I’m sorting through some of the photographs I’m carrying around on my laptop from seven months on the road, and I realized there are a bunch of shots from the Thai islands that I haven’t put up here yet. So here are a few. Enjoy!
While visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand Chris and I strolled around the city visiting a few of the wats. You might be asking yourself, “What’s a wat?”
According to Wikipedia:
“A wat (derived from the Sanskrit word वात Vattaka) is a monastery temple in Cambodia, Thailand, or Laos.
Strictly speaking a wat is a Buddhist sacred precinct with monks’ quarters, the temple proper, an edifice housing a large image of Buddha, and a structure for lessons. A Buddhist site without a minimum of three resident monks cannot correctly be described as a wat, although the term is frequently used more loosely, even for ruins of ancient temples. (As a transitive or intransitive verb, wat means to measure, to take measurements; compare templum, from which temple derives, having the same root as template.)
In Cambodia, a wat is used to refer to all kinds of places of worship.
In everyday language in Thailand, a wat is any place of worship except a mosque.”
I was filled with anticipation for our two dives at Ko Phi Phi Ley because they were our first dives that were not part of our scuba training and also our first dives not in the waters around the Thai island of Ko Tao.
The atmosphere was completely different from Ban’s Diving School. It was relaxed and calm. None of the boat crew or our two dive masters did anything very fast. They were truly living life at island pace.
As I spat in my mask one last time before preparing to go down for our second dive, our dive master asked me, “So, what do you want to see?”
“Um......I’d love to see a giant moray.”
“And have you seen a string ray?” she asked.
“No, never. It’d be fantastic to see a Lion Fish also.” I replied, thinking to myself that I must be asking for the world wanting to see all three of those creatures in one dive.
“Ok. I’ll see what I can do,” she smiled and gave me the “Okay” signal before the “Let’s go down” signal.
Once we got down we had about 15 meters visibility. It was the best visibility Chris and I had ever had because unfortunately while we were learning in Ko Tao they were experiencing a bad month for visibility. I counted my breath, 3 seconds in and 5 out. I tried to relax all the muscles in my body. I tried to relax about all the things that can make you nervous under the water and have you constantly checking your gauges.
I looked at the fish swimming all around me, the school above who could only be seen as varying degrees and shades of grey silhouette’s.
“I am a fish. I belong here,” I thought to myself. I laughed a little at myself and smiled at how wonderful this dive was.
We slowly swam above a sandy patch and hiding in a lonely piece of coral was a box fish! If you’ve never seen one before or never heard of one they are definitely worth checking out. Their tiny fins are simply unable to control the direction of their body against even the slightest current. I suppose being shaped like a box doesn’t help their aerodynamic ability either.
Continuing above the sand I saw our dive master stop. I didn’t see a single thing but low and behold with her pointing stick she directed our attention to a stingray. Upon seeing it I took a deep breath to ensure my somewhat inconsistent buoyancy didn’t send me downward on top of it. After all they contain a poison in their tail that they will whip over their bodies to stab potential threats. Many of you may recall the “Crocodile Hunter” dieing when a Bull stingray stabbed him through the chest.
We swam on and spotted another ray. I looked at my air. 60 bar. I didn’t have much time and that meant Chris had even less. Our dive master was motioning to us again.
“Wow,” I thought. She sure is amazing at finding the animals.
And finally the fish I’ve liked since learning about it in Grade 6, the Lion Fish. I imagined it being around 5 inches in diameter but the ones we saw were only about 3 inches. What beauty.
I surfaced happy and content, eager to do diving again. Hopefully we’ll find a good deal in Vietnam. We’re heading there on August 15 via a 17 hour bus ride. I hope to dive at Nha Trang, but with such a tight schedule it might not be possible.
The dramatic clouds shifted and folded over one another as we sat on the deck of the ferry from Railay to Ko Phi Phi island. Even with the threat of rain on the horizon Chris and I held our ground because if Thailand has taught us one thing it’s that it doensn’t kill you to be wet. In fact it’s a strange day if I haven’t jumped in the ocean for diving, snorkeling or a game of frisbee with Chris.
Our ferry started to make it’s way to the docks. As it did so I saw ahead of us Ko Phi Phi Ley, the island from “The Beach”. Dark silky water cradled it as clouds tried to suffocate it from above.
That night we slept on the beach with a woven mat, foam pillow and thin sleeping bag. The bucket probably helped with how comfortable it all felt when Chris and I found a spot on the sand where the tied wouldn’t get us.
Before I knew what was happening, Chris was yelling at me and I was running down the beach with the woven mat flopping behind me like a cape as I held it over my head for protection. The sleeping bag and pillow were stuck under one armpit and my hand oddly grasped my purse.
“The umbrellas! The umbrellas!” I yelled to Chris as we ran.
“What? What are you talking about? We don’t have umbrellas,” he hollered back as he bounced along the sand.
Apparently when it started raining on me while I was sleeping I started dreaming about umbrellas, and when I was half awake running down the beach I was convinced they were real and that we had left them behind. Oh goodness.
To say the least our sleep was quite uncomfortable. Nearly every part of me was wet, mosquitoes were having a feast and the humidity made the sleeping bag stick to my skin. Chris and I joined the rest of our group under the sheltered sleeping area which was made of tarps over pieces of ply wood. Besides the red bull, coke, Sangsom hangover, I was glad to wake up and enjoy looking at the beauty of the beach over a cup of Nescafe.
It’s my Dad’s birthday today, or at least it’s still his birthday right now in B.C. Canada (August 4th). We’re so far away we’ve already moved into tomorrow. Anyway, miss you Dad. Hope you have a good day. Don’t do too much work on your renovations. We’re thinking about you.
Chris (and Laura)