Saturday, November 18, 2006

On the Road Again.

Well, I haven't written anything in a while, mainly because I suck. Well that and I've just been hanging out at home, looking for a job, taking stock, all that stuff.

I eventually got a good job offer so I am off to the Isle of Man tomorrow (in almost exactly 24 hours in fact). It's finally dawning on me that this is real and I'm going to be away from New Zealand for another couple of years. If I'm not careful it'll stop being my home soon. Even now, everything here still looks and sounds vaguely familiar, and yet not exactly.

I probably shouldn't admit it in public but I turned down a job in Costa Rica to go to the Isle of Man. I'm still not sure that was the right decision, but hey, it's been made, and the vacancy in Costa Rica has been filled now anyway, so the bridge is burned now.

I'll have to update the tagline for this blog too. I most definitely have a haircut and a real job.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Farewell to the Island

Well, what was supposed to be a quick Open Water Diver course as a bit of an interlude on my travels round Thailand became a two week stay and a bit of an obsession. I'm now a qualified Rescue Diver (which is Padi's way of saying I know a bit of first aid and how to look for dead / drowning people underwater) with 21 dives in my shiny little logbook.

More importantly, I've found something I love doing. I'l still be going back to New Zealand on 1st September as planned. I was seriously considering changing the date of my flight and staying here for a couple of months, living in a small somewhat grotty bungalow, diving almost every day, and working towards instructor certification, but if / when I do that I want it to be something I go into as a conscious decision and not just something that randomly happened.

Plus I do want to see my family and those friends who are still around, stock up on vegemite, go snowboarding, pick up my laptop, apply for PhD scholarships, think about applying for a real job, and organise my backpack a bit better (the things one needs for two or three or more stationary months are different from those needed for a few weeks travelling around.

It's funny, I came on this trip to Thailand trying to work out which door of the ones I already knew about I wanted to go through. I didn't plan to build a new one. I'm not certain it's what I want (another reason that I will be getting on the 1430 ferry this afternoon, so I can make my decision somewhere that I can't see the bright blue ocean out of my bedroom window and am not surrounded by other people who also have the diving bug.

Well, that said (not that I really said much) I think it's time to go sit on the beach and read a book for an hour or two. It's a hard life, as they say. :)

Plan from here is get the ferry, then backpacker bus overnight to Bangkok, then train or bus to Kanchanburi (of Bridge over the River Kwai fame) for two or three days, then back to Bangkok for a day or two before flying back to New Zealand and the real world (or as close as I can come to the real world before going in to some sort of allergic shock).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

No, I'm not dead.

Believe it or not, I have survived 5 days without going on the internet. I also survived a bunch of scuba dives (14 currently and I'm plotting to get on one tonight). Like many things, I am currently completely addicted (I did three dives before visiting Myanmar for a few minutes to get a new visa for Thailand, then returning to Thailand and Ko Tao to take an emergency first aid course and get a rescue diver certification (this may seem a little worrying but about a week after my first scuba dive I am seriously considering going somewhere nice and spending a couple months to get some professional qualifications.

Yes, I love diving that much. Blame my parents for using the pool at ASK as a babysitting device when I was a child, blame my addictive personality, blame the fact that diving is just so awesome, whatever the cause, I think I have found the answer to the "what to do next?" question that was one of the objectives of this trip.

We will see how I feel once I finally escape Ko Tao and am not diving every day.

By the way, I'm staying in an awesome hillside bungalow with 270 degree views over trees and houses in the valley, the beach / bay and rocks on the other side and then the open sea. It's awesome, and 300 baht a night.

If I wasn't worried about my mother disowning me, I'd be sorely tempted to change the date on my flight and just stay here. Plus I am out of vegemite.Gettin out of here is also necessary to clear my head (yes, I need to clear my head after a "clear my head" trip *blush*)

Meh, it's a nice problem to have.

I do wonder what the change fees on my flight would be though...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Blub Blub Blub

No, I'm not crying (although I came close during the thai massage today when the woman had me arched backwards over her knees and my eyes did get a bit watery when I took my mask off today).

Today was final exam for my open water diver course and then a couple little dives in the afternoon. I saw a bunch more fish and some pretty corals. We didn't get any rays or sharks unfortunately but maybe tomorrow as we're going out early in the morning (all the boats scare them off).

Note for mum - just medium size harmless sharks, this isn't great white country.

I really enjoy diving, so most likely I am going to do the Advanced Open water straight afterwards (allows diving to 30 meters and includes more fun dives - like wreck or cave or something cool).

Anyway, I was going to write a bunch about diving today, but I'm hungry. Suffice to say it was awesome. Plus if I start gushing about today then I'll run out of good adjectives for tomorrow (given we're going deeper and longer I think they'll be necessary).


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I breathes through my mouth.

Well, only when underwater. *

Today was the first day of my PADI Open Water Diver certificate. A classroom session and then a pool dive. The classroom session was good fun - the instructor was a jovial Northern Irish guy who made the basic information he had to impart enjoyable.

* = Mostly, except when I have a cold or am tired or frustrated.

After lunch (I had pad thai with chicken and a lemon milkshake) we got in the pool to do funky stuff like pretending we were out of air and having to ask our buddy to use his octopus (spare breathing thingee). Even though we were just kneeling on the bottom of the pool, mostly waiting for other people to carry out the little drills, it was pretty cool.

I've always enjoyed being in and around water, so it's probably no surprise that being able to just chill out on the bottom of the pool was pretty awesome for me. I'm considering progressing straight to the advanced open water course (which would allow me to dive up to 30 meters deep.

Well, that's about it, I need to go out for dinner (last night I had stir-fry vegetables and prawns with rice, tonight we're going somewhere else that our semi-local contact says is even better).

Food here is awesome and pretty cheap even at rip off hotel restaurants, most of the people (travellers and locals) are really nice - except for the Germans, they're mostly kinda standoffish and boring. Apologies for any German readers I have. I'm sure you're all lovely people, it's those other Germans I am talking about - you know who I mean.

Anyway, I have to go now. Take care everyone.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Scuba time

Well, after a somewhat long and boring trip (livened up by me falling asleep in a meditation class in Bangkok - full story to come later I suspect since I'm going out for mexican food with some scottish guys in about ten minutes) I'm safely ensconsed at the buddha view dive resort on "sunny" Ko Tao. The quote marks reflect that it's rainy season and therefore the sun has most definitely not got his hat on.

So yeah, I'm here, I'm alive, I don't have the dreaded lurgy (one of approximately ten thousand medical problems you can't or at least shouldn't dive with) so tomorrow I begin learning how to become an uinderwater breathing type person.

Still no photos to share because the memory card is nowhere near full (I do probably have about 100-200 photos, but the weather and my natural disinclination to take photos have combined to make these photos a bit of an effort.

So yeah, after a few days in the wilderness, I am definitely back on the traveller trail again. Which is fine, ordering food using the point and hope method was getting a little old. Plus I have something to do (and a 400 page manual means my shortage of books just got a little less severe - bring on an ebook delivery system that is as eye-friendly as dead trees.

OK, dinner time, so you're not going to find out how my personal path to enlightenment wound up taking a detour into the land of Nod.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bangkok 5am Blues

Well, the bus arrived early. Normally that's a good thing, but not when it means you arrive in a city whose only function today is as a lengthy, and entirely unwanted, layover between bus rides. It's not that I don't like bangkok - although it is loud, noisy, and packed with people whose goal is to help you (at least insofar as that involves you giving them money).

OK, so maybe it is that I don't like Bangkok. Even Chiang Mai seemed big and noisy and smelly after a few days in the small towns. Kho San road, even at 5am is getting there. Hopefully my "NO I don't want a taxi / guesthouse / massage" grimace will become more obvious as the day dawns and thus spare me the need to inflict physical injury on someone.

Yes, I'm a little cranky. I've been on a bus for most of the last 12 hours, during which I was subjected to several of the world's crueller tortures, to wit 1) Being seated behind two chatty girls with annoying voices and uninteresting topics of conversation 2) being seated beneath a hissing and too loud speaker that is busy garbling the soundtrack of some movie I don't want to watch on a screen that I can't quite see 3) a bus driver who thinks he is a racecar driver while driving 4) a bus whose rear suspension seems to be connected to the brake pedal, causing plenty of lurching.

Somehow I managed to get enough sleep that I'm not sleepy right now. Which leaves me with another problem - a 15 kilogram 100 litre backpack. So I'm killing time on the internet, then I'll go eat something (or possibly someONE, a lot of the taxi drivers are very little), then dunno.

The smart play might have been to try and arrange a room for 12 hours and just try to sleep, but I can't be bothered trying to negotiate this, and don't want to sleep right now as I still have to kill time on the trip down to Ko Tao and my book habit is getting expensive and I want to stay on a somewhat normal sleep schedule.

The plan for today is wander round following Lonely planet's Bangkok in a day route, although that does involve a lot of temples and markets which I am kind of ambivalent about right now so maybe inspiration will strike and I'll do something cool. We'll see what happens I guess.

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