After being kept awake the night before by someone desperately trying to be sick outside our bedroom window (Phi Phi is the party island of Thailand!) we had to get up early for a scuba diving tour. We were at the dive school for 7am – crazy!
For those of you that don’t know – I don’t scuba as I don’t like to put my head under the water, so this trip was purely for Barry. I was just along for the ride, but had been convinced somewhere along the line to do snorkeling instead. I wasn’t convinced but figured if I decided not to do it, I could just sit on the boat and sunbathe instead.
After being split into groups and having a briefing, we set off. Luckily there were quite a few others on the boat that weren’t going to scuba either, so that made me feel better. Our first stop was an island called Bida Nai. Barry got all his kit on and in he jumped. I was still contemplating weather or not I could bring myself to get into the water. Two of the other girls on the boat were just snorkeling and so persuaded me to do it with them. I couldn’t really say no given one of them told me she couldn’t swim and the other told me she nearly drowned when she was younger, so I put on the mask and lifejacket (didn’t want to worry about focusing on swimming when I had some complicated breathing to do!) and in I jumped. I took a fair bit of getting used to – breathing purely through your mouth, but after a while I got the hang of it. We saw plenty of fish, couldn’t tell you what kinds, but they were brightly coloured and looked tropical. There were blue starfish and one of the girls even saw a puffer fish. After about half an hour of floating round it was time to get back on the boat and have some lunch.
Whilst eating lunch the boat made it’s way to the next stop – Maya Beach on Phi Phi Leh Island (Phi Phi Islands smaller sister). This is what I’d been waiting for as Maya Beach is where the film ‘The Beach’ was filmed – one of my favourites. Unfortunately, due to the influx of tourists, we couldn’t get near enough to the actual beach so just viewed from the distance. Once we arrived, our guide decided to let everyone know that they could dive into the water and go for a look around and if you wanted you could dive from the top of the boat. Barry immediately decided this was what he wanted to do, so the guide took it upon himself to persuade me to join him and in we jumped! My fear of putting my head under the water suddenly gone.
We snorkelled over to a small beach opposite Maya Beach. We saw much the same as we had seen at the other island, but this time I felt something sting my arm. I was quite used to feeling little stings in the sea – apparently it’s just the stings left behind by jellyfish, but this one hurt particularly bad this time. Once we got to the beach, we got out and I looked at my arm. It had started to go really red and was still stinging. A jellyfish must have stung me. I tried to ignore it whilst we looked around the beach and took some photos, but the sting just wouldn’t go away. The only way back to the boat was to swim back through the sea where I’d been stung. I wasn’t particularly happy about this but had to do it. I got in and started to snorkel back. All of a sudden I noticed loads of tiny jellyfish everywhere and had no choice but to swim through them. Barry was faffing around taking pictures but I just powered through. The next thing I knew I noticed our boat was leaving. I shouted at Barry, the boats going. He quickly stopped taking pictures and started swimming over, but the boat was already out of the bay. Like crazy people, we climbed onto a nearby boat and told them that ours had left – they couldn’t quite believe it. We stood on their boat trying to get our boat’s attention, waving our hands around. Luckily they noticed and quickly came back, but we could’ve been stranded!
Our next stop was at Palaya, where Barry did his second dive of the day. I stayed on the boat so he can tell you about this…
I dived in a party of four – including a trainer and someone taking their final exam to qualify as an open water diver. We all jumped into the sea and made our way to the seabed. As the trainer and student were going through a few lessons, myself and another open water diver, Christian, buddied up and swam around for about 10 minutes. I love scuba. Anyone that has done it will tell you the same – it’s amazing. The water was clearer than the first dive and there were thousands of fish. There were all different colours and sizes, and the size of the schools were massive. We saw gigantic Moray Eels, Puffer fish and loads of clown fish. It’s quite boring to explain. It’s one of those you have to be there moments. We had to come up early as the rookie used too much of his air, but after we dropped him back off at the boat, we were back under for the last few minutes. I didn’t take my camera, but luckily, Christian took loads of photos.
That night after a tiring day in the sea, we went for a quiet dinner then headed down to Stoned Bar at the beach where we had cocktails (yes Barry even had one too!). We watched an amazing fire show, which started off pretty tame with the guys just twirling their fire immersed sticks around, then as the crowd got more and more intoxicated it broke into fire limbo and fire skipping. Unfortunately the battery on our camera had died by this point, but the highlight had to be when two guys jumped into the fired up skipping rope naked. It was all going so well until one of them lost their footing, clipped the rope and it slipped right up between their legs – ouch!
After consuming way too many cocktails, we decided to leave, plus the tide was coming in and we noticed some of the tables and cushions now floating on the water. You’ll also be pleased to know that Barry didn’t need to urinate on me to ease my jellyfish sting – it went down all by itself by the end of the night!