. A bus, a ferry, another bus, another ferry, and a longtail water taxi, we checked into the bungalow.

Our beach, Long Beach, was a nice secluded beach. Beautiful and quiet, it unfortunately is separated from the main part of town by a 15 minute taxi boat ride. Of course we had to experience the nightlife of Koh Phi Phi, so we headed into town. Several hours, several beers, and several beautiful Norwegian girls later we realized it was four in the morning and we were ready to crash.

But, the tide was out and the taxi boats were no longer running. Our options were to sleep on the beach for two or three hours until the boats started running again or to take what Lonely Planet described as “a 45 minute walk.” We figured that sounded OK and we asked one of the local late night food servers directions.

It was not a road, it was not even really a walk. It was a trek through the jungle. There was a path to follow, not always well marked, but we had been prepared and brough a flashlight with us. We climbed up 45 degree hills. Climbed over boulders near the beach.

As we passed a small beach with a couple bungalows, a French guy called to us asking if we were going to Long Beach. He and his girlfriend were also trying to get back. She was very upset, crying and scared. She didn’t want to go through the woods with only two people. The four of us set out on the second half of our adventure.

The next beach down we passed a restaurant with a stone turtle out front. We continued up the hill. Ten to fifteen minutes later as we came down the hill, we saw some tiki torches that looked a little familiar. The girl began crying again as she saw we had somehow gone in a circle. We couldn’t believe it and continued on. Then we saw the turtle. It was Blair Witch Project in the middle of Thailand. That turtle freaked me out a little, but nothing compared the the girl.

Because the tide was low, I was able to walk out a little ways and climb on some rocks to see our beach was very close, we just had to make it over the hill (or scale incredibly slippery rocks).

Finally we got up the courage and continued on. A Thai couple heard us from one of the bungalows and led us on the correct path. We had gone the right way, but at one point there was a large path going up and a small obscure path going down. We had gone up. We went down and two minutes later were on our beach.

The next morning we moved into town.

Photo Update

Posted by Jason del Sur in Thailand
October 23rd, 2006

Ankor Wat:


The beach at Koh Phi Phi Don:
Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh (as seen in The Beach)

Posted by Tuk Tuk Reagan in Thailand
October 19th, 2006

Full Moon Party: Hat Rin Beach, Ko Pha Ngan

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