Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm becoming a mermaid.

I fixed my camera!  I think it just got wet.  I took it apart and put it back together again, and now it sort of works again!  Woohoo!

So, this picture is back on Ton Sai beach.  This is my good friend, Neao.  I met him while I was waiting for the taxi-boat to Ton Sai.  I spent a lot of time with him while he taught me some of the Thai language.
This is another friend of mine named Chi.  He makes really good coffee.  All of these guys work at the Chill Out Bar, which is the best place to hang out on Ton Sai.
This is Fidi, one of the German guys who I climbed with at Ton Sai.  I really love the climbing community at Ton Sai.  Everyone is super welcoming even if you're not such a good climber (like me).  I literally only took two steps onto the beach before a bunch of climbers approached me and asked me if I like climbing.  It sort of went like this:

Jason: "Do you climb?"
me: "Yea."
Jason: "Cool.  That's a good hotel.  Put down your bags over there, and then let's go climb the Groove Tube."
me: "Ok."

You might also wonder why Fidi is wearing a Native American headdress in this picture.  Ton Sai is a really silly place with lots of toys laying around.  I think that's why I like Ton Sai so much: People are just there to have fun, and everyone is super accepting of you no matter how silly you are.  This attitude encourages you to do whatever you want to do and not to worry about people thinking negative thoughts about you.  When I wasn't climbing, I spent my time on Ton Sai doing a lot of hula-hooping and swinging around balls of fire. 

This is me climbing at Ton Sai!  This climb is right on the beach next to the Freedom Bar.  While I was belaying (which means holding the rope while someone else climbs), I sat at a table at the Freedom Bar eating banana pancakes.  Could life get any better?  I don't think so.
This is how I finally left Ton Sai.  I took a few buses and ended up at Surat Thani.  From there, I took this boat overnight to an island called Koh Tao.  It was a really cool boat ride.  I spent half the night sitting on the upper deck looking at the stars.  A cool fact:  The moon is upside-down on this side of the world.
This is me doing a scuba diving course with Milley and Lucas on Koh Tao.  Today, I became a certified open water diver! 
This is me in my scuba gear right before my fifth dive.  At first, I found the diving kind of scary.  Have you ever had that dream where you're under water and then you realize that you can breathe?  That's what diving is like.  For me, there was a moment of panic when I jumped into big waves with a heavy metal tank strapped to my back... but then I started sinking (and breathing!) and it was the coolest thing I've ever done.  I find it to be a cool mental game, too, because you have to remember to be calm and keep breathing even though you're really far under water.
This is me about to roll off the boat into the sea.  For this dive, we found a really calm little harbor called the Japanese Garden.  It's amazing down there!  All the fish are bright colors, and the corals are definitely some special kind of garden.  My favorite fish was the parrot fish, which is fluorescent pink/green/purple/blue.  Hopefully, I'll be showing you pictures of it soon!  Tomorrow, I'm going to start the advanced diver course, which includes underwater navigation, a night dive, and some lessons on underwater photography.  Woohoo!
This is the last of me as I roll off the boat.  The best part of diving here is that the water is something like 80 degrees.  It's super warm, and you see some really exotic fish right up close.  I was really surprised that the fish don't swim away from you.  They're not afraid of you even though you're making lots of bubbles and you sort of sound like Darth Vader every time you breathe.  Some of the fish even like the bubbles and they're really curious about you, so they follow you around during the whole dive.
This is our whole group: Emily (our instructor), me, Lucas, and Milley. 
This is our lovely island, Koh Tao.  It's a nice place to be.  However, Ton Sai is still my favorite place on this trip.  Koh Tao is really developed for tourism, so you don't really get any sense of Thai culture.  The diving is amazing, but I wouldn't come here just to hang out.

Anyway, I'm spending the next few days doing this advanced diving course, and I hope I'll be posting some pretty fishy pictures soon!  Diving is such an amazing thing to do, and the underwater world is such a perfect place to be, so I hope I can share some of that with you.  Tomorrow, I'll be spending the entire day on the boat - We're starting in the morning, and then we're ending at night after taking flashlights into the water and checking out the night fish.  I can't wait!


diana said...

cool dana! yay pictures :) your story is awesome! diving is such an interesting thing to just "do" randomly LOL

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