Mumbai Travel Blog› entry 7 of 7 › view all entries
Ok let's get this show on the road.....this trip started like most of my other jaunts........semi, halfway, sort of, perhaps, maybe, not really planned and unexpected. I was toying around with the idea of doing a dive trip ever since my return from South Africa but just never got to. Then a friend got back from Koh Tao and started singing it's praises which obviously got me thinking a bit more and the rest as they say is....one hell of a vacation :).
When I say last min travel I do mean it. I didn't have a ticket booked, accomodation, nor was I packed on 19/07/2009 when I finally decided to go. Not able to get a good fare to BKK I kept at it online from the morning till late afternoon when I just got fed up and decided I had to leave the same day come hell or delayed flights. Went to the airline office at 5:30 p.m. got my ticket for the night flight, headed back home, packed my gear, showered and took off for the airport by 8:30 p.m. :) best plan ever!
What a sweet feeling, a few hours later I was winging it to BKK with a nice tailwind and not a care in the world. Of course the ppl in Thailand thought I was kidding when I called from the airport and said I'm leaving now see you tomorrow...lol.
Rocked up in BKK bright and early and went through the motions of getting a visa on arrival which for some strange reason took forever and then I had to haul my ass all the way to the other end of the airport to retrive my backpack, very unfunny when you have to walk what seems to be the length of a runway! Exit BKK airport only at 11:30 a.m.
With nothing planned for the day but my onward journey that night I met up with a friend to drop off a parcel and then hit the malls since part of this trip NOW was to also look for stuff for my sisters wedding later in the year.
Got bored of the malls quickly enough and hightailed it to Kho San road where I grabbed something to eat and just wandered around while absorbing all that it had to offer in sights,sounds and even smells. Also put in some time going thru my dive books and refreshing my mind as I had not dived in a year now then refreshed my body as well with a few chilled TIGER's .
Come 9 p.m. and I was on the bus with a newfound friend from Germany also looking to go diving. Was a comfy journey to Chumpon where we waited about 2 hours before we took the high speed catamaran out to Koh Tao at about 06:30 a.m. That's where we got slammed by a humongous cloud burst that soaked everyone unlucky enough to be on the uncovered decks outside and turned the sea from a clam little pony into a heaving, bucking bronco. That certainly churned a few stomachs....... lol.
But then again this is Thailand and it didn't last more than 45 mins after which we had calm seas right up till we reached stunning Koh Tao.
And then it pissed down again.......really nice way to start a holiday on a tropical island wouldn't you say? I was greeted by NIkki my dive instructer and immediately knew we'd have a blast....he is the most down to earth, funny and completely irreverent professional i've ever met. Sorted out accomodation with the dive school which was a sweet Thai style stand alone cottage all to myself just a min or less away from the beach, finished the paperwork and then did something most unexpected for me..... I went native!! I took my footwear off and kept it off for the next 8 days straight. Not once did I get back into any sort of footwear and it was magical.....go anywhere, do anything...it's just accepted all over the island and besides the place is clean.
Then to splice a loooong story short, life moved up a few gears and the diving and partying began ......... and how!!
Diving First : Spectacular diving, Pristine Reefs, the rare sighting of a Marble White Moray Eel (albino and Im told that me and my instructer Nikki are now among 4 people on the island who have seen the eel in the last 10 years), Groupers as big as a mini cooper, Night Dive on a 'ship wreck', Navigation Dive in strong currents that got me lost for a bit and almost had me heading straight out to open ocean swimming back to Bombay I guess, Deep Dive to complete my advanced course requirements and to check for narcosis....well I didn't go goofy :( might have been interesting, Mango Bay where the bottom was at 18 mts from the boat and we could still see every single detail of the sea bed as if it were a foot away, Surrounded by a shoal of thousands of Fusiliers which were in turn surrounded by Yellow Tail Barracuda....so many in fact they actually blocked out the sunlight....It was a magical experience, Doing James Bond entries into the water, Blowing bubble rings, Gymnastics on the shipwreck without our fins, Watching an Octopuss being chased and defending itself and a whole lot more. All this just during the day.
Bring on the Dancers: Then came the wild parties almost every night...... I met a ton of people and made so many friends that we eventually ended up organising a barbeque at Nikki's house for all the new found friends and I put together the marinade for the same Indian style.... suffice to say I was nominated Chef de Island.
Lip smacking barbequed, Pepper Cheese stuffed Chiken / Pork Sausages wrapped up in lean strips of bacon with the lard left on to melt for added flavor, Pan Seared Chicken Fillets flambed with a shot of Tequila, Sweet Chilly Pork Chops flame grilled in a light drizzle of Tiger/Singha beer, Tandoori Chicken Legs - super hot and some fish fillets done to perfection with just herbs and a dash of wine.......damn I'm hungry again!
This feast was accompanied by oh........about a 130 pints of beer, 1 bottle of Tequila, 1 bottle of Red Label, 1 bottle of Smirnoff, 1 bottle of Bacardi and a bunch of assorted cocktails. A guitar and some drunken singing later ....(12:30 a.m. maybe, I did say we partied hard) we headed off for the Blue Moon Castle party.
How some from our group of party animals ended up on the roof of the club to dance we'll never know...since they were dive instructers and going DOWN is what they do best :0 ....but we do know they couldn't figure out how to get back down so we kept passing them the drinks and they just kept dancing till sunrise when they were 'helped' i.e. carried down and we all literally crawled our respective ways home. It was thankful that there were no morning dives scheduled for the day :)
And this was just one of the parties that went this way......lol! well not all were as bad or good depending on how you look at it but some came pretty close! ALL OF A SUDDEN GETTING ON THE BAR AND DANCING IS COOL.....till you remember what you did the next morning!
The people I've met on Koh Toa are all warm and fun loving and especially Nikki my dive instructor, insane to the core yet one of the best teachers around. He will have you do your course with so much professionalism AND fun that you have no clue that you've finished the course and cleared all the requisites for your certification. Besides which he does this while keeping you laughing and on your toes all the time....for every mistake you make during the training you owe a tiger beer to the evening's pool.... :) cool!
Buddah Bar and Lotus at Sairee beach where most evenings were spent are also awesome places with great music and affordable prices. We'd normally warm up at Lotus, put some beer and grub down while watching the fire dancers and then head to Buddah Bar. Shannon who was at Buddah Bar could whip up a storm with her dance to cotton eyed joe and that too with an injured knee. She was the cutest bartender on the island and is another good friend. Buddah Bar is serene and then slowly picks up during the night. Shut down at Buddah Bar and we'd migrate back to Sairee via the Yello Brick Road...stopping at AC Bar and other places along the way.
I also was lucky enough to be on the island for the biggest Snorkel Test Party ever! 11 divers completed their Dive Master grade and had to udergo the snorkel test. What's that?? Well they stick a dive mask on your face so you cant breathe through your nose, Stuff a snorkle connected to a cut off coke bottle into your mouth and then at the word go they pour an entire bucket of the deadliest alcoholic mix possible down the bottle and into the snorkle. The diver has to guzzle it down as fast as you possible, sort of an initiation ceremony. The entire island turned up at Buddah Bar to watch this time as there had never been this many divers making Dive Master at the same time. It was freaked out to say the least and got a seriously great party going from then on.
I needed a video of the diving as I intend to make dive holidays a business and so we filmed the last 2 dives of the Open Water course that Niki was conducting while I just fun dived with the group as it was a promotional video for me...... I will post a link to the entire insane video soon.
Well a lot of diving and parties later all too soon I had to leave my island and get back to BKK to 'shop' for family and then head home...
the hardest part was putting my shoes back on!!!! It felt so weird after 8 days and so final :(
So on 29/07/2009 I got back on the catmaran and headed into the chaos and mayhem of city life once again much to my disappointment. But hey I'm going back!!! as often as I can :)
Coming Next - Withdrawal Symptoms in BKK from Diving in KohTao.