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Taking the road less traveled Spending a year in five continents to embrace my "inner turtle", to live simply, and to avoid being shark bait!

Fun dives and fun people-watching

THAILAND | Sunday, 11 March 2012 | Views [683]

This is THE shot of Nangyuan Island, taken from the viewpoint. The famous triple-connecting beaches are out of this world.

This is THE shot of Nangyuan Island, taken from the viewpoint. The famous triple-connecting beaches are out of this world.

Outside of the four courses, I also took in several fun dives, and met may other divers and travelers. Some divers were on holiday, and had previous diving experiences or were certified elsewhere; some were new divers who just took and passed the Open Water diver course.  I had one fun dive in which the divers were of varying experiences, but as a group, we had to limit the dive based on diver experience and oxygen consumption, so if one diver was a newbie and used a lot of air in a short amount of time, that dive wouldn't last long (I wasn't the newbie in that case!) There was one dive in which I was the newbie; it was a small group, just me, two divemasters, a divemaster on holiday from the UK, and a divemaster trainee. We went deep and I thought I was doing well, until I compared my air consumption with the three divemasters; they had barely moved the needle while I already used half the air! Something to work on.

I met many Europeans on their gap year, usually from the Nordic countries; some were young and about to start university, and were taking time off to travel beforehand. One Danish gal admitted she was very homesick and would Skype every night with her family, and her gap year just started! The French couple who were in one of my courses, both had quit their job to travel.  They told me they had saved their money for three years, and had been traveling for the last ten months; they started in South America, went north to the US, then east to Asia, and Thailand was their last stop.  Their trip was better than any Amazing Race I've seen.  Most travelers stayed in Koh Tao for just a few days, then moved on to other islands like Phuket or Koh Phi Phi, or to neighboring countries such as Laos, Burma, or Indonesia. I now have so many places on my list I want to visit!

One day I decided to be a beach bum and took a taxi boat to Koh Nang Yuan, the island I first glimpsed on the ferry ride to Koh Tao. The island has a triple-connecting beach bordered by three bays, it is quite a sight. The island is a private resort so there is a "resort fee" of 100b to enter the island; turned out there would be other fees on the island as well, it was sort of a ripoff!  I may have skipped it had the view not been so stunning.

Once I got on the island, I was asked to hand over my bottle of water (the island claims to ban plastic waters, which I applaud but it was enforced haphazardly); of course I wasn't about to give them a brand new bottle so I chugged it, ha!  I hiked to the viewpoint first, wanting to beat the crowd, no such luck. I got to the viewpoint after a 20 minute hike, and there were at least a dozen people there already, some struggling at the last few meters. The viewpoint has two big rocks resting on top of another rock that was flat. Everybody crowded themselves onto the two big rocks, so I jumped down to the flat rock below instead; not sure why others didn't do that, it was only a little more than 1 meter jump down. I ended up sitting there for about 15 minutes, and by then the crowd had dispersed so I had the view all to myself, wow! I saw the clouds parted and the shades of the water changed from a bluish-green to a vibrant blue; I saw dive boats anchored at the dive sites Twins and Japanese Garden, wondering what kinds of marine life the divers must be seeing now. I climbed down and found a path that circumvented parts of the island; the path was built with wooden planks and no one was on it. I walked along until I couldn't go any further, taking in views of Koh Tao. By then the sun was shining bright and temperature was getting quite high, so I went to the beach, found a beach chair with umbrella, and settled in. Not more than 2 minutes later, a man came over and said the chair and umbrella would cost 100b for the day. I figured that wasn't a bad deal so fine. I sat for most afternoon (must get my 100b worth) and swam a bit. I noticed there was a shower to rinse off after swimming, then saw a sign that said the shower cost 50b. Now I know what it means to be a private resort!

Remember how I thought there were very few Asian tourists on Koh Tao?  Turns out they weren't there because they all came to Koh Nang Yuan instead. There were many Mainland Chinese, Korean, and Japanese tourists, many couples (I assumed on honeymoon) and some families. They apparently came for the day on the catamaran (which drops off tourists in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon), although from where I wasn't sure, maybe Koh Samui? Anyway, I couldn't stop watching the Asian couples because it was beyond comical; they dressed in matching swimsuit/swim trunk, loved to take photos, and the women mostly didn't know how to swim. They wore a life vest even when they only walked as far as the water went to their knees, and their husband/boyfriend would try to teach them to swim or snorkel but using strange methods (holding their feet as the swimmer laid face-down in the water wouldn't really work). They took photos of themselves with their camera on a tripod, and the men would try to look cool by flashing gangster signs (really dude, you're wearing matching swim trunk with red hearts, no gangster sign would make you cool).  For those of you reading this and may actually do this, I apologize for the sarcasm; I just found it immensely entertaining but in a head-shaking way.

Tags: fun dive, koh nang yuan, koh tao

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