A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: SSH19

Island Hopping in Thailand

Evans - As you most likely read earlier, Scott and I took our Advanced Open Water dive course in Koh Tao. And I have to agree, it was surreal. You can't even begin to explain what it's like over here. It really is a whole new level. And the water wasn't even the only thing great about Koh Tao, the island itself is a wonder to behold. It's a paradise that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Preferably more if you have the chance. And I'm sure you'd make time for that if you ever came down here. After spending around ten days there, partying with new friends, and seeing the annual Koh Tao Festival, which we were lucky to be there in time, we headed off to Koh Phangan. This island was no different from the first. The water was magnificent, and the beaches were amazing. Koh Mah, our favourite beach on the island, was absolutely stunning. Lots of fish to see while snorkeling in the water, and just a breath taking view all around us. We rented a motorbike and took it around the island a few times, and the views continue to amaze both of us. We were there for the half moon party as well. We didn't have our camera, because we've heard there are troubles with theft there, so just look it up on google to see it. It was set up in a tribal type of scene, it was really something else. We're now in Koh Phi Phi, and it's our second day here. We went to a Reggae bar last night, and they have a fight ring set up, and if you volunteer, you get free drinks. I had a little too many, so I volunteered. It was loads of fun, that's for sure. It was just kick boxing mostly, with three one minute rounds. We're planning on taking the day trip/tour around the island, which we're both really looking forward too. And we're going to try camping out here as well. And possibly more scuba diving too, since we've heard this is a great place to do it. That's it for now, I know it's been a while since I posted, but I'll try to add more next time.

Posted by SSH19 02:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

I am now a fish!

Koh Tao, Thailand

The past two days have been some of the greatest yet. We decided to get our Advanced Open water diving certificates and Evans and I were later convinced to do our Nitrox Enriched Air course. We have dove in Nha Trang Vietnam and back home, and let me tell you, nothing compares to this. Our first dive we were charted out to this site called Chumpon pinnacle. The swells were huge! A lot of people in our group got really sick from the rocking motion. The storm the night before was probably the cause of this. So we all got ready, let our air out of our BCDs and sunk into the giant fish tank. The visibility was amazing I could see so far! The reef was blanketed with fish then spun around creating cool reflections from the sun. All I could think of was "this is what dreams are made of." We swam around the giant pinnacles checking out all the different vibrant fish. If you have ever seen Planet Earth's shallow seas episode you can kind of compare. After the dive I was ecstatic, a whole new quality of diving was right down the road and I had 4 more dives! The next couple dives we just amazing, we had some skills to pass in order to gain our Advanced certification. Things like navigation, photography and other simple skills. We were also really lucky to see a bunch of blue spotted sting rays and puffer fish. Then..... there was the night dive. Something I had heard of but could never really grasp. Going down into the depths in pure darkness. Sinking into the abyss! We jumped off the boat and got our torches out and in a team of 6 we descended from the sunset into the darkness. It was so surreal like I was in space. All you could see was everyone elses lights and the area my light was exposing. I remember floating over a sting ray and the blue was absolutely stunning. I still can't believe how much fun it was, almost addicting. I really think I may be back here to do my dive masters course in a couple years. I recommend diving and this place to everyone it truly is as good as it gets.

Posted by SSH19 22:45 Comments (0)

Laos

Will do later

Posted by SSH19 22:45 Comments (0)

Death on Wheels?

Evans - I don't even know where to begin. I suppose I'll start two days earlier. After having packed all our stuff together and readied ourselves for the busride to Laos from Viet Nam, we found ourselves waiting on the side of the street in the middle of nowhere. The shuttle, which was supposed to pick us up from the hostel at 5pm, arrived at 5:30pm. Then drove us to the location which I deem the middle of nowhere, and left us there while we waited for the bus to arrive, which took another hour or so. I had put on the most comfortable clothing I could think of for the bus - muscle shirt and shorts - so I was pretty cold since the sun was down and night had come. Eventually the bus arrived, and we all got ready to put our bags underneath in the luggage compartment and get on. Unfortunately, there wasn't any room underneath, it was already full. It appeared that the bus was also shipping bags of gypsum to Laos along with us. So as we all got on, we laid the bags along the isle in the center, leaving absolutely no room for walking or stretching your legs. We were forced to sit at the back of the bus, and right behind us were probably around fifteen bags of rice, so we could put our seats back either. There was also very little room between each row of seats, so my legs were already pressed against the chair infront of me. Which didn't help when the person decided he wanted to put his seat back. After getting all cozy, for the lack of a better term, we started our journey. At first, it wasn't so bad, the bus driver seemed to know what he was doing. As if he actually earned his license like every other person would have, by taking a test. Trust me, that didn't last long at all. There were points when I actually feared for my life. It was pitch black outside, and fog had spread out over the entire landscape around us. I looked out the window and couldn't see farther than a foot or two in front of me. I then had the smart idea of looking down the isle to the front of the bus, where I couldn't even see an inch beyond that. Wipers going full, raining hitting the window, fog erasing everything infront of our view, we sped down the road at a comfortable pace of about 120km. Oh, and did I mention he would wipe the windshield with a cloth on the inside too? Yea, I'm taking a plane if I ever have an "opportunity" like this again, that's for sure. It continued like this for around half the trip, 12 hours, until we reached the border. Beyond that there was no fog, just freezing rain, and still high speeds along the road. Oh, and about the bags of rice I told you about earlier, turns out it was actually sodium hydroxide. A poisonous chemicle you shouldn't be around without a mask, or touch without wearing gloves. Thankfully we were lucky, and found that out "after" helping unload the bags from the bus out the window before our final destination. We then spent one day in Ventiane before taking a bus to Vang Vienge. Don't count on my spelling being correct there. This bus ride was around 4 and a half hours of insanity. And just think, I didn't think it could get worse. I'm not sure about our speed along the road, but it was definitely faster than the posted limited, considerably as well. The weather was good, that was probably our only stroke of luck this time. Everyone says that you should always drive defensively - this was definitely by all means offensive. Our bus was all over the road, going into the opposite lane each time we went around a corner. We were going around, up, and down mountains most of the way, but that didn't change anything. We'd zip around a sharp turn causing the bus to tily beyond what we're normally think would be possible. Sometimes causing other cars to swurve around us, or become the new bumper for the death on wheels we were riding. Every sharp turn caused my eyes to jerk up from the book I was reading and look out the window, only to see a drop down the side of the mountain the would either total the bus, or seriously injure us. I have no idea how, but this driver was even worse than the last one. But, as you can see, we made it to where we are now, maybe not safely, but we're all still in one piece. So, to sum it up, I wouldn't recommend taking a bus from Viet Nam to Laos at any given time. Nor will I ever again. Amen.

Posted by SSH19 05:19 Comments (0)

North Vietnam

Scott-
Well its been a while! Hue was a cool little town and we were lucky to stumble into an Australian style backpackers hostel that was good fun. The hostel scene hasn't really seemed to catch on quite yet in Vietnam. Most of the places are guesthouses, which is ok, but the hostel atmosphere is a way better place to meet people. In Hue we did a DMZ tour that was pretty good. We took a bus with a tour guide who barely spoke any English, but that didn't bug me because I was captivated by the lush scenery. There were mountains with green canopys, water buffalos crossing rushing rivers and a few fishermen paddling their long boats. We came to a bridge that I recognized from the movie Hamburger Hill, then I was reminded about what had happened here and how horrible it must have been for the soldiers who fought and died. We went up to a couple military museums with hollowed out missiles, huey hellicopters and rusted out tanks. Next we headed to a beach that had tunnels dug all throughout the shoreline. We got to crawl through them and check out how the Vietnamese people were surviving thoughout the war, wow was it cramped!

After Hue we caught a bus up to Hanoi, the first night was awful because we went along with one of the guesthouse owners that yanked us from the bus. He offered a free taxi ride which sold us. However, when we got to the room the walls were spotted with mold. We stayed for one night and moved down to the Hanoi Backpackers hostel. Wow am I having fun here, this place is the best hostel I have been to throughout all my travels. Meeting so many people, free breakfast and rooftop BBQs really sold me.

We booked a tour through the hostel to go out to the "Snake Villiage." It was a plan I had before I came to Vietnam to eat a snake's heart and when I realized it was possible to do we signed up right away. In a group of about 18 from the hostel we went out to the snake villiage ready to eat snake heart! As they brought the snakes out they also showed us a live cobra which was crazy! I am not much of a snake lover and when the owner laid the live cobra a few feet away from my sandal strapped feet I had to back up a bit! Eventually they brought out the snakes we were destined to eat and I was lucky enough to be able to cut it open myself, eat its still beating heart, then swallow the gull bladder and drink its blood.. Yuck! After the whole ordeal they cooked up the snake in different dishes. Fried crushed bones, skin, deep fried snake meat... it was very good.

So for the past couple days the Vietnamese New Year has been going on and yesterday the fireworks went off to mark the new lunar year. It was crazy being in a foreign city watching massive explosions of fireworks mark the sky.

On the 16th we are heading to Laos a 24-36 hour bus ride from hell!

Posted by SSH19 22:34 Comments (0)

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