Back alone again, still in paradise.. with bed bugs..ouch!
03.01.2010 - 26.01.2010 32 °C
The day after, I went to Paradise Island, Koh Tao. A long ride brought me there. I wanted to go back here to do some more diving, learn freediving and hopefully, see a whaleshark. Upon arrival, it turned out that the 2nd of Jan (I arrive the 3th in the morning), a whaleshark had been spotted! And, the third, people also saw a whaleshark. News spread around the island. I booked 2 dives for the 4th of january and I checked in to Prick Tai, the place where I stayed in October. The woman working there recognised me and was happy I came back. I walked 30 minutes from the pier with backpack to get here.
The next morning I got up at 6 and was ready at 6.20. Ready for 2 dives! We went down and I have to say, the first dive was not the easiest. At first I had difficulties with equalising my ears. It took a few minutes. The woman from our group needed some time to relax, because she had a 'panic breath' as she called it. And my Hungarian 'buddy' was swimming everywhere around, making pictures with his underwater camera. Very annoying. I had to swim after him all the time. Buddies stay together in case something happens. But he kept on swimming away from the rest of the group.
We did see a lot of interesting stuff. Also, 2 manta rays. Amazing! But unfortunately no whaleshark.
The second dive went a lot better and everyone stayed a lot closer to his/her buddy.
I had 2 more dives another day. This time with Paul as the divemaster. I like his attitude. So this promised to be a better dive. I was buddies with a guy that was training at Seashell Divers, to become a divemaster. Looks like a good buddy, right? No..again not. And I am very surprised for this. This guy also swam off all the time. And at moments, I was like 'fuck it', I stay closed to the rest of the group and our divemaster Paul. I am not going to follow you all the time. He kept on swimming off, and me, as a buddy, should stay close. Or..but apparently, he didn't think of that, she should stay close to me. Surprisingly, he is going to be a divemaster soon and a teacher later.
There was another couple from Germany. I was jealous of the way they did the dive. They were buddied up and stayed about 2 metres next to each other all the dive. Same level, and next to each other. Relaxed, always knowing where the buddy is. In case there is an emergency, you need 2 seconds to notice. They kept giving signals and pointed fish at each other. My buddy was 10 metres away from me, 5 metres below, or higher. Sometimes I didn't even know where he was. Imagine, if something goes wrong. I made hand signals, but even when he swam next to me, 80% of the times, he didn't even notice. Well, Paul was there too, so I just stayed close to Paul.
The second dive was the best. Shark Island. But no, here, no sharks. But..a lot of current. Very interesting to dive with some current. We saw the common, but beautifull fishes again.Paul was even attacked by a Trigger fish. But no worries, he knew how to respond.
The first dive, about 10 minutes of the dive were magical. We passed along a cliff and a enormous school of fishes were hanging around--!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(which species). All 5 of us went to this school and we were surrounded by thousands of fishes. What a magical moment. In a swarm of all yellow. Sometimes I looked at one individual fish, sometimes at part of the group. You see them all around, but as soon as you start making a movement, they move just out of reach. They stay on about 30 centimetres.
Leo was at another Island. He replaced a teacher that was on holiday. I only saw him a few times, but I didn't dive with him.
During my first 3 nights on Koh Tao, I was having a lot of bad luck. After the first night, I went staight to Seashell Divers. When I came back, I noticed there were some blood stains on the bed. I thought that maybe they didn't change the sheets, so I asked to change. Very strange.
The next morning, I woke up, and had to scratch a lot. And then I realised I had bed bugs in the bed and in the room. These fucking animals suck your blood and make very annoying bites. It itches even more than mosquito bites. I checked and realised half my back, part of my arms and legs were covered with red bites. And now, it started to itch more and more. I told the woman of the resort and showed her a picture of the bed bug. She ordered someone to spray the room. But after I showed the picture, and explained what happened, her attitude changed completely. Before, she was always friendly, smiling, making jokes with me. Now, no more eye contact, super 'official'. But not really offering a solution. There was no other free room. Again, this fucking 'losing face'. Kind of what I had in Kuala Lumpur. I didn't insult, I just said, even with a smile, what happened and I came with a solution. Spraying the room, or changing room. But, apparently, because of the picture, the proof, she felt insulted, or was ashamed. I gave it one more change. One more night. I knew that it was highs season and it was difficult finding a decently priced room. And..i wanted to stay on Koh Tao. This evening, before I went to bed, I sprayed a lot of corners, gaps in the wood and more with anti-mosquito spray. I was pretty sure that all the bed bugs were gone. I went for a shower and when I came back, I noticed over 50 bed bugs crawling everywhere. One by one, I sprayed them and burned them with a lighter. The mosquito spray makes a great fuel for fire. They pop like popcorn.
I made a circle of mosquito spray around my bed. But unfortunately, the bed was only a matrass. So everything touched the ground. At some places, in the cracks of the wood, the mosquito spray dried up. So this part couldn't protect me. I took in total about 2 hours to annihilate as much of these creepers as I couldn't. But with limited success, as it turned out. In the middle of the night, I woke up and felt itchy. Just when I opened my eyes, I noticed one of these creepers sucking my blood from my arm. I brushed him off my arm and knew next early morning I would check out here.
In the middle of the night I sent an email to my girlfriend. Since I didn't want to sleep due to the bed bugs, she got an email at 4 in the morning. I checked for alternative places and looked for general info on Koh Tao. Around 5 am I went back to my room. I sprayed everywhere again, put on the light (the bed bugs don't like light) and went to 'sleep'. The next morning I checked out. I didn't say anything about the fuckers (bed bugs). I didn't want to have this whole circus of the stupid 'losing face' again. It's very sad. People here are extremely friendly and nice. And we, Europeans, can learn a lot from there friendliness and hospitality (not to mention the cooking). But when it comes to, even politely, pointing out a problem, it's 'losing face' and they feel so ashamed that there is absolutely nothing they will do. They probably just hope you leave and never come back.
And so I did.
I left and looked for a decent place. No romantic wooden beach bungalow anymore for me. I looked for a place made out of concrete. No gaps, no cracks for potential bed bugs, mosquito or other creeps. I ended up in a nice Chinese hotel. Just next to the main road, but silent in my room. I checked in and slept for 12 hours and woke up in the early evening. All with all, I lost about 4 days to the bed bugs. Most of the days, I slept in the day, light on. This, to catch up with the sleep I didn't have during the night.
This hotel was clean, no holes, cracks or other hiding places. Fan, cold water. 500 bath, 12,50 euro. I was happy.
I had dinner in a place opposite the hotel and asked for the internet code. This gave me access to the internet. And the days after, I ate in the other restaurants around the hotel. Only the restaurants with WI-FI. So I gained access to all the passwords for internet, and could still talk to my Bonita.
Internet is 1 bath a minute (1,50 euro per hour) or sometimes even 2 bath a minute. So this was my way of using the internet. From the public balcony of the hotel I had a lot of conversations with my girl at night. Sometimes I went down to the entrance of the hotel, not to disturb if there were people in the rooms next to the balcony. After all, there is a 6 hour time difference. So usually, when it's 19.00 in Switzerland, it's 1.00 in Thailand. A lot of late nights, or even sleeping, waking up to talk, and then, sleeping again. But I was happy to stay in touch with my sweet bonita.
So, after catching up with sleep, I wanted to do other things. Honestly, the reason to get to Koh Tao was diving, but I didn't dive a lot. But there was one thing I really wanted to learn here: Freediving.
That's diving with no oxyen on your back. Just one big breath and then, descent. And of course, ascent, if you want to live .
The course took one day and I learned a lot. My best dive was one minute and 11 metres deep (and back). I was surprised that I was able to do this. You need a special-Yoga breath for this. A guy from Switzerland even made 21 metres on one breath. And the world champion goes down just over 200 metres on one breath, and no special equipment. With special equipment like a weight belt and a balloon to get back up, the world record is around 270 metres deep if I remember well. Insane indeed!
But I was very happy to make 11 metres. A very intense, but satisfying day. And I believe it really complements diving very well. It makes me feel more at ease. I now know that my body can do much more than I imagined.
After the diving and freediving, I wanted to enjoy the island in a different manner and thus, I took a walk. A walk to Shark Bay. After a dive in Shark island, where there are actually no sharks, I heard that in Shark Bay, opposite of Shark Island, you can see... yes..sharks. Black tipped reef sharks. About 1,5 to 2 metres big. Not dangerous for people. Unless, of course, provoked. Like any animal.
The walk was very nice, but very difficult. The rains of november last year had washed away most of the road. So I walked in the mud. There were huge gaps in the sand. So I watched out not to fall. Some of them were almost 2 metres deep. By now, I had my own mask and snorkle. Since I like watching the fish so much, I figured it was good to have my own equipment.
After about 1,5 hours, I reached the sea. There was a hotel, completely abandoned. During my walk of 1,5 hours, I only met a group of 5 older French people. It shows how remote this part is. Considering that Sairee beach is crowded with people.
I was wondering what was the story behind this abandoned hotel. It seemed like the owners had left in a hurry. Books were still open. Beer on the table. Some of the rooms were unlocked. So I could have a look inside. A lot of stuff on the ground. Personal belongings. Very strange. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was expecting to see a dead body in one of the rooms. No, I didn't find one.
After having my look around, still wondering what this place was about, I checked the map. I had the feeling that this wasn't Shark Bay. But somehow, I didn't really figure out where I was. I decided to have a look in the underwater world. By snorkeling there was a lot to see. Angelfish, bannerfish, parrotfish. Just a few metres of the shore. I was happy.
Then, I noticed a girl walking up. After a while I went to her and asked her whether she knew what this place was. She thought it was Leam Thiam. But somehow the map didn't seem to be correct.