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Signal Red no. 40 and Songkran

April 15, 2010

Well,
lots and nothing has been going on, here on Ko Tao.  A week or so ago, the dive shop threw together a special dive package to Sail Rock.  Three dives, food, drinks at one of the Gulf of Thailand’s premier dive sites.  Sail Rock was a good dive for sure, but I feel it doesn’t match the hype.  Many dives on the west side of Thailand are at least as good.  All the same, it was a great day out and I managed quite a few underwater photos (some of which I’ll post soon).  Managed to sell a few copies as well, which is just as well because this is the slowest the island has been since I got here.  I, along with much of the island have done remarkably little the last few days.  A little while ago, I bought myself a motorbike.  I had gotten tired of renting all the time and any long-term resident is wise to buy a bike early, since it’s quite easy to sell bikes back with so many people coming and going all the time.  My problem for the longest time was that I never had enough money to pay for the bike and not risk totally running out of cash two weeks later.  However, when I was last at the end of my month’s rent on my current bike I came into someone looking to sell theirs.  In the end I bought the bike for 9000 baht, or a little more than $280.  It looked a bit of a disaster but the mechanic said there was nothing immediately wrong (or dangerous).  And so, with my last few idle days I opted to spruce up the ‘ol beater and raise the resale so I painted it.  Now it’s freaking sweet.  My boss didn’t recognize it as the same bike.  I’ll post a pic next blog.

Songkran, the Thai New Year was just the last few days.  Coolest New Years anywhere.  One, it was April on a tropical island vs January in Canada.  There’s no countdown, people just get on with it whenever people wake up and start their day.  And rather than champagne and Auld Lang Syne everyone has a country-wide water fight.  No one is safe.  In the 7-11s all the cash registers are wrapped in plastic.  Everyone gets into it from baby toddlers to the elderly and of course all us, Farang.  What a blast.  Everyone is totting some kind of Super Soaker knock off and it’s like some sort of aquatic dystopian has descended upon Ko Tao.  Our shop, along with many others outfitted our pickup truck taxi as a hydro gunship.  The giant regulator wash bins were mounted in the bed of the pick up and filled along with a couple extra pails for refills.  After that a crate of beer was stashed in the back for afterwards and then we climbed on the back, cruised about the island laying soggy waste to whoever we came upon and then warmly wish them Happy New Years!  Once the ride was over, beers and then “bring your pistols, lads we’re going to the beach!”.  Once again, anything worth more than a wrist watch was covered in plastic but it was a great party.  I don’t have photos but there are loads around.  I’ll try to get some.

In other news, has anyone been following this Red Shirt business?  Wow, things look like it’s getting intense.  You should read up on it, but right now there are massive protests in Bangkok and there has been some violence.  All the same it seems to have very little effect on day-to-day routines of Thailand.  Loads of tourists still pass through Bangkok everyday and the train stations and airports are all open but there are some areas to outright avoid.  Most taxi drivers won’t take you near protest spots anyway.  In many other parts of Thailand, certainly Ko Tao there is very little sign of protests, other than the empty island.  Other than the tarnished image that comes with civil unrest no else seems to really care, as what little effect national politics have on tourist centric community.  Dammit, I hope they sort this out soon, but as usual each side is just as stubborn and irrational as the other.  It can also be difficult to follow exactly what’s happening once the story trickles out in English.  Anyway, I’ll touch on that again some other time perhaps.

I know I mentioned talking more about Snorkel Tests but this has gone on long enough.  Next time.  Thanks for keeping up and don’t be shy about comments.

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