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Trying to Leave Koh Tao

by becca on January 18, 2010

Once we decided against getting our divemaster certification on Koh Tao, we figured we’d be here diving and hanging out for about five days. It’s now been two weeks, and we’re planning on leaving tomorrow.

The days here have been the epitome of island life. Diving days start early, but if we’re not diving, we sleep late, meander over to the beach, read a book, sneak into a resort’s pool… But it’s not all lazy, we’ve taken a few trips over to the island of Nang Yuan, which is actually three islands connected by sandbars, for snorkeling. Nate’s been sharpening his underwater photo skills and we’ve both been practicing our freediving. Nate’s even taken to picking rocks to weigh him down. Before I basically broke my toe trying to jump off Nate’s shoulders in a bay (what a clutz), I was going to a yin yoga class.

Our meals are mostly eaten at beach side restaurants and snacks of fresh fruit, fruit shakes, BBQ skewers and savory or sweet Thai pancakes are readily available. Sunsets are amazing, and nights can consist of varying degrees of excitement: chilling out on a bean bag listening to the waves; watching an acoustic set; checking out the ladyboy show; or dancing at one of the beach parties, drinking buckets (literally buckets) of Thai rum and coke, and watching the firespinning and fireworks.

Sticking around for two weeks has allowed us to make friends, from everyone at Phoenix divers, to the girls at AC Bar to a sweet German couple that likes snorkeling as much as we do, and we’ve had a great time hanging out on Koh Tao.

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Lovely Ladyboys

by becca on January 18, 2010

On Koh Phi Phi there was a restaurant that boasted a BBQ buffet every night on a chalkboard sign: “Guys 280 Baht. Ladyboys 260 Baht. Girls 240 Baht.” There’s also an IT school in Chiang Mai that has a bathroom sign with the male and female symbol intertwined to represent the ladyboy bathroom.

So what’s a ladyboy? Called kathoery in Thailand, a ladyboy is a cross-dressing male that may or may not have undergone surgery to progress his female identity. They are much more accepted in Thailand than in most Western cultures probably due to the acceptance and tolerance teachings of Buddhism. When you go to check out at 7/11 or sit down to eat at a restaurant you may be helped by one of these fabulous fellows. Ladyboys are very common in Bangkok too. In fact, for diving you learn an acronym for double checking your equipment: BWRAF, and in Southeast Asia, you remember it by the phrase Bangkok Women Rarely Are Female.

In KoH Tao, there is a nightly Ladyboy Cabaret that we were lucky enough to see a few days ago. The energy is through the roof, the lip syncing varied, and the costumes vibrant. This is the second show we’ve seen and it’s really interesting to watch young boys sit in groups giggling and watching the show. I sat next to a seven-year-old who attends every night and was able to tell me the theme of the next act each time.

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Swimming with Sharks

January 13, 2010

In the ’90s, the little island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, started attracting backpackers for its beautiful and affordable diving. Today Koh Tao hosts over 40 dive shops and certifies more open-water divers than any where in the world except for Cairns, Australia. This keeps prices competitive and promises a culture revolving […]

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Diving deeper. Diving Longer.

January 13, 2010

So the last week or so Becca and I have been figuring out this whole “diving” thing we love, and how far to take it. We looked into becoming Divemasters, but ultimately decided that was a bit much at this point, and found two specialty courses that would extend our scuba diving limits and open […]

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A Climber’s Paradise

January 6, 2010

Railay, Thailand: Not quite an island, but an isolated isthmus accessible only by boat due to impenetrable rock formations. The area is famous for its climbing. In addition to over 700 routes and a laid-back climbing-focused hippie culture, it seems that you can’t go very far on the island without encountering a pathway involving at […]

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New Years on Phi Phi

January 6, 2010

We met the year 2010 on a Phi Phi beach with a bucket of cheap Thai whiskey, a sky full of fireworks, and full moon. We had made a few dive buddies in the previous few days, making for a fun night of dancing, laughing, and general mayhem. Share

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Seduced by Scuba

January 1, 2010

We’re addicted. There’s no denying it. Our journey overseas began as an exploration of unfamiliar cultures and is now morphing to focus on the fascinating underwater world, Southeast Asia boasts some of the best diving, after all. We’re doing our best to photograph underwater, but the Canon D10 has it’s limits. The photos above are […]

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Christmas on Phi Phi

December 27, 2009

The little Thai island of Phi Phi became our Christmas destination as soon I found out two of my sisters were going to fly across the world to celebrate with Becca and I. We spent a week on a quiet beach, with plenty of sun activities to keep our days full. We did everything the […]

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Bangkok

December 26, 2009

Bangkok likes it big. Everything from massively massive malls that could store stadiums inside, to art installations you walk into, under, and look up to. Santa Claus has also found this metropolis with everything blinking red and green. The whole service industry is wearing Santa hats, and Mariah Carey’s Christmas songs play absolutely everywhere. We […]

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Merry Christmas, you have typhoid.

December 25, 2009

At some point a few weeks ago I started feelling really tired, nauseous and just overall not right. I suffered through Mae Hong Son and lounged around Pai for a few days before finally going to a local night clinic. The doctor told me to go see him at the hospital the next morning and […]

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