While in Koh Tao we met up with our friends Tasha and Danny. Originally we wanted to find jobs in Koh Tao as Divemasters, however as plans turned out, there were no jobs for us. We decided to follow Danny and Tasha from Koh Tao to Koh Lanta where we could hang out with them and figure out what our next plan was. We decided to spend a little more money and avoid taking the night-ferry (which Danny and Tasha took) and it's grueling 9 hour boat ride with cramped quarters, in barrack style accommodations with a dog and all our stuff from Koh Tao.
Fame Tour Company
Koh Tao to Chumphon
We left at 2:30pm on the Lomprayah High Speed Ferry to Chumphon. Getting there in 1 to 2 hours in the pouring rain, we caught a big bus that was waiting for us to Champhon's city center. We got off the bus and hired a small truck with a tarpaulin roof over the bed with benches along the side called a songthaew. We wanted to go to the bus station so we could catch a bus to Krabi and spend the night. We took the 30 minute ride out to the bus station and found out that the bus from Bangkok-Krabi was full.
We took the songthaew back to the city center and he dropped us off at Fame Tour Company. He only charged us half-price to come back, and we sat down to the great staff who allowed us to keep our bags there until we figured out what we wanted to do. They had a large common area, with tables and chairs, computers, bar, and restaurant. We booked a clean fan room for 300 baht per night. 10 dollars. And ate a meal. This is where things got weird.
The Anaphylactic Response
I ordered a pizza with italian sausage for dinner and a Leo beer. My scalp was itching and I attributed it to the day of travel in the rain or something. Suddenly my upper-lip started to swell a little. My back started itching a little too, and after we finished dinner we went back to our room. I pulled up my shirt and Shelly informed me that my back and neck were covered in hives. I went downstairs to get the Benadryl we had in our bags that were stored 2 stories below at the agency/restaurant. I then started to feel flushed and had to sit down. I took two Benadryl and a Hydroxyzine (another antihistamine), pounded some water and put my head down on one of the tables in the restaurant. I wanted to get back upstairs to my room but realized I was going into shock and that my pulse was somewhat weak, I was hot and knew I should get my feet above my head or pass out.
The Shock Sets In
I asked the staff politely if I could lay down on the floor. They said it was too dirty and went a got newspapers to lay down on the floor. I layed down on the newspapered concrete floor and placed my feet on a chair. I felt the blood rush back to my head and concentrated on my breathing. In.... out... slowly.. just like diving... slowly.. and then suddenly I started to feel the nausea. I knew I needed to get over to the edge of the open air restaurant floor to vomit in the street, and that asking for something in which to deposit my stomach contents, would not happen in time. With newspaper sticking to my back from laying on the floor, I rolled over to the edge of the restaurant and began to dry heave. Nothing....... Then by the fourth heave, some water came up... but no pills, pizza or beer. WEIRD!!!!! What the hell just happened????
Getting Back To Our Room
I apologized to the stunned travel agency staff, and made my way up to our room. I had Shelly rub some Benadryl cream on my back and neck, and started to feel better. Within another 30 minutes my hives and swollen lip began to get better. Total time from ingestion to feeling better, about an hour! Then I passed out on the bed with a fan on me. It was the strangest thing I have ever experienced. Not really that scary because my throat never began to swell. Absolutely insane how fast it came and went. We don't know what caused it, but I woke up the next day after my anti-histamine induced coma like nothing had happened to me. We hopped our day-long bus trip at 6am from Chumphon to Koh Lanta.
The Lanta Riviera Resort
Krabi to Koh Lanta
We got to Krabi at around 12:30pm and were supposed to take a boat, but they said the seas were too rough. Flashes of Danny and Tasha in the overnight boat flashed in my head. We ended up taking another minibus. The first mini-bus only had 3 of us in it, and was completely air-conditioned and we slept most the way. The second bus was more crowded and we were begrudging due to the doubtful way we were going to get from the mainland to the island in a minibus. We hopped in any way, and for the next two hours and two car ferries later, we arrived in Koh Lanta and our accommodations at the Lanta Riviera Resort.
Our standard rooms were sufficient and I was able to run the aircon even though they said it didn't work and that it was a fan room only. They had a great pool, attached restaurant and a bar/restaurant called the Freedom Bar attached to the property. The grounds were pretty as well and the Muslim family that owned it were nice too. We didn't realize the Muslim majority of the south until now. Koh Lanta and Krabi have more Thai Muslims than anywhere we have been thus far.
Danny and Tasha and Us
Change Of Plans
We met up with Danny and Tasha in the afternoon and showed them their room next to ours. We lived in a bungalow 4-plex. Kind of like a townhouse with two stories, but the upstairs in another unit. We enjoyed our time in Koh Lanta. Although bored at times, we were able to rent motorbikes and ride around the island a couple of days with our friends, and worked on our tan as much as we could. Some days it rained on and off, some it rained nearly all day, it always rained at night, and there were days that were hot and sunny as well for some of the day. We had a great time there and even though most everything was closed for the low season. We know we would like it if it were the high season better. We wanted to relax and relaxing we did. It was great hanging out with Tasha and Danny and we know we will see them sometime again.
This is where things changed for us. We thought we might be going back to Koh Tao to try and find a job again as a Divemaster. We had spoken with a few shops on Koh Lanta and Koh Tao and were told that we might be able to find some work, but it wouldn't be easy unless we knew the reef and had some experience. The salaries ranged and the largest divers on the islands paid better, but getting in would most likely not happen. There were a lot of DMT classes going on at the shops on Koh Tao, and they get preferential treatment over hiring us. Not that we couldn't find work, but that it would take at least a month of hanging out, paying for dives potentially to get to know the reef. We were prepared to do this and were actually going to leave Koh Lanta early. The internet has been a major concern for us in general while in Thailand. Koh Samui we had to go to the pool for good reception, Koh Tao was only available by the pool, Koh Lanta's internet was out constantly, and only available by the pool or restaurant. So we figured we needed to get somewhere with good internet and get to the job hunting. We asked our hotel if they would give us two days money back since we paid a week in advance, and they denied us. So we decided to stay in Koh Lanta when Danny and Tasha left to continue their travels.
Poolside At The Lanta Riviera
Graame and Kristen
This last Sunday we were at the pool and there were 8 to 10 americans in the pool. We don't see many Americans (united states citizens) in the places we go. They were teachers who met in training and were taking a break from their schools for a Buddhist holiday on monday. We got to friends with a couple named Graame (who is actually Canadian) and his girlfriend Kristen (not sure of the spelling) We hung out with them and talked until 3 in the morning about teaching, and opportunities in Thailand. We talked about other things too, and enjoyed their company we hope they add us to Facebook and keep in touch.
They have been traveling for a while as well, and originally wanted to teach English in Spain. They realized it wasn't going to happen, and they arrived in Thailand and love it. We felt the same way as they did about Spain about becoming Divemasters in Thailand. We felt that now that we have been to Koh Tao, it seems like it's not the time or the place we had hoped it was. Shelly and I decided that next day to forgo finding a job in Koh Tao where we might get freelance work and get our TEFL certificate and teach English in Thailand.
The price for the course is about 1300 dollars and lasts 4-5 weeks. We decided on Chiang Mai but didn't know where we are going to attend yet. There are openings in early July. The school year goes until March of next year, and we should be able to find work. Teachers here make about 1000 dollars per month. Cost of living is around 500 dollars. Not as good as Hanoi where we hear 1500 to 2000 dollars per month and same living expenses. Although we are not opposed to going to Hanoi either when we are done. We are not getting rid of our scuba gear or dropping the possibility and reality that we will work in the scuba industry and go on to become instructors. But, money is getting tighter and the reality of the need to work is near at hand. We are looking forward to settling somewhere for a little while anyway the constant traveling can get tiring.
Change In Perspective
We are changing course suddenly, but both feel really good about this decision. We are now in Chumphon again and spent last night at Fame again. Didn't get sick this time. We ended up leaving Fame for a hotel a block away that has incredible internet in the room, tv, mini-fridge, aircon, an elevator and a tub. None of which Fame had. We are going to make some contacts and likely rent a place for 3 months in Chiang Mai to take our TEFL and find where our next step is.
Meeting friends that we love so much was and met months ago by chance in another country was incredible. We loved the time we spent together from Koh Tao to Koh Lanta. We know we will be lifelong friends of these two. Meeting the other couple by the pool at the Lanta Riviera was great too. They helped us to change our course. This is how traveling is. You meet people along the way, share ideas and stories and your own path changes. This simply doesn't happen when we are at home in our daily lives. Very rarely does a chance happening with people you never met, makes you change where you are going in life. It is serendipitous how travel forms your future in ways you can't plan. Many times while traveling this has happened to us with favorable results each time.