Jan. 25, 2017:
Yesterday, we spent most of our day in transit from Bangkok to Phuket. I thought this was a cute euphemism for a bathroom in the Bangkok airport.
Today is the day of our long-awaited dive trip to the Phi Phi islands off the east coast of Phuket! We had signed up online with a local dive operator, Aussie Divers, who had been well-reviewed on Trip Advisor before we landed yesterday in Phuket. Their driver picked us up about 7 am at our hotel and drove us across the island to the harbor of Chalong. What met us was total pandemonium, as it appears tons of local dive and fishing operators are based here. They pick up groups of divers in a giant pink bus and run them down the pier to the waiting dive boats. Nonetheless, we found our Aussie Divers representative and boarded one of the nicest dive boats I’ve ever seen.
It turns out that numerous dive operators rent space on the various boasts, so there were only four of us diving with our dive master from Aussie Divers, Andre Engstrom. However, there were a total of 39 divers aboard counting all the various DMs and their customers. The other couple diving with us were also Americans; a pair of young teachers from Kansas who had emigrated to Shanghai to teach in the international school there, and they had a very fun outlook on things. Their names were Melanie and Arik Cherry, and if you like, you can check out their blog at theadventurecontinues.blog Our dive master, Andre, was very easy to talk with, and immediately made us all feel relaxed with his knowledge of the area and experience. As we left the harbor, we could see the “Big Buddha” of Phuket, which sits atop the hill overlooking the old city of Phuket.
After about 2 1/2 hours, we reached our first dive stop off the Phi Phi islands, and suited up. These islands are amazing fingers of limestone which just stick up straight out of the water. Jim and I were reminded of Halong Bay, but the area around here has famously appeared in numerous movies, including as Dr. No’s island, and the location for the Leonardo di Caprio movie, The Beach. We didn’t actually get to see Dr. No’s island, but we did see the Beach!
Needless to say, the diving was amazing, and all of these underwater pictures are courtesy of Andre Engstrom.
Having enjoyed three great dives today, we will relax for the next couple of days in Patong and look out over the bay. Then it is homeward bound …