Friday, July 10, 2009

a three hour tour

Last Tuesday was the beginning of Buddhist lent. This marks the three month period when most 20 year old men become monks. I have nothing insightful to say about that, I've been woefully negligent in exploring the religion here.

But it meant that I got the day off work. In addition, my classes were canceled on Monday so I got an unexpected three day weekend! A few other teachers and I decided to go to Ko Samet for some R&R. One thing that we all wanted to do was go on a mini-cruise around the island. For 400 baht ($11.50) you get to spend the day sitting in well worn deck chairs on a delightfully decrepit boat, do a little snorkeling, visit a fish farm, have lunch on the boat and basically just chill out. I'd been wanting to do this for a while, but didn't quite have the guts to go alone so I was really looking forward to it.

Our more or less sea-worthy vessel.

The first inkling that we had that it wouldn't quite be all we'd hoped for was when we were delayed for about an hour by a rainstorm. No problem, we sat in a cafe sipping on cha yen and watching the clouds roll in over the water. I really enjoy storm watching, I have to say. And the monsoon winds were refreshing in the 90F heat. There was no talk of canceling the trip due to bad weather... something I love about Thailand (and Oregon too for that matter) - you just go for it. And as soon as it dried up a bit we were on our way.

Not far from the pier was our first stop - the fish farm! Now I'm not sure if this is supposed to be some kind of aquarium, or if this is where the island's supply of seafood comes from or what. There were some ugly looking silvery big headed fish, a sea turtle, and an impressive leopard shark.

I failed to get a single decent photo of the fish - that you can see anything at all in this picture is a tribute to Microsoft Picture Editor. =P

Back on the boat we began our three hour tour. Well, the weather started getting rough, and our tiny ship was tossed. There was lightning in the distance and watching the dark clouds roll in against the lighter skies on the other side of the island was quite spectacular. With a mighty ba BOOM the rains started again. Between the waves we were crashing into and the rain blowing into the boat I decided it was not the best environment for my brand new camera. You'll have to take my word for it... it was something!

It had let up a bit when we made our first snorkeling/swimming stop. Several of us took a flying leap off the side of the boat to go for a swim. It was actually warmer in the water than it had been up on the boat. Naturally ... the rain started up again, but we thought- what's the point of getting out of the water? We were already as wet as we were going to get... so we just stayed bobbing in the waves and screaming into the pounding rain. It was really really really fun. If you've never gone swimming in the rain, I highly recommend it. Yeah yeah... lightning and all... but you only live once.

They called us back on board for lunch - chicken kebabs, fried rice and fresh fruit. Yummy! Poor Marie wasn't doing that well. Even when the rain stopped the winds and waves were pretty strong (for the gulf of Thailand anyway) and she ended up yakking over the side of the boat. Never a dull moment!

When we stopped for the second snorkeling opportunity of the day the weather was substantially better, but the water was so cloudy we couldn't see anything. In fact, I was right on top of a coral covered rock and didn't realize it until I turned around and there it was, two feet from my face - and still so blurry it wasn't worth looking at. So again we just swam around, and jumped off the side of the boat a few more times.

A member of the fearless crew.

All told it was a lot of fun, and very relaxing. I would like to go again when the weather is calmer so I could actually see some fish. But any day I can be out in the ocean is a good day for me.

Especially if that day finishes up with a few drinks at the bar. =)
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Bezzie said...

That looks like a fun trip! I probably would have skipped it though--that weather and me not being able to swim? I would have been a drowned Gilligan!

Rebel said...

yeah bezzie... lets keep you on dry land. =P