Thailand - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 275 (85)

Khao Lak

Wednesday 8th December

History certainly repeated itself this morning. I remember when we came back to dry land after the Similan Islands live-aboard on the Mariner-1. We checked into this hotel, went to bed and didn’t get up till noon the following day. My dive computer read eleven forty when I finally came around this morning. We were both very much more exhausted than either of us realised. Clearly, we missed our opportunity to partake in some breakfast so lunch would have to be our first meal of the day instead.

We had several chores on our list today and so we walked into town to find a place to eat. Before doing anything else, however, I wanted to exchange the snorkel I bought just before we left for the Surin Islands. I tried my best to snorkel once or twice on the trip but my new snorkel kept flooding for some reason. It seemed like the one-way valve at the bottom was working more like a two-way valve instead. After just a couple of breaths, there was so much water inside that I couldn’t draw any more air and had to tilt my head out of the water gasping for air. We went back to the dive gear shop where our friendly Dutch man was only too willing to take a closer look at the snorkel. We tried it in a bucket of water to confirm my theory of the leaking valve and he was happy to exchange it there and then. We tested the new snorkel in the same bucket of water just to be on the safe side.

We thought we’d try a different restaurant today and tried the little café right next to the Sea Dragon offices. This was handy as the next thing on our list of chores was to see about a replacement battery kit for our dive computers. They still register three out of four bars on the battery test scale but the LCD screen on mine seems to be getting dimmer and dimmer. There is a PADI rule that states that you may not dive for twenty-four hours following the failure of a dive computer during a dive. This is a safety precaution but one that most PADI dive operators will adhere to so it’s important enough for me to worry about. I certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on a once in a lifetime dive just because the battery in my dive computer gave out on me. Our dive computers are two and a half years old now and with fifty or sixty dives each to our names, it’s probably a good idea to get the batteries replaced anyway. I paid 495B (€9,52) each for a new battery kit for both mine and Sandy’s Suunto Mosquito dive computers. I’m quite sure I saw a figure of about $25 for these replacement battery kits when I first bought the computers so I’m convinced that this is money well spent.

Sadly, we don’t have much time left now here in Thailand and we’ve given ourselves just a couple of days of recuperation here in Khao Lak. That means that we will need to head over to Surat Thani tomorrow morning for an overnight train connection into Bangkok. We’ve decided to get the local bus back to Surat Thani. The air-conditioned minivan is four times more expensive but not that much more comfortable. It also leaves very early in the morning and will mean that we will have to hang around for quite some time in Surat Thani before catching our overnight train. We are, however, still taking a bit of risk in getting a berth on the overnight sleeper but we did this the last time without any problems so I’m hopeful this time too. We went back to the same woman that sold us the air-conditioned minivan tickets the last time but this time told her we wanted to go with the local bus. Apparently we could simply buy a ticket on the bus so there was nothing that she could really do for us. She did, however, arrange for a taxi to swing by and pick us up tomorrow morning so that we don’t have to climb the hill with all our bags. We’ve not had a lot of luck with taxis coming to collect us from the hotel so we’ll see whether or not anyone actually shows up to collect us in the morning.

Next up on our list of chores was to book a flight from Sydney to Melbourne. Had I known then what I know now, I would have booked our round the world ticket straight into Melbourne instead of Sydney. The ticket does allow routing changes but at $75 per flight change plus a local administration fee for the privilege, it’s probably cheaper for us to simply book a one-way flight from Sydney into Melbourne ourselves. The two main competing flight operators are Qantas and Virgin Blue. Their prices are quite competitive and range from AU$400 (€232) down to less than AU$100 (€58) per person after including all the taxes and surcharges. I booked a one-way ticket for the two of us for just AU$213 (€123). We fly from Bangkok on December the twelfth but we arrive in Sydney the following day at around six in the morning. I’ve booked our flight out of Melbourne for around ten in the morning so this should give us plenty of time to make the connection.

The Melbourne flight booking was the last of the chores on my list so we went back towards our hotel to partake in some general lounging around. Well, it is why we are here after all. I spent some time at the nearby Internet café and hooked up the laptop again. At this point, there weren’t any travel updates to be sent since I hadn’t written any whilst on the live-aboard. I only wrote up the notes each day and the plan was to catch-up on this whilst lounging around the pool or whatever so this is what I did for the bulk of the remainder of the afternoon. We spent some time at the pool and some sitting in our room and sunning ourselves on the balcony.

I got so far with writing up the backlogged journal entries but a surge of hunger eventually overtook me and we ventured back into town for another huge steak dinner. Once again, our trusty Viking restaurant was there waiting for us and our favourite table was yet again vacant. We ate our usual fill, followed by our usual banana split before wandering aimlessly around the market stalls trying to see if there was one last keepsake that we might pick out. Sandy had had her eye on a wooden mask and we found one, haggled and eventually bought it for 500B (€9,61). With a belly full of food and her favourite souvenir now tucked nicely under her arm, at least I would now have a peaceful evening.

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