A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: cblanc102

Damaged goods

There's loads here that can kill you, but it's the stuff that can't that you need to worry about

SCIENCE! ( I'll let everyone know when the science bit is done )

about 1 million years ago, the sun created photons at it's centre. Because of the massive gravity at the centre of the sun these photons travelled far slower than their usual speed of light.

Eventually (as I said, about a million years) they hit the Sun's surface, travelled 93 million miles through a vacuum ( about -270 degrees) and hit the Earth's surface.

They then burned through our atmosphere and into my poxy back!!

END OF SCIENCE!

I've been here 17 days and my body is wrecked. I've been really careful with suntan lotion, putting it on all the time, staying in the shade where I can. but today like a dumbass I went snorkeling for an hour with lotion that's not waterproof. I felt fine, ate in the shade, drank plenty of water. but that's how the stupid Sun gets you!

So I'm in an immense amount of pain.Every part of me aches. I'll be fine I'm sure, lather myself with Aloe Vera, stay completely out of the Sun, but I have to leave in less than 3 days and I'm worried how I'm gonna carry a 15kg rucksack on my burnt back!

But that's only the start of my woes (read: whining)

I'm completely covered in mosquito bites, it turns out that the mosquito repellent clothes I bought don't work at night when you don't wear them. I have a mesh, but stuff gets in.

Blisters! I have loads from where I walked 11km in flip flops the first day like a dumbass! They're going now though. Yay!!

Various scrapes - I have a pretty large scratch on my knee I think came from coral, I still have urchin spines in my hand and a cut on my other hand I have no idea where it came from (probably scuba)

Each time I move somewhere, I hope it'll get better, but seeing as how I'm moving from a woody area to a rain-forest, I doubt it! I have leeches to look forward to!!

I bought some 1400 movies, 500 books, 1000 albums with me just for this kinda emergency! That's my weekend sorted haha

Be safe, STAY OUT OF THE SUN and don't leave me comments just calling me a wanker lol

Posted by cblanc102 08:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches thailand sun koh tao mosquitoes sunburn stupidity Comments (0)

Spreading the news

travelling the world in the midst of a pandemic

I've been planning this trip a long time, years. I was supposed to leave a year ago if I'd gotten my arse into gear and sold all my stuff.

I had a plan, I'm good at plans and originally I was going to leave I think late Feb 2019 and travel from Northern India down to Thailand through Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. I was due to leave Colombo, the Capital of Sri Lanka on April 23rd. They had a series of bombings there on April 21st. The path not taken eh?

We've been going to Florida every two or so years for the last couple of decades, the last time was 2018. We were talking about going this year, but decided against it, which is why I ended up doing this trip now. Had we booked that, we would have been getting pretty excited about it by now, until this morning when we would have found out that all of the Theme Parks in the Orlando area have closed because of the Coronavirus.

Again, the road not taken.

There's not been much here about the Coronavirus. People talk about it, but it's always about other countries, where we come from, how it's affecting the people we know, and Italy. Lot's of people talk about Italy, but no one here really talks about the virus being in Thailand. I overheard a German man today say that it's too hot for it here, I'm not sure that's how it works. I had loads of calls from home about the virus yesterday, I read all the crazy goings on there and all around the world and I worry far more about it back home than I do here.

They have it here, there have been 70 confirmed cases so far, which puts Thailand 37th on the list of highest cases in the world, less even than Iceland. Vietnam, where I'm hoping to travel next, has even fewer cases, they're 48th in the world with just 39 cases so far.

But the countries here are very concerned, and it's making them jumpy about who they let in.

I'm moving on to Khao Sok National Park on Monday, it looks beautiful, I'm playing on being there 4 or 5 days. The plan was then to fly to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, but I'm hearing all sorts of stories about people being put in quarantine straight from the plane or not being allowed in at all. They've stopped all Visa Exemptions from most countries in Europe, but I was going for a full 30 day visa anyway, so I don't know. I also don't know if the fact that I'll have been in Thailand for almost a month will help? Or the fact that I'm flying from Thailand rather than from Europe? I guess a lot of the flights fly through Bangkok anyway..

I have lots of options whatever I do. I can try a different country, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, or extend my visa here and head north. All I can really do is keep checking the news, the official websites and the forums and work out what to do from there.

As I said, I'm very good at planning.

In the meanwhile, stay safe everyone. I'm thinking of you all x

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I thought I should add a nice picture after this somewhat depressing blog entry, so here's where I snorkeled, ate and apparently got sunburn today. I'm not sure what the juggler's deal was lol

Posted by cblanc102 00:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged travel thailand vietnam visa koh khao sok tao coronavirus Comments (2)

Nature Boy

leaving the beach for a bit of relaxation

I'm in a pretty woody area.

Granted, there's a fairly busy road about 20 meters downhill from me, but it's all trees behind.

So far, my animal spotting has been pretty rubbish, and I'm quite happy about that! All I've seen so far are lizards of all sizes (though only one much bigger than your hand), loads of moths and butterflies, bats and bloody mosquitoes. Oh and I seem to have another cat. She's pretty scrawny though, which I think may be linked to her rubbish attempts at catching lizards as far as I've seen.

I'm not sure what I think about the new place yet. It's very pretty, but at the moment my biggest worry is about breaking the damn bungalow. I'm not sure it's meant from an adult male, it creaks a lot when I walk on it. I spend a fair amount of my time thinking about weight displacement.

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I arrived pretty late in the afternoon and by the time I'd had a kip it was about 5pm, so I haven't had a chance to look around. I'm only a couple of km away from where I was staying before, so if the worse comes to the worse, I can always just head back to familiar territory, but that's not really the point of the trip, which is to explore, right?

I'll rent a moped for a couple of days (It's a few quid a day) and really explore the island. I need to do something, I only finished the scuba 9 hours ago and already I'm feeling a bit lost. But then I also need to learn to switch off. To really relax. So, I'll have a day or two of doing that as well. I also found a leisure park round the corner with large screen sports, a 24 seat cinema (showing the original Star Wars this Sunday!) and a giant mini golf course!! I'm gonna have to give that a go.

Fast forward a few days and it's now Thursday. I really like this place. I've done pretty much nothing for two days but get some washing done by a woman round the corner, eat and relax. It's been great. I've arranged my travel on to the next place (Khao Sok National Park on Monday) and the only other beasties I've seen have been a bigger lizard with an enormous tail and what I think was a praying mantis, but it was very small and when I tried to get in closer the dumbass tried to fly away straight into my head.

Last night I went out to eat, I wanted a Pad Thai. I went to a busy cafe (always a good sign) down the road and ordered my dinner. And waited. And waited. And waited. I waited ages to get a menu, but when I ordered I waited at least another 45 mins. A guy had come in after I ordered, got his menu, ordered, got his food, eaten and paid and still I was sat there with nothing in front of me. I had asked the waiter a few times where my food was and he just kept saying it was coming. In the end I left before it came out. I walked to another place down the road and again ordered a Pad Thai and was told that it would take 45 mins so I left there too! At least he told me, but why does Pad Thai take so long to make there?? I've had it before and eventually had one at the pier last night, both of which only took 15 minutes and the lady last night gave me a free banana. Winner!

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My winning Pad Thai. It was almost worth the wait

This morning I went out to rent a scooter. This is a very easy thing to do on Koh Tao, but also a very easy thing to do wrong. You hear all manner of horror stories about people getting charged loads of extras, or getting charged for non existent scratched when they bring it back, that sort of thing.

I asked the manager here for a recommendation and she suggested Oli's Motorcycle Shop back at the pier. I looked them up and while they're a little more expensive, they have a great reputation for not conning people, always good. To be honest, it was a little too easy! I turned up, gave them my money and driver's license, which is standard, some ask for your passport. No chance! I took photos and a video of the bike's existing scratches (there are many) and then I was off. Barely any training (Here's where you open the seat, here's where you put in fuel) and I was allowed to leave.

My history with bikes isn't great. When I was a kid I had a couple of pretty bad accidents on a bicycle and didn't sit on one again for about 20 years. I tried to have a go on a friends dirtbike in my 20s and was thrown one way while the bike went the other. But I did ride a moped around Goa for a week, mostly with my friend on the back and at one point drove on the motorway there for 45 mins each way (although I was following a taxi with my friend in as I didn't want to risk that. I did have a minor accident that ended up costing me a fair bit, but mostly it was alright.

So on this bike I get, driving around like an 80 year old but enjoying it immensely! I'm being overly careful, and I'm not great at doing a U-turn yet, but it's opened up the island for me!

But I'm sitting here typing this out as it's too damn hot! Seriously, it feels like my butt is on fire every time I sit on the damn thing. I'll go out a bit later and put a wet towel on it to calm the seat down, but I think I'll just sit here and drink coffee while watching a movie this afternoon. One thing I've found with this travelling lark, is that you're far less bothered about rushing around seeing everything when you don't have a time frame.

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My ride

Posted by cblanc102 23:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged animals travel thailand island asia thai koh scooter pad tao solo Comments (1)

Ever deeper

Scuba diving isn't just about being in the water

The diving had been fantastic, I'd passed my Open Water certificate and was now allowed to pretty much dive anywhere, but I would also be losing the people I had dived with.

Of the four of us that started the course, only three continued, but all four of us had been out together every night since day one along with the boyfriends of two of the girls and often another couple that dived with Sairee Cottage. We'd also just run into people we knew as we went along. It's a small island.

I had my first bucket with them, for the uninitiated, this is usually about a mug full of some spirit (in this case Vodka) tipped into a small bucket and topped up with coke at a ridiculously cheap price. We sat together at a bar's beach party watching fire jugglers toss their flaming sticks 40 feet to each other over everyone's heads. We played pool and beer pong (how was this my first time? What did I do at Uni? ) we drank and we ate, it was great.

And now they were leaving.

One couple were off to another island, another off to Cambodia to Koh Rong where Klau and I visited a few years back. The last member of our group was going home.

This almost arbitrary friendship between people with almost nothing in common takes some getting used to. I've obviously travelled solo a fair amount, but usually I keep to myself, speaking to very few people and only rarely seeing them more than a day or two. No need to get attached. I got friendly with a group at the hostel in Bangkok, most of whom I only spent an evening with, but this was different because we went through a lot together, we were reliant on each other to get through the day and we chose to spend our time together in the evenings. It meant more. And then you share social media accounts and leave, maybe never seeing each other again.

I'm sure that as this trip progresses, I'll meet many more people, some of who I'll stay in touch with forever, but at the beginning of this experience, it feels a little sadder. Before I left, I was a little wary of hostels, thinking I'd always go for a hotel if it was cheap enough, but now I'm thinking hostels are the way to go. There's a much better chance to meet people there than in a hotel room where I tend to keep myself to myself.

I saw most of them again the next day as I started the advanced course and they were waiting for ferries to take them back to the mainland, it was nice, we wished each other safe journeys and went on with our lives. I'm following their Instagram, they seem to be having a fine time...

I continued my course, diving 5 times over 2 days in some of the greatest visibility (being able to see 15 - 20 meters underwater is incredible) and worst visibility (diving at 30 meters but only being able to see for 3 or 4 meters is scary as hell) I had experienced so far. I dived at night, which was incredible and scary all at once and I explored a wreck, probably the highlight of all the dives. Tired, but happy, it was time for me to move on. I said goodbye to Sairee Beach, Sairee Cottage Diving and the people there I had become friends with, but I promised to come back one day this week and share a beer or two.

I actually saw two of them later that same night as I was eating. Like I said before, small Island

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Beer Pong at it's finest

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A blurry picture of drunk people on a beach at night having a time

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As I former fire safety officer, I should have been more wary, less drunk, when around these

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Getting ready for our night dive

Posted by cblanc102 08:49 Archived in Thailand Tagged islands food diving beach drink hostels scuba underwater friendship alcohol solo_travel Comments (2)

Darling it's better, Down where it's wetter, Take it from me

How to learn scuba diving from a beginner

My choice to visit Koh Tao was to learn to scuba dive. Granted, the place looked (and is) beautiful and I like being around water, but Koh Tao has the reputation as being one of the best places in the world to learn. It certifies more divers than anywhere in the world apart from Cairns Australia.

My start began by picking a diving school. There are some 70 or so schools on the island, I think most of them are on Sairee Beach where I was staying and they all charge the same since they decided on prices a couple of years ago. There was a school some 50m from my room, which would have been nice, but it was SSI (you can do PADI or SSI, they're mostly the same) and they wanted an extra £25 for online books so I ended up going with Sairee Cottage Diving, mostly by reputation and centrality.

I arrived the next day to find that there were 4 of us in our group, myself and 3 young women from Essex, Belgium and Australia. The first day was a morning of watching some pretty dull videos followed by some tests, then into the pool for 10 mins of treading water and a 200 meter swim. Tiring!

We then got to the good stuff!

As you can imagine, scuba is a pretty equipment intensive pastime, The last thing you want 50 feet below the surface is to suddenly lose air, so we went over every piece of equipment, every hose, gauge, attachment, tool many times, getting used to it all, learning how it all operates and what to do if any of it fails. There are a lot of solutions to any eventuality and a lot of skills tests from taking off masks, which seems pretty easy, but not so much at the bottom of the sea, to what to do if you lose your air, sharing supplies, using back ups etc. Our instructor James gave us more skills tests than were required and it was a long first day, but as a result I felt completely safe hitting the ocean the next day.

Day 2 starts with another morning of theory (yay!) before you can get in the sea for your first two dives. We were going to be diving sites called Twins and White Rock. Two of the girls on our course had boyfriends who were already divers and came with us for fun dives, which was great as they took some photos and videos. Until we failed on one of the big tests after only half an hour or so!

Scuba relies on a buddy system. You never dive without your buddy and if you lose them you're supposed to search for them for one minute, then make your way to the surface to regroup. We were at 12 meters and something had happened to one of our group. She went to the surface with James and we waited at the bottom, for at least 5 mins. I think most of us were thinking that we were with our buddies, as well as the 2 advanced divers, so we were ok. I was happy as a clam (pun intended) just pottering around the bottom looking at a Gobi fish and shrimp that lived together, the Gobi on lookout while the mostly blind shrimp built their hole. It was cool.

As we surfaced we were told off for basically being idiots, and we got back on the boat to get ready for dive number 2.

Unfortunately, pretty soon in, one of the group decided that she couldn't continue. It's a very mental thing, very unnatural to breathe underwater and while we're down there we take of our masks, remove our breathers, completely remove our equipment before putting it back on. I've known people in the past who's brains won't even let them snorkel. Good swimmers too, they just couldn't do it.

It was horrible for that to happen, and she was heartbroken. She finished her exams and has passed that half of the course. Fingers crossed she can finish completely one day xx

Day 3 was exciting for everyone. We were going to Sail Rock, the best dive site in Thailand and the visibility had been pretty terrible there for a good while, but was now great.

Oo! There's a lizard! You would think I would be less excited to see them now, they're all over the place. You would be wrong. They walk funny.

So off to Sail rock we go. It was amazing! So much life! But this blog is going on ages, so I'll just tell you how I was a dumbass who got too close to the cliff, freaked out a bit, tried to push away and shoved my hand straight into a sea urchin. It hurt like hell for about 2 days! It's still sore here and there, as the tips are still in my hand! Dumbass.

Still we had two spectacular dives to 18 meters and we had passed our Open Water PADI! Congats to us!

But I wasn't done yet. We'll get to the advanced course next time as this is long enough....

Finally though, to anyone who get's all the way to the end. Please give me your thoughts on these blogs. Is there anything you'd like to hear about? Anything I'm missing? Doing wrong? Let me know in the comments below, Thanks!

When this is your classroom, everything is great
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Posted by cblanc102 03:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged islands diving beach scuba underwater solo_travel Comments (2)

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