And we're off to the races as Lynn sucks all the allure out of snorkeling:
Early this morning, we climbed into a van with 2 Russian couples and set off for the Similan Islands. The trip took over an hour and the driver was late. To the beat of wailing Thai pop stars, we shot through the streets sure that the driver had slept in and was nursing a serious hangover. There seem to be no rules when it comes to getting to your destination. A solid line means there is likely enough space for 3 or 4 cars as long as there's no drop or stone wall along the shoulders. Again, we passed an accident just after it had taken place; on the pavement a young girl lay in shock next to her motor scooter... her leg torn open from knee to ankle. As before, the injured was quickly surrounded by helpful bystanders, but there's little in the way of medical insurance here and it's not uncommon for injured motorists to be left to their fate as a helpful Samaritan can be suddenly responsible for hospital fees!
[Image = Cabin cruiser heading out to sea.]
We had a fast breakfast of fruit, toast, and instant coffee at the tour shack and were fitted for flippers - Kate and Lane brought their own gear. On the beach before boarding the speedboat to the islands, they took all of our shoes. The rest of the excursion was a feet of survival. Two hours of banging against the waves, dangerously racing other speedboats, and vying for space on the sticky leather seats, we were finally at the dive spot. We were all told to exit the boat where it was anchored just meters from a very different kind of land formation. The Similans are a group of uninhabited islands about an hour from shore and, except for the tropical foliage, look much like the worn and rounded granite islands in the Canadian Shield.
[Image = Rock formation. Similan Islands.]
With the different geology comes a different sea bed. This area was all coral reef. The water was so clear it was hard to judge the depth we were swimming in. I have never been to a coral reef before and the shapes of the organisms below the surface were exquisite. There was a dark coral with a neon blue tip - something I wanted to see better but it was a surprisingly long way down and it took all my energy to get there. Many different species of fish and a plethora of gasping, gurgling, life-jacketed tourists bobbing about made this a veritable parade. I wondered how many endangered species were hoping we’d go away.
[Image = Shore line, Similan Islands.]
We were then taken to an island park where we could rest and get a drink. There was little shade, so we all got pretty friendly as we crowded between the rocks and under the few overhanging trees. The sand is finely crushed coral and the consistency white flour. The good thing about this beach was that there were facilities and the place was clean. Other public islands were covered in litter and unexpected latrines kept one from exploring the trails. A sad thing about tourism is that many tourists don't care enough to leave just their footprints.
[Image = Beachgoers enjoying sunny day]
The trip back was a noisy, pounding grunt and a few travelers were frustratingly pushy about taking the best seats. When you can't speak to each other, courtesy seems to disappear. The passengers were German, Russian, Italian, and English and we all kept to ourselves - except for passing the plates of food at lunch, there was little eye contact!
Back at the shack, we jostled to use the latrines. Fortunately, the driver was in no hurry to get back to Karon Beach where we are now staying. He was so dangerously close to falling asleep that Kate was prepared to holler at him the whole way home - I was too tired to notice.
The best thing about these long drives is the chance to see the countryside….. You just don't want to be mashed into it!!! More to come. LJ
- Although she does seem to realize that local traffic laws are rather laxly enforced, she seems to chalk it up to being in the semi-mysterious East instead of how recently it's been since Thais had cars.
- Also, her insensitive comment about insurance shows us what her real priorities are.
- That, and her surly comment about how the Russians that were along for the ride didn't bother learning English.
- Next, we have the stupid pun "feet of survival" based on her hosts not wanting her dirty shoes tromping all over their nice clean beach and making all the exotic animals she gawked at sick.
- We follow that by her not connecting that with her sniffy remark about how tourists should only leave their footprints behind.
- Finally, she gets all pissy about the language barrier again and how the driver seemed to have sleeping something off. Frankly, if I had to make a living ferrying idiots like her around, I'd get tanked as often as possible too.