Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tanning and Diving in Krabi

Krabi, Thailand

Douglas tells me that hardly anyone else feels compelled to board a plane at each and every possible holiday. Fortunately, or unfortunately for him, I can't imagine spending a week hanging around our house in Shanghai if we have the opportunity to travel. Thus, spring break saw us heading out once again. This time with a mission - Douglas's open water scuba certification.

I would have loved to get back to Koh Phi-Phi (last visit was in 1989), but with flights from Shanghai, chaos at the new Bangkok airport, and the thought of the extra travel between Krabi airport, Krabi dock and Koh Phi-Phi, I settled on Krabi. While there are a number of dive shops in Krabi, there seem to be only 2 integrated into hotels. From experience watching others studying the PADI guide book, being at an integrated site seemed to make the most sense. That was for us Ao Nang Divers at Krabi Seaview Resort.

I was well informed that there might once have been a seaview, but it was no longer. And that the place was clean and well-maintained. All true. The internet price at 4300 Baht for a bungalow for 3, inclusive of breakfast, even seemed tolerable. In hindsight, all I can say is that I have gotten seriously out of sync with hotel prices. While clean and maintained, the bathroom was not a US$125 bathroom, and the American breakfast was not a US$125 breakfast. My conclusion was that it was a very nice little place, well-run, the staff was pleasant, having the dive shop and pool was convenient, but do hotel rooms really cost this much?

The offset to the hotel rooms were the very cheap massages - at 200 Baht (US$6) / hour for a Thai or oil massage, you could hardly go wrong. Food was cheap to reasonably priced; though it was necessary to search for good Thai food.

Douglas passed his open water diving certification program. Yeah! He found the staff and crew at Ao Nang Divers to be great. The boat they use is the biggest in the area and is frequently used when the other dive shops have small groups to add onto the trips. With the dive spots being a hike from Krabi, the big boat was a nice feature. Douglas is now plotting to see how to get us to the Maldives for diving (I'm thinking about someplace cheap like Manado).

His first day of dives, he was accompanied by a camera man who entertained him on the book editing the movie. If I can tackle the challenges of video uploading, I'll attach a few clips from the rather expensive DVD of the 2 dives.

While the others studied and dove, I wandered around the beach - it was HOT! Found the best cappucino shop in town - a little booth called Kinaree. And flew through the 5th Harry Potter book in anticipation of the next installment this summer.

We had heard horror stories of the new Bangkok airport. Chaos has ensued as they shut down runways due to safety concerns, moved domestic flights back to the old airport, and reshuffled all of the flight schedules. It meant a much longer layover for us both directions. The airport could be and should be a new modern global hub. On the surface, perhaps, it meets the challenge. Look a bit deeper at the level of construction, the poor maintenance, confusing signboarding, and general service levels, and you quickly find that any dreams of being a global hub have rapidly vanished. And for this, you must now pay the departure tax which has been increased to 700 Baht (US$21).

The upshot of this year's spring break - Douglas is a certified scuba diver, Tim turned off his Blackberry for a few days and I'm tanned. Quite a bit better than last year when Douglas and I stayed at home nursing his broken leg!

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