Kho Tao: Where titans lurk

At this point making last minute decisions, like booking a flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, a train from Bangkok to Chumphon, a ferry form Chumphon to Kho Tao, all in less than twenty four hours, became second nature.  All of this for the rush of diving in the Gulf of Thailand, a crunch considering we only had three weeks remaining and still needed to get to Tokyo in time for our return flight home.  Planes, trains, boats, by now we had extensive techniques for passing the time between destinations.  Endless cribbage tournaments, playing music trivia matches while listening to the ipod on shuffle with split headphones, reading, if still enough, or trying to decipher the life stories of the people around us was more than enough to keep us busy.  Bangkok, like Delhi and Luang Prabang, would be another city revisited, and like the others, all the effort to find our bearings on the first visit pay off on the second and third.  You feel rewarded for simply knowing where to get food and store your luggage.  We arrived to the small island of Kho Tao with a purpose.  The first afternoon was spent courting diving outfits and finding lodging.  We finally settled for a small, relaxed operation and a shack on the rocks.  From our balcony we were told leopard sharks could be seen prowling around the shallows in the morning.  With a rented moped to shuttle us from the seaside shack to the diving boat, our days in Kho Tao were mostly linear affairs between A and B and A again.  Most of the excitement happened underwater.  It was also the first time that we were diving recreationally, not as students.  Although, for all practical purposes you learn something new every time you enter the water. Our most vivid lesson: don’t mess with a territorial titan triggerfish near its nest or you might find yourself in a heap of trouble.  Five minutes into our third dive, while it was pouring on the surface, glad to escape the nauseating swells and walls of cold rain on the boat, we were attacked by a titan.  With mouth agape, showing us a strangely human assortment of blunt snaggleteeth, it chased us straight up to the surface.  Stef, our fearless guide suffered a welt on his leg as a result of the fish’s relentless charges.  With the rain hammering on the backs of our heads, we kept looking down into the water, regulator in our mouths, monitoring the depths for the titan.  After collecting our breath we descended again, half scared, half thrilled.  From Kho Tao we would start the long leg to Tokyo, marking the final phase of our trip.  Japan.

delayed night train in Bangkok

Chumphon

ferry to Kho Tao

on the ferry, unseasonal rain ahead

on the ferry

our seaside shack, next to the leopard sharks

we love the sea (shark island in the distance)

Kho Tao mamma

between dives (or our surface interval)

Stef, 100% Canadian

triggerfish5

This is not our photo, but to illustrate a point we will make one exception.  A titian trigger fish. 75 cm of unpredictable meanness

we need beer after our submarine confrontations

its kind of like a bath tub but bigger

weather over shark island

shark island covers the moon

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