I’ve been back in Khao Lak for a couple of days now, but my head is still pleasantly dizzy from life on the ocean. When I close my eyes I can still feel the movement of the waves, but even though I wish I was back on the ocean it’s just a left-over sensation from a fantastic trip. From 8th – 12th November I lived on board a dive boat which cruised the beautiful Similans, hopping about between islands and diving four times per day. We had a whale of a time.
Most of the other 18 divers on board the Manta Queen had more dive experience than me, and during the first night’s briefing meeting I was a little nervous. What if I had forgotten everything? Worse still, what if I held the others back? Luckily the lovely team from ‘Scuba Adventures’ made sure that I was well looked after and I felt that I graduated from being a ‘baby’ diver to a ‘slightly immature adolescent diver’ throughout the three and a half days of intensive diving that we did (14 dives at 14 different sites).
Life on the boat ticked along like clockwork. I was so impressed by how organised and safe everything was, yet still allowing for lots of laughs and a relaxed atmosphere. We soon all settled into the very pleasant ‘dive, eat, sleep’ cycle, and the food was fantastic. The only thing that the trip lacked was sunshine, as we are in the tail-end of the monsoon season and hit some pretty rough weather. The usual agenda had to be adjusted to avoid being caught in a cyclone that was threatening to hit, but once we were submerged beneath the sea the grey skies didn’t matter one bit. The diving was fantastic!
The Similan Islands lacked much of the weird critters that I spotted back in Lembeh, but it did boast a huge range of beautiful seascapes which were great fun to explore. We got to dive through swim-throughs (underwater tunnels), coral gardens and around huge boulders housing all kinds of fish. I got to make friends with the sharks, rays and turtles and worked to improve my buoyancy control and economy of movement underwater. The rough seas made it quite a challenge to get back on the boat on some dives, and I managed to lose a flipper one day in the effort to fight the currents. I yelled ‘Fin, fin!!’ to the guy behind me, in the hope that he would see it floating past, but he thought I was warning him about the sharks. I guess if I’d yelled ‘Flipper, flipper!’ he would have started looking out for dolphins. Luckily he understood in the end and managed to catch it.
All the daytime dives were great and it was also exciting to dive at night by torchlight, but my favourite dive was the one we did at sunset. This time of day is ‘fish rush hour’ and a marvellous time to swim through shoals of thousands of fish. I was in dive-heaven as I joined their underwater ballet and kept flipping up and down to dance with them.
I didn’t have an underwater camera, so the sea pictures you see here were borrowed from some of the other divers – some of them were amazing photographers as well as divers it seems!
One day we moored up near a beautiful beach so I took the opportunity to snorkel over there between dives. The sand was as fine as talcum powder between my toes and there were so many creatures living in the shells that when I looked closely I noticed them shifting their way across the beach. Someone had made a rope swing and it would have been just like one of those movie desert island moments, had it not been for the torrential rain that suddenly started pouring. It was slightly surreal to be walking in a rainstorm whilst wearing a bikini, but made it all the more memorable.
When the trip came to an end I didn’t want to stop diving. I loved the experience so much that I’ve decided to return and do the whole thing all over again in December before I head home. I’m hoping it’s going to be just as wonderful…. only with more sunshine this time!
Next stop back to Khao Lak, then on for a few days in Bangkok.