Saturday, December 29, 2007


yesterday i finished my PADI open water certification, i'm now legal to rent scuba gear and plan my own dives up to 18m. apparently i've got a streak of beginners luck going, as i saw a hawksbill sea turtle on my second dive, and sharks on my third. i'm hoping to see a whale for my advanced course, aim high eh?

if you're ever in koh tao and want to learn to dive, or if you already know how and just want to go out with a good shop, i very much endorse newwaydiving, they're not a party dive shop but instead a diving dive shop. many of the diving operations here are more about the drinking before and after the dive, but if you're anal retentive like me and like to learn things the right way then newway is a good bet.

today i start my advanced course, i'm taking a disposable underwater camera, and tomorrow i'm going to rent a decent digital underwater camera, so hopefully i'll have some pictures to describe what i'm not finding the words for right now.

for the fellow divers in the readership, apparently i have good air consumption (spent 40 minutes under on my 3rd dive) and decent buoyancy control. for my advanced course i'm doing a deep dive, a navigation dive, a buoyancy control dive, a photography dive, and i can't remember what the last one is going to be.

technical difficulties

i'm experiencing techincal difficulties, but i have managed to upload some of the pics. you can check them out here:

i'll have it all sorted and the pics with the proper posts soon


sunset, originally uploaded by lurker4hire.

here's a promised sunset, wish you were here =D

green curry with chicken

white elephant
- green curry with chicken: 100 baht
- plain rice: 20 baht

Finally a spicy meal, a classic curry of southern thailand done exquisitely. i could really taste the different basil in this dish, as well as a tangy/savoury flavour i think. i might be mislabeling my tastes so don't take my word for it, come to thailand and try for yourself =P

green curry

there's a little green fruit? or something in this curry, 50 baht to whomever can identify it, the best guess i got from a fellow know nothing westerner was that it's a kumquat, sounds reasonable... anyone know for sure?
green curry mystery

fried chicken with cashew nut

street stall under tin roof
- fried chicken with cashew nut: 50 baht

it's amazing how good and cheap the food is when you leave the beach and head inland just a little bit, this was mild with what i think was a light oyster/fish sauce, the greens were crisp and fresh, almost as if they weren't cooked but grown in a skillet. i was hoping this meal would be spicier (it was very mild), but i think i was given the white tourist spice level.

fried chicken with cashew

Friday, December 28, 2007

bbq red snapper on the beach

restaurant east sairee beach
bbq red snapper with corn and spicy thai sauce: 240 baht

i'm sure this is common in tropical tourist areas, but as i've not really spent much time in such places before now it's all new to me. a stall filled with ice and fresh fish, pick your fish, and they'll bbq it for you right there.
bbq red snapper

very nicely bbq'd, with roasted corn on the cob and a spicy thai sauce. i'm starting to realize the challenge inherent in keeping this blog, as i'm running out of ways to say i liked what i ate, but let me call it delightful.

here's an after pic to illustrate the point:
bbq red snapper - demolished!

apart from the food, the conversation was good too. i've got a knack i think for running into some interesting people. a canadian couple, ex-pats, living in hong kong but moving to koh samui (lucky)! and an american couple living in beijing. it's super interesting to me to hear their stories, as they're all a bit older (39 and holding i'm told), and i've considered doing the ex-pat thing myself.

in non-food news i've done my pool diving, and am about to go out for my first dive, it's super fun and i'm hoping to do a photography dive (they supply the underwater camera) and i'll upload pics when i do.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

ton yan soup @ intouch restaurant

intouch restaurant - sariee beach koh tao
- mango shake: 40 baht (i think)
- ton yan soup with shrimp: 80 baht

you learn something new every day i think, and today i discovered not to spoon a huge chunk of fresh ginger into your mouth and chew on it. now you might think that would be obvious, but i'm not always the fastest fish in the reef so no comments from the peanut gallery.

once i finished sputtering and coughing i thoroughly enjoyed this soup. a mildly spicy soup flavoured with ginger and lemongrass (i think), with fresh shrimp. a tasty broth, with onion, tomato and some unknown green leafy bits floating around, perhaps some foodies in the audience can identify the components once the pictures are uploaded).

tom yon soup
tom yon soup close up

in non food news i've had my first day of diving instruction, which basically amounted to being handed a book and chatting with my instructor (mike - who by the way thinks he may have taught matt, do you remember him matt?). i had the option of watching a couple hours of videos, but given the choice between reading on a beach or sitting and watching a video for 2 hours, i'm off to the beach.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

koh tao - resort food & jet lag

bowthong resort
- fresh pineapple juice: 50 baht
- grilled red snapper with crisp basil: 250 baht
drowning red snapper

holy sauce batman! now i'm not the most discerning person in the world, but even i know that completely covering fish with a thick cream sauce is something of a crime. underneath the sauce the fish itself was fresh if a little overcooked. the crisp basil was basically a garnish and played no role in the flavour of the fish.

on the whole, a bit disappointing but not unexpected as i'm not exactly staying at the best resort on the island (it's ok and inexpensive, which is good enough for me). tomorrow i'll find a proper restaurant with better food and hopefully upload the pictures so far.

oh, and i saw people pulling christmas crackers on the beach, which was double plus awesome

merry christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

bangkok (airport edition)

24 solid hours in the air later, a whole boatload of plane related delays thrown in (mostly centred on the fact that chicago isn't the best place to transfer through this time of year), and I'm safely in the bangkok airport. i actually spent most of my time waiting in airports in pearson, my first flight took off over 2 hours late, so once i was on that first plane i basically arrived at the next airport, walked to the new gate and boarded immediately, which was kind of nice if risky. oh, and surprisingly my checked bag made it all the way too, so double points for that achievement on the part of united.
the promised food report:
i was prepared for the worst, having been told numerous horror stories about the general inedibleness of the food on united airlines, and i'm happy to report it wasn't inedible, merely mediocre.
united airlines meal

that's the only picture i have since really the whole experience spending 24 hours in cattle class generally made me delirious after hour 7 or 8, but i can tell you this. the "salad" they served likely had 50 grams of cheese and 8 grams of iceberg lettuce (with a generous helping of thousand islands dressing, another 50g of fat right there), the mystery meat wasn't any worse than what i've been fed on aircanada, but the bun was stale. i did manage to eat most of it though, so i'll count that as a victory for united's ongoing battle against complete hopelessness.
as for the rest of the food i was served, as i mentioned i basically started to get delirious and couldn't have really gotten my camera out of the overhead if i had wanted too. the food between japan and bangkok was ok but they didn't serve me sashimi or anything, so nothing special.
i'm still in the bangkok airport, it's 3:15am and i'm waiting for a 6:15 take off for koh samui, then it's just a hop, skip and a boat ride and i'll be in koh tao and ready to stop moving about quite so much for a little while.
merry christmas from bangkok

Monday, December 3, 2007

6.82 tonnes!

holy smokes, my round trip between toronto and bangkok (with stops in chicago & tokyo) will release 6.82 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere! even worse, much of that junk will be into the upper atmosphere where it's effect is generally considered much worse from a climate change perspective, my "raised catholic" guilt is starting to kick in...

... thankfully, much like the catholic church of old, i've just bought a dispensation. well, a carbon offset at least. a carbon offset, in case this is a new idea to you, is a way to try and mitigate the climate changing effects of our decadent (from an energy and resource use perspective [well, and i guess from every other perspective too]) western lifestyle by investing in carbon reduction projects elsewhere. david suzuki calls it becoming carbon neutral, a sort of macro 'leave no trace' ethos if you will, not perfect but better than nothing.

i'm hoping this is a more meaningful gesture than simply giving money to some pope. i did some research, looked around and finally settled on for my offsets. they're a non-profit run through unisféra international centre in montreal and are the only canadian vendor of gold standard credits, so i'm pretty sure they're legit and aren't going to spend my money on expensive yachts.

so grand total to offset the carbon emissions for my trip?

$178.74 CAD

of course, this being canada that includes 6%gst & 7%qst (montreal remember?) ... now if only i knew some policy makers working on the green file. maybe making carbon offsets tax exempt would be a good announcable. hrm.

19 days 12 hours until my first flight takes off!