So one day of diving was not enough. The next day I went again because we went off of Ko Phi Phi where the visibility is even better. This time we had a big boat with more people. The trip out took about 1.5 hours and the ride was beautiful as we passed the different islands. This time I wasn’t nervous and couldn’t wait to get in the water.
There were four of us this time led again by Marie. We descended 18m and saw beautiful corral and fish. We saw a huge manta shrimp, a big lobster, lots of Nemos (so cute with dad, mom and baby to each anemone), trigger fish, lion fish, a sting ray, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs and much more. Nudibranch: We didn’t see any turtles or sharks unfortunately. We went through a swim through, which was really cool and followed the corral gardens around and around. The visibility was around 15m. After an hour we resurfaced for lunch. The next dive wasn’t around an island, but just a rock that’s only visible in low tide: It was a sandier dive with less corral, but more chances of seeing a shark. We circled around the rock checking out eels and worms. I was finding this dive a little less exciting than the others… until we found the shark! Towards the end of the dive we came upon a leopard shark lying in the sand. He was pretty big and had his little symbiotic fish friend on his left fin. He just sat there as we took turns getting within a meter or so and taking a photo. I didn’t want to leave him, but we had to hurry since our air was getting low. The boat ride back was perfect as we sat on the bow in the sun eating pineapple.
Some people rightly call this place fat camp. The trails are steep and most spend their days diving and climbing. My bungalow is way up the hill and is often exhausting at the end of the day, but it’s good for me. That evening after diving I hiked up the hill feeling tired and happy. But when I got to my bungalow it had obviously been raided. The mosquito net was down, my tripod was tipped over and stuff was everywhere. The only logical answer was monkeys. Damn monkeys! They trashed my place looking for food or perhaps just for fun. There was no food for them to find and after looking around I don’t think they took anything. I’d heard about them chewing passports and spitting them out or stealing cell phones so I guess I got lucky. But sand was in my bed and bigger holes had been ripped in the mosquito net. All apart of the Ton Sai experience I guess.
That night was Akem’s last night so we all headed to Sawadee Bar. He requested Sublime and the usual slack-lining and drinking followed. The crew from the dive showed up and it was a great time. I got the impulse to share the tricks I’d learned in the Akha village so I borrowed a pool cue. It was really fun teaching everyone the tricks and people added to them as well. I have no idea how late I was up, but I didn’t leave until the electricity went out at the bar.
The next day ended up being a beach day. I followed a group heading to Phra Nang beach. It’s at the tip of the peninsula past Rai Lei. It has beautiful white sand and a huge rock protruding from the sea just off shore.
It also has lots of tourists- resort tourists. It’s odd to see fancy resorts in Rai Lei, just around the corner from Ton Sai. I much prefer the atmosphere at Ton Sai with no resorts or people trying to sell you things. The swimming was nice and I ordered some phad thai from a long tail boat.
I felt like I was burning in the sun so I headed back to read my book in the quiet shade. That night I met up with Marie and ended up eating dinner with a bunch of Frenchies. Well, two French and two Swiss. It was wonderful to speak French. After good food and then a game of Shithead (cards) at the Experience Bar (Jimmy Hendricks inspired) with my diving buddy, I headed for bed.
The following two days I did get to climb. The first time with Michel my neighbor from Montreal. In the afternoon we headed to Cobra wall. You can only dryly walk there during low tide and the start of the climbs are up on a narrow shelf. Seeing as falling would be painful, I didn’t lead climb, but ascended three 6a’s. I didn’t feel super strong and now see why people say climbing in Thailand is harder than other places. The next day I couldn’t find anyone to partner with. So I did some yoga on the beach. The beach is the perfect place for yoga with the waves rolling in and the breeze keeping you cool. Afterwards I wondered back to the wall to see if I could find someone. The Frenchies were going to rest, but introduced me to Sebastian from Finland. We headed to The Nest. The first climb was good, but I couldn’t’ get the second one. Maybe it’s the heat that makes me weak ;).
My plan was to venture out from this place and see more of Southern Thailand. Now that it’s Monday and I have to fly to Bangkok on Weds, I don’t’ think that’s going to happen. Every time I thought about leaving I couldn’t think of a reason why I would. Besides everyone tells me this is the best place anyway. I will miss it. Even the monkeys.