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The 12 Steps to the Perfect Day

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Last time we wrote, we were beginning a long and relaxing boat ride on our way to Ko Tao; and so begins a repeat of our 2006 trip to Thailand. In 2006, we visited Thailand’s western paradise islands (Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao) for almost 10 days, and landing in Ko Tao marked the beginning of the revisit to paradise.

Immediately after getting off the boat, we remembered where everything was and how to get there – travelling somewhere a second time is so much easier! Ko Tao is known for its diving and was the location where we first learned to dive….so, in a similar spirit, we decided we’d continue our dive education. Throughout the diving we’ve done this trip, we’ve continually felt that the quality of dive instruction we received contributed to our love of diving, so why not follow it up at the same resort? In 2006, we stayed at a lovely place called Ban’s, so we immediately searched out a taxi to Ban’s.

Serious Development

Kenna the diver

Kenna the diver

When we arrived, we were surprised – Ban’s had expanded dramatically and was no longer a ramshackle place – it looked very professional. But even more surprising was what happened to the beach. In 2006, Ko Tao was a sleepy little place – if you didn’t want to eat at Ban’s restaurant, you had to rent a motorbike and ride 5 or 10 minutes into town to get other restaurants, of which there were only a few. This time around, the entire beach was lined with hotels and bars! Within a few minutes’ walk of Bans, there were probably 15 restaurants! No only that, but the beach had changed – previously, the water at high tide came right up to Ban’s beach side restaurant, and there wasn’t really much of a sandy beach. But now, there were kayaks and beach volleyball and people lining the perfect white beach as far as you could see – this was a nice beach! What happened to our sleepy little dive resort? (We found out later that they have imported sand to make the beach more appealing…crazy!)

Before signing up for our dives, I wanted to get my ear checked. It hadn’t been quite right since diving in the Similans a week before, it was always popping and never cleared, so I was worried that it was damaged, or at the very least a bit inflamed (this is what happens when you irritate it by forcing equalization). After a short taxi ride into town, a doctor supposedly trained in dive injuries gave me a full pre-dive exam and checked my ear out, and gave me a green light. And all for just $5! I wasn’t entirely convinced she did the most thorough check in the world, but it made me feel better just to have somebody look in the ear.

Advanced Diving

An angelfish

An angelfish

The next morning, we started our Advanced Open Water course, and had a few hours of on-land instruction. And our class was composed of a couple of fellow Edmontonians and a Winnipeger! Nice to have some familiar accents around! In the afternoon, we headed out for our 30 meter certification dive (the deep dive), a navigation dive with a compass, and a night dive, all of which we’ve already done from various experiences around the world, so this wasn’t too exciting for us. On land, our instructor had told us all about the perils and pleasures of nitrogen narcosis (where, at deep depths, you absorb enough nitrogen into your blood to make you instantly drunk/high), and said “I seriously hope one of you gets it. It’ll be hilarious.” So, at the bottom, he made us do some rudimentary math. Kenna had problems. She managed to do the math (2 plus 4 equals 6 still isn’t that hard to figure out when you’re stoned), but she was narc’d. When we talked in private at the surface, she was like “was he making funny faces and behaving really funny down there?” Not to me…. ah nitrogen narcosis, it’s a state of mind. Too bad I didn’t get it.

That night was an early night for us, because the next morning was to come early. At 6:30, we woke up and got our customary fresh yogurt from 7/11 (we’ve been buying boxes of muesli where we can and buying yogurts every morning, it saves money and time and is generally healthier than eating in the restaurants). And, at 7:30, we were in the water. The objectives of the two dives on this day were along the lines of what I like to call “underwater appreciation” – photography and fish identification. Basically, our instructor gave us a crash course on the fish in this part of the world, of which we’re already familiar, and a crash course in underwater photography (again, which we were familiar with from the Great Barrier Reef). Unfortunately, he also roped the group into renting a couple of cameras to share, which none of us were to excited about given their exorbitant price ($60 – we only paid $30 in Australia!). But what was cool was his directing us to pick a piece of coral 1.5m square and look at it for an entire dive – 40 minutes. Have you ever even looked at a piece of a forest on land for 40 minutes? It was actually quite fascinating – we’re so used to moving over a dive site quickly, we miss lots of things, so sitting there and staring at the same piece of coral was really cool. You could really see how things interacted – fish eating fish, fish living inside other fish, cleaning other fish, living on coral, etc. And we learned how to just float, which is really quite a task to stay still in the water.

12 steps to the perfect day

Now, you must be wondering, what ARE the 12 steps to a perfect day? Well, this of course:

  1. wake up early and purchase yogurt for breakfast to eat w/ granola

  2. dive briefing, get on the boat and do a multi-level dive with a camera

  3. another briefing and have another dive that briefs you on fish identification

  4. complete all necessary paperwork to receive your AOW certification

  5. find styrofoam cooler to take to the beach

  6. play beersby

  7. become the pro volleyball beach champion team Edmonton

  8. power-nap if you are able

  9. shower, get ready, and eat great BBQ with good company

  10. go in search of the best bar and find many that may qualify

  11. get roti pancake from BEST PANCAKE and find all your friends again

  12. roll into bed without brushing your teeth so that they taste like dirty socks

    - Kenna, at 3:30 AM after an excellent night out and a few too many buckets.

    (Kenna would like to note that this is the edited and much less funny version of the 12 steps, but we felt this abridged version was more appropriate for blog publication. But not to worry – those who would like to hear the original 12 steps can order an original recorded copy from Scott’s iphone in exchange for a beer upon arrival back to Canada.)

Scott's team losing at Beersby

Scott's team losing at Beersby

After the dive, we had a quick lunch and had planned on having a quick nap. On our way to the hotel, we wandered into the 7/11 to grab another water, and there were the Canadian boys, with a foam cooler, filling it up with beer and ice. Well, this seemed like an interesting opportunity, so I got in on it. We brought the cooler down to the beach, and began one of the funnest days and nights of the trip so far. First we sat in the ocean, just enjoying a beer. Then the Canadians decided that our ever-expanding international group needed to be schooled in the fine art of Beach Beersby (where a beer bottle is stuck on a stick, and each side tries to throw a frisbee and knock the beer off). This was entertaining, but my team lost perpetually, leading to many beers being chugged. Then, beach volleyball was in order, and Kenna found that beach volleyball really isn’t that bad (and she’s actually pretty good)!

By this point, it was getting later in the afternoon, and the guy from Winnipeg had managed to find a couple of attractive Slovenian girls to talk to on the beach. We all thought he was hilarious, hitting on these two girls he had absolutely no chance with, and the next thing you know, “they’re staying in my room tonight.” Woah! Way to go buddy! Apparently they couldn’t find a room for the night, and he had two twin beds in his room, so he invited them to crash in his room and they obliged – lucky guy.

Sitting with our friends at sunset, drinkin in the ocean

Sitting with our friends at sunset, drinkin in the ocean

Our ever-expanding group was now about 12 people, and we got a large table by the beach for dinner. We decided that drinking the restaurant’s beer was going to be too expensive (and we’d long exhausted the cooler’s beer), so one of the Edmontonians and I purchased a couple of bottles of Sangsom (Thai whisky) to mix our own “buckets”. Soon, we were off to find the perfect bar. We ended up at some small bar with the guy from Winnipeg and his two new best friends, the Slovenian girls. There, we enjoyed a bucket. Then, off to another bar, the Lotus bar – a really cool bar right on the beach. We met up with yet another group of attractive European women from Sweden (they are all so blond and beautiful!) and just generally had a really fun time.

BEST PANCAKE EVER

BEST PANCAKE EVER

I do know that we met almost everyone we were with earlier in the evening at about 3:30 AM outside “Best Pancake”. The guy from Best Pancake is hilarious – it’s just a little stall where he makes roti pancakes, and he’s there from 7 PM until 7 AM every day. He makes a big scene of making your pancake, and yells at every single person that goes by “BEST PANCAKE! YOU WANT BEST PANCAKE!” He’s been there, in the exact same spot, every night, even since we were here last in 2006. And his pancakes really are the best – we have searched out numerous pancakes in our time in Thailand and just nothing compares. They really hit the spot after a night of drinking buckets. :)

The next morning, we all met for breakfast and shared stories of the night before. Unfortunately, the guy from Winnipeg had nothing interesting to report (that he admitted to, anyway) but it was a great night for everyone. That day, Kenna wasn’t feeling so well, so she spent the day in bed, while I hung out with a couple of German guys from the night before. These guys were machines – they had been on our diving course with us, but hadn’t been to bed before 7 AM for the past 3 nights, even the night we had to be in the water at 7:30 AM. But, they seemed to have limitless energy, as they were hellbent on going wind-surfing, so I thought I’d join. Unfortunately, you could only go wind-surfing at high tide in the morning, so we didn’t go. Then, they invited us out for dinner with a few of their other friends, so we ended up having dinner with them, and had great conversation.

Our mish-mash group of Canadians, Slovenians, Swedish, and others?

Our mish-mash group of Canadians, Slovenians, Swedish, and others?

The following day, we decided to head to Ko Samui, where we were to meet a couple of British girls we met on our surf trip in Australia so long ago – they’ve been following our same route a few days behind us since we met them, so it’ll be interesting to compare stories!


2 comments to The 12 Steps to the Perfect Day

  • Mer

    FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So jealous. ;)

  • Shawn

    So you guys are really into the diving thing hey…
    Well when you guys are back in Canada, I’ll get you both in a dry suit and drop you both into the cold… sorry warm Alberta lakes for a dive…

    Maybe we’ll plan a dive to the USA or Mexico or Cuba… I heard ROTAN is amazing we’ll see…

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