Well its back to the scene of the crimes of Gino and Bill do Thailand.. althought if I have to be honest I’m really missing having you along G.

But since we’ve last talked, I’ve left Korea behind. We’ll wax philosophially about this later, but suffice it to say, probably not on my must return to list.

To make my way to Thailand it was up at 4am to catch a 4:30am pre-arranged taxi… who of course wanted to give me a bit of a scare and not show up until 4:45am. I mean, I’m working on a really tight schedule here. I have to fly from Jeju to Gimpo (Kimpo) for at 6:30am and it takes an hour to get to the airport. Then a 40 minute transfer from Gimpo airport to Incheon airport to catch my 9:30am to Bangkok. I hit this one by about 30 minutes. So as usually happens my morning starts off with a kick to the ole adrenaline gland.

Along the way I met Concetta who is another english teacher from the US (Texas) living in Korea whom I pass on the remaining balance on my T-card. While waiting for my flight to Bangkok, I have to fight with the gate agents to understand that I’m a 1.5M miler Gold Medallion member of their SkyTeam program. I normally wouldn’t bother so hard, but when traveling with my backpack as carry on it helps immensely to be able to get on early and stow my baggage before everyone else. So afterr getting that squared away and getting on the flight it turns out I’ve got two empty seats next to me. So a couple of movies and some reading and a bit of solitare on my phone.. and a nap… we land in Bangkok.

Now I was determined not to use the same Airlo eSIM that I used in Korea as it would not allow me to make or receive phone calls locally which is important when trying to get taxi’s and arrange hotels and dives and such. So when I hit the airport, I connect to the WiFi and begin the quest. Eventually I find the DTAC eSIM online which allows free calls within their network and 15 baht worth of calling credit elsewise. Sounds perfect and it has been so far. Probably not THE best coverage in the country but I haven’t lacked for really solid 4G covereage but in a few locations.

Now I get to have my first Singha in Thailand and it is without Gino.. a sad day but any day with Singha is a happy day G or not. I also get my first Thai meal … an airport meal to be sure.. but its Thai food and it acutally is marginally good.

Then its onto the last flight of the day.. well almost. Nothing goes perfect with me right. As I’m waiting forr my flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui (yeah Jack talk Thai real well… anyone?) I discover to my utmost delight that I screwed up my hotel reservation. I had myself arriving all the way to Koh Phagnan that day but I was not going to make it that far as I landed after the last ferry would have already left. So I have to finagle a reservation change for a resort with draconian cancellation and change policies, but we work it out. I will just have to change rooms on my last night here before I return home, no biggie. But then I have to get a hotel for this evening. Well fortunately for me I had looked into this once before and then forr some reason didn’t pull the trigger on a place. So I go back and book my hotel at the Maenam Villiages.

Then I find out that even if I take the first ferry out the next day I wont be able to dive on Koh Phagnan because the boat is already full from students who got bumped in their class dives with bad weather late last week. No problem. I’ll just dive in the morning on Koh Samui and then hit the last ferry over to Koh Phagnan. So plan in place, its timem to execute.

Onto the plane form Bangkok to Koh Samui, everything is smooth.. until.. you guessed it .. the great ATM escapade again. I walk up, put my card in, type in my PIN…….. PIN invalid.. WTF. I try again.. PIN invalid. So I try the machine next to it as half the time just using a different banks ATM works. PIN Invalid.. PIN Invalid.. damn damn. So its off to my ride who is waiting for me and I figure I’ll find an ATM near my hotel and square this away after I call my bank to figure out what is going on.

The Maenam Villas turn out to be RIGHT on the water and I get there in time to catch a gorgeous sunset, a magnificent dinner at the resturant next door and to meet possibly the most helpful Thai man since Mr. Payap in Bangkok.

It turns out Mr… can’t remmeber damnit… well he understands and speaks English fairly well. And I explain to him that I was an idiot and was using my visa CREDIT CARD not my ATM/Debit card to try and withdraw money and I need to get to the ATM so I can pay for dinner and other services. He says I can rent a motor bike, but I explain to him I’m only there until the morning and then I go diving. So he says, oh no problem, you can just borrow my motorbike! Who does that!

But I have to ask him, are we talking a real motorcycle or a scooter ’cause I cannot ride a motorcycle #1 and they scare the shit out of me #2. He says its a scooter. Ok, no problem. I rode around all of Grenada with a passenger on back at one point I got this. He shows me all the details of his bike and sends me on my way. About now I get a butterfly in my stomach. I don’t have a helmet. I haven’t been on a scooter in over 15 years. Its PITCH black. I’m at the bottom of a wickedly steep road. And Thai drivers are insane. Perhpas this wasn’t my best idea. But I am stuck without really any options so I, again like my hike, just go slow and steady. People are passing me all over the place but I stick to the far left (yeah.. took me about 1/2 mile to remmeber they drive on the left side here) and I’m to and back from the ATM without incident.

Then it is timem for dinner. A wonderful on the water restruant at the hotel next door. I get a table wth an ocean view and order another Singha and some kind of flat noodle dish (only slightly spicy please). IT IS AWESOME! I mean I think its a close second to the fried grouper Gino and I had on Koh Phi Phi way back in the day.

So I’m fat dumb and happy and rack out for the night. The next day I had arranged to get picked up at 8am for my dive. While waiting I ask the proprietor if there is someplace I can store my bag for the day while I go dive as I have to check out of my room. Oh no oh no my friend. You can stay in the room until you need to leave for your ferry, no extra charge. WHAT… who does that!

So off to my dive with Jo who is a Parisian who has been living here for the past 5 years diving. We do the usual measuring up to figure out if I’m a poser experienced diver or a real experienced diver. I pass with flying colors 🙂

Then I meet up with my fellow divers for the day. Kate from Australia (originally UK), Fernie from Thailand (via US for the past 10 years) and Michel from Denmark. All wonderfully interesting people. Our dive site for the day is to be Sail Rock. One of the classic dive sites here.

Onto the boat and off we go… I have to say the driver could take some lessons from Jhonny as he as beating the hell out of us on the race out to the dive site.

Lets just say the diving was good, but the experiece was GREAT… other than the idiot boat driver who started the engines and put them in gear while we were surfacing right underneath them… I mean 5 more feet and my head would have been propeller meat… everything went smoothly. It turns out my photoagraphy skills are a bit rusty so I didn’t get anything too amazing on this first set of dives but I’m hoping I shake the rust off today and get something better.

After the dive its a mad dash to shore, a tip to Kim my French/Korean divemaster and back to the Maenam Villas. I ask the kind man if he would call me a taxi as my ferry is at 16:30 and I’m cutting it tight. I run back to my room only to have him quickly follow me and politely tell me I’m an idiot and my ferry is at 18:00 and I should take my time and enjoy the room until 1700 when he has the taxi arriving. This guy is a rock star!

So 1700, over to the ferry, I get a lemon tea from the stand inside the ferry ticket center and there are a couple of other backpackers there as well. None as old as this geezer here but one couple that do not look like college kids. I end up striking a conversation with them while we wait and of course they are good Germans! (Marius and … and… damn.. I can’t remmber his wifes name and I’m having dinner with them on Thursday) Well, I had arranged a car to pick me up from the resort and it turns out they were staying just down the beach from me and the car was good for 4 passengers so I gave them a lift to thier hotel. I mean it was already paid forr so why have them have to struggle to find a ride and dicker with the prices.

Finally at the Santhiya Spa and Resort, this place is GORGEOUS. I know I paid a bit extra for it but well beyond expectations. Well, mostly. I did pay for a seaview room and frankly there is not much of a view of the sea but I am really picking at nits again. Check in, and then climb up up up a path.. down down down a path and then back up up a path and down a path.. not little ups and downs, were talking serious slopes. Thank goodness I had a sherpa carrying my backpack … I tipped him well.

He shows me around my amazing room and I ask him how I get down to the beach resturant. Did I mention this place is HUGE. He says I have to go all the way back we just came… so up .. down. up up.. down down down down down and I’m at the resturant. The food was average, service as always in Thailand is impeccible and the Singha is cold and smooth.

I finish my meal and my huge beer and then …. you got it .. up up up up up… stop at the front desk to inquire about laundry service which the young man at the fron confesses is expensive and if I go into town will find MUCH cheper (what I expected) and I don’t need a taxi to get there it is just a 10 minute walk down the beach. Then down down up up down and I’m back at my room where I tear my backpack apart, plug in everything that needs charging and finally crash for the night.

it is morning now and I’m prepping for the day of diving ahead, but first down to breakfast. More later!

4 Replies to “Hello Thailand My Old Friend”

  1. Great pictures and vids, Bill. You need some bubble sounds in the vids.

    Amazing amount and variety of life.

    Enjoy and try to have fun.


  2. Good Times Bill!!! Very sad not to be able to drink a Singha (or 10) with you on this trip but completely understand and happy you are enjoying Thailand again. Miss the beach nap while you go diving. Super bummed not to have been able to see you on that scooter but I don’t miss those beach trails at all lol

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