Thailand - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 256 (66)
Friday 19th November
For all my exhaustion, it was a very restless night last night. The constant side-to-side motion of the boat as it sits in the water makes it very difficult to lie on one side, my preferred position for sleeping. Unless you are in a very deep sleep, you notice when your body is slipping to one side and your muscles automatically tense up to compensate for the movement. I sleep very lightly generally speaking and I was almost constantly changing positions trying to get comfortable. Because of the movement of the boat, the easiest position to lay in is either on my back or on my front but with the bunks being as hard as they are, this gets uncomfortable after a couple of minutes. Being uncomfortable on my front or back as well as uncomfortable on my sides made for a rather restless night altogether.
My nose was once again a bit stuffed up this morning so I took another couple of Actifed tablets just to be on the safe side. The first of the two and final dives on this the last day of the trip was to be another great dive with yet another sighting of a huge leopard shark. It was again quite deep at thirty-three meters but I was able to hover right over the top of it to get some fantastic photos without having to disturb it. Already the day was a raging success and it had only just begun.
The rapid air consumption of Mr. New Yorker and myself meant that sandy and Mrs. New Yorker were sent off to enjoy some more of the dive with another dive group whilst the two of us men were sent up to our safety stop and the termination of the dive.
Breakfast was, once again, a raging success in my opinion – well, you can never go wrong with chips can you! As we ate, the boat sailed off to our final destination of this trip - the small island of Koh Bon, which is out in the middle of nowhere and where we would enjoy the last dive before setting course for Khao Lak again later this afternoon. We arrived at the small tropical foliage covered desert island after about an hour or two of sailing and generally hung out and relaxed for a while until the dive co-ordinator had deemed that enough of a surface interval had passed before the next dive could commence.
I was hoping that there was a very good reason for sailing this far away for just a single dive and I wasn't disappointed. Koh Bon turned out to be the very best dives of the entire trip as far as we were concerned. There was a huge sloping wall completely covered with both hard and soft corals and there were photo opportunities every which way we turned. Amongst other things, we saw a cuttlefish, an octopus in a hole, a trumpet fish up close, a very nice lionfish, also very close, another sea snake and several nudibranches, one of which had a small, juvenile nudibranch right next to it and another with a very small hermit crab next to it. If it were up to us, we would have stayed here for the entire live-aboard and I was quite annoyed at having to end the dive when we did. I do wish we had some larger tanks on board so that I could enjoy a longer bottom time.
All good things have to come to an end, however, and we climbed back onto the boat for the last time after completing a particularly successful dive. The boat departed for the final few hours of sailing just as soon as the very last diver was aboard. The dive co-ordinator gave a final debriefing and pointed out the tip box for the very hard working Thai boat crew. We put a 1000B note (€19,23) into the box before we disembarked. We also exchanged contact details with many of the other divers and I’ve now collected quite a few e-mail addresses to which I’ve been asked to send some of the photos we’ve taken whilst on this trip.
Whilst collecting all our belongings that were no strewn all over the boat, I noticed that I no longer have my travel towel. I’ve a sneaky suspicion that we lost this some time ago but never realised it until now. I certainly can’t remember unpacking it once aboard the boat.
Back at the dock, the staff unloaded all the dive gear from the boat we all disembarked. A couple of taxi trucks were already waiting to take us back to the dive centre. We hung out at the dive centre for a while, exchanging anecdotes and saying goodbye to each other before we were finally ferreted off to our respective accommodation resorts. Before leaving, I asked about the wreck dives that Sea Dragon offer. For 1,800B (€34,61) each for a two-tank dive excursion to a given wreck, this is something that we want to knock off before we leave Khao Lak. Before then, however, we have a few days of well-earned pampering to look forward to at a rather nice hotel that we’ve chosen. It’s well outside our usual budget range but we’ve decided that we’ve earned a few days of luxury living and to hell with the expense!
Our taxi dropped us off at the rather plush looking Khao Lak Orchid Resortel. Two hotel bellboys took our bags and led us over to reception where we were immediately offered a seat. Our pampering started almost immediately when a couple of glasses of fruit juice with a pineapple slice were presented to us along with a decoratively folded cold towel each to refresh ourselves with. The staff here bends over backwards to be polite and courteous to us everywhere we go. We completed the signing in formalities and handed over the cost of one night’s stay as a deposit. At just 1,800B (€34,61) per night, it’s still very cheap compared to Western standards but for that price we can relax here in this four-star facility with a extremely neatly appointed room, lovely balcony overlooking the sea and a particularly inviting looking pool set in amongst the shade of some nice tropical vegetation. Enticingly comfortable lounging sun beds with parasols complete the setting just nicely. This is without any shadow of a doubt the very nicest place we’ve stayed in since we started travelling (with the only exception being the Burg Al-Arab hotel in Dubai that rounded off our previous trip). We’ve really decided to throw caution to the wind with regards to the budget over the next few days of pampering and I’ve even gone so far as to eat the Toblerone chocolate bar out of our room’s mini-bar fridge.
Once our bags were delivered to our room, we took a nice, long, hot and powerful shower and it was blissful. You really don’t appreciate these life’s little luxuries until you’ve gone without them for a while. The beds are comfortable, although they could do with being just a little softer, but we each have soft and comfortable comforters as well as two very fluffy pillows. I really feel like I’m in heaven. We had originally planned on meeting some of the other divers in one of the local watering holes this evening but after showering and relaxing in front of the TV this evening, neither of us really had the energy to get out of bed again and we simply relaxed into a deep sleep instead.