Back in the UK, Wilson and I live away from where we grew up; this means we are used to shuttling around over the Christmas period, where we hop from house to house trying to visit as many friends and family units as possible. “Driving home for Christmas” wasn’t an option this year, and after cycling from the South of Thailand, we were ready to settle down for a few days of relaxation during the festive period: although, quite typically, we had signed up to the Rapha-Strava Challenge: ride 500 km between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Did we manage it…?
After 60km, we arrived and headed straight to Khao Lak Explorers – a dive centre. During our cycle, we had decided to sign up to complete our Open Water PADI. Clutching our theory books, we headed to a guesthouse: one with a pool so we could practice snorkelling!
Over the next couple of days leading up to Christmas, we learned to SCUBA dive: something I will never forget, and something I had dismissed as being beyond my capabilities. Having bouts of claustrophobia in water (either on the surface or under), I had a niggle that my survival instincts would override and put a stop to such activities. With an instructor who was so calm it was almost graceful, there was only one episode, and this was while training in the pool, not 18m under the sea!
The first time you experience diving in the sea is phenomenal, and the sound of your own breathing is soothing, if not reassuring. Floating in a fish tank, moving in slow motion, it is completely surreal. It is a window to another world, and the fish don’t seem to mind you’re there at all.
Will and I completed 2 local dives and 2 dives at the Similan Islands, seeing clownfish, barracuda, grouper, trigger fish, angel fish, butterfly fish, tuna…we promise to return. I was just as excited when I saw flying fish / sea swallows shooting away from the speedboat on our return back to shore.
Before settling down for Christmas, we did a 160km round-trip down to Phuket and were given a nice juicy hill, nearly steep enough for us to get off our bikes and push. Nearly. We don’t stop easily. After decorating the bike with tinsel, we were ready for our Christmas party and bbq hosted by the Monkey Dive Hostel. Our Boxing Day was also just as memorable: we visited a friend from home who was staying close by in a very lovely resort, and joined his family for festive celebrations on the beach: what a treat it was!
So did we manage the Rapha-Strava challenge?
Of course! Here’s the badge to prove it:
posted by Lindsay