Wreck Diving at HTMS Sattakut, Koh Tao

Two days ago was my last full day on Koh Tao. Three dives were planned, first a wreck dive followed by a fun dive with some tips on diving backwards and a night dive in the evening.

I was very excited for my first wreck dive. We would not dive through it but I have not yet seen a wreck under water before, just that tiny boat in the lake at Mannheim Rheinau and load of bathroom ceramics like toilets and bathtubs last year at Koh Phi Phi. I wondered how big it would be and how much corals and fish had already made it their home while the instructor explained that the dive site is much more interesting when the vis is not that good and one cannot see the whole wreck at once. We were very lucky in that way as the vis was really not that good, already noticable on the first metres when we descended. I had some trouble going down with my ears as usual on a second day of diving but also made it down after a few more minutes.

The wreck was fascinating with its two canons, one in the front and one in the back, but it was not that big and even though only 2-3 more small dive groups were at the same site it was pretty crowded. A baby mooray eel was hiding on one side of the wreck but apart from that only few fish and hardly any corals were around. Nevertheless it was an exciting dive 🙂

htms sattakut wreck at koh tao

htms sattakut wreck at koh tao

canon htms sattakut wreck at koh tao

one of the canons of the wreck

I paused for the second dive as I was worried about my ear making trouble again and slept on the top of the boat while the others left for another dive. I was a little sad I didn’t get to try the backwards diving but I will try it back home in the pool at the latest as it will come quite handy when taking close up photos under water.

After we went back to Koh Tao for dinner and a short break we left again for the night dive. As it was full moon we did not necessarily need the torches. Actually I could see much better when we had them switched off… 😀

The night dive wasn’t that pleasant as we were lead up and down all the time. I don’t like such kind of dives, especially with my ears being quite sensitive to depth changes. It was quite nice to see a few puffer fish and blue spotted sting rays though, much more spectacular than anything else I saw the previous 3 dives.

My friend and I joined some other German backpackers / tourists on the beach after we logged our dives, almost everyone else had left the island for partying at the Full Moon Party at Koh Phang An. We saw all those poeple returing to Koh Tao in the morning at the pier – all without exception looked completely destroyed, dressed in neon shirts and having neon drawings on their skin. I had been at the Full Moon Party last year, in retrospect it was just something to tick off the bucket list. It was amazing to go up a balcony and view all those people partying on the beach and joining them as well for a few hours dancing in black light but all in all it was pretty shocking and crazy to see all these people being drugged and high on god knows what.

Right now I’m sitting at the airport in Bangkok, waiting to board my plane to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I’m looking forward to seeing a new country and culture and to my first real Vietnamese meal tonight. 🙂

Sawadee Kaa, Thailand!

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Fire and Water (Koh Tao)

Today would be the day that I finally dived again. It’s been more than a year since I dived in open water and I was counting the minutes. 

We packed our gear in the morning after breakfast and left with a speed boat for the huge boat to bring us to the dive sites around half past 12 noon. I have never been on such a big boat for diving before and unfortunately we had to jump from the front side down into the water. I’m afraid of heights and I was dying at the thought of jumping 2-3 metres down into the water. It took me a couple of minutes to dare the jump but I did it and it wasn’t that bad after all so luckily it wasn’t a problem any more for the second dive. 🙂

 I got very sea sick on the boat and it got even worse on the surface of the sea but once we descended down for the deep dive I was fine. Thank god! I absolutely enjoyed being under water again and didn’t care that this dive as well as the second one were the most boring dive sites I’ve ever been to. Nothing special to see, quite disappointing.

fish under corals at koh tao

find the fish


anemones with fish at koh tao

no nemos in the anemones 🙁


corals with christmas trees at koh tao

christmas trees on corals

The second dive was the navigation dive and after the students did their exercises the instructor let us buddy up and finish the rest of the dive on our own while he went back up to the boat. I thought this was quite irresponsible, given the fact that the other two students only just finished their open water course yesterday and also my friend has only logged 7 dives so far. If anything unexpected was to happen (chances weren’t that low with a nest of trigger fishes within the dive site) there wouldn’t be anyone in reach. My friend was glad that I was diving with him, otherwise he probably would have said something. Tomorrow, it seems to be a similar procedure for the two dives during the day. I don’t understand how someone can leave their students dive on their own without much experience at an unknown dive site… Even I myself have never dived at an unknown dive site on my own so far, this was the very first time without a guide. Welcome to Thailand, I guess?

Talking about irresponsibility, it’s crazy what drunk people do when they are numb from alcohol… In the evenings the Thai take out fire sticks and ropes for a show on the beach which leads to a jumping rope on fire for the tourists to jump with. Obviously, some tripped and hurt themselves on the firy rope and went to cool down in the ocean (infecting the wounds with the salt water…). This wasn’t the end, though. After the rope they did limbo, again with a stick on fire, and everyone who made it got a shot. Same procedure with a ring on fire to jump through. I don’t want to know how these guys looked this morning with their feet and more having burnt wounds. Crazy people…

rope on fire at koh tao

firing up the rope…


jumping through the ring on fire

jumping through the ring on fire

 

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Bangkok Stopover & Arrival in Koh Tao

I have safely arrived in Bangkok yesterday morning at around 6am local time and went straight to Khao San Road. I immediately recognized everything from a couple stays last year and felt comfortable in the neighborhood. 

As all the hostels only open much later in the morning I first went to look for a place to grab some breakfast and ended up in Lucky Beer where I had a good amount of meals last year and remembered that the food was good. Well, it wasn’t as good as I had in my mind but eating the pad thai and watching the Thai slowly opening up their stores and stands along the road, I finally “arrived” in Thailand.

I looked online for a good hostel since the one I knew was booked out and ended up at Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay on 28,30 Tani Road, one of the parallel streets to Khao San Road.

I immediately got a free bed in one of the dorms for 350 BHT. The receptionist / owner was very friendly and helpful as are the other staff members later in the evening. The rooms and bathroom are clean and served my requirement: a place to –shower and leave my belongings as I stroll along Khao San Road.

mixed dorm room Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay Bangkok

mixed dorm room 


reception Rang Kha Mhin Home Stay Bangkok

reception area

I planned to also go to Lumpini Park in the afternoon but ended up taking a short nap instead as I had to already check in at 7.30pm for my 9pm bus and ferry transfer to Koh Tao. I booked the transport with Lomprayah which has got the best recommendations online and offline being the only agency where the luggage is not searched to steal valuable things. Right they were and the service was exceptional as well as I made a mistake in my booking (the website changes already made selections depending on the order you enter them for your booking…) which was no issue to be changed right away without additional charges.

The bus was late as was the ferry and I arrived on Koh Tao at 9.30am to meet my friend. After breakfast we looked for a dive school where he would do his Advanced and I could join the group as a leisure diver. We ended up at Ban’s Diving Resort which claims to be the biggest PADI dive school in all Asia with 70 instructors belonging to their staff. I doubt they all teach at once whole year around but was still quite shocked by that high number… The dive school belongs to a resort where we got a fan room for free due to the Advanced course booking. It’s starting tomorrow at 10am and I’m so looking forward to blowing bubbles again. It’s the season for whale sharks and I still have a little hope I could finally see one even though they only saw one this year and that was already a month ago. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

We spent the rest of the day at the beach and snorkeled in the ocean with the corals starting already a few metres into the sea. Unfortunately, the water is no refreshment at all (way too warm) but I don’t care – I’m at the ocean again and I’m loving it. 🙂 

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Traveling Alone – Let the Adventure begin!

I’m sitting on the plane to Thailand, Bangkok, as I’m writing this and still cannot believe that I’m on vacation. I guess I need a few days to shut down and realize I finally made it back to Asia.

This is the first time that I’m traveling all by myself. I didn’t plan it that way but in the end it just happened. It’s not so easy to find a travel companion for a 3 week backpacking trip to Asia so in the end I decided I’m going to dare it and do it on my own. It’s better than having no vacation at all or sitting back at home on the balcony, dreaming of sunny hot weather, hearing the waves of the nearby ocean full of corals and fishes to see, and not to forget the awesome food that can never be as authentic as in Asia itself.

So here I am, on a plane, ready for this adventure. I’m curious and excited how it’s going to be as I’m actually a quite shy person to people I don’t know. It takes some time for me to warm up with strangers so I’m definitely seeing this as some kind of self-experiment as well.

My plan is to land in Bangkok and take the first bus and ferry to Koh Tao. I traveled all of Thailand last year with a friend so I’ve pretty much seen all the sights but regretted not having been to Koh Tao as all the divers were naming this island as one of THE places to dive in Thailand. After a few days of diving in Koh Tao I’ll go back up to Bangkok to take a plane over to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam to travel all the way from South to the North in Hanoi before it gets back home via Bangkok. 

In Koh Tao a good friend of mine who’s currently in Thailand for his exchange semester will be joining me. So I’m not entirely traveling solo but once I get to Vietnam the real adventure begins.

Since people are a little scared something might happen to me I decided to relive this blog and give everyone a sign of life during my stay in Thailand and Vietnam. I left my blog abandoned for way too long but unfortunately I didn’t find the time to process all my photos from my past travels over the last couple years and therefore never managed to put anything up here. It’s never too late to change this though, so back I am! 🙂

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Italia – mi sei mancato!

Camping Marina di Venezia / Camping Mediterraneo, Punta Sabbioni / Treporti.

That’s where I spent basically every single summer of my first 18 years. It’s been Mediterraneo all my early years, my grandparents used to go there for decades. When we got our first dog we had to switch to Marina di Venezia, the only campsite allowing dogs in that area. Now it’s been 7 years I haven’t been there, exploring the world – probably due to not having seen much in my youth – and nostalgia brought me back last summer.

My sister and I spent there one week quite spontaneously, taking the only opportunity of a holiday this summer that was left. After driving the whole day, being stuck in a traffic jam throughout whole Austria, arriving in the late evening on an already full campsite and spending the night in the car on a park side outside the campsite, we were able to enter the following morning, build up the tent and head to the beach just before it started to rain. It was no good start but it already felt like vacation, lying on that familiar beach we already built so many sandcastles and searched for that perfect seashell we never found.

Sister & me

Monday was my birthday and I couldn’t have it imagined any better. My sister prepared an amazing breakfast with rolls, coffee and a birthday “cake” while I was still asleep. My sister is the best! After a thorough breakfast we headed to the harbor for our day trip to the islands Burano, Murano and Venice.

embroidered umbrellas in Burano

Burano is famous for their embroidery but I was more fascinated by the cute little houses, each painted in a different color, and narrow alleys when leaving the main, touristy, ways. Trust me, photos do not capture the beauty of this island, but I tried.

random street in Burano

souvenir shop in Burano

Murano is famous for their glas manufacturing and beside that the island was pretty boring I have to say. Maybe because I was too much looking forward to getting to Venice again?

Sister and me in Murano

painter in Venice

I love Venice. I don’t remember how many day trips I’ve been there already, every time loving it more. Walking through the alleys I’m always reminded of the thrilling chases by night in the childhood book Der Herr der Diebe by Cornelia Funke (The Thief Lord). One day I must spend a night in Venice, it must be amazing. This time, the day trip was very different to the others because it was off season and the island seemed empty compared to the usual summer days. Piazza San Marco was almost empty and there was so much space on the Rialto bridge, incredible. It was also perfect for some photo taking without having too many tourists around. 🙂

view from the Rialto bridge

Rialto Bridge

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

The rest of the holiday my sister and I spent either at the beach, at the pool or in the tent due to a rain storm. We arrived in the rain and we left with rain. Nevertheless, we had some really nice days in between and it felt so good to have been back and to have been camping again. Now it’s time for some more adventurous holidays again! 🙂

stormy welcome – stormy goodbye!

going home (Burano)

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