(December 30th, 2008 – January 3rd, 2009)
Imagine…. celebrating New Year’s eve in the middle of the Andaman sea.. laying on the deck, looking up to the sky with beautiful fireworks above you… with nobody else around, apart from your dive buddies on that boat… mmm… it was definitely one of the most memorable new year’s eves in my life.. 🙂
It was actually the beginning of my four-weeks Thailand trip and Similan Islands was definitely a good place to start the trip, to end the year of 2008 and to welcome 2009 :).
Similan Islands, literally means the Nine Islands is one of the best dive spots in Thailand. There are 9 islands in the area in which Thai people call them by numbers. Island No.1, 2 and 3 are forbidden for divers as the Thai government wants to protect the sea turtles who lay their eggs there. The Similan Islands is easy to access from Phuket and Khao Lak, however, if one wants to maximise his/her dive trip, it is recommendable to do a live aboard trip from Phuket or Khao Lak. As for me, I did a 4-days-live aboard trip with 14 dives in total. It was so much fun and the food… mmm… don’t ask! Delicious. Full stop.
The first day on the “Wicked Witch” boat, all of us got seasick! Hahaha… seriously. I think, everyone threw up that night, including me, of course. We all slept quite early that night, hoping that we’d feel much better in the morning. It worked. The next few days, we were fine. There were 12 of us on that boat, exclude the crew from the “Sea King Divers” and we dove from one dive spot to another…
On my travel journal, I wrote:
“First day in 2009… and first dive of 2009… it was such a beautiful dive! Lots of big fish – sweetlips, jackfish, groupers, etc. I’ve never seen such big fish like those before. The trevally was close to 2 meters. Wow! And… I saw the biggest moray eel ever! It was as big as my thigh! I was so scared that it might bite me when I swam and took a picture above him :p”
Yes. The fish are HUGE there. And one could find oriental sweetlips, potato grouper, humphead parrotfish (1 meter long!), giant groupers, leopard sharks, manta rays, black tip sharks, etc etc. Apart from them, there are a lot of critters, too. I personally love nudibranchs. Here, I enjoyed taking pictures of different species of nudibranchs… omigod… they’re soooo cute!!! My dive master, Sing, a local guy who has been diving for 15 years and log more than 15,000 dives (he claimed) was definitely the best dive master I’ve ever had. He knows his stuff. He could point out the smallest fish, nudi, shrimp, crab, etc.. you name it! Seriously. Diving with him was a whole new experience! Our group was so lucky to have him as the DM. Yeaaahhh!!!
We dove at Anita’s Reef (Island # 5-6), East of Eden – Koh Payu (Island #7), West of Eden – Koh Payu, Grandmother Bay (Island #9), Koh Bon, South Reef (Island #9), Turtle Rock (Island #8), Elephant Head Rock, Honeymoon Bay (Island #4), Shark Fin Reef and Boonsung Wreck.
Each dive was different and interesting. I personally love the giant sea fans in which could be found in almost every dive site. They’re lovely. In one of the spots, hard corals were scattered like a paddy field in the village. As far as one could see, hard corals stretched for miles away and hundreds of fish swimming above them. What an amazing view…
My favorite dive site is Shark Fin Reef. When we were there, the visibility was around 25 meters and there was no other diver, which was perfect. We saw a pregnant leopard shark laid comfortably on the sand. Leopard sharks are very common to be seen in Similan Islands. These friendly-looking sharks can be seen on the sandy bottom. Lazy sharks, they are ☺.
At the Boonsung Wreck, the visibility was poor, around 5 – 7 meters, but there were thousands of fish! Wonderful. Schools of yellow-tail barracudas swimming around me. It was such an amazing feeling to swim in between them! So cool! We also found an ornate ghost pipefish hiding in between corals. It’s so damn cute! I was so happy to see it. Yayyyy!!! Peter, a Thai diver, was the one who found it. I thanked him for having such good eyes as the ghost pipefish was less than 5cm!
In most of the dives, the water was choppy, so most of the time, we had to descend as soon as we jumped to the water. The hardest one was to go up to the boat. With such choppy water, omigod… it was damn difficult! I felt sorry for Sing, the dive master, for working hard to help us to get on the boat… and that includes taking off our fins in such big waves (that’s because we had such difficulties in taking off our fins, so he took the liberty to help us!)! Oh dear… Not to mention he has to make sure that all of us were safe and having a good dive. Hmm.. who says being a dive master is an easy job? It’s not.
During those four days in the Andaman Sea, we had a lot of “visitors”. A lot of fish came to say “hi” to us every time our boat stopped the engine. Even turtles played with us… as well as… baby sharks! I remember on one sunny day, there were 3 baby sharks playing around not far from our boat. Then, another boat came and stopped about 10 meters from our boat. A bunch of snorkelers jumped to the water, while we’re watching those baby sharks! Those snorkelers had no idea that there were baby sharks nearby! Hahaha… It’s either they’re happy to bump into those sharks or freak out and run into the boat right away! Haha..:D.
At the Elephant Rock, the other group saw a manta ray, but not my group. Oh well… we’re not lucky enough ☹. However, I really enjoyed the swim through in between the rocks. It was sensational. I felt like I was in a movie…. So cool! It was a nice dive site. People call it as an Elephant Rock coz the rock formations look like an elephant. I was too busy taking pictures of nudibranchs to notice the shape of the rocks. Maybe they’re right… ☺
I had such a great time diving at the Similan Islands with the Sea King Divers. The boat crews were all nice. Captain Pu, is an old friend of Sing, the dive master.. and he’s a diver, too! Sometimes he joined us diving. What a cool captain, he is! And the cook… you wouldn’t believe he’s a cook if you met him… he has a pirate-looking face with a headband on his head, just like a pirate. Scary-looking, but when he walks, his butt is sticking up and he’ll smile at you, gently. And once you taste his food… mmmhhh… am sure you’ll get addicted to it! Mr Wat, that’s his name. We all love him… and his tasty Thai dishes!!! Yuummmmm!!!
I will definitely come back to Similan Islands and will try to dive at the Richillieu Rock next time. This time our boat couldn’t make it due to the bad weather. That would be another reason to come back and dive here, right? 😉
Here are some of the pictures that I took in Similan Islands. More stories will be uploaded soon once I put them in writing. Too many good memories of the islands… the dives, the beautiful islands, the people, everything!
As I said, it was a good place to start 2009. And with such a good start, I hope this would be an amazing year and my days ahead would be full of adventures!
Have a good year, my dear friends! Kisses! xxx