Saturday, May 10, 2008

Same same but different -- Thai islands

Anyone who has been to SE Asia will know the phrase "Same same but different." It's quoted by every salesperson from fruit-stand hawker to hotel owner, and if you spend enough time here, you'll start to say it yourself. What it means is that any two things will be called the same for any purpose--generally the bait and switch. Like when trying to buy a small black t-shirt, the vendor will offer you a pink XXL t-shirt.

For us, we're at that point in the south of Thailand, coming from the Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand (east coast--pictured left) to Koh Lanta in the Andaman Sea (west coast). Buddhist to Muslim, party central to deserted, clear skies to overcast and rainy. Alas, it's still the same amazing Thai vibe, food and beaches. We spent a week on Koh Tao getting our scuba Open Water certification. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of us in full gear as my camera isn't waterproof, but we do have some pictures below of our diving group (left) and with our awesome instructor, Yuki, who helped make this experience a highlight of our whole trip (right).

Now we're on Koh Lanta enjoying the quiet. The silence is golden. There is nothing going on here in Lanta except empty resorts (ours pictured right--all the bungalows are connected by a canopy of palm trees and orchids) and the crashing of the waves. The beauty of low season is that all the resorts are half price and the daily south-Floridian rainstorms help cool down the afternoons. Just what we wanted after a week hanging out underwater and on dry ground with other divers. And thankfully we're far away from the horrible tragedy in Myanmar. It's hard to imagine the death toll is approaching 100,000, but after seeing some of the delta shanty towns in Vietnam and the riverside huts in Laos, we can almost grasp the scale of one storm washing away town after town. Here's to their government letting more foreign aid in ASAP...

Tomorrow we leave Thailand (for the 4th time; this time for good) and cross over in Malaysia. Our first stop is, you guessed it, another beach. Palau Perhentian awaits, with white sands, rustic bungalows and the allure of more great diving. The island only has electricity in the evening so I doubt we'll be checking email much, if at all. Happy Mothers' Day to all our favorite Moms out there (Liz and Roberta especially) and we'll check in after several days at yet another same same but different paradise island. And just a reminder--next year's annual Cuatro de Mayo party will be held on my rooftop as per usual. On the left you'll see me celebrating in the lone Mexican restaurant on Koh Tao, aptly named El Gringo.

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