Day 9 began with a short walk to our dive shop and a quick breakfast at their restaurant across the street. We got fitted, suited up, and got on a taxi to the pier.
A quick 30 minute or so ride to the small island off the coast of Koh Tao brought us to our diving site.
Which was full of other boats and divers. Unfortunately, in the excitement of the day I forgot to take any pictures of the boat, dive spot, or anything of the sort.... Sorry! So I'll try to explain it instead. Our dive shop, a smaller, more intimate group of divers, brought us to what is known as the Japanese Garden - a small cove full of coral reef and marine life. We had a lot of people on our boat doing "discover scuba" which is basically an intro course into diving where you learn all the basics and don't go more than 6M under the water. I decided to do a refresher course since it has been over 3 years since my last dive in Florida with my college crew. The basics were the refresher course in about 10 feet of water, a small dive after, lunch and one deeper dive in the afternoon. The refresher course was great, and my instructor Lexi was a fantastic guide back into scuba ( we actually had dinner with her and some of the scuba friends later that night).
The first dive was a bit bazaar because there were a bunch of other tourists snorkling in the area who kept waiving at us and throwing up the "peace" sign. There were also these small fish called Cleaner Wrasse (*insert clever pun here*) that nipped at anything discolored on your body. So, some scrapes I collected were promptly "cleaned." Thanks guys.... Plenty of Angel fish floating around and some beautiful parrot fish were the most picturesque in the water.
The second dive was much deeper (comparatively) to the first, and we saw much more wildlife, including a trigger fish, which apparently can be quite nasty if you get in their territory (head butts, biting, etc). I could talk for days about it all, but suffice it to say, I caught the scuba bug again.
This is the view back after we left our spot later that day. Every view in this place is breath taking.
Here's an attempted pano on some choppy seas of the island of Koh Tao. Some parts are a little funky, but it gives you a good idea of the overall feel.
After some confusion the previous day about the actual date we were leaving, we decided to take the night ferry to Surat Thani (mainland Thailand) and catch a plane to Bangkok. This is undoubtedly one of the most miserable experiences of the trip so far. Not even an ambien could cure the night. Remember how hot and humid I said Thailand is? Well, imagine a 6 hour boat ride full of backpacker tourists, inside, on used mattresses with basically just fans blowing. Add the guy next to me coughing and literally laying his leg across my body in the middle of the night and you get the idea. At one point I actually went outside and fell asleep because there was more air flow on the top deck.
Here's The best photo I could get of a fishing trawler out in the Gulf as we passed by late at night. The amount of light they shine is incredible.
5am the next morning and we're finally off this ferry. Thank god. Unfortunately, all travel companies from the island are run through 3rd parties run through another 3rd party run through a network of locals, so we got shuttled to a local restaurant to wait for a few hours before our next shuttle would arrive to take us to the airport.
Finally leaving the city at dawn.
The countryside here was gorgeous this morning.
Here's a short video of the ride we took in the back of a van with another German tourist.
... And another snowing the craziness of the driving here.
A few more pictures of the countryside.
After a long night and a bit of a rough morning, we made it to the airport. Off to Bangkok!
We made it into Bangkok, and after a 30 minute cab ride to the city center, we go to our hotel. Which had the tiniest elevators I've ever seen. Kim got trapped.
Practically starved and dehydrated, we recouped in a fantastic side-street find with some curry and won ton soup.
This is just one of the many intersections we ran into (albeit one of the biggest) on our first day. Bangkok is a crazy hustle and bustle city that is constantly moving at all times. It is 3-4 times as densely populated as the U.S. and clashes with the old and the new, the clean and the dirty, the run down and the modern.
And one more for good measure. The driving and bikers in this city are incredible. I cannot believe I didn't see an accident while I was here. Don't even think about crossing the roads here unless you have a cross walk. They've built sky bridges.
To give you a sense of the craziness, here's a time lapse of the street. Notice the bikes -- there are lanes painted, but no one really uses them like in the U.S.
They also have a fantastic train system (I believe entirely automated) that we used several times due to the congestion on the streets and the traffic.
Here's a view of the inside of the "Sky Tram"
And just a note that this country takes Buddhism very seriously.
While subsequently getting on the wrong train, we came across this huge, beautiful park in downtown Sukhumvit (area where we are staying in Bangkok).
We finally made it back to the hotel. Very interesting small rooms with crazy colored lighting and an electronic sunshade that rolled down the large window facing the street/a parking garage.
Day 10 ended with room service and this... (In a deep, male voice "When he murders your entire family, but then tries to repent... What happens? My heart... twinkle twinkle).