I’ve been asked to write a little something about 7:30 dildo time. It is a very sacred time, not to be taken lightly. I burn some incense, do the things you do to get Buddha’s blessing (it’s only polite seeing as we’re in Thailand). I should probably just leave it at that. 

Haha so a while back, I was looking for a way to bind my dive guide. There is a very comprehensive dive guide book available here with maps of all the dive sites and pictures of all the fish, and that was my first purchase once I got here so that I could start figuring out how to work here straight away. Once I had the book in my hands, I dropped it off at a little place that laminated the whole thing for 1000 baht. Well worth it to not have the thing get soaked and ruined and have to buy a new one every month. When I picked it up from being laminated, it was held together by two twisty ties running through the hole punches where the binding should be. My first thought to bind the thing was to find some metal binder rings. Turns out the office supply isles of stores here are pretty limited. Not much but pens and paper and some electrical tape if you’re lucky. So my next thought was to try zip ties. Unfortunately those just kept cinching tighter and tighter until it was putting way too much stress on the hole punches to try and open the book without tearing it apart. So back to 4P I went, the store I go to for random odds and ends such as toiletries and mosquito coils and cat food, and began to scour the isles for something that would bind a thick set of laminated pages together. Along one wall was an entire shelf of brightly colored bundles of nylon cord like you’d make a bracelet with for 30 baht. Brilliant! I could just cut a couple small pieces, thread them through the hole punches, and melt the ends together with a lighter.

Later that night, when we were all chilling out on the porch like we do so often after dark, I gathered up my supplies, bundle of cord in one hand and book and lighter in the other. I sat down in an empty bean bag chair and everyone stared at me for a moment, before someone finally asked what was in my hand. I held up the bright blue bundle of cord for them to examine in the dark, and Shawna burst out laughing, saying she had thought I was holding a dildo. So now every night once its dark out, around 7:30 or so, we all joke around that everyone has to leave the porch so that I can have my 7:30 dildo time.

Now that I’ve thrilled your pants off with a story about some yarn and you’re all telling me to ditch the blog and just take up knitting, I’ll update you about Mike’s visit! So my good friend and former roommate from back home visited me this past week. He is planning on backpacking through Thailand and I convinced him to make visiting me his first stop. Now that I’ve officially hosted my first visitor here, I will warn the rest of you thinking about visiting me that I will show you a splendidly good time in the ocean, but man am I exhausted at the end of the day. Mike was in vacation mode and wanting to party hardy all night. I was trying to refrain from falling asleep at 9:00 every night. So apparently I’m no longer the night owl that college once taught me to be. Now you’re really rolling your eyes and telling me to ditch the computer and head over to 4P to see if they have any knitting needles.

We spent an afternoon snorkeling the north end of Sairee Beach one day. Everyone complains about how bad the reef is for shore diving and such so I had to go see for myself. About five minutes in we spotted two baby black tip reef sharks! I can’t get over how adorable baby sharks are! They’re like little miniature versions of the real thing, only about a foot long. Skittish though, they swam off before I could get too close. I guess they don’t like hugs and kisses. Aside from that, Sairee lived up to its reputation.



We spent another afternoon going to Hin Wong Bay. I hadn’t been since my first day on the island back in October when a friendly solo backpacker suggested Fletch and I check it out. It was just as lovely as I'd remembered. We rode our motorbikes until my back tire became incredibly flat and we were forced to park them on the side of the road and walk the rest of the way. Only walking half way, the hike wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered. In fact it wasn’t bad at all. Maybe hauling tanks up and down hills all day is getting me in shape! (Except I haven’t had any work lately so now I just sit around and eat all day). The only thing that had changed was they put up signs all over the beach saying that to use the beach you had to either buy a drink from the bar or pay a 50 baht fee, which isn’t a lot, but the principle of it was annoying. The snorkeling was even better than I remembered. The Pad Thai at the restaurant is still the best Pad Thai on the island (and I’ve tried the majority of it). Hin Wong kitty was still there, fat and happy, a new black and white kitty was also hanging out, who beat orange Hin Wong kitty to my shrimp tails. We went out snorkeling a second time after lunch and I found a sweet swim through. I don’t know what it is about swimming through things that’s so much fun, but I always feel like a little kid at a playground. Mike stepped on a bit of broken glass as we were getting out of the water, so we ended up getting a cab back over the mountain to our bikes.

If you are my mom, you can skip this next paragraph, it deals with motor bikes.

Once at our bikes I remembered that I had a flat tire to deal with. We road slowly, very very slowly, to the gas station where I have seen an air compressor sitting in the parking lot. I drove up to one of the Thai guys, you don’t pump your own gas here, there’s a Thai guy who does it for you, and pointed at my back tire. He walked around the bike giving it a quick once over and shook his head saying “No good. You go mechanic.” Great. I'd barely made it as far as the gas station. So we got back on our bikes and slowly slowly made our way past Sairee, past Mae Haad, and over to Pong’s shop. There were plenty of other mechanics along the way that I could have stopped at, but Kyle and Shawna always go to Pongs, and he had given me a good deal the one time I brought my bike there before for a broken brake handle and a shattered mirror. Only 300 baht to fix both. (Don’t ask me how that happened.) I wheeled my bike into Pong’s and pointed at the flat tire, then remembering I wanted to get new tires anyway, I pointed at a bike with tires with a good deal of tread and asked how much for a set like that. Just a little over 1000 baht. $30 for two brand new tires that I wouldn’t have to stress about slipping and sliding all over the place. Sold. Half an hour later my bike was like new. It’s been a week now and those tires have made all the difference. The ones that come stock on the bike are basically bicycle tires without any tread, just hairline grooves running around them. Every day when I rode to Dive Shop X I would have to drive over a treacherous patch of dirt road, and every day my bike would skid and slide until I tipped it over. At first I just brushed it off as a learning curve, but after my riding skills din’t improve, I started getting frustrated. I tried driving slower. I tried driving slower still. I tried keeping my feet out on either side of the bike and just walking the darned thing. Nothing worked. I got so frustrated I even rode to work with Shawna a couple times. And then I started parking just before the dirt road and walking the rest of the way. Turns out it wasn’t entirely my expert riding skills, it was the little bald bicycle tires. Now I have a brand new set of tires with big beautiful tread and they get me across that dirt road like a charm.

I spent three days with Mike doing his Advanced Open Water course. I brought him over to both of my dive shops to see who could give him a better deal and also refund him my commission. One of my shops is cheaper but doesn’t give out any friends or family discounts, the other one is more expensive but was willing to give him a break, both ended up costing the same in the end so we went with the later, Dive Shop X. Things have been a mess there lately with our head instructor on holiday. I won’t go into it here but teaching Mike for free was the only “work” I’ve had there in ages. The first afternoon Mike and I went out we were the only ones on the boat, so it was nice and relaxed. We went to Tanote Bay to do his Navigation dive, and then the artificial reef at Hin Ngam for his Peak Performance Buoyancy dive. The second was good fun. Every time I’ve been to Hin Ngam I’ve always passed straight through the artificial reef thinking that the divers I’m with are paying good money to see actual reef, they probably don’t want to linger at pieces of metal and concrete. So being with Mike I finally got the chance to go explore it! Theres some barrels you can swim through and some cubes stacked up several stories. Swimming through the cubes was like swimming through the frame of a house foundation underwater. Through the windows you could see an entire school of little silver fish swimming and morphing into different shapes, glittering in the sunlight, completely surrounding the structure. It was quite a nice change from the same old reefs we swim everyday. Of course then I realized that this was Mike’s first time diving in the ocean, and all we ever saw was a sandy patch as we navigated around in shit vis at the first site, and then an artificial reef. Oh well, I still had three dives to show him real reef. 



The second day we started with Search and Recovery at Laem Thien. The visibility was just slightly better than what I’m used to at the reservoir. I left Mike on the boat and went to hide two objects, a small yellow comb and a bright orange dry bag full of weights. For the comb I swam directly north of the mooring line and hid it next to a piece of distinguishable coral. Then hid the dry bag behind a large rock southwest of the mooring line. I returned to the surface to grab Mike for our dive. The trick is to choose the appropriate search pattern for the object you’re looking for. For a small item like a comb, you would employ a circular search pattern. One buddy holds the end of a reel and lets some line out every time a complete rotation is made, and the second buddy holds the other end of the line and swims around in circles while scouring the bottom. Two meters in, Mike had already disappeared so we had to communicate via tugs on the line. He swam around once, twice, three times, I figured he should have found it by now but I let him swim around a forth time, a fifth time, before finally tugging on the line and bringing him back in. I swam north with him to the place the comb should be and it was no where to be found. Brilliant. There goes my 10 baht search and recovery comb. So we moved along to the dry bag. I pointed him in the general direction in which I’d lost the bag of weights and Mike chose an expanding square pattern, a series of ninety degree turns with each leg being slightly longer than the last. It was perfectly executed and the bag was recovered via lift bag to the surface. Nicely done.

On our third day, we had a deep dive at Chumphon Pinnacle followed by a boat dive at Red Rock. Chumphon Pinnacle is my favorite site here that I’ve been to. The visibility on a good day is like it is in the Caribbean, and the schools of fish are incredible. I love Chumphon. Red Rock was a new site for me, and I was grateful that I was diving with Mike for it because he wouldn’t mind if we explored and got lost. There is a cavern at Red Rock, which is quite lovely. It has several entrance and exit points, and the light bouncing off the rocks makes it bright and beautiful. If I had been with actual customers, I would have felt compelled to swim through it once and then continue on with the dive. Since I had Mike with me though I swam in and out of every point of entry again and again until I knew it backwards. We both had good fun.

After the course was finished, we spent a day exploring. One of my friends at work had pointed out a little beach as we were passing it on the boat and so I looked it up on a map and we decided to go find it. There is a main road on the island that runs from north to south along the west side. Once you veer of the main road, you’d think finding your way would be easy enough since the island isn’t very big, but in reality, the roads turn to shit and began curving their way up and down and around every mountain. A lot of them aren’t even drivable unless you’re an expert dirt biker or a local. I swear the locals could drive up the steepest curviest dirt road with my old bald bicycle tires and never tense a muscle. The road we were supposed to be taking though was luckily only dirt for the first few meters, and then turned into a very nice, newly paved road. It was nicer than any road I’ve been on here. It twisted and curved and turned until it finally became a gnarly dirt track again, so we parked our bikes and walked the rest of the way. What we found was a lovely little hide out called Banana Bar. The beach was beautiful, and promised some excellent snorkeling, but we had forgotten to bring snorkel gear and Mike didn’t seem to be too keen on being in the water. So we went to the little bar area, which had different levels scattered with cushions for lounging and ordered some drinks. Excellent spot to chill. I can’t wait to go back with snorkel gear. 



Yesterday was Mike’s last day here and what he wanted to do more than anything was go back to high bar and chill there. High bar is a wonderful place. It just is and that’s all there is to it. In the evening we went out, finally able to get a group of people together (I’m not the only one here who is too exhausted to go out in the evenings, pretty much anyone who isn’t a tourist or an alcoholic here is the same. Or maybe I just have special friends and we all need to start a knitting club together). I got Mike good and addicted to balloons during his stay. He had been hesitant to try them our first night out but I insisted, and then realized that I might have made a horrible mistake, because every subsequent night was spent inhaling copious amounts of laughing gas. Oh Thailand.

This morning Mike caught the 9:30 ferry over to Koh Pha Ngan to continue on his adventure. He was concerned over what the military coup and the 10:00 curfew would mean for his travel plans and I assured him that island life would go on being island life, and to just island hop for a while. I might have been wrong. He called me once he had checked in to his hostel to tell me that the place is dead. He is the only one staying in a hostel which can house up to 100 people and typically has around 50. I had heard through the grape vine that Koh Pha Ngan is still partying, same as always, but apparently the guy who works Mike’s hostel told him that the curfew actually is being enforced there. So I don’t know if it’s just dead because half moon was a few nights ago and that place’s tourists come with the phases of the moon, or if this political nonsense is going a little farther than I thought. We shall see.