Monday, March 01, 2004

Report to UnderSea Adventurers Dive Club on Thailand’s Ocean Rover Liveaboard trip to Andaman Sea and Mergui Archipelago. Also reporting on touring Burma/Myanmar as my land extension trip before the dive portion.

A bit of background: About a year and a half ago (Aug. 02) I had just returned from some trip and found an email from Paul Humann inviting me to join him on his dive trip in Feb, 04 on the Ocean Rover. I had enjoyed traveling with Paul several times in the past and wanted to do so again. However my dive club, UnderSea Adventurers (USA) was also seriously considering chartering the Ocean Rover for about the same time frame. What a coincidence! I talked to Paul and his trip was full. It only takes a few days for his trips to fill up and I hadn’t been home to timely read and respond to his email. So I continued to await the club’s decision. A few days later, I get another email from Paul. Because he continued to receive responses from more people also wanting to go, he decided to book the boat for their next trip as well. I immediately tried to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer regarding USA going or not going but could not. Therefore told Paul I’m in! USA did decide to go a couple of months later.

Hi Linda I and Linda C, Jim, Ronnie & Nils, Carrol, Barbara, Gary, Chary, Kathie & Steve, Frank & Joanne, Nancy & Roger, (hope that still covers everybody going)

I got home early yesterday morning, Feb, 29th, and have had 2 nice long naps so am awake now and thought I would write my promised report to y’all. I will try to keep it short or I will be rambling on forever. If anyone has ANY questions please just ask me. If I get any questions whose answers I feel may be of interest to all, I’ll let you all know.

When are some of you leaving - exactly? I know it is just in the next few days? Have a feeling that you will be gone by Thursday’s dive club meeting. Just like I left on this trip during the day of last month’s meeting.

It’s too bad I didn’t go long enough ahead of time to influence your decisions re land add-ons as Burma/Myanmar was ONE SPECIAL PLACE! I WILL NEVER FORGET IT! Please let me know who is going there and what places you are going to visit so I can be more specific. It is the antithesis of America – totally unlike anything we can relate to in our society.

They are not living in the 21st century or the 20th or the 19th. Everyone is very poor by our standards but they all can find work because everything is run on manuaI labor – intentionally!. Nothing is mechanized, industrialized or computerized. I just stood there for 10 days with my mouth open, staring around in a daze at smiling people, gold Buddha’s, lit candles and incense alongside offerings (money), mommy’s and daddy’s loving their little kids, monks of all ages walking around in the mornings with their food bowls as they are not allowed to eat after lunch time, people praying to the Buddha images to have a wish answered, gold spire temples/pagodas/stupas (never did really get it straight which was which) of all shapes and sizes EVERYWHERE, oxen pulling big wheeled carts, dogs and cats everywhere, longyi’s (sarongs worn by both men and women), yellow paste, often designed, applied to their faces for beauty but also believed to prevent sun damage…

Have you ever heard of sugar palms? My God, you should taste the potent fermentation they make. No one else would buy a bottle – except guess who!!! I got 5 hours of Burma/Myanmar video – unedited, of course. We had a special treat at Inle Lake – a race of the ‘leg rowers’. There is NO WAY that you would believe it unless you see/hear it!!! Thinking back on it, the trip was tiring as you are on a go-go-go schedule. Believe me getting a good night’s sleep is of prime importance!! If you go you will never be quite the same again.

The Ocean Rover lives up to it’s superb reputation. You will find it hard to find anything to complain about! The water is warm although there are thermoclines. I have a 3 mil custom wetsuit from the people down on I95 who say that their 3 mils equal the 5 mils bought in the dive shops and I believe it. I wear it on all occasions, leaving the long zippers unzipped if water warm and zip them when water is cold. I left them unzipped on every dive. I didn’t ever wear my hood although some of the others did. So pack accordingly. They issue you the big safety sausages that you stick your purge valve into to fill. I never used it although others often did.

I assume that the same 2 dive guides, Mark and Hans, will be on board when you are there. With 2 boats available you can be ready to go in the first or second boat with a guide on each. The guide will wave to you on the way down so you will know which way to go and I am sure that they will show you lotsa stuff. (Linda, I know that they talked a lot about nudis) I can’t tell you much more about what they saw because I learned a long time ago that I don’t like crowds waiting in line to take pictures.

So I am aware that I miss a lot and don’t get video of good stuff that is being talked about after the dives. I watch which way they are going and head off in the opposite direction. The normal briefings tell you where all you can go and what you can do so you can decide to do whatever!! They respect your expertise and let you do whatever you want. Great!!! I love exploring and wanna know what is ‘round the next rock!! The huge rock formations were different for me and I wanted to experience them. Tons of all kinds of reef fish and the soft corals were very colorful. I can’t avoid other divers altogether though because there are lots of other liveaboards in Thailand in addition to the Ocean Rover. They are all around but they are the ‘follow the leader’ types so they come through and are all over but in a couple of minutes they are gone.

The visability was not as good as I wished but was told it was better than Paul’s first trip by the people that went on both back to back trips. It is variable by dive site, time of day and where you are relative to the current. You will never dive a site for the second or third time and feel that you are on the same site (Yes, they often dive one site multiple times.) The current was all over the place – or not. Interesting to try to figure it out. I’m used to a current going in one direction along a wall for example – and ride the current all way in one direction until ready to come up – right? Not like that here, obviously, because this diving is rocky islands so you go up and down and around and around, although sometimes they tell you to stay in one area and not go all the way around.

I’m sure that you looked at their website so already know that they have plenty of camera space and 110 outlets. They have 2 inflatable tenders that you step into and it is always only 3-4 minutes to the dive site. You do a coordinated back roll at the count of 3 and all get down ASAP. I never surfaced without seeing one of the boats that was soon by your side. And, as usual on liveaboards, you are totally spoiled by the attention of the crew. There is drinking water and towels and warm showers and big rinse tanks and mask bucket on the dive deck and everything of yours is numbered (including tank and crate for little stuff underneath, camera, towel, even water glass). Very efficient. I picked number 13, a great spot!!! Go for it!

The sun deck above is where it is happening in between dives. Plenty of room for all to relax, sun, read, or nap. Loved their individual cup coffee maker with coffee beans brewed to your weak/strong preference!!! The food is served buffet style and is so ample that there is no way that you could fit some of everything on your plate. Plenty of choices in case something does not happen to appeal so you certainly will not go hungry! There is also room in dining area to read, study Fish ID books, watch video, listen to good satellite music. The cabins are fine, enough storage, great individual A/C controls.

OK, I think I covered everything that I can think of. Again, please ask any questions.

I’ll end with Hans’ sing song wake up call down the hallways in the morning:
Goooood Morning (think loud like “Good Morning Vietnam”
Iiiiiit’s wake up time
Tiiiiime to get out of bed
Iiiiiit’s quarter to 7
Iiiiiit’s wake up time
Goooood Morning
Iiiiiit’s time to go diving!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Chris is showing me how to blog. Chris also took a picture for me to play with.

Here is a link to the dive boat I will be on in Thailand. The Ocean Rover.

Bye for now.

Monday, January 19, 2004

A new post
Well, it's about time you had a webpage and a blog!! So, here you go. With love from Chris!! Did you know that someone caught us both in a photo at the Prophet's conference last January? Y'know, I think that conference is what started my brain along the lines of infinite possibilities and, therefore, my new lifestyle. Thanx!!

Friday, January 16, 2004