It Isn't All Rainbows and Unicorns
Get ready for a little venting. Mentally prepared as much as possible for the inevitable illness discomfort, etc. that comes from being so far away from home…it’s finally here. Illness and/or discomfort. The first day here was like riding on a cloud of bliss with a rainbow in the background; so excited to be here. Then…After boarding the Manta Queen 3 live-aboard in Phuket at about 3am, it hit me: a severe case of nausea with intermittent diarrhea and then to cap it off, I got to watch the majority of my first meal on the boat in reverse as it came up, out and into the sink in my (luckily) private cabin. That was just the beginning. Nausea and diarrhea persisted through the first day of diving. I made two dives of four and that was enough. The next days’ awesomeness would make me realize just how terrible I felt on the first day. I don’t remember anything from those dives. Being on a boat exacerbated the nausea. At the same time as this was going on, I am pretty sure some jet lag was at work. I slept between dives and all night waking up at about 4:30am. Feeling miserable. I went up onto the top deck to potentially get some relief in one of the 6 camo hammocks set up there. Another of the divers was cocooned in one looking comfortable. I tried. It was nice, however, I cannot sleep on my back so it was just me hanging out with my eyes closed. Finally I got tired enough to go back down stairs and get a couple more hours sleep. By then, it was over. Feeling my best 70%, day two of diving was great! So much life and creatures I haven’t really seen before. 12’ across majestic manta ray, varicose wart slugs (sounds ugly but actually its a bright blue striped and orange spotted blob that holes up on rocks and reef, white banded sea krait (white and black sea snake), tons of rock fish. And, if you haven’t been on a live-aboard before, the day is structured so that you dive, eat, sleep x 4, pretty awesome. The food was pretty good although there wasn’t much of an effort to make things vegan which was to be expected. I brought some snacks and made do.
The real star of the show was day three’s dives at Richelieu Rock. Incredible coral formations, a hairy hermit crab, groups of dancing shrimp, multiple scorpion fish including one that I spooked. It jumped over a little coral wall and landed on…another scorpion fish, ha. Saw some 10’ long barracuda and lots of wart slugs, even their roe is pretty vibrant orange or purple tiny eggs cling to a ribbon-like spiral, looks kind of like the fabric tutus are made of. Lots of eels everywhere, even swimming around. Saw some honeycomb eels which are mostly black with a yellow honeycomb pattern. The highlights for me were some of the nudibranchs a ringed chromodoris and several dark margin glossodoris (if you type these into a search you can see what I am talking about), a ghost pipefish, a frog fish and two sea moths. Overall fantastic diving although, it is pretty clear that this area isn’t what it once must have been.
Something that struck me was that at night we were in a protected area and all you could see was blackness, stars and moonlight. But outside the perimeter of the protected area, the light from a thousand boats was projected onto the surface on the water to capture all the squid. Nasty, fluorescent light. It brought up all the feelings I have about the abuse, maltreatment and misuse of animals in the farming industry in the US. The world wide demand for squid has caused this unnatural level of harvesting and it was sad to see each night; a reminder of the importance of consuming less and from local resources as much as possible.
Now, I am on a plane to Chiang Mai. And my ears are NOT happy. I struggled through all the dives with my poor ears who finally had enough. I am pretty sure a double ear infection is developing as we speak. Super painful. I am assuming the descent of this aircraft will be tha worst! Trying to prepare myself not to yelp as we come down from the sky. I will probably sit with this discomfort for a while. The diving was worth it though.