A Travellerspoint blog

Wow!

that's all I can say...

sunny 30 °C

I just got back from my first night dive! and Wow! is all I can really say! The ocean is a totally different place in the black of night! Watched the sunset from the boat, jumped into the water juuuust as the sun was dissapearing, the first twenty minutes of the dive, darker, darker. By the end it was pitch black... follwing our dive master in a line of pairs... we perused around white riock dive site... a few of the animals that came to check us out included a couple of sting rays, just youngins... really cute.. a sea turtle (!!my god!!) and a barracuda, a good half meter long one at that... all of the fish are different.... they must partol the bottom in shifts... day fish sleep at night, and vice versa... because I've dived that sight before and this was totally different... the dive eventuially ended when another group got all confused and a few people started following us. messed everyhting all up. have to be reeeealy carful about saftey stuff in the dark. that is for sure. it was reeeally challenging navigating and keeping track of your buddy, your dive master, the bottom of the ocean, triggerfish (which can kill you), corals which are really fragile (mind you, they'll tear your skin open before they snap...)
Yeah. That was one of 3 dives I did today. oh yeah, I'm a certified open water diver now! and I'm working on my advanced course! as well as obtaining my Nitrox (entiched air) ticket. I've done 7 dives now (about 6 hours underwater) and am getting really good at it... my assistant dive master today didn't belive that I had just started a couple days ago! I'm a pisces, what can I say? First dive today was part of the navigation unit, second dive was a photography unit (I took a 7MP camera down with me and shot some pics and video) the photo dive was fun... but a little frustrating.. the camera was kind of shit and I spent half of the time just learning how that particular camera worked best... and the couple I was diving with had camera problems, which slowed us up, etc. etc. I'll see how the pics came out... I'm not expecting anything too great but we'll see....
tomarrow is all theory for my nitrox ticket... lots of charts and tables and calculations. enriched air bringfs in a whole bunch more things you can screw up.. as if nitrogen narcosis, the squeeze and decompression sickness weren't enought... now I could get poisoned by oxygen... lovely. It has lots of benifits... I'll beablt to stay down significantly longer on a dive (yay!) and my ticket will allow me to obtain and safely use nitrox. nioce. so yeah. after a day of theory on that, I do a couple of dives on nitrox, including my first deep dive! down to 30meters! almost 10 stories under water! so far I have only been down to 18... and I'm also going to learn multilevel diving with a dive computer. that should be cool aswell. then I'm Advanced open water certified and Nitrox certified and hva e areally huge credit card bill...diving is cheap here... but I have taken alot of training. I could have done 30 or 40 leisure dives for the same price...
We'll see after that. there are are a bunch more levels. I'm about half way to dive master now!
alright. so as you can tell, my life consists of diving these days. diving and diving theory. and eating. and shooting off fireworks at night. Went out with Mike last night to the beach bars here. bloody amazing. I dind;'t even know that prt of town was here! bean bags and funky music, right on the beach... a whole row of them. we we're both completely stunned when we found them. stunned is the word... neither of us imagined such places to be of this world. I want to bring people back here. bring them to the bottom of the ocean and come and hang out in comfy, loungy, beanbag filled beach bars in the evening. llife is great. good meals for $2 canadain, my private bungalow with ensuite at the dive resort is $5/night. Doesn't get beeter than this... if it does... prove it. I want to see it. and I want to dive and lounge there because it must be heaven! It there scuba diving in heaven? of corse there is! there has to be...
ok. life is good.
life is really good.
somehow, I am still really excited to go home. really excited! I ordered a bunch of components from a company in hongkong to get started on some projects when I get home... so Dad, if a package arrives... either sign for me or... you can probably leave it till I get home. it will be soon enough, I reckon.
ok.
that's it for now. I've spilled the contents of my mind to my satisfaction for this evening...
talk to you in person soon... and chrysi, I sent you an email, it sent without coming back with an error message this time, but I still don't know if you got it?
ok.
I love you all heaps.

Posted by fenderson 06:57 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

On my own again...

Greetings from Koh Tao! - where the water is clear and the diving is cheap!

sunny 30 °C

Ok. got to make this quick. internet is really pricey here!

alright. lots has changed...
after spending 8 or 9 lazy days on Koh Pah Ngan... hanging out, snorkelling, eating and hammocking... we have finally moved! we both agreed that we could live at the seaflower indefinetly.(our costs worked out to be about $15 a day CAN for all the food we could eat and our accomidation, ech)
Brandon had to go back home. unfortunately... we parted ways yesterday on Koh Pah Ngan. He got on a boat to Surat Thani and I got on a boat to Koh Tao. He had to catch a bus back to Bangkok to fly out this afternoon. Was loads of fun Travelling with Brandon... feels kind of weird to be wandering around Thailand with out him. Oh well... back to solo travel mode.
Koh Tao is a beautiful little island. only 22sq km! My very first impressions were really good. coming around on tyhe boat, the rocks were different than the other islands... little coves of bungalows on the beaches and coming off the boat, I looked down into the water and I couldsee right to the bottom of the crystal blue bay... layers of neon blue fish swimming about. bloody beautiful waters. I can't wait to get in them. might go for a little snorkel in Mae Hadd before my class begins at 1:30... oh - I signed up for my PADI dive course today. I'm going with Crystal. My skyive instructor reccomened them and worked for them for a number of years... they all remember him well cand cracked me a deal. 9000baht for the course, including 4 nights accomidation at the resort. that's $265 for 4 days of training to get my open water dive certificate, incuding 4 dives, I belive... and 4 nights accomadation. Pretty decent, I reckon....
so yeah... I will probably spend most of my remaining time here on Koh Tao. I can't be botered to do much more exploring. it's beautiful here and I can spend my free time walking the island.. as it is only 3km across! and there are lots of beaches and forest trails and things...
oh. and my plkane tickets are messed up. I wriote that when I called to change the dates, they were all booked up... I guess that's how it's got to be... and the nearest date they could get me a seat is the 5th. figures... I shoulod have thought that there would be alot of people flying from Hong Kong to Vancouver for Canadada day... they don't call it Hong-couver for nothing...
annnyhow. just thought I'd drop a little line...
and Chrysi, if you're reading this, your email addy is messed up... your hotmail account keeps tossing messages back as "undeliverable" check on that, because I can't send you anyhting by email, hey?
oh - and if anybody has any shopping requests... like any items they would like from Thailand/HongKong while I'm here, I can pick them up for you. This goes for anybody, don't be shy... if it's expensive, I've got credit... there are loads of cool things to buy here... even general requests.. like a nice silk throw for a couch or a nice brass buddha... let me know by dropping a comment on here or drop me an email.
cool. I'll probably write again soon. surely I'll have some ranting to do after this scuba course...
alright. love you lots.
sorry I'm not going to be home for the reunion... you'll have to Party it up hard on my behalf.. but I'll see you all later that week.
love you lots!

Posted by fenderson 21:53 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Ko Pah Ngan

Loving those hammocks. Snorkelling with the reef fishes and parting with the full moon

sunny 32 °C

life has been grand this last week.
We have been staying at the Seaflower, a beautiful patch of bungalows growing on a nice beach on the west coast of the island of Ko Pah Ngan.
The only thing really momentus we have done in the past 8 days or so is attend this month's full-moon party, which are kind of the original huge full moon parties. biggest beach party in the world, apparently. It was big alright. big rave/dance/club/house kind of party. More of Brandopn's thing than mine, but hey... had to see what t was like. either way, lots of beautiful women and mad did everybody ever get messed up.
So yeah... basically, life has consited of laying in a hammock, eating food, snorkelling, lightng off HEAPs of cheap thai (and chinese) fireworks... hanging around the beaches. life has been great. the Bungalow we found at the seaflower is 100Baht each per night (less than $3 CAN) and is the best place we have found yet. beautiful grounds, outdoor showers, old style bungalow with a hammock on the deck. perfect. The beaches are nice. the water is hot when it's shallow, and comfortably warm when it's deep. We're right on the reef, so a guy can walk out to the drop off point and jump right between huge reef structures for a little dip. and I bought my own snorkel, so I can go whenever I want.
Only shit thing is that almost a week ago I biffed on a motor scooter and messed up my ankle a bit. It's fine to walk on but it was pretty bloody and swollen for the first few days. The doc fixed me up with steroids, antibiotics and what have you. no biggie. I think my travel insurance covers it.
Brandon is headed home this weekend.
As for me... I may not be making it home for the family reunion... I called about my tickets, after leaving them wayyy too long. I actually didn't even notice I had missed my flight by 2 days already! but the guy let me change the dates, no problem.... strange, but I didn't say anyhting... end of story, flights are booked up until the 5th of July. Which is kind of shit. but if that's the way it has to be, that's the way it's gonna be. I can stand staying here and extra few days... I'm wayy over budget, but life isn't going to get any cheaper going back in Canada... I might get a chance to go to Ko Chang or Even Angor Wat with those 5 days...
and so far I am planning on jumping on to Koh Tao to do my PADI open water dive certificate, as it is the cheapest place in the world to do it. 4days of scuba diving for 8000 baht ($235CAN) which leaves me with my world wide open water dive certificate... that is the plan, thus far. All is going according to plan... But Im'm going to be really poor by the time I get home...
alright. I've been dreaming lots about all of you back home. Love you lots and I'll see you all soon.

Posted by fenderson 05:07 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Back In Thailand!

after a week in paradise, I'm back in scungy old Bangkok...

sunny 33 °C

OK.
there is no way that I can do any of this last week justice by writing about it now. so much has happened!
I am presently back in Bangkok, Thailand. took a 12h overnight bus from the Laos/Thailand border last night. Arrived at 6am this morning. spent the last 5 hours taking the sky train about the city and arguing and haggling with drivers and travel agents and various "helpful people" all trying to divert us to this or that TAT or tourism place to book tickets so they get commission. I hate this city. it is a disgusting scumhole full of conartists. it is loud, obnoxious, and smoggy. A person can't even walk down the street with a backpack without being swarmed by drivers and tourism people, all fighting over your money. f*ck them. Sorry. I have to rant. I am sick of it and am not even staying a night here. I'm headed to Ko Samui tonight by another night bus. 10 hours on the bus and 2.5 hours by boat. I managed to find a guy who will sell us tickets on a VIP overnight bus for 450Baht... down from the 750B the travel agents wanted. hopefully he's not a con artist.. although I interrogated the shit out of him and am not giving him any money until the bus is there...
ok. back to the paradise that was life before returing to Bangkok!
The last time I wrote was form Luang Prabang. Beautiful little place. We did get that massage and god was it ever good. Went a 1st class spa. you walk into the moodlit stone building, and sit at a nice table.... crickets chirping and such... they hand you a menu and you choose whatever you want, then shower up in their stone showers and get robed up in the clothes they give you. and hour of traditional massage was 50,000kip. that sounds like alot... but it's less than $6 Canadian! and man what a massage. Just the kind I needed... nice deep tissue accupressure type massage. Leaves you feeling like a noodle afterward. Al dente!
what else did we do there...? climbed a big hill with a tmple on top and the 4 of us (Brandon and I and our Canadian friends Amber and Sean) had a little photo jam session and come out with some really innovative shots. lots of fun. geeze, what else? night markets. caves and waterfall. the caves were so so. the waterfall was bloody incredible. the most beautiful set I have ever seen! tropical blue, many leveles, the basins of each level you can swim in (which we did). beautiful spot. I'd go back. for sure.
After all that we headed down to Vang Vien. Strange little place it was... I has itr reccomended by a fellow in Australia for it's tube riding, which we did, of course. The tube ride involves renting a tube and getting driven a few miles upstream by a tuk tuk. You get into the river and float slowly down. along the way there are vendors who will gladly send you out a bamboo pole or harpoon and bring you in to buy a beer or climb up to one of the riverside pubs or up to a cliff jump or diving apparatus of some sort.... or you can lazily float down the river at your own pace for a few hours. beautiful mountain scenery too.... lots of fun.
Other than that, Vang Vien is a town full of T.V. bars and "Happy Food" restautants... with comfy seating so people can recline with pillows and veg out watching re-runs of Friends. Not too much going on there. everybodys is just relaxing... from there we headed to to Vietiane, the capital. Stayed for only an afternoon and missed our only chance to use and ATM... just weren't thinking...and hopped on a bus to the south of Laos to Pak Se... all in all about 30 or 40 hours of bussing in a few short days on the one paved road in the country. We didn't stay in Pak se. headed right down to Si Phan Don (4000 islands) stayed the fist night on Don Kong before taking a little 1.5h boat trip down to Don Det. also known as paradise. stayed in a little bungalow on the enge of the river for 15000 kip, split two ways that is about 80 cents canadian each! rented cycles for the day for the same price and explored around the island and the next island, Don Kone. Waterfalls and such.
ok.
this is getting rushed. this internet place is a total rip off. this entery has cost me over $5 to write. bloody hell.
end of story, we ran our of money in Si Phan Don and had to cut cambodia out of the trip (that was partly a time factor as well) and we barely had enough money to make it out of the coutry and still eat! as soon as we did cross the border though, we gained acess to our bank accounts and filled our wallets...
the last leg of our Lao journey, the multiple hours by Tuk Tuk to the border were very memorable... the locals were very lively... in amongst us people were bags and bags of fish (alive and dead) a giant lizzard (he was alive) a baby pig (agasin alive) and a variety of butterflies and things. the local childern we adorable... including one little girl who shared with us her snack of some very biaazre local plant that had pea-like fruits that must be peeled after being freed of their honeycomb-ese casings... interesting one. we also ate hard boiled eggs of some kind of small bird? and at one point there were 33 of is in the back of one truck....
good times.
anyway. I've got to pay this guy his riddululous fare, over 170 baht now... I could get a hotel room for that! ahh
alright. headed down to Ko Samui tonight. 10 hour bustrip coming up and a day to kill in bangkok.
full moon party coming up! I'm excited.
ok. much love to you all. This last week has been filled with a lifetime of memories. this attemped scribing is again, only a pale shadow of happenings. I wish I could sit down with each of you and share, or better yet - take you with me!
ok. that's it all for now.
next \wrting will be freom the islands!!

Posted by fenderson 22:25 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Laos

Cheap hotels and tasty food.

sunny 32 °C

Bloody hot here!
that is the first thing I have to say... no, it's beautiful here. lovely as a matter of fact.
Getting across the border was really easy. got out exit stamps from thailand, hopped into a tiny little motor boat for a 2 minute ride and we were over. Payed our fees and waited about half an hour for our stamps and we were in. made our way down to the slowboat dock after buying some snacks, and bought our tickets at the pier. In organizing this outr selves we payed 1/3 of the asking price from Chang mai. All of the travel people tod us it wasn't possible but we found out via other peoples experiances and from talking to the locals that we could infact do it ourselves and it worked very well...
anyhow. the boat we got on was a two slow boat from Huay Xai, down the Mekong river to Luang Prahbang with a stop in Pakbeng for one night. The journey was 14 hours total, 6h the first day and the remaining 8 the next. Luckily we are in the low tourism season, so the boat was not too packed, as it was a really long narrow boat crammed full of wooden bench seats, open right to the air. the ride went suprisingly fast with a good book, a deck of cards and some fellow canadians we met on the boat. one close call we had.... the river was one of those swirly types... with lots of conflicting currents and an alarming number of rocks and shallow bits (there is a fast boat that only takes 6 hours total, but it is ear peircingly loud, ttakes only 6 people and you are required to wear a crashhelmet because many of the boats hit the rocks...) and yeah, anyhow... our boat got into a sticky stituation, a current that took it right toward some rocks. our navigator managed to avoid the rock face and stteered us into a some calmer swirling waters before we gently beached ourselves... with some bamboo poles and a number of attempts to get back into the flow without hitting the rocks, we were back on our way. everyone who was nodding off was now quite awake... on the banks of the river all the way, tribes people could be seen with various nets and bamboo rods set up to catch fish. little naked kids paying in the shallows and small, shallow pan boats shuttling along the shorelines... very beaufiful scenery between the rugged treed hills and the jagged rock formations with multilayered beds of sand deposited my by the river during a former course...
Pakbeng was nice enough for a little town without electric power... well, they had generators running into the evening and when people were done buying drinks for the evening and such, candellight prevailed. Brandon and I payed 100 baht for a room, $50 baht each ($1CAN = 34 baht, do the math!) but it didn't have electricity at all and the shower was pretty shit... but hey, it's less than 2 dollars. cannot complain.
Oh and my last post mentioned wanting to get away from people trying to sell you shit all the time... no luck on that one. it's just the same here... they speak a different language and drive on the right side of the road, (where there are roads... there is a reason we too a two day boat, it would have taken 3 or 4 days by bus, as there are only dirt roads (one paved road) and very unreliable busses in this country) here is not so bad. everyone harrasses you when you get off the boat, then it's ok.
Checked out the night market here in Luang Prahbang after checking into our room, which cost us 40,000 kip, which is 150 baht, which is $4.50 Canadian, for both of us... $2.25 each a night and it's realy nice. hardwood floors, revolving fans, dimmable lights, a good shower, nice beds, screened windows, toilet paper. luxury... and it's one of the more expensive budget places!
Checked out the night market last night.. beautiful goods, stupid low prices. cheap silks and woodcafts... clothing is very cheap. you can get a pair of pants and a shirt - locally made, local style for less than $5 canadian.
Went to visit a few Wats today (a wat is a temple) Wat Xieng Thong, build in 1560 was a verry nice one... first ones in Laos we have seen.
ok. time is running out. I put up some photos! in the photos section. they are of the last week or so, I ave already burned a couple of CD's from thailand so there will be a chunk missing, but you can see a bit of what is going on in this part of the world.
ok. plans for ytomarrow, check out a local cave filled with buddhas and a giant waterfall... maybe get a nice Laos massage, as they are about half the price of Thailand! life is tough. hahah
alright. will be in touch. planning on heading down tro Vang Vien day after tomarrow. should get a chance to write from there.
much love and I'll be in touch.

Posted by fenderson 00:23 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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