today we took a day trip to the similan islands. unfortunately to do this we had to wake up at 5:30 am. ouch! i’m not a big morning person so waking that early was horrible. we took a taxi to the pier and from there it was a 2.5 hour boat ride to the similan islands. the similan islands are famous for having some of the best snorkeling/scuba diving ever. super clear waters, great visibility and tons of marine life. the boat took us to 2 different dive spots and we got to snorkel for an hour in one spot and 2 hours in the other.
i wouldn’t really say that the diving and snorkeling there are the best. i think that it was better in kho tao, and way better in hawaii. it’s weird, although thailand is very famous for it’s marine life, i’d say that hawaii has way more colorful fish. nevertheless, it was still really cool. other than all of the fish, i spotted a water snake at one point swimming along the bottom. it was silver-blue with black stripes and did not look like an eel really. then, just a few minutes before we left, someone pointed out 2 sharks in the water! these were the small kind of sharks (only like 2-2.5 feet long), but it was still so exciting to see them! i swam around for a while following the sharks, until at one point they both turned around and started swimming right at me. all of a sudden i wondered how prudent it was to swim right by the sharks and i swam away pretty quickly.
on the boat ride home, all of us were pretty tired from being up in the sun all day and from lack of sleep. then a bunch of us noticed that we were really sunburned. doh! i got burned really bad all over my back, my arms, and my legs. crap. how am i gonna carry my heavy backpack on my back now? we went to the mimimart by our hotel to try to get aloe… but trying to describe aloe to the thai was pretty hopeless.
speaking of which, let me tell a little about the town we are staying in. it’s called pa-nga and it’s a small town on the southwest coast of thailand (krabi region). although there are several national parks near here, the town itself has no tourist attractions so everything here is very thai. other than 3 germans, we have not seen any other white people here except for us. it’s really neat to be in a town that is not really geared toward tourism. everything just seems so much more authentic. it’s funny, we stick out so much here, and it looks like everyone is excited/surprised to see us: people wave to us from scooters, others gather around to gawk at us, and shop owners get excited to try to speak w/ us. being here has definitely been an adventure. of course, people here dont speak english as much as other places, so it’s often really hard to get your point across to them, or to ask them something. try explaining a sunburn or aloe without using words. also, this place doesn’t have much in the way of internet cafes, which is why i’ve only posted once in the last 4 days. but… somethings never change, and the local youth here gather in the net cafes and play quake-style computer games against each other. i guess that addiction is universal.
our hotel itself is across the alley from a small thai karaoke bar. and has a little tv outside that we often hang out and watch tennis with the locals on. it’s very chill and relaxing. several nights in a row now, we haag out on the benches, drinking our 22 ounce singha beers by pouring them into glasses and adding ice. back home, i would never dream of adding ice to my beer, but here it’s so hot that unless you add ice, the beer gets all warm before you even get thru half of it. last night we actually ventured into the karaoke bar. everyone from the place totally was staring at us. and when tom started singing along (just at our table, not into the microphone) the people near us were amused.
yesterday was my last day w/ our little group. it’s so sad! although i do want to try the whole traveling alone thing, it’s been so much fun hanging out w/ everyone. it’s awesome traveling and exploring new places w/ jamie and tom. it’s always fun to see people when they are extracted from their natural environment. also, it’s been really fun getting to know the other people in the group. so last night we had our last drink together on the benches.. and this morning they were gone… :(.
so now i’m on my own again. i’m not even exactly sure where i want to explore next! or how to get out of this little town? wow, i’ve spent a whole 12 days here now. most vacation, would be winding down around now and i’d be preparing to leave, but i’ve got a whole 25 days more to go! i’ve only used 1/3 of my vacation so far! i still got so much time to see stuff! so i’m, off!
oh wait, the most random thing just happened. i didn’t mention this earlier, but the farther south you go in thailand, the dominant religion shifts from buddhism to islam. i didn’t notice, but the internet cafe i’m in is right across the way from a mosque. just as i was wrapping up this post… all of a sudden i hear this singing coming from across the street. i guess it must be time for one of the daily prayers. wow. so eerie and beautiful sounding. sitting here and hearing the prayers echoing thru the streets is quite something.