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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

to Koh Phi-Phi

Since all the diving trips go out to Koh Phi-Phi anyway, I figured, I could go there directly.
I took some time exploring the main strip of Koh Phi-Phi, I even went to the trouble of climbing up to the Viewpoint... fortunately the View was well worth it.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Diving

A big boat took us close to Koh Phi-Phi where we did 2 dives.
1st Dive: It was close by to the location where the Beach was filmed. There was a mild current and lots of fish. I saw a turtle, lionfish and a young triggerfish.
2nd Dive: More young triggerfishes, trumpetfish, tuna and pufferfish.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

to Ao Nang

In the morning I took a Sangthaew to Ao Nang, which is (more or less) the tourist's centre near Krabi. There I really felt that it was low season, a lot of places were closed or renovating and you got lots of discounts everywhere.
Since the beach was quite flat, the tide seemed really extreme.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

to Krabi

First I took a boat to Koh Phangan, there we changed to a boat to Koh Samui and there we changed again to another boat which finally took us to Surathani. From Surathani it was a 2 hours bus ride to Krabi town.
In Krabi was almost nothing going on. All the shops, except 7-Eleven and restaurants, closed at 9pm.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Diving, what else...

And another day dedicated to diving...
1st Dive: South-West Pinnacle. We wanted to go deep (38 or 39m) but unfortunately the viz was too bad and we stopped at 30m... The strangest thing happened, my depth gage got nitrogen narcosis, it wouldn't show any greater depth than 15m... :-)
I saw a couple of triggerfish (again...), a moray eel and a giant trouper.
2nd Dive: Shark Island (finally!). Unfortunately we didn't see the resident turtle, but we saw a triggerfish, while it was digging for something, looked really cool... Near the surface we saw dozens of small jellyfish.
3rd Dive (Night): White Rock. We saw a huge jenkins ray (~1m) and another hermit crab.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Sharks!

Today's fun dive brought us to 'Chumphon' where I saw my first shark! In the end I saw 5 or 6 (each 2 - 3 m long), it was difficult to tell, whether I saw the same one multiple times, because the visibility wasn't great. There were at least 2, because I saw them following each other. Sharks are very impressive, it looks like they are floating through the water. Later on I saw a swarm of medium sized baracudas.
The second dive took us to 'Green Rock', unfortunately the Triggerfish were out hunting and the Triggerpits were empty, we still saw a couple swimming around.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Rescue Diver

Finished the Rescue Diver Course today. It was a great though exhausting experience.
We did lots of excercises to train what to do when a diver panicks at the surface or underwater, how to rescue an unconscious diver and so forth. In addition to that we had pass a difficult written exam (well, it was multiple-choice, but I had to do a lot of reading nevertheless).
At the end of the day we enjoyed it a lot.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Emergency First Responder

Did the PADI Emergency First Responder Course, which teaches First Aid including CPR.
This was the first time in the last 9 days, that I haven't been in the water... kinda strange ;-).

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Fun Diving

Another Day of Fun Diving. The first Dive was at 'South-West Pinacle'. We saw a whole swarm of yellowback fusiliers, there must have been thousands of them, it looked like a big cloud when swimming past.
The Second Dive was at 'White Rock' where the Visibility was great, over 20m.
After a nap in the afternoon, I was fit again for the Night Dive. This time I saw a big chevron baracuda, a huge Porcupine Fish (~50cm) and a tiny Octopus (2cm).

Friday, September 19, 2003

Advanced Open Water Course

Finished the Advanced Open Water Course today.
After a short theory session we did our first 2 dives. The first one was a 'Underwater Naturalist' dive, where we paid attention to specific fishes and plants. The second dive was a 'Navigation' dive, where we swam a square and a triangle using the compass. Whilst descending we saw a squid with a really long tail. In the evening we did the 'Night Dive', which was really cool, everything looked so different from the day, I had the feeling, that the ocean is much bigger at night. We saw a couple of 'Bluespotted Manta Rays', a Crab and others, unfortunately we didn't see the big baracuda or the turtle, which were supposed to be around.
Today we first did the 'Deep Dive', where we descended to 30m (on previous dives the maximum depth was ~18m), and I got a really bad case of nitrogen narcosis, I was giggling like mad at nothing :-), but as soon as we got to shallower water I was okay again. Our last dive was a 'Multi-Level' dive, where we first descended to 24m and then gradually went to shallower water. There we saw dozens of 'Trigger Fishs', it was kind of scary, I didn't really know how to find a safe passage, but our instructor led us through there without problems. Later on we swam through some caves, which were quite tight.
I'm looking forward to more diving adventures...

Fun Diving

Did 2 Fun Dives at Sail Rock on the 17th September.
It was a great experience, I saw so many different fishes (mostly small ones) and the visibility was great.
On the way back I was sleeping on the boat and catched a minor sunburn...

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

PADI Open Water

In the last four days I did the PADI Open Water Course, which I successfully completed. It was a great experience. The first three days were difficult with lots of theorie and lots of new things to remember and to practice. Today has been very rewarding though, I really enjoyed my last dive, because I could finally (more or less) keep control of my movements and spend more time looking at everything. Just one type of fish has been really unnerving me, they're small with silver and blue horizontal stripes, they kept picking at me the whole time... I'd better stay away from waters containing Piranhas (or similar), they'd probably choose me out of a group of ten people... ;-).

Friday, September 12, 2003

Full Moon Party

Wednesday, 10.09.03 was the day that everyone was here for, the big Full Moon Party.
At the beach there was one bar next to the other, all of them were decorated with lights. While I was walking from one end to the other I got the impression that I was at a carnival. Most of the places were playing techno, but I found one that played Hard Rock/Metal/NuMetal. There I stayed for the rest of the night.

Bangkok and the Movies Part II

After a slow morning I visited Bangkoks World Trade Center which is actually a huge shopping arcade with an ice-skating rink, a bowling center and a cinema complex. After browsing through the various shops I watched 'The Medallion', the newest Jackie Chan movie, in the cinema. It was a good movie even though it left some questions unanswered.
With difficulty I managed to get through the traffic jam back to the Travel Agency where I was picked up at 7pm to catch my bus. After 11 hours in the bus we finally arrived in Surat Thani, from where we took the boat to Koh Phangan, where I relaxed a bit. Swimming turned out to be quite difficult, the beach was so flat that after 15min of walking into the sea it was still not deep enough!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Shopping frenzy in Bangkok

I took a commuter train back to Bangkok the next morning, where I first arranged for my onwards journey south.
First I visited the Chatujak Weekend Market, which is huge! You can find anything there (clothing, 2nd hand books, souvenirs, live animals (snakes, dogs, squirrels, chickens and mostly fish), Music, Movies, Food, Antiquities, Plants, Food and so forth), I spent almost 4 hours wandering through the different parts, and I haven't seen half of the stalls.
Next I went to Phantip Plaza where dozens of stalls/shops sold DVD's, MP3-CD's, Computers, Games and Software. After every purchase I had to wait between 5 and 20 minutes. Because the police did some rigorous raids lately, the merchandise is kept safe away from the shopping complex, and only what was sold is brought by a messenger.
My next stop was Patpong, where I found Radio City after a 15 min search. Since the band hadn't started yet I strolled through the various stalls. At the end of the day I had spent quite a bit of money on T-Shirts, Movies and Music...
Returning to Radio City around 9 thirtyish, I stayed there for a couple of hours. The band was very good, they played New and Old Pop- and Rock-Hits.

Ruins, Ruins and more Ruins

On Thursday, 04.09.03, I took the bus from Phitsanulok to Sukhothai, where I visited the Sukhothai historical park, since everything was close together I took a 'mountainbike' (with only one gear!) to make my explorations, which peaked in visiting a small monks dwelling ~6km away from the main sites. The ruins were very interesting and had some impressive Buddhas, and Khmer- and Sukhothai-style wats and chedis.
The next day I went back to Phitsanulok where I met a Thai student (a friend of my sister), who showed me around.
With the 10.07pm train I continued on to Ayuthayah, where I arrived 3.45am. At the second Guesthouse I stopped, someone opened the door, since all the rooms were full that night I was offered a couch and could catch some more sleep.
In the morning, more or less fresh, I rented a bike and started to explore the ruins of Ayuthayah. The Maps in Lonely Planet led me in the wrong direction a few times, but in the end I found everything I looked for. Compared to Sukhothai, the ruins here were not half as interesting. The best was the famous buddha head, which is overgrown with treeroots. Since it was still quite early I decided to drive a little bit overland, to visit some of the places which were farther away. With a little bit of good luck and my sense of orientation I managed not to get lost ;-).

back to Civilisation in record time

Since I wanted to be in Sukhothai the very next day I quickly departed the Bamboo Huts, William, the owner, was kind enough to bring me back to the main road, where I hitched a ride to Pua (the next bigger town). From there I took the Bus first to Nan and afterwards on to Phitsanulok, where I arrived at 0.20 am, almost 9 hours later.

Mountain Trekking

Next we did a 2days/1night guided Mountain Trekking. The path led us through the midst of the Jungle, through rice fields and through thicket for 4 1/2 hours, going up- and downhill all the time . The first day had very nice weather and we could see quite far. Overnight we spent next to a waterfall in a simple tent (built with bamboo sticks covered with plastic and banana leaves) without any 'modern' facilities. Just after we reached our sleeping quarters it started to rain heavily, which meant that the trails, which where very slippery to begin with, would get even more tricky. On our way back there was quite a bit of mist, clouds and rains, which gave the sourroundings a very poetic atmosphere. After 3 1/2 tough hours we were glad to get back to the Bamboo Huts where a very traditional lunch (sticky rice, with beef) awaited us.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Going North

Whilst I took the bus, which looked like it would fall apart very soon, north to Pua, Sergio followed me on his Scooter. To our disappointment we discovered, that there was nothing of interest in Pua, so we decided to go further Northeast to the National Park, which had a nice place to stay. So 2 guys with 2 big backpacks rode 1 small Scooter. After we asked for the way four times, we finally found the correct road. Soon it started to climb and although the Scooter had its problems, we arrived safe and sound. I'd like to say a few words on the view which was absolutely fantastic. Hills as far as you can see, a few of them are covered in rice fields, the rest arboreus.
The next 2 nights we spent there in the Bamboo Huts. On the first day we did some trekking on our own, but mostly we just relaxed and enjoyed the views.

Travelling

Saturday I took an early bus to Nan, which is a Province in the Northeast of Thailand. On the bus I had the chance to chat with a Thai student. After visiting the different Wats of Nan I discovered a small festival which happened at the riverside, there I met an Italian who told me about his idea of going further north to do some trekking in the mountains. I liked the idea and decided to accompany him.

Golden Triangle

After we relaxed on Thursday (29.08.03), I went on a trip to the Golden Triangle on Friday.The Golden Triangle is the part where the borders of the countries of Laos, Burma and Thailand meet. In a greater sense the Golden Triangle is the part in the North where the Opium was planted.
We took a Longtailboat to get close to the shore of Burma, and get onto an island which belonged to Laos, this was very touristic, you could write postcards from Laos to prove that you've been there, even if only for a few minutes.
After Lunch we went to the Northernmost point of Thailand, which is just next to the bordercrossing to Burma.
On our way back to Chiang Mai we stopped at a Longneck Karen Hilltribe village.

 
 
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