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Moving across the tracks

January 10, 2010

Hello everyone, sorry for the extended break between posts.  (The boss has got me coming in weekends)

It’ll be close, but I think I’m about to clear a month having earned more than I spent.  If not, it’ll just be a matter of a few dollars.  Next month, will definitely be better.  I’ve moved bungalows, which is a big help – I’ve gone from 6000 baht a month to 3500.  The only consequence is, I’ve given up one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting for.  Unfortunately my incoming residence is hardly a basket of roses.  I’m living in Diving Village in Chalok Bay and the first thing you notice is the mosquitos.  My overall room is bigger but I don’t have a sink and the bathroom drain clogs when it rains.  I can’t imagine finding a better rate, on the other hand.  I’ve also done better with a motorbike.  A nicer bike for less money.  Sounds like a deal to me.

I’ve been real busy with the diving.  I still have to turn down course offers most days and it seems like I could nail a fixed position as an SSI instructor with one of the shops in the south.  SSI instructors are really hard to come by these days or so it seems and my certifications grow each week.  I’ve found a sweet new place breakfast which is open 24 hours.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to have fresh coffee and a hot meal that doesn’t come from a convenience store when you’re up for a dive at 6:30 in the morning.  The place also doubles as a wet suit shop so everything including the beer holders is covered in neoprene.  It continues to amaze me how thoroughly diving this island is.  There’s no escaping it.

I’ve had some great students lately.  This past course, one student was particularly prone to break out laughing, flirting with losing control without much warning.  During an air depletion exercise, I the instructor have the student watch their pressure gauge as I literally shut off the tank.  The idea is when the student feels the inhale draw become hard and the needle drops to zero, they give the ‘throat slash’ out of air signal.  Instead, as the needle plunged into the ‘danger’ zone she bursts out laughing and tips over.  I couldn’t believe it.  What kind of reasonable reaction is that?  Half the time, the student is flying with the signal before the tank is closed, meanwhile, out of air while underwater has somehow become a big joke.  It may just be this is the most fearless woman I’ve ever met and that makes me all the more uneasy.
Remember how I said the English are notorious for saying ‘goggles’ and ‘flippers’?  I had a good laugh when one of my English student’s girl friend asked about the “Shoes? No. SCUBA shoes.”.  Priceless.  What made it even better was the very next dive, after we hit the water, the same student came up and cried “Crimminey, I’ve nearly lost me boot!”.  Beer fine.
I met a really cool girl from Bolivia last week.  She was really good about turning around the sometimes pompous manner of SCUBA instruction back onto the instructor.  Effortlessly, she made a complete mockery of my skills session by mimicking me and my exaggerated hand gestures (and accent for that matter.  We really do say ‘aboot’).  I couldn’t help but laugh and then choke as I snorted sea water when my mask seal broke.  Then the mockery became hilarity.  She made it up later by buying me the coolest gift I’ve received in recent memory- a hammock for my no longer available front porch.  There is however a nice spot for it under some trees in the court-yard at my new place.  Gracias, otra vez.

It’s nice to feel like I’m finally earning a spot in Thailand as an instructor.  Even my students say they feel like residents when they’re in the water during session and we pause to watch all the new arrivals walk timidly across the pier, avoiding eye contact with all the touts and the never ending “TAXI BOAT”.  Not one of them is without a back pack and not one of them has roller luggage.  Thank god for Ko Tao.
Cheers

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One Comment
  1. Maggie H permalink

    Hey Ben!

    I’d like to start by telling you how envious I am of your adventures. Some days I wish I had gone somewhere more exotic well I was in my travelling phase. (It would have killed my mother!) I guess I’m not dead yet though right!

    I am really enjoying your blog. I actually laugh out loud pretty frequently while reading it. It gets me some strange looks from my co-workers if I’m reading at work.

    Looking forward to reading about your upcoming adventures and hope we can get together for some drinks when you are back!

    Love Mag

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