Posts tagged ‘scuba’

December 2, 2011

Little Eden

by Anna

After traveling for 27 hours with barely any sleep, the planet seems a little off kilter. In a half-conscious haze Johnny and I knew that good things were upon us as we arrived at our final airport in Trat, Thailand. We were driven from the runway in a Disneyland-esque trolley past elephant topiaries to the thatched-roof “terminal” where nice, smiley men handed us our luggage. The good vibes continued to grow stronger as we boarded the ferry boat to Koh Chang and experienced our first Thai fruit shake. Another very warm and friendly lady scooped an entire mango out of its skin, plopped it in a blender and added a big mound of ice. Whiz, brrrrr, and voila! Mango shake. Maybe the most sweet, delicious shake I’ve ever had, and for $1 to boot. The journey continued to our first stop, Little Eden at Lonely Beach. Not just a clever name, these bungalows nestled in the palm trees really became a little paradise for us.

If only all airports were this nice…
The path to our bungalow at Little Eden Our home for a week

After a good 14 hours of sleep our first night we felt back to normal and quickly slipped into “Thai island time,” which is even slower (I think) than “Hawaii time.” There is just an immediate and overwhelming sense of peace, happiness and relaxation on the island. Although we loved our time in South Africa, we were happy to be rid of security gates and away from the distinct feeling of have and have-nots – the giant separation between rich and poor. So far, to me, this place feels the exact opposite. Even though it is a little rough around the edges (eg: the trash pick-up situation could use some work), everyone seems happy and content even though they don’t have “a lot” (in the material sense of the term). Johnny and I could see right away why people get “sucked in” to this island…a phrase that we have heard often since we arrived. Life is simple – in the best way possible.

The village by Lonely Beach

Besides our three seriously fun and seriously awesome days spent getting scuba certified through BB Divers (read more about that here), we really did a whole lot of nothing. It was great. After spending the better part of November driving across South Africa in our Nissan Tiida (always with our guard on), we were feeling a little bit like we needed a vacation from our vacation.

The Tiida was looking as beat up as we felt after our last of many 6-8 hour drives (yup, our hubcap was in the back seat)

We spent most of our evenings hanging out in the restaurant/lounge at Little Eden where the squirrely British owner, David, played good mellow tunes causing us to melt even further onto our floor cushions. The food was cheap and amazing, and the whole place had a good energy so we were hard pressed to find a reason to leave.

Our favorite spot at Little Eden
We did venture out one night to have dinner on the water and see a Reggae band on the beach

During the days we’d sit down on the beach, float around in the super warm water, grab some Pad Thai and fruit shakes at Nature Rocks (where people would often nap on their cushions after eating lunch) and maybe indulge in an $8 massage. Lonely Beach is known for being more of a touristy/party beach, but we wanted to stay there because it was close to our scuba school. We managed to avoid all the bad, loud music and really only noticed the party atmosphere by the fact that no one emerged onto the beach, or anywhere else really, until after noon. There were quite a few people selling bracelets and sarongs on the beach, but they were the least aggressive, most good-natured hawkers I’ve ever been around. A typical encounter would go something like: “Bracelets?” “No, thanks.” “Ok, good luck to you, good journey (accompanied by a big smile, of course).”

Can’t get enough Pad Thai and coconut shakes
Lonely Beach

If it isn’t already obvious, we’re smitten with Thailand, and yes, Johnny has already started looking up available real estate on the island. Koh Chang has made a pretty darn good first impression, and I’m sure it will only get better as we discover more of this beautiful country and its people.

Oh, and did I mention that Koh Chang has incredible sunsets?
They are glorious
The water looked like it was on fire
November 29, 2011

PADI, Thailand Style

by Anna

We’ve spent the past three days on the beautiful island of Koh Chang getting scuba certified! We can owe the decision to get certified to my brother who bought us lessons last Christmas through Sport Chalet in anticipation of he and his girlfriend meeting up with us in Thailand this coming January. They love to dive and wanted to be able to take advantage of Thailand’s infamous diving with us. With work and a tight schedule leading up to our trip, we realized we weren’t going to be able to fit in the scuba classes at home (plus we weren’t very excited about taking our first dives in the freezing cold ocean at home in February!), so we opted to get certified once we arrived to Thailand through BB Divers. What a great decision that turned out to be!! Not only did we have the most awesome instructor of all time, Patrick, who exemplifies the lifestyle around here…(he came here 8 years ago from Holland on vacation and never left and told us that ‘he doesn’t make tons of money, but that he loves what he does and loves his life’ – a simply perfect outlook if you ask me); we also had the most fun dive crew, the most beautiful backdrop and crystal clear, warm water.

The PADI Open Water Certification course took three days. We spent our first day watching informational DVDs, taking written tests (we passed, phew!) and practicing skills in the pool. The next two days were spent on a boat diving around islands in Koh Rang National Marine Park and other amazing spots. With 20 meters of visibility on most of our dives we were able to see unbelievable underwater worlds in all their glory and were even lucky enough to spend some quality time with a giant green sea turtle who was most likely 70 years old! Johnny and I relished the whole experience and couldn’t believe how much we loved diving. Swimming among giant schools of glowing fish, being surrounded by other-worldly masses of coral and floating in peaceful silence at the bottom of the sea are truly special experiences.

Boarding the original Thai fishing boat adapted for diving
Garlands tied to the bow of the boat to honor water spirits for good luck and protection
Dive Master Wee checking out the water Scuba gear ready to go
Islands dotting the turquoise waters
After our final dive with Patrick