Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Great week diving in Phuket
Troy and I had a great week in Phuket! Just for a FYI, Phuket, is a small island off the west coast of Thailand. You might have heard of it being one of the areas hit by the tsunami. It's their low season right now and not much to do other then dive and hang out by the pool and drink cocktails. We managed to attack both activities throughout the week with much gusto.
We stayed at a beautiful JW Marriott on the north end of the island with nothing much around except the jungle and ocean. It's about an hour drive from the town of Phuket so we were pretty much isolated.
We lucked out with the weather. It's their rainy season now (it's actually a very long rainy season) but we decided to take our chances and trade our timeshare for a week of diving and relaxing. Troy definitely needed the down time from work. I am on permanent down time in HK so I didn't need to relax anymore!
We arrived on Sunday to crappy weather. We were scheduled to dive Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Monday was great weather, Tuesday it dumped rain all day long, then Wednesday-Saturday was absolutely beautiful weather. We couldn't have asked for anything better.
Although Troy and I expected the diving in Phuket to be crystal clear water with 100' visibility, we were a little disappointed when it was not, but we still saw some amazingly brilliant colored coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. Each day we had anywhere from a 1-3 hour boat ride to the dive sites. We were able to do 3 dives each day with us returning to our hotel between 5-9pm. Very long days to say the least. I think a few times I fell into bed without even brushing my teeth because I was so tired.
The most exciting thing for me was we actually saw four octopus. Two were in a rock but you could see four eyes. Then we saw another one in a hole hiding out. A fish kept biting it so it came out to get away from the fish. It saw us then freaked out because it didn't know what to do. The bottom of him started to strobe and change colors because he was stressed out. He eventually found a new hold to hide from us and the biting fish. On another dive we came upon an octopus just hanging out on the sandy bottom. I 'm not sure what he was doing, maybe cruising for chicks. As we ventured a little closer he would slowly swim a few feet away while turning completely white. Unfortunately Troy was not able to get a picture because there were other people watching it causing the octopus to swim even further away.
On Tuesday we decided to go exploring despite the rainy weather. We drove through Patong Beach which is a complete party beach town. We walked down street after street with nothing but bars and clubs lining the sidewalks. This place probably gets wacky in the high season. We also drove through another small beach town where we saw the most devastation from the tsunami. Although, if you had not known of the tsunami, you would have never guessed anything so destructive had happened. You would have thought a bad storm had recently passed through.
Some of the signs we saw from the tsunami was the bottom floor of a two story building would be completely wiped out, while the top floor was ok. There would also be odd piles of trash in strange places that had not been cleaned up. Also there would be brand new shacks or huts built next to a destroyed building. I recently read that there are still 2000 unidentified bodies that are being kept in refrigerated cartons, actually not too far from our hotel.
Afterwards we went elephant trekking. We signed up for an hour trek because we knew we would not have gotten far in 20 minutes, considering elephants are not sprinters. Our guide let me ride the elephant near the end as opposed as to sitting in the chair. It started to rain on our way back and I almost kept slipping off him because he was wet. It's a long way to the ground from the back of an elephant! I think our guide liked me because he also made me a hat out of huge plant leaves. Although I think if he had made one for Troy, he would not have worn it like I did!
As much as we loved the elephant ride, an even cooler thing happened at the elephant trekking "office" (for the lack of a better word). The people who run the place have two monkeys, actually apes, that are free roaming. People brought the monkeys there many years ago and they have never left. The most sociable one was Charlie. He loved to hold your hand, have his belly rubbed and his head scratched. As soon as you pulled your hand away from his head, he instantly reached for your hand and put it back on his head indicating for you to keep scratching. You also had to keep an eye on your soda because as he swung from beam to beam, he would quickly reach down and take off with it and drink it. He was the sweetest thing. We even went back on our last day there to see him and the elephants again. We have never been this up close and personal with a monkey and we know we never will again.
We could not have asked for a better vacation!!!!