With a minimum of classwork and 2 days of diving, Amanda and I complete our PADI scuba diver level of certification. This doesn’t mean much, but it does get us over halfway to our open water certification, which I think lets us dive by ourselves. The importance of this is accentuated by the klutz of the sea, the third student diving with our instructor Helen today. We collectively cringed as he bounced off the sea floor, probably killing significant chunks of reef with his frequent collisions. The positive side is he’s usually not crashing into us at the same time as the sea floor. Perception-reality gap: he reenters the boat and loudly exclaims “that felt so natural! I can’t imagine not coming back tomorrow!”
The highlights, though, more than outweigh the human baggage. We see exactly what Helen explained that we might: the Thai government echoes America’s by using islands for bombing practice. Occasionally, they miss; we see evidence in the form of an unexploded shell about the size of my outstretched hand. Even cooler is a moray eel I see popping his head out of a hole in a reef, made extra special because I’m the only one who sees it (and it wasn’t imaginary).
And we have hospital food for dinner: PIC Kitchen was the cafeteria supplier for one of the surgery tourist centers in town, but it’s so good that they opened their own place. Beautiful teak buildings and perfectly spiced food, a jazz bar puts the finishing touches on a quality day. We see drag queens who would fool me and most everyone if it wasn’t for the one in a two-face setup of a suit on the left and a dress on the right half of his/her body on the way back to the hotel, further confirming that we’ve made the best of a rough town.