Monday, 15 February 2010

Sunday 14th February

Chinese New Year / Valentine's Day

Snorkeling trip today; met at 7:20 and then waited for everyone to turn up. Went to pick up one girl who had managed to abscond from a cruise ship for the day, then went around to meet the boat.

Stopped outside a rather run-down pair of houses, then traipsed along an incredibly rickety pier built out into the sea on stilts, and surrounded by houses constructed in similar fashion. All of the dive party were conspicuous in walking above the support joists, rather than on the dodgy planking suspended above some fairly unsavory water.

The boat was on all wooden fishing boat that had been converted, by the addition of a marine (i.e. what goes in, goes out) toilet, a bench down the middle for air tanks, and a "sun deck". Once out on the reasonably choppy sea (6' - 8') waves it also became apparent that the thing had scarcely any keel and no vertical stability to speak of. Put bluntly it wallowed like a pig.

Three hours later we finally reached the first dive site and, whilst the others kitted up, Caroline and Olly donned fins and snorkels and went looking for things to see. And were disappointed. Visibility was fairly rubbish and there wasn't anything of import on the rocks other than a bit of weed and one or two fish. The only real entertainment was when Olly first put his head underwater to see a crab hanging from Caroline's bikini bottoms. It was quite a big crab too...

We returned to the boat to find that a couple of the divers were also unhappy, but all settled down and had a bite of lunch before setting out for the second dive site. Here we hit gold. The visibility was much better, we could easily see the bottom at 4-5 meters, and there was lots more marine life. Before we got to see much though, we were suddenly surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of fish - an entire shoal of them swimming so close together that we couldn't see the bottom, and stretching out in all directions as far as we could see. It was incredible; like being in a David Attenborough documentary.

When we swam free of the shoal there were lots of other fish and corals as well, though unfortunately we're not very good at identifying them. There was a very cool Moray Eel; yellow with brown spots and electric blue eyes, zebra fish and loads of others. Apparently the divers saw a puffer fish... :-)

The boat journey back was slightly less uncomfortable with the wind behind us. We docked having been given the warning to keep hands inside the boat because "sometimes they crash". Great.

Tried a different restaurant for Valentine's and Caroline received a handmade card from an anonymous suitor - looked suspiciously like a page from our notebook though...

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