06 April 2009

Koh Samui 13-17Mar 09: Day 3

Diving Day!

Woke up early and went to the restaurant for some light breakfast. Alas, it was drizzling! Just when we were hoping for a good dive after a year.
Anyways, Colin from Bophut Diving School arrived 7.30am on the dot to pick us. Colin is the father of Sean, an Australian who have settled in this region and Samui for like 20 years already. He would be our dive master/guide for our 2 dives. We have 4 of us, hubby and I, Colin the dive master and a tourist from Mauritius, who is also a dive instructor back in Mauritius. With 2 dive masters around, we are definitely safe =D
It was still pouring when we reached Bophut Diving School, around 20 mins away from Chaweng but it didn't dampen our spirits. Well, Sail Rock is like 1.5hrs away, probably weather would turn for the better. Yep, stay positive and optimistic.
We fitted wet suits, BCD and regulators (brought our own masks and booties), loaded all the stuff onto the mini truck and headed to our speedboat. Apparently, Bophut Diving School owns the fastest and most cool-looking speedboats in Samui.
Oh yes indeed! The dive boat is really cool, unfortunately, this was chartered by another group already :(
So, we had to take this dive boat instead, ok ok, it was not bad as well, much better than some of the other dive boats around.
There were around 15 of us for this trip, including the dive masters. Apart from the 3 of us from Bophut Diving School, the rest were from 2 other diving schools. And all of them are Caucasians, except the both of us.
The journey to Sail Rock took longer than expected, but thankfully the sky seemed to clear up by the time we reached. Unfortunately, the sea was rather choppy making all of us queasy.
We quickly geared up and jumped in, but had to fin for quite a bit near the rock to descent point.
Sail Rock is supposedly one of the best dive sites in the region, between Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao. A big granite pinnacle rising 15m above water and drops 40m down to sandy bottom. Sail Rock is best known for its chimney, a swim-through that can be entered at around 20m and can be exited in two places, first at around 12m or around 5m.
As we descent, was a little dismayed that the visibility was quite poor, at best 10m, with lots of particles in the water. Otherwise, it would have been a beautiful site with lovely rock formation and busy marine creatures. There were many jacks, barracudas, reef fishes, large anemones... didn't bother taking many photos since visibility was quite bad.

Small school of barracudas.

Hubby against backdrop of barracudas.

Curious pair of moray eels.

Large anemones in abundance.

After an uneventful 50min dive, we ascended and had to fin like mad against the current to get back on the dive boat. Really exhausting. Lunch was served on boat, but most of us couldn't bear taking any food due to the current.
After enough surface interval time, we geared up again. Current was really strong and pushed the dive boat away from the rock. Worse, after I jumped in the water, was told to fin back to the boat as we were too far away from descent point -_-" Almost wanna die lah. Ok, made in back up, let the dive boat steer closer and jumped in again. Finned hard towards the rock and quickly descent. Once descent, felt so much better as the underwater current was quite mild as compared to the surface.

Told Colin that I would like to explore the chimney. So, we entered at 20m and exited at 12m. It was quite an experience to do a vertical swim through, the wall is covered with lots of corals and sponges. Didn't bring along a torch, otherwise could explore the cavern more closely.
That was me, inside the chimney at 12m. The cave was actually quite sinister looking, from the photo. Haha. O.o

That was Colin, my dive master outside the chimney. Photo taken from inside.

Not many nudibranch to spot. Saw this giant, with a puny one close-by.
Many lovely reef fishes frolicking among the anemones.

After 45mins bottom time, we ascended and once again finned madly back to the boat due to the currents.
Then it was another uneventful 1hr30mins back to Samui. Hubby and I were like so gungho and slept at the sun deck. Yes, we got sunburnt :(
Well, although both dives weren't spectacular, I would still say, all dives are good dives, just that some are better! And most importantly, I clocked my 50th dive!!! Yippeee!
I am now craving for more diving!!! Probably, Pulau Redang in May since we haven't been there for more than a year now.
Anyways, since Colin knew the island so well (he married a thai wife :)), we asked him for recommendation to good authentic thai food. He highly recommended this thai restaurant call Sabieng Lae located at Lamai area, very near to Mango Village and Rocky Resort.
After Colin sent us back to the resort, it started to pour. We decided to wash up, snooze while waiting for the rain to stop as we couldn't ride our scooter in the rain (extended our scooter for another 24 hrs).
Finally, the rain stopped and we rode for about 30mins in search of Sabieng Lae. The signage was quite big and easily visible but we actually overshot a little the first time and had to turn back.
Surprisingly the restaurant was quite crowded. There are 2 dining areas, connected by a bridge over a little stream.
We opted for the upper deck. The restaurant is frequented by mostly thais. Most tourists who know this place probably received recommendations from locals, just like us.

We were famished! Dishes were served fairly fast. Stir-fried Kailan, very crunchy and tender.

Hubby wanted the milky version of Tom Yum Goong; so he ordered 'Tom Yum Goong with coconut' which is how we order in Singapore. Turned out, you have to specify coconut milk, otherwise, they actually put coconut meat inside the soup! LOL. Well, it turned out delicious anyway.
Flower crab with celery sauce. This dish was highly recommended by Colin. But we still prefered our local chilli crab.
Our favourite dish of the night - deep fried garopa with sweet and sour sauce. The fish was tender and fried to perfection and topped with the most delicious sweet and sour sauce we ever tasted; plus crispy fried basil. The tangy sauce whetted our appetite and we finished the fish in no time.
Steamed chilli with lime sauce. We weren't expecting a soup version at all, but this was rather good as well, very spicy and sour soup with squid.

The rain poured and stopped for several times during our meals and we were sort of stuck for a while. The bane of riding scooter.
Finally, we were able to head back to Chaweng, and decided to go for a massage at Baan Leelawadee Allure Massage & Spa again =D as we so love the Tiger Balm Massage. Moreover, we could do with more massage after a tiring dive day.

After the massage, I spotted this pancake/thai roti stall, selling one of the most famous snack in Samui.

Since we were going to hide in Six Senses the next day and not hitting the streets again, we had to try this famous snack. Hubby ordered the nutella and me, chocolate banana!

The roti/pancake was thin and crispy, very good with nutella.
The chocolate banana was yummy too, a little heavy but still ok as compared to our local prata which is more dough than this.
Then, it was back to the resort for a good night's rest!

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