Diving the Similans

The day after Christmas, last year, I hopped on a plane to Narita, transferred to Bangkok (my most un-favorite airport), and made my circuitous way to the town of Khao Lak, on Thailand’s western coast. Located 60km north of Phuket, Khao Lak is the launching point for most scuba trips to the Similan Islands. That’s why I was there – to get on a boat for four days of nothing but diving. (And eating. And sleeping. Maybe some swimming. See schedule below).

Cathy and I were paired up with a mom+daughter combo from the Inland Empire. Cathy, as I discovered in Hawaii last summer, is a GREAT dive buddy. Easy to keep track of, doesn’t swim under you and blow bubbles, takes underwater photos, doesn’t run out of air forcing you to waste good underwater time…although I’m happy to say neither of us was the limiting factor on this trip, ever.

We didn’t see anything big (though some on our boat had seen a baby whale shark last week!,) but the density, diversity, and aliveness of things was the best I’ve seen yet. In some areas, the sand was layered with dead, broken corals. Our super cool guide, Tomo, said that the 2004 tsunami combined with the following year’s rise in sea temperature, was responsible for most of that. He’s pretty convinced that he’ll be out of a job in 20 years. I hope he’s wrong, but grateful I got to enjoy them now, just in case.

We did 13 dives over 4 days. It would have been 14, but we skipped out on the last night dive after the first two were a little lackluster. Schedule was…

  • 7am dive
  • ~8:30am food
  • 11:30am dive
  • ~1:00pm food
  • 3:00pm dive
  • snack food
  • 5:30pm food
  • 7:00pm night dive
  • zzz

Oh yes also – dramamine is my new best friend. I ate semi-spicy thai food on a rocking boat for four days, and felt great. (This from someone who can puke while diving underwater.)

Would I do it again? Probably.

Would I do it as many times as Bruce, the grizzled Portlandian with his own special bunk, food, and 89 trips on the same food? Only if I manage to become independently wealthy and decide the rest of the world has nothing to offer.

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