Leaving Bangkok behind, I hoped that Phuket would, at least, present something more positive and entertaining, to erase the bad taste that Bangkok had left in my mouth.
I knew before going there, that Phuket is one of Thailand’s top tourist destinations. Normally, I tend to avoid such places. But, I heard that the diving there was one of the best. And, it was close by……………relatively, anyway.
The one unfortunate spot was that, I was unable to find a suitable apartment to rent for the few days I planned to be in Phuket. So I had to settle for a hotel.
The Patong Bay Resort wasn’t too bad; actually, it was rather good :=) My room was large, and comfortable. Of course, being in a hotel meant I had to eat out (the room didn’t even have a microwave). And I was careful to stay away from the minibar (as it turned out, the contents of the minibar were as expensive as the room itself (hahaha)).
Anyway, the hotel lobby conveniently held a number of shops and tourist offices; one of them sold diving excursions to nearby islands (Oh, they have the “James Bond Island” tour, too; you know, that island where Roger Moore finally took out Scaramanga in “The Man With The Golden Gun” (lol)). Talk about ridiculously CHEESY!
………..To Coral Island
Coral Island was my destination of choice. Never even heard of the place, didn’t know what I’d find when I got there. I was only interested in diving, and I knew there was water there. So……….. :=)))
The following morning, the shuttle bus picked me up right in front of my hotel. The bus was to take us to the ferry terminal, where we would board a speedboat to the island itself. On the way, we stopped at several other hotels, to pick up other diving enthusiats — including a rather distasteful Chinese family of six, who seemed to think that the shuttle bus was their own personal kitchen and living space, and proceeded to feed their rather noisy toddler, change his nappies right there in the bus, and give him a plastic bag to puke into, after his stomach obviously didn’t agree with whatever crap they’d fed him earlier!!
I’d never been so disgusted in my entire life.
Well……….thankfully, this torture lasted “only” half an hour, or so. At the terminal, service was surprisingly fast, and, within 15 minutes, we were all strapped into life-jackets, and bundled onto the speedboat.
The boat-ride to the island took almost half an hour (geez! Where are we going?? LOL); by this time, I was dying to strap on the diving gear, and plunge into the deep blue sea. But, there were formalities to attend to — you know, like : (a) remember to breathe through your mouth and not your ears; (b) don’t dive too far out, or you may be snatched up by the giant squid from Peter Benchley’s “XXXXXXXXXXXXX”; (c) while underwater, always stick close to the diving instructor, or you might miss your turn when he hands out free candy; etc, etc.
After the drill lesson, we were given lockers to stow our belongings, placed in rows, and “attired” with rather heavy diving gear.
Did I say we were going diving? Oh, sorry; my mistake. I meant we were being charged heaps of money to wear an oxygen tank, and swim inside a giant coffee-mug.
At least, that’s how it felt. Good Christ! The water was soooooooooo dirty and muddy, I could barely see beyond a dozen feet ! (I guess I should have mentioned earlier : this wasn’t my first rodeo; I’d gone diving once before, years earlier — I think it was 2001 or 2002 — off the coast of Sharm El-Sheik, in Egypt. I remember feeling as though I was swimming inside a huge, polished mirror!! The water was so clean and clear, I could see literally miles ahead. In fact, it was a bit scary; yeah, I felt like I was in a giant aquarium (LOL).)
But, this………??! I don’t even drink coffee, and here I was being made to swim in it! And, I actually paid money for it.
And, afterwards ?
Hmmmmm………….well, I’ll skip the journey off Coral Island, and back to the mainland. Not even worth talking about. I got back to my hotel room quite late, around 8.30 p.m. I remember feeling a tingling sensation in my feet, but I ignored it.
But, my feet didn’t seem so eager to ignore me (haha). When I woke up the next day, I discovered that both feet had swollen to over half their size! I didn’t panic, though; it immediately struck me that, it had something to do with the the diving the previous day. In fact, I was sure of it (although, I didn’t exactly have any reason to be so confident. My first diving experience in Egypt had gone without any similar “side-effects”; so I wasn’t quite sure what was so special about Coral Island, that it’d cause me to develop elephantitis (lol)).
Anyhow, I went online right away, to do some research. And, sure enough, I was right : I’d obviously been subjected to some form of depressurization underwater (or, out of it, who knows???). The online article recommended simply placing one’s feet at an elevated position as much as possible.
So, there I was, in my hotel room…………lying on my bed……….watching TV……..with my legs hooked high in the air, like a woman about to go into labor (something else my grand-kids would NOT want to hear about ))))))))))))).
However, a couple of hours of this was enough. I felt restless, and decided to go do some exploring. Once outside, I was comtemplating a walk along the beach, when suddenly someone on a motor-scooter pulled up right in front of me. And, it hit me : why not rent a scooter, and drive around the island?
Which I did. Once again, availing myself of the “generous” tour-office in the hotel lobby, I ordered a scooter, which was brought to the hotel within 15 minutes (go figure!).
At least, I actually got to enjoy myself quite a bit. It wasn’t the sightseeing; nor was it the crowded streets, or endless tourists. No, it was the scooter ride!! Now, THAT was fun )))))) Gunning the engine, sailing along the highway………wind in my hair — (well, I had a bit of hair!) —, handkerchief fluttering in the breeze…………I felt like a bird in flight :=))))