“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that i had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or a smooth and well-oiled ind the closet, unused.”
After lamenting the idea of re-visiting my blog after an overwhelming three month writing hiatus, and worrying (for some dumb reason) how I would go about starting again, I came across this beautiful paragraph in a worn book of short stories by my beloved Hemingway. It so perfectly expresses my absence of stories here, and how it is often difficult to balance the obscurities of adventure with the cage that words put around feelings. I do, however, want to share my life with those that are interested, so here we go, on the grindstone. I have two months left on this trip and will be as dedicated as one can be to letting y’all know I’m not dead.
So, Egypt in October till now, the beginning of February. I could go into a whole novel of goofy situations, misguided adventures, and interesting new friends, but for lack of short-term memory and time, I’ll just go over the highlights. As plans often do, my original concept of staying in Asia for a mere month and a half changed the minute I set down in Thailand and realized what a majestic and inexpensive place it was. October was spent zig-zagging through southern Thailand with my best friends (i.e. Friendship Club); we climbed rocks at Railay beach until the Monkeys chased us off them (literally…), we spun buckets on Koh Tao, we floated down rivers and rode elephants in Khao Sok, and ended up in Bangkok for a few days to giggle wildly, eat scary objects (SCORPION), and eventually wave each other goodbye after 3 weeks of ecstasy. As the gang loaded into a cab to head to the airport, Chris, one of th Friendship Club founders and long-time job hating American, decided he had too much fun to leave so soon. He didn’t get in the cab, and instead hopped on Skype and promptly quit his job.
And that’s how I ended up spending the next 4 months sharing my life with Chris.
We headed back to Koh Tao, a little island off the east coast of thailand renowned for it’s scuba diving community, where we whimsically decided to become certified Divemasters, rented a house (complete with blanket-sized towel as a bedspread…?), found some friends, and settled in for what could later easily be described as Scuba Camp.
Dive schools littered the island, but after much deliberation decided to do our diving internship with a diving outfit called Big Blue, which was an overflowing cornucopia of instructors, students, and other Scuba Campers (DMTs) like ourselves. We fell into routine in no time, experiencing what any real thailand-living expat does: we figured out where the best pad thai could be found, learned how to survive the nauseating 48 hour soul-sucking visa runs to Malaysia, how to walk barefoot for 3 weeks because someone had stolen your shoes, how to pee hovering over a treacherous hole in the ground, how NOT to drive a scooter correctly (and oh, how I paid for that lesson.), and in between all of this even learned how to manage ourselves and others in the underwater wonderland known as the Gulf of Thailand. At night, after a day in the beautiful sunshine and even more beautiful ocean, amongst hammocks and wild island kittens, harmonicas, ukeleles, and guitars would appear from nowhere and all us campers would have wild sing-alongs and trade stories and sit happy in raillery– things coalesced into perfection.
The winter holidays were celebrated as a happy and hilarious mix of a million cultures. Thanks to my stepmom and her astute ability to plan things well in advance, chris and I were able to show our swedish/canadian/australian/swiss/brittish/blahblahblah friends the glory that is Thanksgiving. Yes, we all gathered around and ate my greatest (and my first) homemade Thanksgiving feast. I even made everyone go around the table and say what they were thankful for. For Christmas, we introduced the concept of a “potluck,” in which everyone was encouraged to bring their own favorite traditional plate, which was especially hilarious as the Thai grocery stores are very “simplistic” and people had to get “creative” trying to recreate their dishes from home. New Years was lots of shitty pop music, but of course, a lot of silliness and fun.
As great as the free time at Scuba Camp was, it was nothing compared to the mandatory activities I was required to do in order to get my certification. Yes, there was a lot of unpleasantness (swim tests, exams about physiology, etc.) but it was well worth it to get underwater and DIVE DIVE DIVE. The cool thing about this program is the minute you sign up, you get to dive as much as you want FOR FREE and FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY. For those of you that haven’t been diving, it appears to be a sport made specifically for rich people. I have found a loophole, however, and encourage you all to take advantage and sign up for a DMT course in Thailand. In the time I was on the island, roughly 2 months, I went on over 120 dives in the happy warm waters off the islands. Once I got the hang of things underwater, they actually let me be in charge of paying customers- taking them on underwater adventures and showing them things that at one point would have scared the regulator out of me (sharks, sting rays, scorpion fish…). We divemaster trainees were also allowed to go on dives with each other, where we quickly developed a highly elaborate and extensive vocabulary of underwater signage. Oh yeah, and we played underwater Quidditch, complete with brooms. It really was the best.
Alas, all great things must come to an end. After probably a lot longer than it should have, Chris and I finished our last bits and pieces of the DMT course and decided that for now, Koh Tao had become a bit too comfortable. It was time to hit the road again, and after a 8-year-old birthday themed going away party where we were forced to perform things I cannot even begin to write about on this blog, we waved goodbye to our little island.
So here I am, ready to go where i have to go, do what i have to do, and see what i have to see. SE Asia, look out. And you too, blog readers– I will have so much to blog about I’ll be hitting the grindstone hard.
love youz, and sorry for not blogging in a million years.