Big Blue Diving on Koh Tao

Before I went down to Koh Tao I did some extensive googling to navigate through the many, many, options of diving on Koh Tao. I mean seriously, I’ve never seen that many dive schools in one place before! But after the research I ended up choosing Big Blue Diving.

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I arrived early since I had arrived to the island the day before, which was good because as the ferries started coming in lots of people arrived to the diving school. I had booked a few days in advance, so it was easy to get checked in and settled. The room wasn’t fancy, since I had chosen the free accommodation, but I got a lower bunk and the sheets were clean.

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I decided to go the Advanced Diver course, and the instructors recommended the SSI’s Advanced Adventure so our group decided to go with that. My instructor was Mike from Australia and in my group was two guys from England and a guy from Spain. Together we got to decide what dives we wanted to do.

Day one we went through navigation on land and then headed out for dives. We did the mandatory navigation dive and the perfect buoyancy dive. Then after a short stop on land for dinner we headed out for the night dive.

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Second day we had an early start for the deep dive (also mandatory) to 30 meters and the wreck dive, bot were totally amazing dives. Mike, the instructor took some photos for us, which was very cool.

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On the last dive I got to tick of one of my biggest dreams, to see a turtle. It was so cool. Totally loved it!

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Overall I can really recommend Big Blue Diving on Koh Tao. I had an amazing experience there.

I saw a turtle!

Have had the most amazing couple of days diving. Today I had my two most favorite dives ever. First one was the deep dive (30 meter) in crystal clear water, second was a wreck dive. During the second one my dream of seeing a turtle came true! My instructor Mike took this pic of the turtle!

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I am now and advanced diver! (Which had nothin to do with seeing the turtle but with the fact that I finished the course today). Tomorrow morning I’m heading back home to Rangsit.

The things people google

On the wordpress site I can see what people have search for when they ended up on my blog. Sometimes it’s the funniest things. Like the three searches now? “Present for countdown for coworker leaving”, “kite runner recommendation”, and “swedish food thailand”. I wonder what entries they found with those words.

Other funny searches are: “was j.r.r. tolkien a nomad?”, “nomad studying at university”, “should I sell my house”, “touristy stuff bangkok” “how to sleep on sleeper bus”.

Mae La Refugee Camp

Today I’ve had a very interesting day. I was picked up by the head of the project from Handicap International and an occupational therapist at 8.20 and then we set off toward the refugee camp. It took about an hour to get there.

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The refugee camp was quite similar to what I had expected, but that’s just because I’ve been reading quite a lot about refugees situation in Thailand right now. Their “houses” are made out of bamboo sticks and leafs, that’s the only material they’re allowed to use since the camp is supported to be temporarily. The camps has been there for 30 years by now…

Mae La is the biggest refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Myanmar, it has about 50 000 registered refugees, but since refugees arriving after 2005 aren’t registered (and there fore not eligible to apply for resettlement) there is difficult to know how many people are staying in the camp. Found out there are 12-14 NGOs working there at the moment though.

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Resources available in the camp are scarce, and unfortunately it’s getting worse. Many NGOs are “forced” to leave the area because of lack of funding. Most international funding now go to NGOs going into Myanmar to work there. Which in theory is good, and necessary. But those resources are going to reach the already quite well off in Myanmar, and the poorest people in the provinces on the border to Thailand (Karen provinces) are just like today, not going to get anything for quite a while. People are, still today, fleeing Myanmar. Karen and other minorities in the north/east and Rohingya muslims in the south.

It’s a very difficult situation which effects the already vulnerable people the most. During my visit to the camp I did get lots of good material to my study though, which I have to be happy with.

After a few days in Mae Sot

Mae Sot is a curious place. The town is small, but as everywhere so many people live here. The strange thing is that it’s mostly foreigners. All signs here are on Thai and Burmese (and many times on English as well, thank god). About half of the population living here are from Myanmar. Then there’s so many NGO workers here as well. I have never seen so many NGOs in one town before. Which works well for me since I need to talk to people working with refugees for my field study.

This far I’ve done four interviews. Or it’s more like conversations really, because not many people dare to speak their mind if they believe the “wrong people” could read it. Which is understandable. I’m learning heaps though. And I’m learning more and more about Thai bureaucracy; basically what’s worked best is to just show up and smile.

Now the computer is almost boiling again so I have to put it away. I’m waiting for food and as soon as I start the computer it gets hot. It’s probably 40 degrees here now…

Tonight I’m meeting up with an Australian physio that works at one of the NGOs here, she’s been helping me loads with contacts.