Friday 13 July 2001 – Ko Samui, Thailand
Up at 6.15am, packed my dive gear and went and sat by the beach (the staff hadn’t arrived yet, so breakfast wasn’t possible). Chris came out bravely to say ‘bye, at least until we get to Bangkok where we plan to meet for dinner on Saturday night and have booked into the same hotel. Again, there was a long boat trip to the dive site (again Sail Rock off Ko Pha Ngan).
The Seaquest has to be the slowest boat in the world! The first dive of the day was good. I was still having a little trouble with controlling my buoyancy – will try reducing my weight-belt this afternoon. Lotsa fish, lotsa aquatic live generally, lotsa rocks and some coral. It really does look like a TV documentary down there. The colours are extraordinary. The second dive was even better. We’d completed all the training ‘tests’ and so were able to just relax and look around – wonderful. Received my Open Water Diver certification, as did Kevin and Julie.
There were only two small downsides on today’s trip – again some rude behaviour on the part of other instructors (one in particular was disruptive during our debrief). Dario and some of the other instructors (even most of them) were clearly having some problems and didn’t have Thai working visas. He came around and quietly said goodbye to each of us individually before we docked, asking us to ignore him when we disembarked as the police were waiting on the wharf and he wanted to pretend to be a ‘customer’. Apparently some of their staff had been arrested the previous day.
Returned to shore about 5.00pm (a shorter trip than yesterday!) and to Silver Sands about 5.30pm. Absolutely all my clothes were dirty, so took everything to a laundry service (30 baht or about $1.20 per kilo!) I wandered along Chaweng Beach Road and bought some new shorts, a great T-shirt with tropical fish all over it and a few other odds and ends – fish bone necklace, anklet – I really have relaxed!
Returned to Silver Sands, cleaned up and had dinner overlooking the beach one last time – I was on my own and the staff were very attentive – after four nights I almost felt like a local. Later I found my tailor and picked up my two suits. I had some trouble finding the tailor. When I first went there, it was the first and only one I’d seen. After two sleepless nights in transit, Chris saw the tailor and told me he’d ordered a suit in Phuket and was glad he had. I’d been considering it, and with his help, walked into the first one we saw, just across the road from where we’d booked our dive tours and flights to Bangkok. Little did I realise then that every third or fourth shop along Chaweng Beach Road was a tailor shop and they all look exactly the same! I’d paid a deposit but I couldn’t even find the Visa slip with the address on it. Anyway, after wandering up and down a couple of times, I found it and indeed my suits were ready and wonderful.
Wandered back up Chaweng Beach Road to check out the nightlife. Went to Christies, a Ka-Tooy bar to see a Thai drag show. It was very touristy, full of British tourists all thinking it was terribly weird and wonderful, although it was extremely tame compared to the average Oxford Street gig. However the frocks weren’t bad – now I understand what all those tailors get up to in their free time! The show had all the favourites, lip synching to Life is a Cabaret and a bizarre Thai version of I Will Survive, a Whitney Houston parody relying on outrageously exaggerated lips.
A particularly fun moment was a performance of My Way starting with Marilyn Monroe (although I’m sure the recording was Shirley Bassey), a strip tease then the performer re dressed as Frank Sinatra (well, a skinny chap in a suit, at least), and the recording changed, none too subtly a tone or six lower to Frank’s rendition for the finale! There was also a classical Thai ballet, a Tina Turner and a half-man-half-woman costume, performing (of course!) One Man Woman! During the show small children tried to sell flowers and glow-in-the-dark sticks to the audience – they were persistent and clearly being told not to come outside until they’d shifted the stock. Staff kept the drinks (reasonably priced) up to the punters, but otherwise the show was free.
Afterwards I wandered through a couple of large discos (the Green Mango and another). They had good sound systems and were semi-open air but without many people, even at midnight. This may have been due to there being a large ‘Half Moon’ beach party over on an offshore island nearby which must have pulled the crowds. There were lots of adjacent bars, one for almost every conceivable visiting nationality.