John and Jane in Thailand

J and J have escaped the hurly-burly of life in the USA.

Posts Tagged ‘travel

Dive Right In

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I have been hoarding underwater photographs that I have been taking for the last five months to give you a tour of what we see as we dive “our islands”.  When the weather permits, we dive at least once a week.  “How can they afford that?” you say; scuba diving isn’t exactly a cheap sport.   To put it succinctly, the boat club.  A fellow expat, Nigel, owns a Thai long-tail boat which was sunk some time ago.  The cost of pulling it out of the water, repairs, then ongoing maintenance was too much for one man and so the idea for a club was born.  Eight of us, three couples and two singles, jumped at the chance to have a boat at our beck and call.  Five of the eight are divers.  Nigel and his wife make an even ten members.  We each put in a chunk of money, had meetings about how we would operate, worked on the boat in dry dock, and Nigel named the boat and club ‘The Blue Lagoon’.  Nigel found a Thai captain who not only takes us out, but in exchange for using the boat himself (probably squid fishing), takes care of the boat.  Kai moors it in the Saplee River which is about a 4 minute drive from our house.  We really like Kai and I know he finds us amusing.  He speaks no English, but we’ve learned enough Thai and hand gestures to get along just fine.  This is truly an international enterprise; our members hail from Britain, Germany, Norway, Thailand, and of course America.  We primarily dive two islands off of our beach (Ngam Yai and Ngam Noi) and the navy boat wreck that was sunk specifically for divers about a year and a half ago.  A third island, Crocodile, is too shallow for good diving but makes a terrific snorkeling area.  I will narrate the photos as they go along.  Have fun.

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Written by Jane Estes

September 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Sri Lanka

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When John’s sister, Jeanette suggested we go on a week’s vacation with her and her partner, Maew, we jumped at the chance.  They are fun to be with, have a sense of adventure, and Jeanette speaks a lot of SE Asian languages.  Our criteria for choosing a location included reasonable flight length (that left out New Zealand), culturally interesting, and an Air Asia destination (cheapest fares around with deals always to be had).  We found what we were looking for in Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon.   I’ve put a map of the world in with the images for those of you not sure where Sri Lanka is.  It is the dark spot off the southeast coast of India.    Archaeological evidence puts humans on the island before 125,000 BCE; Sri Lanka has a history of over 3000 years, having one of the longest documented histories in the world;  it is where the Buddhist teachings were first written down and is the oldest continually Buddhist country.  Sri Lanka is the greenest, most lush place I have ever been.   It is a beautiful island with gorgeous beaches, wonderful mountains, a wealth of archaeological sites, and lovely people of diverse cultures, languages and religions (70% Buddhist, 15% Hindu, 7.5% Muslim, 7.5% Christian).  And, it was once an English colony so it has that thrown into the mix too.  Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO world Heritage Sites, we visited four of them.  I’ve put in a map of the island with markings of only those places we visited.  Well, we didn’t really see Columbo but that is where we flew into.  I will take you on a photographic tour using the captions to narrate.

 

Written by Jane Estes

June 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Catching Up

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Let’s see, where was I . . . oh yes . . . September . . . Indonesia . . . diving.  That was a long time ago and so much has happened since, or so it seems to me.  I think it best if I write one blog covering everything to catch you up.  I will support the narrative with photographs when possible. Unfortunately this program doesn’t allow me to intersperse the photos throughout the text so you will find them all together at the end.

In late October, John and I were getting ready for another big diving adventure in Indonesia but this time to Bali.  We had been there the year before and were so taken with it that we were inspired to move to Thailand. This time we stayed at three different locations on the island.  The first was a wonderful resort at Tulamben right in front of a remarkable dive location – USS Liberty. A torpedo sunk the ship off the coast of Bali in 1942; it languished on the beach for twenty-one years until tremors from the eruption of Mount Agung in 1962 caused it to slip into the water where she now lies in 30 to 100 feet of water. Non divers might think a wreck like this is a bad thing, garbaging up the water but it is quite the opposite.  The wreck makes a perfect environment for coral and reef fish to thrive.  In fact, last May an old Thai navy ship was purposely sunk off of our beach at Thung Wua Laen and we have had the pleasure of watching it come to life. It was naked (for lack of a better word) the first time we dove it and now it is teeming with life – growing on it, in it, around it; quite a remarkable transformation.  But, back to Bali.  The resort we stayed in was small, beautiful, and right on the water in front of the USS Liberty.  We actually walked from our bungalow into the water instead of having to take a boat out.

After three days at Tulamben we were driven to our next stop, in the mountains now. This location was even more isolated than the one we just left.  Words won’t really do this area or Great Mountain View Resort justice so I will leave it to the photographs except to say that it was not only exceptionally beautiful, but peaceful as well.

Our final stop was back to the water, but in the city.  Hotel La Taverna itself was old, in a good way, with lots of Bali character and charm.  While on the grounds, it was peaceful and felt isolated but step out of the perimeter and it was the hustle and bustle of a major tourist center. To go diving we had to take a crowded minivan for 20 minutes or more to get to the dive shop where we were thrown together with a zillion people to get equipment and such sorted; then another twenty minute ride to where the boats were docked; then the boat ride of 30 minutes to an hour before reaching the dive sites. I’ve become a bit spoiled, obviously.  Nico and Vero from Waters of Asia did a great job putting the whole package together allowing us to experience three very different environments on one small island.

Shortly before leaving for Bali I found out my mom, Alice, needed to have hip replacement surgery.  The timing worked out perfectly.  Instead of flying back to Bangkok I was able to get a flight out of Bali back to Seattle through Taipei and San Francisco and arrived with time to spare before the scheduled surgery.  While I was doing that, John changed his flight to Phuket in southern Thailand because the flooding of Bangkok would have made it nearly impossible to get home once there.  John was able to take advantage of being in Phuket to take a four day live-aboard dive trip in the Similan Islands and the Andaman Sea.

I was in “The States” for five weeks.  Most of that time I spent with my mom, first in the hospital and then in the rehab center.  We had some really good time together.  She especially enjoyed my reading her All Creatures Great and Small by James Harriet. With my acting background I have a hard time reading anything without giving voices to all the characters.  I was with her during most of her physical therapy and occupational therapy session which turned out to be fortuitous for me. Two months later I was the one in the orthopedic surgical suite. More about that later, maybe.  I did find time to visit with some friends and take care of some banking business.  Other than being able to help my mom, I had three special advantages to this unscheduled trip back.  I was able to spend some quality time with Jennifer and Nathan, I was able to stay at the home of our good friends Lynn and Jane and thus got to spend time with them, and I had Thanksgiving with all my favorite relatives.

I’ve changed my mind – it is hard to get five months worth of news into one reasonable size blog so I’m going to stop for now and will pick up the tread later, not too much later – I have lots to tell and show you.

 

Written by Jane Estes

March 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm