A Travellerspoint blog

Diving in koh Tao

sunny 26 °C

Koh Tao has been amazing. We spent 4 days doing our PADI course- the first two were theory and the second two were diving in the sea. The first pool dive was a challenge because we learnt how to set up all our own equipment, then had to dive underwater, fill our masks and clear them, practice losing our regulator and alternate air supplies, swimming with no mask and then putting it on full of water before clearing it underwater. We practised fin tipping and a few other bits too. The third day, we took our skills to the real test and did our 12 meter dives. The visibility was pretty bad the whole time we were there (around 5 metres and less) but we still saw some fish. On the first dive, we actually had a massive school of baracudas swimming around us in a giant circle. It literally looked like a wall of fish which was amazing. It wasn't all fun and games though because we still had to practice loads of stuff, including filling and clearing the mask at 12m which is horrible, especially when you have to remove it. We were all exhausted that night, but had to sit our PADI theory exam which we all passed wahoo! Then it was just food and an early night for everyone. Our final day was more fun although I did get seasick. We had two more dives and lots of skills to practice, but we saw a lot more fish including a trigger fish, angel fish, baitfish and coral too. Again visibility was not great but we covered much more ground. The entry into the water was more difficult because we had to hold a rope and slowly descend in really murky water. That seemed to go on forever because we were going down to 18m this time round. We had dinner at this Mexican place called 'El Toro' where I had the best fajitas of my life, then we had some shooters and sangrias with the group while we did a pub quiz. There were people performing with fire down on the beach who we couldn't take our eyes off! It looked like a cross between martial arts and circus tricks, where these guys were spinning fire all around them and then taking paraffin soaked chains to the sea and spinning them so that they just brushed the water. This made the whole chains drip fire and lit up all the water around it! From there we went to a ladyboy show which would put our drag queens to shame! It was hilarious and we had a laugh watching them miming and dragging guys on stage. Some of the boys actually did look like women it was so odd.
It was sad to be leaving koh Tao, but we were excited to go to Koh Phagnan which is where we are now :)n amazing. We spend 4 days doing our PADI course- the first two were theory and the second two were diving in the sea. The first pool dive was a challenge because we learnt how to set up all our own equipment, then had to dive underwater, fill our masks and clear them, practice losing our regulator and alternate air supplies, swimming with no mask and then putting it on full of water before clearing it underwater. We practised fin tipping and a few other bits too. The third day, we took our skills to the real test and did our 12 meter dives. The visibility was pretty bad the whole time we were there (around 5 metres and less) but we still saw some fish. On the first dive, we actually had a massive school of baracudas swimming around us in a giant circle. It literally looked like a wall of fish which was amazing. It wasn't all fun and games though because we still had to practice loads of stuff, including filling and clearing the mask at 12m which is horrible, especially when you have to remove it. We were all exhausted that night, but had to sit our PADI theory exam which we all passed wahoo! Then it was just food and an early night for everyone. Our final day was more fun although I did get seasick. We had two more dives and lots of skills to practice, but we saw a lot more fish including a trigger fish, angel fish, baitfish and coral too. Again visibility was not great but we covered much more ground. The entry into the water was more difficult because we had to hold a rope and slowly descend in really murky water. That seemed to go on forever because we were going down to 18m this time round. We had dinner at this Mexican place called 'El Toro' where I had the best fajitas of my life, then we had some shooters and sangrias with the group while we did a pub quiz. There were people performing with fire down on the beach who we couldn't take our eyes off! It looked like a cross between martial arts and circus tricks, where these guys were spinning fire all around them and then taking paraffin soaked chains to the sea and spinning them so that they just brushed the water. This made the whole chains drip fire and lit up all the water around it! From there we went to a ladyboy show which would put our drag queens to shame! It was hilarious and we had a laugh watching them miming and dragging guys on stage. Some of the boys actually did look like women it was so odd.
It was sad to be leaving koh Tao, but we were excited to go to Koh Phagnan which is where we are now :)

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 18:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Bangkok to Koh Tao our first sleeper train

Train pub, mole hair and paradise

sunny 28 °C

Last night we took the overnight train from Bangkok to chumpon, and met some interesting characters. First, we met a man opposite us who was quickly joined by a 70 year old Thai man who proceeded to show us various ID's including a rotary club card, and then just a series of his belongings. He showed us a picture of he kings son, a medal, some fruit which he offered to share, and then told Brad and I to sow the seed of love and said I was beautiful. This lasted for around an hour until he went and met some other people. He was really nice but I couldn't stop staring at this massive grey mole hair right on his cheek literally longer than my finger. So bizarre! We later got chatting to another English couple who were already drinking and we had a beer in our cabin before finding that there was a bar on the train. So the guy we first met rallied the troops and soon we built up a group sitting in this strange carriage with the windows rattling, bouncing along with loads of loud techno music playing and beers all round. This woman who worked there had a whiskey with us and it straight away felt like a holiday. I went to bed at eleven which was surprisingly really comfy. While we were at the pub, the staff had come by and made up our bunks with pillows, sheets and blankets plus we had lime green curtains for privacy. I got a good four hours sleep after a handful of Pringles which I had to smuggle from Brad's bag (I've learnt never to eat snacks in front of a group because it becomes a feeding frenzy and you're left with nothing but crumbs and rage).
The next morning, I got up and brushed my teeth, and we sat together in Brads bunk waiting to arrive in chumpon. The bus ride from there was half an hour, but then we had the boat ride from hell. It's really choppy here at the moment, and within ten minutes the first person had been sick, I was sat paralysed on the stairs not even being able to take my head of my lap, gripping the handrail for dear life and we were thrown in all directions. Brad brought me a sick bag before going to sit downstairs and all around me I just heard retching. Some guy tried to stumble down the stairs to the toilets but didn't make it and threw up right next to me in a bag while I prayed for the strength to get my hand sanitiser but I was stuck with nausea. Half an hour was bad, but the full two and a half hours was horrific and I am dreading doing that journey again. All the toilets were covered in sick and everybody got off the boat green and red eyed.
We got on the back of a pickup truck with a load of other backpackers and headed off to Bans diving resort. Our room is a basic twin with a fan and a cool balcony, and we haven't had a chance to see the swimming pool yet but the diving pool looks great! We had breakfast then went to the beach for a swim. I have to add that today I am still lobster red from yesterday so all these girls were sitting by in their bikinis and there I was- MaccuPiccu baseball cap on, a big baggy coke t shirt and elephant print harem pants, smothered in factor 50 grease. Attractive. So I had to try to sit in the shade and constantly rub in cream, swim with a t shirt on and drink two litres of water but I still had a great day. The water is amazing clear blue, the sand is soft and white, and we had nothing but sunshine. It's like a little paradise and we both wish we had skipped Vietnam and stayed here longer instead because now our money is running really low :( . We had our induction for diving today which basically consisted of watching a two hour video which was really boring and filling in a few questions on a bit of paper. Tomorrow we learn to dive in the pool, then the next two days we are out in the sea spotting fish and hopefully a shark!

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 06:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Bangkok to Koh Tao

Off tonight wahoo!

sunny 28 °C

Our flight from Hoi an to Bangkok yesterday was good. We arrived in Bangkok at around 2pm and got a taxi to the city. Last night we spent more than usual on a hotel with a pool as a treat. The rooms are pretty average and the service is awful, plus once you check out you can't use the pool but I am up here anyway, having checked out and being a pikey because the rooftop swimming pool is amazing! And I want that tan now- it's about time! The pool is clear blue, quite big and a nice temperature, plus the rooftop gets a huge amount of sun and it's is so peaceful (especially for Bangkok) so I am up here risking the 1000 baht fine to try to get my tan on! I'am happy to be back in smelly old Bangkok because despite the crazy tuk tuk drivers and the grime of it, I think the street food is amazing, I can eat nice healthy food now and there's a lot going on so I haven't been bored yet. You can get a good dinner, there's good weather, wifi at last and lots of other tourists about.

The real excitement starts tomorrow when we arrive on Koh Tao to start our diving. We decided to go for an open water course with 'bans' diving because they are meant to be brilliant. The only downside is that the water is choppy and the weather is not great for the next week or so, and that's the only time we could go so fingers crossed we will see lots of fish still, and even if we don't, we will still learn a bit and be able to do more diving in Australia. After that, it's on to Koh Phagnan to stay in some bungalows for a few days- we couldn't get anywhere booked for the 15th so we have one day homeless until we sort accommodation there :s, and then we have a week booked for 'lime n soda' backpackers with a pool, and full moon is on the 17th! Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are our main problem because we couldn't find anywhere to book online but again I'm hoping we can sort that down there. We have to be in Bangkok from the 27th so Brad can have his suit made which is a shame but I am going to try to find a better priced hotel with a pool for that time and it should all be good. The sun is out, so I am just relaxing before the overnight train to the islands now.

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 21:27 Archived in Thailand Tagged hotel bangkok pool night_train Comments (0)

Hanoi to Hoi an

battling in nam

rain 22 °C

Vietnam for us, is not all it's cracked up to be. The local people are rude and I cannot wait to get away from the sound of spitting and phlegm. It's repulsive! We were so excited to see Vietnam but so far, it's been cold, rainy and most of the time boring. It feels claustrophobic because I can't even go for a run. There's no path, people drive all over the road regardless of what side they are supposed to drive on, and they never EVER brake. I rented a bike yesterday in Hoi an for a dollar which was good, and we rode to a close by beach, but it is so dangerous because people overtake on the wrong side of the road whether there is room or not and it is infuriating. Nobody stops at a big crossroads, so you get everyone ramming into each other and crossing in front of each other on the wrong side of the road, sometimes with a whole family on one motorbike. I don't see the charm in these places, I just see stupidity to be honest, and I have seen a few accidents. Shopping is impossible because you're greeted by an overly keen (usually coughing, sneezing or nose picking) woman who follows you from the second you get inside, pointing at every item they sell and trying to force a sale on you. We tried to leave one shop yesterday for dinner and this woman was demanding to know where we were going and telling us 'no, too early for dinner you stay here you buy something'. What?! Some other woman tells us we are her first customers and gives us a sob story, but when we tries to haggle an overpriced camera case she wouldn't budge. We met a really cool artist who we got chatting to about his work but then he got really pushy about buying something and we couldn't get away, which makes me think no wonder they can't get a sale! These people go from pushy to rude immediately and it's just plain uncomfortable. The journey here was horrible because the bus was late by an hour, then we got a cockroach infested sleeper bus which literally was crawling so I didn't get any sleep at all. That's the bad stuff.
The good things we have experienced in Hoi An would be this little restaurant we found on the waterfront. Beautiful food and a nice service. We have seen loads of cute animals, and on a stop during our bus journey we met this really cute Alsatian cross puppy and played with him for a while (I know, I know- don't stroke the dogs but this was super cute!). It sounds really negative, but we have decided to flee Vietnam and go straight to Bangkok by plane tomorrow, spend a few fun filled days there, and then down to the islands for our last weeks where we can catch a tan, have a few drinks and do what I really had my heart set on-diving. I could dive and snorkel every day for the rest of my life, I honestly think it's the best thing ever! And I can't wait to get there. I'm just picturing blue water, white sand and hopefully sunny days. Even if the weather is bad, at least I can go running and have a bit of space, and hopefully we can stay in a hostel and meet a few people.

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 21:22 Archived in Vietnam Tagged bus vietnam hanoi hoi_an Comments (0)

Hanoi and castaway trip

Hit by a motorbike, my first shotgun and Bobby's world

rain 16 °C

large_F358737A2219AC68178554BE081E8D52.jpglarge_F364CA692219AC68178546A0E8173563.jpg270_F369C18E2219AC6817478196DF5489C7.jpglarge_F3719DD52219AC6817E6FCE3620A1130.jpgF379DF182219AC68178E867D5DAB1B63.jpgF387054C2219AC6817B1CE25F5B55D8D.jpgWe have spent a few days in Hanoi now, and made our first few friends. The first day I honestly hated it! I was walking around the bustling streets, with the smell of street food filling the air and an array of parked motorbikes on every bit of pavement. There is no side of the road here, so all motorbikes and cars come at each other and at people as you have to walk in the road, so crossing the road requires fearlessness. I was hit by a motorbike on the first day as it came speeding up straight into me while I was crossing, and I was sick of dodging boiling pots of food and hanging chickens as I walked along the street. Hanoi struck me as a noisy, busy dirty place with no manners and the food is not that good. We saw a shopping center and tried to explore a bit but felt overwhelmed by the place so went home early.
The next day, we booked a 3 day 2 night castaway tour with a hostel down the road from us. It was one of the more pricy tours but we heard good things and wanted to meet a few people. On the first day, we were picked up from the hostel at 7 am then driven to the port. Our weather was terrible! We had rain and cold the whole time but still had an amazing time. We wore multicoloured sombreros and drank as soon as we were on our boat which had amazing rooms and fairly good showers, so the first day was mainly just drinking games! Kayaking was our first activity around Hanoi bay which looked incredible even in the mist and rain. The little islands and the whole bay were covered with a sheet of greenery over the surface which gave a Jurassic park effect (you will have heard that before and it sounds cliche but honestly it could have been set there). The water was surprisingly warm and clear, and I enjoyed rowing into the mouths of caves. We rowed through one big cave hosting a family of bats, and came out the other side to have a swim with the group. Brad and I will never row again as a team because he is like a drill sergeant and I am deeply uncoordinated. The way back to the big boat was not relaxing and romantic it was like a P.E lesson. After that, some of the group jumped off of the boat into the water, and then we all played Buffalo (and I made it into Bobby's world haha) then it was just pure drinking games. I don't know how I drank so much but wasn't really drunk at all, and on the first night although I had fun, I was starting to feel a bit old for this. Most of the group were older or around the same age but maybe being in a relationship makes me feel a bit older. I went to bed at around half one.
The next morning we were up at seven for breakfast and as a group we arrived at castaway island at around 11. We had lunch and then spent the day drinking and doing little adventure activities. I went rock climbing and made it quite high before I got stuck. The views were incredible from the island! After a while we were able to go tubing off the back of a speedboat which was sick! The water was warm and I was the only one who managed to stay on the whole time through the massive waves. We were freezing all day which was the only downer, because everybody packed for summer so after I dried off, I put on everything dry that I had all at once and sat in bed by myself for a bit. The bungalows are in the layout that basically we are all in one room with three floors because there are net walls. Night came -and with it more drinking. I didn't drink because my filling came out and my tooth hurt but I did have a cheeky shotgun with everyone then sat by the campfire for a bit. The final day was breakfast and then a boat ride to our big boat, where we sat upstairs on the roof with the group on big bean bags before being taken home. It was a really good trip.
Today was the best! I went to the water park with the group and went on all go the rides apart from the death slide. There is this huge waterpark in a mall underground, where it costs about 5 dollars to get in and there are just loads of water slides and pools everywhere! The death slide is this vertical slide, where you stand in a capsule with music playing like a pounding heartbeat, then a man counts down, pushes a button and the floor drops out underneath you, so you free fall down into a really fast waterslide. I got in but just couldn't do it in the end- it was far too scary with that stupid heartbeat playing brought the speakers. I'm still super proud of myself though after going on the kamikaze where it's literally a vertical drop slide for five seconds with a last minute horizontal finish. There was a really fun penny drop slide, where I went in a tube and then was spun round a giant bowl into a hole at the bottom just like those coin machines that used to be in mcdonalds. There were four person tubes and slides too so all in all it was a really good day. We had a cheeky shotgun in there, and went for Pizza Hut together when we finished. Just now Brad is off to snake village (definitely not for me) and I'm in here practicing sample tests for the police so I might have a shot when I get back.

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 04:39 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam shotgun halong_bay castaway bobbys_world Comments (0)

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