|Hmmm, my first liveaboard, 14 incredible dives, and I got it for a kick ass deal. Man I love a good bargain. I thought I would of got tired of it by the end, but I was just gettin warmed up! It took alot not to go on the next trip that was heading out. They would of given it to me for almost half price, but my damn morals got in the way. The trip was heading into a recently opened up group of islands in Burma, and it's normally a very expensive trip. Which would of meant very few other dive boats. The Similans had at least 3 other boats on each site. Way to many people under the water. To bad the Burmese government is so corrupt and requires a $130 USD fee to enter the islands. I just couldn't give that much money to a gov't that kills it's citizens on a whim.
The diving was definetly the best part of the trip though. The boat was slow and small. It had room for 8 people, 3 swiss/german couples, a german divemaster, and me. With a thai and burmese crew, english definetly wasn't the language of choice. Everyone could speak english, and would when I said something, but then they'de go right back to German. Good thing I'm the quiet type, and had 3 books to read. Daniel, the divemaster, did most of the explaining in German, so I was constantly asking for clarification, but it's not like there was much to know. Sleep, dive, eat, dive, sleep dive, eat, dive. And that was a day. It was good to get in lots of naps. 4 dives a day really takes it out of ya. Daniel was a piss poor divemaster also, but we all knew what we were doing, and Steve, one of the swiss guys, used to work as a dive master in the Similans, so we got by just fine without a guide.
But enough bitching! The diving was truly spectacular! No whale shark, big bummer, but we saw tons of other cool shit. Some Manta Rays, various other sharks, and funky little things that I've never seen before, and quite possibly won't ever see again! Steve turned out to be great at spotting things, and is a bit of a fanatic about nudibranches (see the pics), I got a picture of one he'de never seen before, and couldn't find in his books! Super rare! We also seen some harlequin shrimp. In Steve's 500+ dives, he's only ever saw 2 others. It was really special, and I got an awesome photo! But I'm sure you who don't dive have no clue what I'm going on about, so I'll quit babbling, before I really get going. I do love my camera housing, except sometimes I get so wrapped up in taking pictures, I forget to pause and appreciate it all. I did manage to ignore my camera and google at the manta though. I snapped out of it just in time to click a couple of quick pics. Just enough for a memory. Wacey, you've gotta come diving with me! You'de probably get some stylin shots. You've definetly got the sense of timing that I lack. I got alot of pictures of fish tails. They're nice and colorful and all, but a head shot would be a good change. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to keep diving so I can keep practicing! Shucks.
The last night on the boat, the water was really rough, so no one got much sleep, and when we woke up in the morning it was a miserable grey kinda day. We had to wake up early to do 2 dives on Richeleau Rock and everyone was in pissy moods. They had saved the best spot for last, and no one seemed in the mood. It was a chore to put our wet suits on, and then we just stood their looking at the water, waiting for some one to make the first move. The first dive started out good, and then we heard boats overhead and at least 30 people jumped in and started their descent. Directly above us. You could feel our group do a collective, "Aw Shit". It was obvious that the new arrivals were the shittiest kind. Everyone had new expensive equipment, huge expensive cameras, and didn't have a clue what they were doing. As soon as they reached the bottom, they spotted a leopard shark. 30 people frantically chasing it around, bumping into things, breaking off chunks of coral, and practically laying on amazing soft coral, just trying to get the perfect picture. Immediatly our dive was ruined. We all came to the surface grumpy and bitching about the idiots. We just about decided to abort the second dive, but we had yet to see a whale shark and this was the most likely spot to see one. Hesitantly we all got back into the water after a 2 hour surface interval, and began the dive. I'm so glad we decided to keep going. If that had been my last dive, the bitter taste in my mouth would of been enough to make me puke. We didn't see any whale sharks, but we didn't see any other divers either. A blissfully peaceful dive. This time we all came to the surface smiling and laughing, the way it should be. The perfect way to end the trip, except it left me wanting more.
The rest of the group was heading up to Burma, and really excited about it. Stupid morals. It was so hard to say no, but I now feel better for it. That said, I'm on my way up to Bangkok to get a month visa for Burma, but it only costs $20, and I'll spend a month talking to amazing people who are so appreciative to see foreigners, and giving them my money, instead of some rich guy who owns the dive company. All in all, it's a feel good decision. I can do some more diving later on, time to hit the land for a while.