Chumphon

Went to Chumphon for the dive trip, to keep certification going one has to dive every six months.

Nice place, though not perfect. Chumphon Cabana, the only “resort and diving center” there, is a generic place with bungaloes of various grades, a couple of two story buildings with hotel size rooms, beachfront restaurant, swimming pool and so on. It’s completely blended in the nature, can barely make the buildings in this shot from the boat just outside:

This is what Chumphon Cabana looks like from the boat

The beach is a bit too wide but the sand is so fine you can’t feel when it gets into your shoes.

The place is clearly aging and while renovated parts looks nice there are still plenty of fifty year old fixtures here and there. The staff is trained to the usual standards of Thai hospitality, nothing to complain.

Guests are a mixture of Thais driving from as far as Chiang Mai, local businesses doing their seminars or annual trips, and bus loads of farang tour groups. No Chinese, so far. One day it’s quiet, the next day the resort is full. It’s pretty big, though, I doubt it ever gets crowded.

I’ve been to Koh Tao one time too many and wanted to see what the life look like underwater in Chumphon. Not disappointed but nothing to write home about either.

They’ve got two dive boats, one is slightly larger and they use it for liveaboard trips in the area, the other is doing all the day trip jobs to the nearby islands, like these two you can barely see on the horison:

The beach, the boat, the islands

While most people go snorkeling near the boat, divers go a bit farther around the island tips and the contrast between the two areas is huge. Snorkelers get to see only lots of dead coral and an occasional fish while divers enjoy really rich marine life just around the corner:

Snorkelers are here, divers on the other side

While there’s nothing really spectacular there but schools of fish are enormous, and they were all apparently in recess. When you swim into one visibility becomes zero, you can’t see anything past the fish, you might just as well swim headfirst into a rock.

Dives themselves are extremely easy, you can’t just get any lazier than that and, for some reason I was still not bored even after 80 min watching the fish.

The dive master, a Thai guy, knows the place inside out and he pointed to a few well hidden locals, like a stonefish hiding under a bunch of sea urchins, don’t know what it was waiting there for, but it started hopping a bit like a frog when her cover was blown. I’ve never seen them move before, they are poisonous and no one in his right mind would disturb them but the guy had a pointer thing, like a teacher, that’s how he moved the urchins in the first place – those spiky things are largely harmless but if you get a piece of it under you skin it could be painful for a couple of days.

See what they look like, and there are hundreds of them everywhere:

Sea urchin

And that’s a stone fish:

Stonefish

I simply googled those two – I don’t do any underwater photography myself.

The German guy who runs the dive shop is planning a liveaboard in Andaman in late October, sounds very interesting, I’ve never been to that particular area before, a couple of hundred kilometers south from Phuket, just heard diving tales that would make Kraken look like a goldfish.

Nice lead, I’m already thinking about making this trip, and it’s just when my next six month shore break ends.

I hate coming back to the wretched road maps, reds, yellows, more grenades, more promises, less sense, but that’s for another blog entry, don’t know if I have a stomach for it today, holidays were so refreshing, hate to go back to the usual daily grind.

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