Tuesday, January 26, 2010

11,977 Miles Traveled

Jan 24, 2010
Koh Tao, Thailand
Mostly Clear, very humid, intermittent showers, 85°F

Yesterday, we trudged a half mile through the pouring rain in order to wait six hours at the train station, got on the train at 7:30pm and arrived at 4:30am in a small village south of Bangkok, waited two hours for a bus to come, got on the bus and arrived at a dock at around 7:15, got out, rolled our luggage over several hundred foot dock (which was little more than a bunch of sticks nailed together), got on a boat with about a hundred other passengers for two hours, arrived in Koh Tao around 9:30, got into the back of a truck with all of our luggage, and finally arrived at the resort after the most grueling travel day I have ever experienced.
But in comparison to Bangkok, this is absolute paradise. I collapsed into a chair in the restaurant and happily ordered some western-style French toast. The resort has beautiful colonial architecture, tropical flowers and birds, and a stream running right through the middle of whole thing – except I got a little closer and realized that my idyllic creek was actually a channel for sewage to run into the ocean. And it smells really awesome too. This is clearly an indication of the issues Koh Tao has with waste disposal. This is a problem that every single human settlement in the entire world is faced with, and it seems that this island can’t or doesn’t hide the path the waste takes into the ocean. I feel like the contamination of water that people frequently swim in is completely unnecessary in this situation. While there doesn’t seem to be a significant amount of agriculture on Koh Tao that could provide demand for fertilizer, there are other ways to repurpose the waste into more usefully and with less pollution. Using it as an energy sources comes to mind.
I don’t think I can write a fair and cohesive journal entry until I get some serious sleep. We’re going down to the resort (our bungalows are higher up) to pick out some dive equipment for tomorrow. I’m so excited because the water here is warm and very clear. (Resumed writing at the end of the day, around 8:30. Very tired. No Nap.) Denny told us about the diversity in the coral reefs in the pacific, and mentioned that marine life began in the Indo-Pacific ocean. Subsequently, the diversity in Thailand will be much greater than in Hawaii, because the poor fish from the more diverse Asian countries have to send their just-hatched babies as emissaries to Hawaii. The babies don’t always make it.
After I tried to put myself down for a nap, I promptly had to get up and go down to the main resort area. Scuba stuff was taken care of. I wandered off to the beach for a few moments. (Side note: I think that there will be great shells to find tomorrow diving just based on what was washed up on the shore)The sand is so fine, like cream-colored sugar. It’s pleasant to brush it off my feet because it feels so smooth and looks so pretty. By the time I joined the group again, I was absolutely famished and desperately needed some food. Mike, Matt and I walked into town, picked up a dive shirt for Mike, and then went to one of the many Thai restaurants. Matt and I had shrimp pad thai, and I had a delicious Tiger beer, and Mike had a very traditional hamburger. All very good.
In our short walk to town, I’ve noticed that there is constantly the danger of being hit by a motorcycle, the primary mode of transportation here. They are loud, and people tend to become significantly less aware as soon as they straddle these “crotch rockets.” Also, the gross exhaust that they put out is just horrible. We walked back, hung out in the room, watched the sunset, and then had a short class.
I’m in bed now so I can be in tip-top shape for diving tomorrow. I promise that tomorrow’s entry will be a lot better and more detailed, but this one didn’t end up being so terrible after all. I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, but at the end of days like these, sometimes a girl just needs a break.

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