Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Diving head to head

Koh Tao is great diving for coral reefs, wildlife and a great first experience.  Pattaya is very different.  I would've hated the place if I hadn't been diving.

Pattaya is one of the original places in Thailand for sex tourists.  There were lots of bars that were full of single women at each table, waiting for men to come in "looking for company".  There weren't as many girly bars - topless, strip clubs, etc-as in Phuket. But the men were older, more desperate, creepier. There were men traveling in twos or threes picking up girls who looked young enough to be their granddaughters, although it's hard to estimate age in Asian women. Aside from my first part of a day walking around, I spent every other day I was there out on the boat.  That's the best way to pass time in Pattaya.

The best diving in Pattaya is the wreck diving.  There are three wrecks, two intentional sinkings that are mast upright and nearly identical except one has been down eight years and one has been down five. The third is a ship that was used as a cargo ship in World War Two after the Japanese took over Thailand. It's been down since 1945. It is on it's side with cargo spilled, holes cut in the hull when they salvaged the engines and oil barrels, and it's covered in sea life. After doing two wreck dives the first day I decided I might as well get my Wreck Specialty certification.  I spent two days doing four dives on the Hardeep, the WWII wreck. I mapped it, lined in and out and in general, thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Pattaya beach

Good eats at the night market.  And pork to boot!

Our departure point for diving

Hardeep wreck info
After Pattaya I headed to Aryutthaya, a city that used to be a royal capital.  It's a small city just north of Bangkok that is an island of sorts.  It's a couple square miles of land completely surrounded by rivers. It has more temples per square inch than anywhere I've ever seen. They're gorgeous. I took a riverboat ride at sunset that showcased three of the oldest and most beautiful. I stayed three nights, but didn't get as much time in town since it took me almost a full day to get there even though it's not far from Pattaya.
Temple from the river at sunset

Very old temple in a park

My least port of call in Thailand was Bangkok.  I didn't see much of the city.  By that point my ankle was still swollen and very painful.  It was limiting my mobility.  I even made an appointment with the doc from Thailand for the day I got back.  The cut on my left foot that I mentioned previously? It was infected.  I'd sought assistance at a pharmacy in Pattaya but with all the time in the ocean I think it never dried or I got a bug from the sea in it.  I was almost as painful as the ankle.  I was exhausted mentally and physically so stayed pretty close to my hotel.  Consequently I only saw two markets and a mall.  Two of the three were straight across the street from where I was staying. I did get to see some pretty great public art.
Street art.  This is one of three giant tigers

Happy year of the water dragon

Treasure is where you find it.
I arrived in Jakarta at 1am, picked up a key to my friends place from her at a bar, and collapsed into her guest room. The weekend led to a debridement of my cut, a wrapping of my ankle and then just rest.

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