New Years, Bed Bugs and More Diving

It’s been a bit since I’ve posted. It’s easy to slip into island life and forget about the outside world. After Christmas, I shuttled over to Koh Samui for a few days. I had already bought the flight and hotel or I probably would have just stayed put.

After a reasonably long travel day, I arrived in Koh Samui and found my hotel. The Island Resort and Spa. I thought I would be having a relaxing three day rest on the beach before heading back to Koh Phi Phi to do some more diving. I was wrong.

It started raining pretty much the moment I showed up. While I didn’t care for it too much, the hotel wasn’t bad. I found out after the first night, my room had bed bugs. Such a terrible thing to wake up to bites and welts all over your legs. It was even worse once I realized that it turned out to be the most expensive hotel I’ve stayed in this whole trip. I went to the desk and explained the problem and asked for another room. The woman working the front desk just wouldn’t admit that they were bedbugs. She told me they were just mosquitos.

Later that day, a few friends from diving came to visit. I had told Kamil and Fiona that they could crash in my room to help them save money. Kamil is polish and has been traveling around the world for three years. Fiona is Irish and is about 4 months into a year long journey. They are incredibly interesting people and besides diving have been going straight budget.

The next day, the rain let up and we headed down to the beach to relax. Well, on Chaweng Beach, there isn’t too much that’s relaxing. Tons of people, loud club music from the shops and bars and frankly the beach itself wasn’t that nice. We hung out for a bit, but soon headed back to the hotel to relax around and in the pool. Much quieter and frankly the water was considerably nicer.

We didn’t do much at night besides eat and walk around. The “town” was like a lighter version of Patong. Lots of drunken Europeans and a healthy dose of hookers and ladyboys. After another night in the hotel and more bug bites, I went again to the front desk and was told this time that it must be the detergent they wash the sheets in. Absolutely hilarious, and I wore deet the rest of the time. First and only time I’ve used bug spray on this trip. Anyhoo, I didn’t really care for Samui that much and don’t see myself heading back anytime soon. Had it not been for Kamil and Fiona, the experience wouldn’t have been nice at all.

After Samui, I headed back to Koh Phi Phi to dive some more and celebrate New Years. Got my first wreck dive in on New Years Eve. A passenger ferry from Phuket sunk about 10 years ago and sits in about 30 meters of water. While the visibility wasn’t great, we got to swim around and through the wreck. It was pretty cool.

The shop had a barbeque for New Years and went spent most of the night there before heading down to the beach to ring in the New Year and watch the fireworks. There were a ton of people there partying, lighting and releasing traditional Thai lanterns and watching the fireworks.

Since New Years, I have simply been diving everyday. Wake up, grab breakfast, head out diving, eat some lunch, take a nap, head back to the shop for the daily video, and head out for dinner and drinks with the crew. I’ve gotten to see everything under water that I wanted to except for the whale shark. Much to my chagrin, the day I came back from Samui, everyone dove at Koh Ha and saw a 7 meter whale shark. I did on my last day finally get to see an octopus and got a great video of it changing colors.

Every dive shop has it’s own life. Everyone is different and they’re different from year to year as most staff are just seasonal. There are only 3 people who stay year round. Oy, the owner, Kim, who runs the shop and Walter the head instructor. Everyone else comes in from around the world to train and work as Divemasters for the season. Underneath those three are the instructors, the divemasters and the divemaster trainees. Maybe one or two might stay through the slow season, but not likely. It’s been really interesting to watch the dive shop in action for a couple of weeks. To see how it works and to see what it takes to get your divemaster certification. As for the staff, they really are a great group of people and I feel lucky to have met them. Always lot of fun to be around.

I’m headed to Bangkok today to catch a flight to Yangon in the morning. Luckily, there was a young woman from Burma diving with us for a few days. She lives in California, but still has family there and is hooking we up with her cousin to act as my driver and guide while I’m there. Gotta love the chance encounters traveling brings.

I’ve been told the internet is sparse and expensive in Burma, so I’ll update when I’m back in Bangkok in a few days. Take care.