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Gina, Joe and Justin's Backpacking Experience

Phuket

THAILAND | Monday, 9 February 2009 | Views [1041] | Comments [3]

Let's first get this out of the way...its Pooh-Ket, the other option will get you funny looks from both sides of the language divide. You only get to make that mistake once, thankfully we got that phonetic challenge out of the way in Australia so we could save off looking like idiots...at least for a little while.

Phuket is an island that is on the western side of the southern Thailand split. Its only an island by a little tiny strip of river that connects the two seas on either side (Andaman sea and Gulf of Thailand...don't quote me on that my globe is in my other pants). Phuket is nice because it is a tropical beach destination near the equator. Phuket is also a tourist trap for the very same reason...ugh. Its funny how drastically the price of things can change just by going to an area that has more foreign people roaming around. Everything here (taxis, food, trips, clothes, etc) is at least double the cost it was in Bangkok!!! Especially the taxi's!!! Where we were paying 50-100 Bhat (about $1.50-$3.00) to get pretty much anywhere in Bangkok (even REALLY far away...think 45-60 minutes ride...good deal for $3 eh?) the cost to go a mile down the street in Phuket was 150 Bhat and 600 to get to the airport!!!! Sheesh!

The whole point of coming down to tourist central was to give the liveaboard thing another whirl. This time we booked with a company called Worldwide Dive and Sail. That's right...sail, we're gonna give it another shot. Kinda funny though, as it turned out, although we were technically on a "Sailboat" they don't get enough wind here to do any actual sailing, seems like they could have saved some money on sails to me! Okay in my book though, i cant imagine how long it would take to SAIL from dive site to dive site, let alone if you got caught in a current and they had to come pick you up. So I imagine this way is better, or at least safer, and in the middle of Thailand erring on the side of safe is fine with me. At any rate the boat was pretty cool; completely hand made from wood by the local Thai boat builders. So it had some serious character...the Sampai Jumpa!

The trip was to be a 4 day 3 night excursion out to the Surin and Similan Islands, with 13 total dives. Unfortunately being on a little sail boat in the middle of Thailand did not allow us the luxury of Nitrox, so we were limited to 4 dives a day and back to being concerned with no-decompression limits, bummer...I miss my Voodoo gas ;). We had a pretty decent mix of people on the boat, many of which were MUUUCCCH more experienced (and younger) than the Mike Ball demographics, lots of dive instructors, dive masters, and even a couple cave divers (clinically insane group they are!!!). I have to mention here our Irish trip coordinator (my best guess at what his position would be dubbed). This guy was capable of producing more BS than anyone i have ever met in my life! For those that know what i've grown up around this is no small achievement. Although he did provide us with quite a bit of entertainment throughout the trip, i think i speak for the group when i say 4 days was probably our limit ;).

All in all the diving was pretty good. Having just got off the great barrier reef kind of gave us a high level of expectation that would be pretty hard to fulfill. Although there wasn't NEARLY the amount of total sea life here as there was on the big reef there were a few individual things that made the trip worthwhile like: seahorses, ghost pipefish (these things are basically invisible...incredible creatures), cuddlefish, mantis shrimp, baby lionfish, new morays and nudi's, soft corals, and most notably the OCTOPUS. The octopus were absolutely awesome (and big) and gave us quite the show on a few occasions, i even have a video of one fighting off a coral trout. The major bummer of the trip was something that i've never experience in previous diving...diver infestation!!!! It seemed like every spot we went to had 4 other dive boats parked over top of it and the second you hit the water you could see 50 other divers looking around and poking at stuff! Diving is supposed to be a way to get away from everyone into a peaceful environment with no distractions...just you and mother nature. It most defiantly diminishes the appeal when you have 50 divers crashing into you or scarring away the dang octopus!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One last thing i have to mention about the diving here is the current. Holy moly is the current here a big deal. I think is has something to do with the relatively shallow waters and tidal movement, but these things are RIPPING! I have a video where about five of us divers are holding on to a ledge underwater to keep us from getting swept into the great blue yonder. In the video our bubbles are not going up towards the surface (like you'd expect) instead they are going straight out SIDEWAYS!!! That is some serious waterflow!

All in all it was fun, and defiantly glad we did it, but it was most definatley a FAAAARRR distant second to our Mike Ball adventure. Maybe we just needed our dream team posse back ;).

After the diving we spend a couple days wandering around the island of Phuket. The most exciting of which was the day we decided to heed the phrase "When in Rome...." Far and away the major form of transportation here (local and tourist) is the infamous moped. So for the first time in my (and Joe's) life we decided to try out these death machines that have been historically dubbed the "fat chick" of the transportation world (at least in the states). I should mention that Gina was only on the moped for about 5 minutes before she decided she was "so nervous i'm going to throw up" and decided to walk home...the traffic here is a little...um, different than back home. So off we went on our exciting 7 hour moped tour of the island! As much as it pains me to say this, these things may be one of the most fun methods of transportations available (this has some bearing coming from a guy who owns a 911). I think the fun level may have something to do with eminent death by an unlimited number of obstacles...who knows ;). I should also mention that the full 24 hours rental rate for what appeared to be a relatively new moped was a grand total of $6.00 American...gotta love the price of stuff here.

Our last adventure before heading north is yet again something that i could write 10 pages on the absurdity of, but i'll spare myself from reliving the experience. There is an attraction here that calls itself the "Disney of Thailand" called FantaSea. Where to begin...For as much as everything "Asian" is excessive, boisterous, and colorful; Fantasea takes it to the next level of excessiveness, boisterousness, and colorfulness. The main premise of the place is an elephant show with Thai dance performance intertwined, this was fine and dandy. But what really brought this place to the next level was the SUPER elaborate extent to which the market place outside the show was designed. I think the best analogy would be "Asian culture meets Dr. Seuss." A few examples. They had a black light reactive hamster cage that was the size of a normal bedroom. There was a temple full of albino animals: snakes, goats, hawks, TIGERS, and even a peacock...yeah...an albino peacock. All set in a sort of heavenesque blacklight fairytale theme. All in all a weird experience...but what the heck...its Thailand!

Off to Chiang Mai to ride elephants through the jungle!

Comments

1

happy trails!! how time has flown by. you will be back soon. I hope you don't find this side of the fence too dull. Glad you all did well. Later taters. shell

  michelle Feb 14, 2009 6:45 PM

2

hi! joe ans jutin. what up.
i'm sulma from phuket.thailand.
i'm stay in kata beach.and you?

  sulma frncesc Apr 12, 2009 3:20 AM

3

BS eh???
Well I can't really disagree with that it does seem accurate.But a 4 day limit come on man I'll not that annoying!!!

  irish dive coordinator May 14, 2009 11:43 PM

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