Diving & Lanta Beaches- Part 2

I realized yesterday, when I got an email from a friend asking for an update, that I'm needing to write about what happened on the 8th & 9th of Feb,and it's already 10 days later! Oof- So. Far. Behind! Sorry to anyone who was waiting for my next post with bated breaths, but I guess I've just been so busy having too much fun to write. I'm on a bus heading up the Queensland coast now though, so am forcing myself to write about the day I got certified, and then the day of the toe-incident, aka- my last days in Thailand.

I think I mentioned being land-sick all evening after my first open water dives, and still having a clogged ear, so needless to say I was relieved when I woke up feeling much better. No need to postpone the dive! On thar day's dives, we were heading to Koh Haa, a series of teeny, I think uninhabited, islands south of Lanta & the Phi Phi group. Once again, gorgeous. I felt at ease on the boat, and excited for my dives with Doga. One or two folks on the boat were repeated from the day before, but there was also a cute Danish family, and some other nice people. I would be alone with Doga for the first dive, and then we would be joined by a super nice Thai girl who was working on her divemaster certificate. So she was the one to supervise my gearing up & such- really nice girl, but sadly I've completely forgotten her name! Anyway, I really had problems with my ear getting equalized to start, but once it popped I was good to go. We had a really amazing, chill dive. I got to use the compass a little, but mostly we just went along this coral wall & near caves & that sort of thing. I finally saw some little Nemos darting around an anemone, and bunches of other cool stuff.

For the 2nd dive we moved over to the lagoon, which was mostly shallow, but you could swim around these two bordering islands as well. The divemaster-in-training would be leading us, so she & Doga talked out the planned routed, & down we went. So amazing. Even with the shallow sandy floor, the water was ridiculously clear. Doga was on a hunt for some specific kinds of shrimps, & at one point they had to stop at the bottom for a pow-wow about the plan. I didn't mind b/c I was having too much fun chilling & looking around. We got going & once we headed around one of the islands, we started swimming along with a huge school of small barracuda. Amazing. They were so pretty, and it was just so cool to have them on one side, the wall of the island on the other, and nothing below but more dark water. Doga eventually did find his shrimp, which was cool b/c they were basically transparent, and teeny. All too soon, it was time to head back up. At this point, I felt great, and totally comfortable down in the water. It of course didn't hurt that I had two people looking out for me, but I felt like I just got it. Back up top, enjoying yet more delicious (though spicy) food, Doga was encouraging me to go ahead and take an advanced diver course, but I knew I had to move on, and I needed at least 12 hours out of the water before flying, so not possible in Lanta. I promised to do it later though - I guess this is an issue, where people get certified & then just drop it, b/c continuing education is a big topic with PADI in general.

Anyway, now that I didn't have to worry about anything for the next day, I eagerly planned my evening & next day. I rented a scooter (the preferred transportation on the island), picked out a nice restaurant for dinner & headed out. When I asked the scooter guy how to start it, his eyes got all big & was like, "you know how drive????". I confidently told him, of course, it just has been a while! Heh- years in actuality. But, just like a regular bike, it's easy! What wasn't quite as easy was actually finding things. The main road goes along the coast line, but not directly on it, and so you have to figure out which of the small dirt tracks headed down to the actual beach you needed to take. The map I had was hopeless, but I didn't want to miss sunset, so at one point I just chose one & headed to the beach. I stopped, parked, and hit the sand to snap a few pics. I then studied my map very carefully & finally figured out where I was & needed to go. Back on the scooter, I kept hitting the starter button & gas, but nothing at all was happening. So, so embarrassing. Eventually the lady running the shake stall next to me figured out I needed help, and came & showed me how to start it. The BRAKE. Yeah- I was missing that part. Oopsie. :). So, all humbled, I headed back down the main road until I found the Red Snapper, a well-rated place which was actually not on the beach, but instead set into the jungle with little cozy nooks for the few tables. I had the most delicious sautéed whole shrimp I've had in a while, along with yummy potatoes. With a beer or two, it was an excellent celebration for now being a certified diver. Doga & the other instructors had been discussing evening plans out on the boat, and I'd passed one of the placed they'd mentioned on my way to dinner, so i decided to stop in for one more quick on before heading home (8pm seemed a bit too early to call it a night). It was an Irish pub, but they were having their annual Swedish party, complete with a slideshow of famous swedes, some live Swedish music, and apparently a spread of food. I chatted with the owner a bit after getting a cider (hooray!), and then bopped along to the duo who were alternating between abba, western tunes, and Swedish tunes. Knowing I didn't want to drink any more with my scooter, I quietly slipped out & slightly nervously, I set out in the dark for home, which was actually no problem (there's hardly any traffic on Lanta).

After a fabulous FaceTime date that next morning, I set out for a day at the beach. First I had to stop by a travel agent, because Air Asia had freaked out on me after buying one ticket, and wouldn't let me buy my ticket on to Sydney. Ugh. So, I had to pay a bunch of fees to this agent, but whatever, I was now officially booked! I then putted down the island, about three-fourths of the way down, because apparently the beaches are a bit more deserted down there. I chose a side street in the village I was interested in, and found one of the lunch spots I was looking for: Jai Dee Home. This was a teeny guesthouse/restaurant/bar/beach lounge. It was exactly what I needed! I had some lunch (cashew nut chicken, yet again), slathered on the sunscreen, and went to hit the pearly peach sand. All of the ~10 chairs/umbrellas they had were rented, but they very sweetly brought me one of those straw mats to go under my newly-purchased sarong. Have I mentioned yet that it was hot? Massively hot. I couldn't last more than 10 minutes out of the water, which was faaaaaabulous. Super calm, warm, but still cool enough to be refreshing, and just amazing. I was in heaven out there. Eventually, I could tell my skin was burning, so I headed back to the protection of their shady restaurant, got a fruit shake, and raided their book exchange shelf. A bit later, I decided it was beer o'clock, and headed up to the bar to grab it. As I jumped down the on step back into the sand, boom! My big toe hit a submerged something, which I though at first had just stubbed it. (I had been hitting little corals & rocks all day.). Sadly, when I brought it up out of the sand, a dime-sized piece of skin from the bottom of my big toe was partially detached, and I was bleeding. Not knowing what to do, my first instinct was to wash it, so I dunked it in a little basin of water they had out for people to wash sand off before entering the guesthouse. I have no clue now what kind of water was in there, but I haven't died yet, so whatever- I got lucky, maybe it was saltwater. As I was dunking & quietly freaking out, I got one of the worker-boys attention & kept pointing at my foot, and finally he saw the toe. He & the owner lady sprung into action. They led me into the open lounge area, sat me down, and started tending with a big first aid kit. At one point he pointed to the flap & goes, "I think we cut, yes? You do it." Hah- so I took the small scissors, wiped them off a bit (soo sanitary) and tried to start clipping, but between me being a lefty & just being shaky, that was a no go, so he had to man up & do it. Eventually some iodine looking stuff got poured on (this may sting a bit!), and he wrapped it all up securely. I had been chugging my beer this whole time, and once bandaged, I didn't know what on earth to do. But, I figured I wanted to see the sunset, it was only prob an hour away, so what the hey, and plopped down on one of the bed-lounger things (not in the sandy part of the place, of course) to drink away the time. The lady actually took the time to dig out the culprit, and it was I think a broken piece of concrete, about a football sized piece. Anyway, to add insult to injury, not only was the sunset only mediocre, but I left in such a hurry that I was about 15 minutes down the road before I realized I'd left my helmet there & had to turn around to go back & get it. Ugh.

Anyway, I got back to town ok, even in the dark, picked up some additional first aid equipment, grabbed a quick dinner, and went home to do some additional doctoring. The next day I had a full day, but thankfully mostly sitting... I started with a transfer back to Krabi airport, then I had my flight to Kuala Lumpur, and then I just to a taxi the 75k to my next guest house. The small amounts of walking I had to do we're hard enough, thanks to my stupid toe. More on my day in KL next!