Phuket is an island in the south of Thailand. It is most definitely more touristy (and more expensive) than Chiang Mai, but it was a must see for us. And it was where we did our scuba diving.
Our dive master – Allen – was simply incredible. He was from the UK and had retired five years ago, doing diving in Thailand during UK winters. Coincidentally, he was also certified in diving with disabled divers. He did such a great job in helping me and getting me long dives. It was the best diving I’ve ever done. The coral was colorful and vibrant, covering the sea floor. We saw dozens of sea creatures – eel, jellyfish, barracuda, starfish, even an abandoned motorbike! I think I saw more sea life on these two dives than I have in all my other dives combined. It was also our first dive in the Indian ocean. It was well worth it and I look forward to doing more diving in Southeast Asia.
The rest of our time spent in Phuket was pretty relaxed. We roamed the streets and night markets, walked along the beach, ate ice cream and Pad Thai, and took in our last day of Thai culture.
It’s always bittersweet for me to leave a trip. This time it was more bitter than sweet. I’ve always heard how beautiful Thailand is. And from the outside, I wouldn’t say that it is overly beautiful. Certainly, the beaches of Phuket are stunning, and Chiang Mai is a well-kept city. But Bangkok is dirty, the countryside is cluttered with poverty. The trains are no European trains, and the tuk tuk drivers are always trying to get an extra baht out of you. But the food is amazing, some of the best I’ve had anywhere. I can’t come up with the words for the people. They are extremely helpful, kind, bright people. I hear them speaking little English, and for what? Tourists? The opportunities available to them are so limited, and they have made the best of their situations. They have so much pride in their culture, and when I think of the people, I think of smiles. I don’t think I ever saw a Thai person without a smile on their face, no matter their circumstances. I guess it’s fair to say that it really is ‘The Land of Smiles.’