mountain lake, trans Canada railway
mountain lake, trans Canada railway
  • Similan Smiles - diving in Thailand
    • 06/02/2018
So in Nottingham i've been crashing at my friend Callum's place, an australian immigrant web developer.
His cousin was getting married in Thailand, so i tagged along for some winter sunshine.
After the celebrations on the beaches of Koh Samui, i headed to Koh Phi Phi, famed for being the location of the beach used in the film "The Beach".
The beach is now submerged beneath throngs of daytripping tourists, including boat loads of chinese snorkellers, many of whom can't actually swim and just bob around in their bouyancy aids and water wings.
Amusingly though, by walking through a bit of jungle one can reach equally idyllic sandy coves with no one else ruining the view!!!
After another quick ferry ride to the refreshingly quaint colonial town of Phuket, i embarked on something new for me, a liveaboard diving trip; 5 days at sea living on a boat and scuba diving as constantly as regulations allow.
The Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock, located in the Andaman Sea, are marine reserves and frequently appear in list of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
And indeed the underwater sights were good.
I was lucky to be in a group with 3 experienced qualified instructors (on their holidays), which meant maximum bottom time on all the dives.
So many fish that you couldnt see the fish for the fish.
Fantastic variety and abundance of hard and soft corals, nudibranch, shrimp, pipefish, and most exciting for me, octopus.
I'd never seen octopus before so to seem them jetting around, changing colours and texture of their bodies, and most lucky of all, to witness two together in a "romantic situation"!
We weren't fortunate enough to see any ocean giants (sharks etc) but there was so much to look at, shoals of barracuda, lobster, moray eels, seahorses, grouper, puffer fish, endless list of things i can't identify or remember.
The weather was fine and calm, thirty degrees plus water temperature, 30m visibility underwater.
An experience i would certainly repeat!
(for reference i went with Kholak Scuba Adventures on their boat Manta Queen 1)
I bought a GoPro especially for that trip (and general future usefulness), so have some interesting footage out of reams of blurry shakey stuff.
Generally happy with the gopro although i suspect you can get the same quality from one of the many cheap knock offs available on Amazon!
  • New photos uploaded
    • 05/06/2012
kickboxertemplegoing homeeatssnake
  • Final Destination
    • 30/05/2012
i've reached Bangkok, on a surprisingly uncomfortable overnight sleeper train.
Waiting at bar next to the station i met a guy from York who was doing the same journey in reverse.

Now sat in a coffee shop looking at maps and getting my bearings, after taking a few random trips on the sky train and not ending up anywhere useful.

Looking forward to seeing lots of temples and replenishing my wardrobe with some cheap market t-shirts, and maybe a day trip to the north.
  • Books
    • 28/05/2012
ploughed through a few books in the last month or so, including:

Rusty Young - Marching Powder
[amazon] 4 quid bargain!
the memoirs of a british guy during his time in the most bizarre prison in the world after being busted for cocaine smuggling. amazing to read, throws all your ideas and expectations out of the window

William Burchett - Rebel Journalism
[amazon] 18 quid not bargain
unfortunately i either lost it or someone swiped it from the hostel before i could finish it, but this is a collection of interesting essays from this guys career as a "behind enemy lines" reporter, during the cold war and various asian conflicts.
I will try and get hold of more of his writings.


And some classics:

Jane Austen - Emma
Thomas Hardy - Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Thomas Hardy - Far From The Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy - Jude The Obscure

I'm running out of Dickens to read and found Hardy's vivid settings in agricultural victorian times to be an engaging replacement, although lacking the witty dialogue and tending towards the tragic.
Far From the Madding Crowd was the nicest.
Emma is the original rom-com.
  • here, there, in between
    • 27/05/2012
Just a week left and I can't help thinking about getting home, and the future after the summer.

I had a great time in the scenic Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, eventually doing lots of scuba diving including the Advanced Open Water course, diving at a sunken wreck / at night / with turtles, and in generally beautiful locations of live hard and soft corals, sea fans, nudibranch, and more new fish than you can shake a stick at.
Also meeting lots of great people - not limited to a broad european mix, with lots of swedes, austrian, french and italian, but also estonian, iranian and kenyan and even some students from kazakstan.

After accidently on purpose staying an extra couple of days, i set off towards Koh Phangen in Thailand. This was a longggg journey taking 3 days, 2 ferries, 4 buses and a train, so i took it easy with hotels in between.
Unfortunately on the last bus leg of the journey, the only part not on proper public transport, i fell foul to an apparently common episode - my rucksack under the bus was ransacked, being stolen some clothes, my good knife, and about $50 in various different currencies which was souvenir money for me. And a towel. Really??
Nothing important then, but painfully galling, especially my Darlington football shirt which is probably now irreplaceable since they just got relegated to the sunday league.
More so it has damaged my trust in people for the moment, worsened by all the touts everywhere when throughout this whole year and all the countries i've visited i've always felt safe and open.

Currently i'm staying at an eco volunteer project, where people exchange a few hours a day gardening etc for accomodation, run by Nico, an American guy who i met in California.
He is aiming to turn this big old hotel into a green, carbon neutral and profitable concern, as well as about 15 other projects on the island from promoting permaculture and composting to cleaning up small islands.

This island is famous for its drink and drug fuelled full moon beach parties but also has a large community of hippies, yoga studios, organic cafes, and various other spiritual new age stuff i can't quite fathom.
Despite people waxing lyrical about the place I'm not that inspired by the island to be honest, it seems a bit too focused on extracting tourist dollars. But maybe i'm just feeling cynical and close minded at the end of my trip.

So next is ferry/train to Bangkok, which i'm half dreading the chaos of, and then home sweet home.


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