Tuesday – Day 3
We were up bright and early on Tuesday morning as we had booked a trip to the Phi Phi Islands. The trip took us by speed boat out to the islands, the place is amazing! The Phi Phi Islands are actually the “Hot Spot” of Southern Thailand, made famous by the movie “The Beach”.
The Maya Bay crystal clear waters have become the “not to be missed” place in Phuket. We also were able to do several other spots including a snorkelling stop at an amazing reef. Most of the area is still under renovation after the place was wiped out after the Tsunami. This group of islands was one of the first places to be hit and were the worst affected. The afternoon on our return back to Phuket we stopped off for lunch at a very small island called the Virgin Island, it was a fantastic little island, all that was there was a restaurant and a couple of shops.
Wednesday – Day 4
Wednesday morning we had nothing planned so decided to grab a Tuk Tuk (small type of taxi) and head to a beach at the far southern point of the Island, the beach was called Hat Ya Nui. We had been told on one of our earlier tours this beach was very good for snorkelling and it was fairly good. I spotted my first Lion Fish, which was amazing although I was kinda scared, well maybe only a little bit. The Lion-fish are members of the scorpion-fish family Scorpaenidae, and have venomous dorsal, pelvic and anal spines.
Typically they have 12 to 13 dorsal spines, 2 pelvic spines and 3 anal spines. Each spine contains two grooves containing venom producing tissue. The ornate pectoral fins, though similar in appearance the dorsal fins, are not equipped with these glands. So I’m lucky to be alive! Although the marine life off the beach was fantastic, the area had still not been cleared up after the Tsunami so there was lots of stuff under rocks in the water, jackets, shoes etc., it gave you a very erie feeling…
Thursday – Day 5
Thursday we were again up early as we were sure that we were booked to go on Safari but we got the days mixed up and it turned out that we weren’t going until the Friday. So we decided that we should hit Phuket Zoo, and what a trip it was, totally different from the Zoo’s in Europe or even Australia for that matter.
We got to the zoo and where greeted at the gates by two guys who gave us a lovely necklace made out of Orchids. We had just started wandering around and we walked past a massive tiger, literally walked right past him, all that was between us and him was a rope. Although he was chained to the rock he was sitting on it was scary all the same! We were then asked if we’d like to have our photo taken with him, I said no straight away but Sarah wanted to do it so we did, it wasn’t until the tiger keeper came out with only one fecking arm that I really started to worry! We sat next to the tiger and the guy started taking some photos, then the keeper slapped his stick against the ground, well I nearly sh*t myself, the tiger made a massive roar…. That was enough for me, I’d wanted no more to do with the tiger… He then asked Sarah if she’d like to see the tiger cub, she said yeah and the next thing this little tiger cub comes running out and jumps on Sarah’s knee, she even got to feed him. He was only a small fella but his paws were massive!
We continued to wander around the Zoo, took in the crocodile show where two guys stick there heads into the mouth of a croc, and also took in the elephant show which was also pretty cool, the elephants did some dancing, played some music and even had a penalty competition.
The Zoo was pretty good although I don’t think I ever felt safe walking around, you just never knew what you where going to come across.
We got back to the resort in the early afternoon and decided that we’d head over to the beach around sunset to take some photos and maybe do some para-gliding, which was really cool and the sunset was magnificent!
Friday – Day 6
Right so today was the day we go on Safari, well half a day anyway, and it was pretty cool. We were picked up from the hotel in a open top safari jeep and then we drove for around 50 minutes until we were in the middle of no where! We met our guide for the day and she said that she would start the trip by introducing us to some baby elephants. This was pretty cool, we got right up close to the elephants and got to feed them, the elephants were even offering Thai massages! From there we went further into the jungle to see how the natives go about tapping a rubber tree and how they go from the tree into a sheet of rubber, again fascinating stuff.
After this we were taken up into the jungle and brought to some more elephants, this is were we had our elephant ride through the jungle, our elephant was called Zoran, not the most comfortable way to travel but I think he was far more comfortable that the jeep that took us from the hotel, although that might just have been the driver.
From here we were taken back down to see the monkeys and how they train the monkeys to climb trees to remove coconuts, and amazingly they can remove 800 coconuts a day. This then lead us into how a Thai curry is made, what herbs are used, and how they get the milk from the coconuts. There was of course some tasting and man is a real Thai curry spicy!
After having some cooling water we went back into the jungle to meet two massive water buffalo, and we even got to ride them cool, I was amazed at the size of these guys and there skin is amazingly silky soft! Well that was pretty much all the safari, we did get to experience some fantastic Thai food for lunch including some more curry, an excellent morning, although we did suffer from some mosquito bites.
Friday afternoon we decided to go for a walk and see if we could find somewhere we could organise a dive or two for the weekend. Well we did find a place, it was called Sunset Diving right on Patong beach, and we decided that rather that doing one or two we would continue with our diving progress and do the PADI Advanced course. The PADI advanced would take us deeper than we’d previously gone and also give us more confidence in the water as well as more skills.
We decided that we would do the course over the Saturday and Sunday, Saturday we would do our deep dive, which would take us down to 30 meters and we were going to do this at a place called the King Cruiser Wreck. We would then do the underwater naturalist course at Shark Point and our Multilevel and Computer Dive at Koh Doc Mai. Sunday we would do our Underwater Navigation and Peak Performance Buoyancy at a dive site known as Racha Yai.
We couldn’t wait for it although the 07:30 pick up time and the studying to be done didn’t really appeal to us that much…
Saturday – Day 7
It was a beautiful morning without a cloud in the sky so we were hoping that the diving would be good and it sure was. We’d done out homework the Friday afternoon and read 3 chapters from our books so were easily able to answers the questions given to use before we did each dive. Our first dive was our deep dive, which would take us down to 30 meters, the deepest that we’d been previously was 18 meters so this was a little scary. It took us around an hour and a half before we reached our first dive site from Phuket marina. We were diving first at the King Cruiser, this was a 85 meter passenger ferry that on a routine run in 1997 to the Phi Phi Islands made history by running several kilometres off course and hitting a reef called Anemone Reef.
A huge hole ripped though the belly of the ship and it went down in less that an hour. There was over 400 people on board and they all got off safely. We started off our dive by going to the deepest point first which was right at the front of the ship and on the ocean floor, 31 meters. The marine life was totally amazing, lots of devil Scorpion Fish as well as Lion Fish so we had to keep our wits about us as some as these lads provide a mighty powerful sting as I mentioned earlier. We swam up the left of the boat and then went up inside the ferry, it was awesome!
Our next dive was at Shark Point, which is fairly close to the wreck only about 30 minutes away so again question time before we took the dive, which we breezed though. Shark Point is a marine sanctuary that derives its name from the Leopard Sharks that are encountered resting on the sandy bottom, but unfortunately we didn’t see any of these although we did see a lovely little bamboo shark. The reef comprises of 3 pinnacles, the largest breaks the surface and looks like a barren rock outcropping. The marine life again was amazing and the multicoloured reef was just beautiful. Here we had to do our underwater naturalist so we had to identify 5 fish, 5 plants and 5 animals, which we did no problems, the hardest bit was identifying different corals.
Our third and final dive of the day was at Koh Doc Mai, which is a fairly massive limestone island that rises vertically from the seabed, This is what’s known as a wall dive as it basically is just a vertical drop all the way down to about 30 meters. Our task here was to monitor our dive computers and not go below 18 meters for the first half of the dive and then rise to 12 meters for the rest of the dive, you might say easy but it is very easy to get carried away and before you know it your at 30 meters on the sand, but luckily for us did kept a close eye on our depth and passed this one with flying colours. Oh there was also some fish here and some very inquisitive cleaner crabs.
And that was our first day’s diving, and it was extremely tiring although a few beers back on the beach at the dive shop watching the sun go down sure sorted that out, only then to realise we to read another two chapters before our dives in the morning!
Sunday – Day 8
Sunday morning we boarded a different boat to Saturday and head for Rachai Yai, this was where we would do our two final dives before we’d become PADI Advanced Open Water Divers.
Rachi Yai is a granite island which offers sheltered water in a beautiful bay called Bungalow Bay, it is famous for its clear waters and magnificent coral gardens. The two dives that we were doing today where far more serious that yesterday, underwater navigation and peak performance buoyancy, not my two favourites. The peak performance buoyancy was to be our first dive, here we would have to fine tune our breathing and become totally weightless in the water, which included floating a few feet from the bottom of the ocean floor without moving or touching the bottom. We had to do this feet first, then head first and then sideways, Great fun once you got your buoyancy sorted. Our next dive was underwater navigation, again this was done at Rachai Yai and I thought it was a little easier that the previous dive. There were 3 objectives to do here, all three involved a compass.
First we where given a compass bearing and at the bottom of the bay area around 15 meters we’d to swim in a straight line, second again given a compass bearing we’d to swim in a straight line and swim back to where we started, and finally we’d to swim in a complete square using the compass and finish back where we started, easy — yeah right! Another great dive which we both completed successfully and we also saw a huge ugly looking octopus! As we surfaced we were congratulated on passing our PADI advanced course – the diving was fantastic and it was an amazing place to do the course. Our instructor Ryan Fryer was also 100%, a fantastic guy and a brilliant instructor, we again headed back to the dive shop on the beach and enjoyed a few more beers whilst the sun set.
Monday – Day 9
Monday our last day in Phuket was rather dampened as a monsoon hit, the rain was torrential but it didn’t stop us from splashing and messing in the pool.
That night it started off pretty good but we got stuck in a chemist as the heavens opened, stranded! But luckily the chemist sold cold beer, I think that’s the first time I even had a session in a chemist! The rain eased off enough for us to make a run for it and we took shelter in the near by Molly Malones Pub for some more quality Singa beer.
Tuesday – Day 10
Tuesday morning we packed up and headed back to Sydney, a fantastic holiday and I’m sure that we will return to Phuket one day.
More photos available in my flickr album, click here.