Day 3, 4 and 5- A Dive Fail, Still Need Work to Finally

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How do 4 dives prepare you for diving? They face you the basics, a heavy information dump through the PADI scuba diving program and 4 dives before you can get certified as an open water diver.

let’s just say I needed a few more dives o get comfortable with BWRAR, all the different processes and just getting used o being in the water. I could have stopped and moved on but I’m determined to finish the 2 courses, because I said I would and I will be the guy that will do what he says.

My third dive was basically a shit show. I was massively overweighted with 8 weights on me when I jumped in the water. I was off the entire time but my instructor gave me feedback and I was able to recover the next dive but the damage was done.

I did 2 more dives the next day and me and my buddy lost the leads because of poor visibility. Finally I have the Easy Divers people so much trouble they had me repeat the 3rd and 4th dives and those went well. It was just me and an instructor and finally show said I was good to go.

The good thing about being in Kho Tao was that a friend was also there, for a few days doing the same course. He left today and I probably will never see the dude but he was a great guy who was always up to have some fun and was always honest hen we talked which I respect a lot.

So now I’m on my own completely now, no one I know just me, my thoughts and some more diving to get through. hey it took me longer to get the open water but all that meant was a few more days on the island and more diving, that ain’t bad at all.

My challenge will be to find people to hang out with but I know I’ll make it work. I’m starting to think about what p do when I get my passport back, where too next and whet should I do? If you have any suggestions then fire away, I need the help.

I have one more dive tonight, which is for the advanced open water course and its the night dive, wish me luck cause this is gonna be different because there will a whole new world awakens when the day decides to sleep.

Day 2 Diving – I need to learn how to swim

So today we had to so some classroom work and 2 dives but before we went for the dive we had to do the swim test. This is what I was dreading cause I’m landlocked and can barely swim. I wanted to just go out and do it but what I really needed to do was pace myself and take it nice and slow. I didn’t and paid for it. I count inured on but it was embarrassing and rough but it felt good to face the fear, it felt good not to feel the panic but to realize that there is a way through it. So whenever I go to a place with a pool I will try to use it for an hour and practice how to swim and float. I hate being that guy but what would be worse is getting into a situation where I need to have the ability to swim and not be able to. It’s one of those moments and that’s OK, that’s part of what doing what you fear is about. It’s not just to prove you can but where you stand so if I can’t so it today I can set goals and a plan so I can so it tomorrow.

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Wake up call on Kho Tao – Let’s Dive

So here I am, on the island of Kho Tao and I’m doing what everyone that comes here to do, dive and I am not even much of a swimmer. I have no laptop, so this post is slowing being done via my ancient iPhone 3GS. Will get a new one at some point just waiting and tryindwarves age some money.

Funny I say that when taking both the open water course and the advanced is more than 17,000 THB but I tried to save my money before and it meant that now someone else had it, so for the next few days I wanted to live and experience something completely new.

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I don’t spend money because I try to stretch my dollar and that has been such a blessing but I will have to find balance and take responsibility and doing something like diving can only help me find new ways to see the world to help me with the long game which is a story I am trying to develop.

I am not sure I can post that often if only because I have no laptop but maybe getting away from most tech isn’t a bad call, maybe I need to see who I am without it to discover the person that I feel I’ve lost.

So off to diving school with Easy Divers. All the dive schools offer the open water for about 9000 some with accommodations where others you pay extra, do it based on the people. There will be quirks and different ways they teach you, along with different class sizes but take smaller if you can get it and just let go of your fear.

I may not even be able to dive because a doctor has to give me the OK because I answered yes to having diabetes and that also costs an extra 200 THB but I will remain hopeful that it will be a go because I am nervous because it makes me feel uncomfortable I know it is the right thing to do for me.

All the diving schools follow PADI so you will get a standardized set of instructions but its not just about what you learn but how, that’s going to be the key difference that will make it an unforgettable experience or make you want to return to be land locked.

Have an open mind, a sense of adventure and a respect for the wonder, majesty and terrifying power of the water and you will do fine. Actually I have no idea if that is true because I’m just stating this all out now, but I believe this will be a good day and that’s as good a place to start as any.

It all Started with Beer Pong…

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It all starts with Beer Pong

Last Wednesday was a great day, I got a chance to ride a scooter and go up a mountain in Chiang Mai. The evening started out great and then it became a shit show after we went to a bar and my bag was lost or stolen, it also happened to be the bag that happened to have my documents and a computer. Why the hell would I carry my laptop up a mountain, I was an idiot but because I didn’t have a place to lock it up at the hostel, they had locks for some lockers but thought carrying it would be OK and I felt more in control that way.

Suffice it I was screwed and not in a good way and I learned a very hard lesson the easiest stuff to lose or get nicked is the stuff you always have on you. I met 3 people who had their wallets stolen, several who got their phones swiped and a bunch of others who had lost something along the way. The cliche is right, it just takes one moment for you to become a target and your stuff in someone else’s hands.

So what I’ve learned is when I go to a bar, bring nothing but money, in Thailand they don’t check your ID so you don’t need to bring it. I’ll leave everything else behind but that and a piece of paper telling a cab or tuk tuk where I’m staying in case I get too drunk.

Carry money in more than one place, have a hidden spot for extra cash in case I get pick pocketed like a money belt or if you are wearing shoes you can put it in your sock.

If you are travelling with gear take the travel insurance that covers your still, you’ll be glad you had it if you get your items lost or stolen.

Keep your backup copies of your documents and digital backups separate from the originals so if you lose one you are covered in case one is lost.

If you carry a bag with you make sure it is easy to get things in and out but can easily be secured, and never ever take it off.

Keep a lock with your main pack so if they have lockers you can use them easily.

If you leave money at the hostel, put it in an envelope, count it, seal it and write your name on the flap that’s sealed so you know if anyone stole anything immediately. (This is from Sakik Naismith who has a wealth of travel experience)

So after it happened I checked the places I was the night before, asked my friends what happened and when they said they didn’t find anything I went to the police and filed a police report. Do that before you go to the embassy because at least for the Canadian Embassy, they want to see the police report so they know it was stolen. I suggest you make sure get a print out of all the documents you will need before you go, references, other proof of identification, photos for a new passport, the police report and just have it ready so you can get the process started as quickly as possible.

Don’t wait because you don’t know what the person who has your passport could do with it in the mean time. Most likely it will be sold to the criminal underground so they can be forged and sold. Having a report and going to the embassy right away shows you didn’t waste time in case it is used in some sort of illegal act.

I’m a negative, cynical bastard but am trying to take this on the chin. It was my noob travel nature that got me into this mess and I had to get myself out of it. I’m taking a big financial hit because of it but it doesn’t want me to stop it makes me want to forge ahead and see if I can make up some lost ground.

Want to thank Ian Ord and his girl for giving me a place to send my emergency credit card and Marianne Olinares for the pasta. Still getting used to everything but not gonna let a little theft stop me. Then they win and they shall not.

There are so many people that lent an ear, helped me out that I am more encouraged by people than ever before, to all of you thanks and I’ll buy the beer next time we meet.

Doi Suthep-Pui by Scooter

So I was supposed to leave Chiang Mai and go north a few hours to Pai to take in the Thai version of hippie culture but that didn’t end up happening. On Wednesday me and 3 friends I met while traveling went up to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park which is just northeast of Chiang Mai.

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This is what you have to expect, its the rainy season

It’s easy to reach and is transverse by car or motorbike to a point until the roads start to narrow. It was a good day, we visited Wat Phra That Doi Suthep that had an amazing view of Chiang Mai but the fog was ubiquitous because of the rainy skies. You had to go up a huge staircase to visit the Wat and as always had to remove your shoes before entering the inner sanctum. It’s founding follows the legend of the White Elephant which you can read about on Wikipedia here.

Quite the walk but I raced it going down

Quite the walk but I raced it going down

Then we were late to visit Bhubing Palace which closes at 3:30 pm. So make sure you give yourself time to get up to it. We actually got there in time but were starving. So we had lunch first and just as we were done it closed. We got to a viewpoint but the weather was rainy that day which meant we were in a fog soup, making any view non existent.

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Closed at 3:30pm come on no one goes there after that

Then the roads began to contract and shrink to motorbike size, although that never stopped cars from using them, with almost no room to maneuver at all, but they seem to manage remarkably well. We thought it was 13 km to the summit but it was well more than double that.

There isn’t a gas station once you start your incline up the summit so make sure to have at least 3 quarters of a tank to get both up and down. If you really need fuel, little stops will sell them for the highway robbery price of 50 THB a liter but when you need it, you need it so what can you do.

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A coffee shop on the way to the summit (which we never made it to)

We continued up the road and ended up going to coffee shop at a research station that had a picturesque view of the area and then to a Hmong Village instead of the summit. We started down a road that became a path that became a trail but we ended up just turning back and going to the village instead. We stopped at this little coffee shop on the way.

The village was one where coffee was grown and you could taste the difference in it, as they were freshly ground and roasted as you watched. I wasn’t driving the bike although I wanted to but that meant I could take pictures along the way which I thought was a fair trade at least until it started to rain.

Hanging on the mountain

Hanging on the mountain

We saw a bunch of kids just playing around and it shows you how universal kids are, they played outside in a village on a mountain. Now that my friends is cool, they looked so happy and didn’t need an electronic device to do it. It reminds you how much we’ve come to depend on our devices and that is great and powerful but almost divorces us from the world we see every day, I know it does for me.

A view from a mountain in the dark

A view from a mountain in the dark

Going down in the dark was a much faster ride, as Pascal the driver on my bike had gotten used to the ride all 4 of us blazed down the mountain ready to call it a night. Afterward we had dinner at a place in the old city. Shazaan said it was always packed and I have no idea what it was but it was good and relatively cheap compared to the first cup of coffee I had when I first got to Bangkok.

I think the cool day made it easier to do because although we got some rain it came and went just as fast. We were not sweating and it felt more like fall in the Northeast than Asia and that was a nice change of pace after weeks of heat and constant sweating.

We chilled at Julie’s Guest House before wandering down Loy Kroh road where they had a massage, we played pool and played a game of Beer Pong. That’s when good became bad and I got screwed and it all started with that game of Beer Pong at the Playhouse. I’m still dealing with the ripples of it, but I’ll get into that later, when I’ve worked though the roadblocks.

 

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