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Tough Times

April 27, 2010

Volcanoes and Red Shirts and Bears, oh my!

Not so much bears, but between the first two issues, low season is definitely here.  The island is empty.  To make matters worse, two days ago I saw more people leave than I thought were actually on the island.  It’s not just tourists and back packers getting the hell outta Dodge, dive instructors and DMs no longer reaping rewards from this golden goose of an island have decided to pack it in.  At least for a little while anyway.  It’s just as well, there are too many mouths to feed and there’s little sense burning through savings.  On the other hand, it seems many instructors have fist fulls of baht to throw around when not diving.  One fellow has decided to hit the links for a couple weeks on Ko Samui with some of his mates.  The man’s got style – I wish I could lay myself off like that.  It is possible to earn quite a bit of money working here.  If you’re well established on the island and speak more than English then the best paid instructors earn $3300 in a good month.  That’s a North American salary with South-East Asia costs of living.  That might make me stay.  In the meantime, I’m trying my best to stay occupied and working as much as possible.  Thankfully, there are more work days than off days and I’m on average netting small gains per day.  But I’ve really cut back.  I rarely go out and party and I’m becoming more thrifty with where I eat.  Fewer Western places, that’s for sure.  I can get three square meals a day for $6-7, which is still more expensive than Vietnam, but it’s much better than my first few weeks.  It’s also quite nice not having to shell out $90 each month for motorbike rent (I don’t have a picture of my bike ready yet, but it’ll come).  Right now it’s a buyers market from room rates to motorbikes.  People are settling for less than half the asking price of many bikes and dive gear.  Once you’ve decided to leave the island you have very little choice but to sell what you can’t take with you.  I’m not 100% whether I too will be able to endure this snail pace.  No worries thus far but I’m not too keen on showing up and having nothing to do, with few desirable jobs now that the Uni kids have been let loose.  So it’s Ko Tao or bust, I suppose.

I’ve been lucky with some underwater sights lately.  I’ve seen octopus, turtles, eagle rays, and whales (from the surface).  The water temperature is a pleasant 31-32 degrees but the visibility could be better.  I’ve been taking loads of photographs.  One of my friends, Ashley is off the island for a few weeks so I’ve borrowed her laptop and drowned several hours into fixing up some choice photos with a little bit of editing.  I’ve been busy trying to hire out my camera to my customers for a quick couple of bucks.  If I hire the camera three times, it’ll pay for a month’s rent and a week’s food.  I’ve also managed to sell some copies of some of my photographs.  Check back in a couple of days and I’m going to throw together another picture post.  I’ll continue my update while I’m at it, since I’ve been slacking with my blog posts.  But for now I’m salty and sticky so I’ll retire to my dingy concrete econo-room and hope full moon party (tomorrow night) brings some customers to this otherwise sleepy rock.


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