Dive trip story


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地点:泰国 普吉 (Phuket, Thailand

We joined the Beijing Diver's Club this year and went to a Lunar New Year party.

Then we went off to Phuket for Mark to get Rescue Diver Certification. (Which includes CPR, secondary assessment skills, and instruction in use of an Automatic External Defibrillator - AED.) See the more detailed story below. While there, Konner got his first taste of the water at the pool of our resort. We took him in about every other day. By the end he seemed to like it. He had learned to close his eyes when he went under water. But to everyone's dismay, especially his, he has not figured out the holding your breath part yet.

Mark took some of his water training alone, but we figured out how to do it with Konner along also. So all three of us went on two dive trips trips together. We left home at 7:45 each morning, and got back about 5pm. These pictures show what happened in between.

Finally, we got a free photo session at a local camera shop, and took the following pictures. Konner was not in a very good mood that day, so didn't smile too much. But we still got a few good ones.


Dive trip story

This is a very quickly written story for the Beijing Dive Club web site. I included lots of contact and price information to help people plan their own trips. Apologies for grammar mistakes, I wrote it very quickly.

Although we initially wanted to go to the Philippines, Ting's passport was valid for less than six months, so they would not give her a visa. (And this $@*&#%! Huko system in China meant that we would have had to go to Hainan to get a new passport. Aint gonna happen in time.) So we settled on Phuket. The Thai embassy said that they would give us a visa, but there was a small chance we would be refused entry because, actually both our passports would expire in under 6 months. Except for Konner's. He could probably stay, but we might have to leave. We decided to take the chance.

This trip had two purposes. The first was for Mark to get his Rescue Diver certification. Mark has a new goal of getting his instructor certification before our new son Konner gets old enough to dive. That way Mark can certify he and his friends. The second was to figure out how to go diving with a baby.

We arrived at midnight, worrying about whether we could get into the country. Not only did they let us in, we got into a special fast immigration line because of the baby. Then a customs officer helped us find a taxi since it was late at night. But first, we tried to get money from the ATM machines at the airport. None worked. But the taxi driver stopped at a large shopping center where we found one that did, and we withdrew some money. Otherwise we would not have been able to pay the driver.

We had arranged one night at the Karron Whale Resort. Although small and in the downtown area of Karron, it was reasonable. The floors, like everywhere we stayed, were tile, which is good for a baby to crawl on. They had a refrigerator, bathtub and also provided a baby bed. But there was no water boiler to make clean water or hot water for the baby's milk. They sent up boiled water when we asked though for free. There is a small pool that you could swim laps in if you wanted to exercise. I went out to find some food, but as it was now about 2am, all I found were women "accidentally" brushing up against me as they "tripped" on the curb. They were not impressed when I told them I couldn't stay out and drink with them because my wife was waiting for me in the room. In the morning, breakfast was a simple buffet. Plenty of fruit, but very disappointingly, the juice was a fruit drink, not real juice. But overall, its not too bad. We paid 1800 Baht that night, which given its central location was probably a reasonable price.

They were full the next day, but helped us get into the Best Western nearby for the same price. This place normally charges a lot more, so they suspiciously did not have a room available for more than one nite. The BW is a nicer place yet, but a little bit of a walk from the beach and the downtown area. But they also had a refrigerator, tile floors, a bathtub, provided a baby bed, and had a water boiler. Too bad we couldn't stay, but they did not have a room available. So that day I had to look for our room for the rest of the trip. There are MANY little stores who make reservations. We also recommend www.latestays.com for some pretty good deals. You can reserve these over the internet, or even call them from Phuket.

After walking a ways, on the spur of the moment, I decided to rent a motor cycles. Unfortunately, I rented it from the first guy on the street I saw renting them. This was a big mistake. I should have gone to a permanent shop of some kind. (More later on this.) Just wanting it to get to hotels quickly, he told me 250 Baht for a day, 200Baht for 4 hours. I took it for a day, even though I was pretty sure I would return it in a few hours.

Well, this is the BEST way to get around. If I didn't have a baby, we would have rented this for the entire week. But it would be too dangerous. I spend the next couple hours going to hotels between Karron and Kata. We had called the Kata Country House earlier, and they had a room open for several days. It was a very small one, but the price was only 980 Baht. Stopping their, it seemed nice, but no bathtub for the baby. Also, no baby bed. They said they would hold it until 6:30, but I kept driving. And driving. And driving. Everything was either full or expensive. We decided to take the Kata Country House room.

But when I returned the motorcycle, the renter, who ran a small fruit stand, accused me of having an accident and damaging it. I owed him 400 Baht. I had no problems at all, so I said no. He had my driver's license, or else I would have walked away. He proceeded to show me small damaged areas on the motorcycle and say that I must have caused them. He focused on a reasonably large scrape on the basket. I told him to look carefully, there was rust along the whole scrape. Metal does not rust in 4 hours. He eventually came down to 200 Baht, but since I certainly had no accident, I still said no. Then I went to call the police. The police got there, and the vendor would not change his claim against me. So I got on back of the police motorcycle and went down to a small police station on the main road toward Kata. There, we talked to the office in charge, and the vendor showed him the damage, focusing again on the rusty scratch on the basket. When I showed him the rust, it was all over. He was talking in Thai, but it was obvious he was saying the same thing. "Metal doesn't rust this quickly." The vendor gave me back my license and went home. I apologized to the police officer for making such a big problem over such a small amount of money. We both smiled, and they gave me a ride back to the hotel. This was the only incident that marred the trip. Everyone else we met went out of their way to be nice to us.

The next day we moved to Kata Country House (www.katacountryhouse.com - except this internet site is blocked by the Chinese government firewall, so you probably cant see it.) By that time, they had somehow found a small baby bed and a water boiler. Wow. And the staff was extremely nice. The only remaining negative was no bathtub. This was a problem thru the entire trip, as its hard to give a 9 month old baby a shower every night. But at 900 Baht, we were happy anyways. We were still happy when we moved to a bigger room half way thru at about 1400 Baht per nite. The Kata Country House was just the right level of price versus quality for a dive trip. The KCH is a very simple relaxed place, but clean and everyone was very nice. The rooms (even the deluxe one we moved to) have no television, which we liked. (Maybe the Superior one does - I don't know.) But there was also only one electrical outlet. (I wish we had brought an extension cord.) There was also no telephone, which is only a problem because if you make phone calls at the desk, they will charge you 10 Baht per minute for a local call and 20 Baht per minute for a call to a mobile phone. They have a small store with reasonable prices on juice and candy bars. The area is quiet, unlike the Whale Resort. The beach is about a 15 minute walk away, but they have a relaxing pool area. If I were not diving, I would like to stay at one of the hotels on the beach, which are at least twice as expensive. But one or both of us were gone almost every day for diving, so this didnt make sense. We will definitely try to stay here on our next dive trip to Phuket also.

Breakfasts at KCH are simple, maybe a bit too simple. No brunch, just a choice between four small "sets". I ate fried egg, toast, and juice everyday, but they had others. They did make a hard boiled egg every day for Konner. Turns out that their restaurant was very good though. And reasonably priced compared to the other places in the area we tried over the rest of our stay. The best one was the one Brendan and Sarah took us to, but we don't know the name or how to get there. You'll have to ask them. Of the others, one other was best food, one was best value, and one was in the middle. If you want to know more about the restaurants nearby, just send us an email.

Although our own planning was horribly last minute, some help from Brendan and Sarah saved us. (www.phuketdiver.com) They arranged Mark's Rescur Diver training, gave us a recommendation for Kata Country House which we liked very much, and also recommended a good dive shop to buy some gear for Ting. (We looked at others and ended up buying at the one they recommended.)

They dive shop we used was South Siam Divers. (www.southsiamdivers.com Tel: +66-76-286016~18.) They have a nice set of classrooms, and Mark's instructor, Angus Mason-Penny from Ireland, was very knowledgeable, especially for the Medic First Aid class as he had done similar work in the military for a while. They have three boats. Once goes to Raja Yai every day for student and easy diving. Another goes to other locations such as Shark Point, King Cruiser, and Koh Dak Mai on different days. And another either goes to or stays up in the Similans. See the pictures for a couple of the Raja Yai boat. (By the way, look for the dive trips with 3 dives on them. They are only a little more expensive than the 2 dive trips so worth it.) I would recommend South Siam if you want to take a class and are looking for the lowest cost available. The cost does not include the books, which was a mistake on my part. I should have bought them anyways. But of course they loaned me books for the duration of the class. But they are friendly, knowledgeable and drove Mark to and from the class every day. People on the boat also said that they had some of the best food of all the daily dive boats.

First dive trip was to Bungalow Bay at Racha Yai for Mark's certification. Mark went alone to check out the boat and see if we could bring a baby on board. 29 degree water. Two easy dives to practice rescue diver skills. Lots of giant clams, a lion fish and the first stone fish I have ever seen. The next day, they forgot to pick Mark up in the morning, so we got a free day. This was because we changed the class from a 3 day class to a 4 day class at the last minute, and this wasn't communicated to the people in charge of the dive boat. But its definitely worth taking the extra day to practice if you can. And you get a couple extra dives out of it too.

The next day, Ting and Konner came along and we went back to Bungalow Bay. They agreed to charge Ting only as a skin diver. Konner of course was free. It was pretty scary bringing a baby on a boat, especially when we had no life preserver that fit him. But we figured if anything happened, we could carry hold him for a long time wearing scuba gear, as the water was warm. And the route to the dive location was well traveled, so we would get picked up soon anyways. (The dive location is in a cove, so we could get to shore if anything happened while anchored.) That said, we had some rules anyways.

  1) Baby is always in the carrier going on and off the boat.
  2) Baby never leaves the enclosed cabin area while the boat is moving.
  3) Its OK to take baby outside the cabin area if the boat is stopped, but he must be in the carrier.

These served us well. On this trip, Mark did one dive for his course, and practiced some other rescue procedures on the surface over lunch. Ting went on the second dive, while Mark watched Konner. We couldn't dive together, but we both got to dive. This will probably be the scenario until Konner is much older.

Next day we took off, and the following day, Mark went to Shark Point, Kind Cruiser, and Koh Dak Mai alone. Some very nice dives. Quick summary of these dives.

King Cruiser (#77):87m Catamaran passenger ferry that sank in 1997. 25m beam. Deck depths are 4@14m, 3@ 17m, 2@24m, 1@28m and the floor at 32m. Going to the propeller can lead to a decompression dive if you are not careful. (We didn't find it as it was covered in silt.) Saw a number of 3-4 fish groups of Lion Fish and a very large stone fish. (porcupine fish?). On ascent saw a 30-40cm Medusa Jellyfish nearby on the surface. They do *not*& have long tentacles like the Man-o-war, and seems to swim deliberately rather than just ride the current. They have a very distinctive dark orange "brainy" mass in the middle. Apparently a sting means you get rushed home in a speedboat. Max depth 29.4m.

Shark Point (#78): On entry, I was the last down, and saw a school of barracuda (100 to 150 fish) above the other divers. At the bottom, was a 1.5m leopard shark close by. That's my first of that type of shark. There were Lion Fish all over, sometimes 5 or 6 in a group. Several stonefish, a couple varieties of puffer fish - one white, and a 4-5cm seahorse in a coral head. Some areas here have moderately strong currents. Max depth 18.7m.

Koh Dok Mai (#79): This is a nice wall dive with a couple of small caves. People looked inside the entrances of them, but I didn't go in either as I had no light and was starting to get tired on my third dive. Many moray eels, about the second sea snake I've ever seen (swimming down and away from me thank goodness), a school of squid (hard to tell what they are at first while they are swimming), and a yellow moray eel with brown spots sharing a hole with a typical brown colored one. I wonder if the yellow color means anything, perhaps a different gender? This would have been a nice dive to bring a light and a camera on, although it is a reasonably well dived location, so visibility was not great at times. Max depth 18.2.

After another rest day, we went back on the boat to Raja Ya, so Ting could get some diving in. She needs to build up a little more experience alone. After Ting's first dive, we got a nice surprise. There were not many people on the boat that day, so one of the instructors volunteered to hold Konner if we wanted to go on a quick dive together. So although unexpected, Mark got to make dive #80 with Ting. Saw several blue spotted rays in the sand and chased after a few. Got to hover less than a meter over one and take a good look.

On our days off, we made a couple trips into Patong to look for equipment for Ting. Instead of a Tuk Tuk, someone from the hotel found a driver with a nice car. (And a big trunk for the baby stroller.) We did not feel safe in a Tuk Tuk with no doors or windows while we had a baby. Initial price was 250 Baht one way. Of course he wanted to arrange a time and pick us up for the return trip also. Another two hundred. But after asking, he said he would stay with us the and drive us around in between also, for another 100. Total 600 for about 5 hours. He just parked and waited. We felt bad that we went to eat dinner while he was waiting, but I guess that's the life of a driver. We never did get his name, but his phone number is 06-9414015. We recommend calling him, especially if you are in Kata area. We used his services another day also when we had a lot of little errands to run. It went a bit longer, so he asked for 700 instead. Then we arranged for him to take us to the airport when we left also. He was always punctual and helpful.

The 1am flight home to Beijing was uneventful, and we slept the rest of the day, to "recover from our vacation." :-)



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本辑照片:Mark and Ting 版权所有,未经许可不得转载