Monday, January 16, 2012

Liveaboard Boat | Similan Islands

Happy New Years, friends! This blog has experienced some major neglect due to a busy holiday season, travels for work and to see family, shipping out tons of orders for Handle With Care Shop, and most time-consuming of all, a rebranding of our photography website and blog.

We are determined to finish documenting our around-the-world travels from 2011, as much for ourselves as for our readers! Expect to see much more frequent posting from now on. We left off in Phuket and still have tons of photos we want to share from Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. 

From Phuket, we joined a liveaboard boat to do some scuba diving around the Similan Islands, a string of islands off the West Coast of Thailand. We were aboard the board for 4 days and 4 nights with about 20 other divers. We went scuba diving 4 times each day (except the last day) for a total of 14 dives! Yuriy had done some scuba diving here in the past, but I was a total newbie. I got certified back in Seattle right before our wedding because I knew it would come in handy during our travels. 

We got our own little private room on board just big enough to fit a double bed with a space for our luggage at the entrance. Couldn't complain because we had windows on either side of the room with views of the ocean. The first night Yuriy and I were both extremely nauseous throughout the night. The boat rocked all night and I had nightmares of drowning.

We woke up at 6 am each morning and went straight to the ocean. The day ended with a dive after sunset, which required a flash light underwater. The trip was very much about routine. The human body builds up nitrogen when underwater, and needs time on the surface to release that build up. You can only stay underwater a certain amount of time before getting sick, and you must stay on the surface a period of time before going in again.  

Daily routine: Wake-up. Dive 1. Shower. Breakfast. Break. Dive 2. Shower. Lunch. Break. Dive 3. Shower. Break. Dive 4. Shower. Dinner. Sleep. Repeat. 

After the first few dives I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into! I couldn't fathom a dozen more dives!! Each dive required suiting up and getting out of all that wet gear.  I was tired and didn't have a chance to relax before the next dive. Everything felt uncomfortable, wet, tight, salty, heavy. 

It didn't take long to get used to the routine, however. It became so repetitive that some days I started to lose track of time and couldn't remember if we had eaten lunch yet or not and which dive we were on. I began to feel like a fish. I was in the ocean 4 times a day and showering 4 times a day. I was constantly thirsty, no matter how much water I guzzled.

The breaks in between usually lasted an hour or so and were spent reading, sunbathing on the boat roof, or trying to brush out the constant tangled mess my hair was in. The people on the boat were from all over the world and we had a good time sharing travel stories. The Thai food was amazing and it made up for any discomfort of living on a boat. 

We got some underwater photos from a friend who dived with us, and we'll share those next!

- Julia

By the way, our professional camera started dying when we were in Laos, and by this time, it was hardly functioning. All of the photos in this post were taken with our little compact camera. I'm so glad we had it for back-up!

Trying on gear to make sure it fit before the trip! 

Every boat in Thailand lights fireworks on the first night of a trip for good luck.

The dining room and communal area of the boat. 

The top deck of the boat was the perfect spot to sunbathe and enjoy sunsets.

Inside our tiny mint green room.

Looking out the door from our room.
Reading in my down time.

We ate so well three times a day. 

Doesn't get much better than a Thai buffet. 

Endless fruit every day. So satisfying when you're hot and thirsty.

Our dive master -- an experienced diver who was essentially our underwater tour guide.

We shared our dive master with another diving couple, Steve and Lydia. We did all of our dives throughout the trip with the same group.