Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Calming Koh Samet

Koh Samet, Thailand - 6th stop on this amazing adventure :)

I had never heard of this little place before, but my lovely friends Matt and Dani highly recommended it having got married there 2 years ago. I was a little nervous going somewhere new, instead of returning to the safety of Koh Lanta however as the lovely Lindsay told me I am on a travel adventure so why go for comfortable? And she is, of course, absolutely right. As soon as I got off the boat and arrived I knew it was the right decision.

The bus from Bangkok took forever, and when we got guided to our boat they hurried us onto it and then sat us there for an hour melting in the sun while just about any kind of produce got loaded up around us. Very much a local boat lol. Welcome to Thailand...where on any kind of public transport you are packed in amongst produce, magazines, newspapers, uncles, cousins etc.

I decided on Jeps Bungalow after working through the numerous recommendations by Dani. Truth be told it was the photos of their beach bar which sold it for me - the bar is on the sand and has these super cool star lights in the trees so you kind of feel like you are in a fairytale. Or you do if your name is Caroline and your life is made up of one story after another. 

I had booked an AC room and had been told I had to change resort for one night which was fine by me, as they didn't have any fan rooms (which I had wanted) when I called. When I got there the lady told me they had no AC rooms and only a fan room which I could have the whole duration of my stay so they showed me it and I took it. It was super old and dusty and not like the other bungalows at all.  Anyways, I got settled in, hung up my super cool and new bright orange hammock, and unpacked. The windows were all bashed up and mosquito protection was zero so I asked for some parcel tape/duct tape (whatever it is called) and went to work taping up my windows. I did a pretty good job even if I do say so myself. It didn't stop me getting the most eaten I have ever been in Asia, but imagine if I hadn't taped them up...

I loved my little bungalow and spent my evenings chilling in the beach bar, then retiring to my sanctuary balcony and chilling in my hammock after a good yoga session. I managed to get into some awesome yoga poses while on that balcony, I was getting so relaxed my body just cruised into poses that normally took me forever to even get close to doing. It was just what I needed as I tried to 'enjoy' my time alone on the perfect island.  I had been with people the whole way through my adventure so far, so this was my first time totally alone without people I knew. Just me, and my mind, and my thoughts. Interesting times. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it. My friends told me it was just what I needed - self reflect time - after a year of chaos in Bermuda and massive life changes of leaving my home in the sun in Bermuda, and leaving behind a career and trying to work out what I wanted in life. So I tried to suck it up whenever the demons came out to play. By the end of the week, I was more  calm than I can remember being in a long time. Hence my yoga poses coming to fruition :) I managed randomly to get into Compass on first attempt, then Flying Pigeon (which just scared me to look at photos of) on one side, and then two days later completely randomly I got into King Dancer Pose which is just about the coolest poses ever. I had previously thought I would dislocate my shoulders getting into this pose and for some reason it just clicked, and it worked and was comfortable. Love it <3

Life was good. My friend Karen put it so accurately when she wrote on my wall, you can be surrounded by 100 new people every day and still feel as lonely as can be when travelling because you are not surrounded by your close friends. When I first got to the island I looked at the beaches and thought well this is pretty but it isn't Bermuda pretty, and wondered sadly if I would always compare everything and everywhere to my lovely Bermuda. By the middle of the week the haze had lifted and I sacked off running and yoga one evening to just sit and watch what was in front of me and appreciate everything about that exact moment. That was my calmest evening of the whole trip :)

My evenings were fairly chilled. One evening an english guy joined me and told me all about his girlfriend who lived in KL and how he travelled while she taught - sounded like a good deal he had going on. He was meeting her afterwards to travel together. He told me about a cool place to run to and get a nice Mojito in happy hour, and watch the sunset. I never did make it to that beach to watch the sunset. Koh Samet made me very lazy and I loved hanging out near Jeps, as did everyone else who seemed to gather there each evening. I also met a cool guy on my second to last night from New Zealand at the start of his adventure. A few beers later and we decided to head to Naga Bungalows for buckets - I had forgotten how lethal those things were. One blue melon flavoured bucket later, and then a bright red strawberry daqueri bucket later, we thought 'how cool let's try laughing gas'. We bought a balloon filled with laughing gas and laughed our heads off, no idea if real or we were just having so much fun we laughed anyway. Was a cool evening.

I spent a lot of this trip chilling on the beach and people watching, and realising that I really do struggle to sit still for long periods of time! I swam, I walked, I ran, I did yoga, I floated at the surface of the ocean and sunbathed, I read and I slept. It was just perfect :) My idea of chilling anyway, perhaps too active for most people!! My lunches every day were freshly cooked corn on the cob, and sliced mangos and coconuts, bought from the man or woman who walked the full length of the beaches with these heavy grills and coolers and cooked/chopped everything up for you there and then! There were so many Bangkok visitors, people who come for the weekend and take over the entire island for a few days. So much fun to watch them! There was also a guy who did thai chi on the beach each day, a very sick and painfully thin looking anorexic lady who would walk the length of the beach repeatedly each day, couples galore taking lovey dovey photos on the beach and in the water! My favourite thing to watch though was the english sheepdog which Dani tells me has been here for years. It is the most random and awesome sight ever on a Thai beach! Just a gorgeously beautiful dog, I want one for sure! He followed his owner everywhere and would run full speed into the water and just throw himself into the waves to chase his tennis ball.

There were some young kids who came along the beach each evening to perform fire shows, which were usually pretty cool. They were only about 11 years old and confident beyond belief, one of which had tattoos all up his back and an attitude which showed he would be a smooth operator when he was older lol!

I also adopted this cute little cat who I named Sayang 2 - I had a cat called Sayang in Thailand in 2007 :) She followed me everywhere and would turn up on my balcony in the mornings, or after the beach meowing like a crazy kid for attention. Turns out she also loves Pringles, so we shared many a box in the hammock. She was so heavily pregnant it was untrue. I would just sit with her lying next to me and me rubbing her belly, watching and feeling the kittens twitch underneath. She woke me up in the mornings meowing at the door, and would always be waiting on the balcony in the evenings for me when I returned from the beach - who said cats aren't loyal??! LOL. She was such an awesome cat and made me miss George and Ellen like crazy. I hope her and her kittens are safe and someone takes over from me looking after them :)

It is on this island that I realise you attract a lot of attention when you travel alone. Everyone knew who I was. Everyone knew when I ate my dinner, where I sunbathed, when I did yoga, when I ran. They saw everything. Unfortunately this led to some bad luck on my last evening. I was hungover from the buckets night out, and packed my backpack up before dinner (as I was leaving the island the next morning, early) and headed down to eat. I took a few photos of the lights on the beach etc. I walked back up to my bungalow and realised the light was off outside, I turned it on and realised that the padlock on my door had been forced off, as had one of the windows. I went into the room (stupidly with hindsight) and found the contents of my backpack spread across the room. I mean literally, no pocket was left unturned. My medical and make up bags and jewellery bags were tipped upside down, my laundry. Everything.

Scared, I ran downstairs for help. The staff were awesome and came up with me to take photos, and call the police. The police came and took finger prints, then the staff moved me to a brand new AC luxury bungalow next to reception, and where security sits and the camera focused on it. I went to the police station on the back of a staff members bike at full speed, minus a helmet, and by the time I got there, the police were finger printing a guy I recognised from the restaurant who had smiled at me at lunchtime. He couldn't make eye contact this time, and shortly afterwards was put into a cell in the middle of the room where he watched me the whole time. Only in Thailand would you complete paperwork next to the guy who robbed you! I didn't sleep well that night worrying he would be released and come back, and having to go through my bag to work out exactly what had been stolen, and was thankful to leave the island early the next morning. Such a sad end to my wonderfully chilled time in Koh Samet.  The staff and the police handled things wonderfully so no complaints, just a very sad experience.

Anyway, an experience if nothing else, and a travel adventure can't all be smooth sailing. Lessons learned. I was grateful to not be there when it happened, and realise all material things are inconsequential in the grand scheme of it.  I won't let this affect the rest of my adventure. So I still look back to the time I had in Koh Samet with fond memories, and as an awesomely chilled and relaxing time for me. I had some awesome evenings doing some funky new yoga poses, drinking buckets, valuable me time and hanging out with Sayang :)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Buzzing Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand - the 5th stopover on my amazing travels :)

Bangkok - the city that never sleeps, and not in a glitzy, glam NYC style way! This city is just GO GO GO from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep.  Seriously...

I took an overnight bus from Koh Lanta to Bangkok, which took about 12 hours plus the ferry and minibus ride. It only cost me $25 or something cheap like that so seemed like a fantastic idea at the time. I have done longer bus rides in Argentina for 20 hours+ but those buses were super comfortable with reclining armchair style seats, food provided, snacks, blankets. The company I had with me could have helped too but still...seriously this was a first class ticket and I am wondering what I would have let myself in for with a second class lol. The seats were tiny and the bus was packed. It was like sitting on those plastic seats we used to be given in kindergarten school.

I made a friend, or I should say someone wanted to be my friend - an Indian guy who wanted to talk non stop once he found out I was visiting Bangkok to get a visa for India.  It started off well, he was a nice guy, serious conversation and really helpful about Rishikesh. Then it turned to an interview style conversation where he asked me about what my father and brother did for a living, what I studied at university, was I married, did I want children etc and kindly informed me he wasn't married. He then proceeded to try to fall asleep snuggled up next to me, when that failed he kept turning his legs into me and trying to snuggle in like that. In the end I got quite annoyed and pushed him away from me literally. I couldn't think how else to make him stop.  Good times... When we stopped at the bus terminal to get food, he wanted to buy me dinner which I politely turned down in exchange for the free meal which was kind of gross and had me searching for a crepe and some watermelon straight after to lose the taste. The toilets were the delightful squat and hover asian variety too!

When our bus pulled into Bangkok at 5am I expected the city to be dead, but the terminal was full of people everywhere.  Holy crap, it was chaos, not even remotely organised chaos and as soon as you get off the bus people were grabbing at you to sell you something or try to shove you into non-licensed cabs or tuk tuks. People pushing and shouting! I followed a couple who had been on my bus to the taxi line, after unsuccessfully trying to ask where the BTS train system was as I had been told my hotel was close by if I took the train. Instead I waited an hour or so for a taxi. BIG mistake, I got the grumpiest man in the world!!

My taxi driver thought he was a formula one driver. He kept swerving other vehicles at the last minute, in between shouting at me in Thai when I clearly had no clue what he was saying. All I could think was ok let's get this India visa application submitted and get out of here and back to a small island asap! So eventually 'lost in translation' worked and we got to where I am staying and I tried to pay. He looked at my money and started shouting again, and before I can get out the car he drives off. He stopped 20 blocks out and points at a shop to break my money.  I got change, and paid him and quickly realised he intended to drop me there and not the hotel. I had to do battle with him to get my pack out of the car before he drove off... So at 6am I was walking the streets of Bangkok back 20 blocks to my hotel with ridiculous amounts of luggage! Someone in my bungalow had told me my backpack was heavy the day before and I had laughed - he was right!

I honestly think that having lived in Bermuda (above) and having fallen in love with Lembeh, that they have killed much hope of me ever living in a city again!

Anyway, I only had 24 hours in Bangkok so used it wisely. I got coffee, and headed to the Indian Embassy to submit my application for my India Tourist Visa. I was pleasantly surprised by how organised it was and how within 25 minutes I had submitted all of my paperwork! They said it could take anywhere between 5 and 8 working days to be ready. Hoping 5-6 days in reality as I only have 8 working days until I fly to unorganised? No! So funny when I got there I had to have photos taken and this little boy who was about 9 years old guided me into a room and took my photo with his nikon camera, in between practicing his English on me. "One, two, three....please sit down madam...again, again" etc and taught me hello, goodbye and thank you in Thai in exchange.

I had planned to cram the day with visits to temples, shopping and sight seeing but I was exhausted and literally hid in my hotel room all day in the AC and used free internet and phone to call bungalows in Koh Samet to suss out whether it was a good place to get the bus to the next day or not. I managed to get a booking reservation for Jeps Bungalows which looks fab and Dani recommended to me. I had a bit of a homesick day to be honest, I don't know why that particular day caught me out, but I missed Bermuda and my cats and just felt a bit ugghh. Maybe it was the city effect and the cold I had caught on the bus.  Traveling can be quite tiring in between destinations, you never know exactly what will happen next and I never was one to plan ahead very well!

I eventually took myself outside and walked to Pantip Plaza which was a great 50 minute walk from hotel and ate some streetfood along the way, and tried some crazy juices too. Pantip Plaza is the stuff that technology guys dreams are made of - 5 floors of just IT stuff including cameras, computers etc. I was hoping to find a waterproof housing for my canon but noone had heard of Ikelite so mission aborted. I bought a hard drive instead as they are so cheap compared to anywhere else (must buy something...).  I walked back to the hotel too which was nice to stretch my legs. I stopped off in a travel agent and booked my minibus and ferry to Koh Samet for the morning. $20 to travel 5 hours - love Asia travel prices!! There was such cool street art on the floors through my route to Pantip Plaza - see the photos below. It was some kind of organised event throughout the city. Really cool!

On the way back to hotel I spotted a hawker area I had read about online called Nana Square. It was great, all locals sitting in this dining lounge area eating freshly cooked thai food. I ordered a chili and basil chicken with rice for 40 baht, and it was the nicest thai meal I have had the whole time! YUM. The lady asked me if I wanted it 'Farang hot" or "Thai hot". I said farang hot - what she brought me was thai hot and they giggled (in a nice way) as I worked my way through it haha! They brought me a much appreciated cold beer to wash the chilli down with lol. Really glad I found that place as everything else nearby was italian, or McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King, or indian restaurants.

I am a bit disappointed I didn't make it to the temples, but I have been before and it did me good to get myself organised a bit more. I seem to get quite ansty in a city, I get this weird suffocating feeling like I did when I went through London in January. Once I got out and walked and appreciated being able to walk safely for a long time to stretch my legs I calmed down and took in the chaos from a more positive perspective. I was staying in Soi 9 in Sukhumvit which is right in the heart of the red light district which is hilarious. Every other stall on the streets sells viagra, vibrators, gels, lotions, potions, hand cuffs...and then you would see random stalls selling proper knuckle dusters and knives which scared me quite a bit! And then the normal DVD sellers. I was shocked at how much prices had gone up in Thailand since I was here in 2008. They were selling DVD box sets for $20, I am sure we used to get them for less than dinner cost!

Anyway super excited that I am one step further forward to India, and leaving tomorrow for Koh Samet, a new island for me in Thailand and a new adventure - and a beach with white sand. Yay for peace and quiet and beach days :)

Bye bye Bangkok!!!!!!!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Chilled Out Koh Lanta :)

Koh Lanta, Thailand - the 4th destination along this amazing adventure.

Happy days! So lovely to be back on Koh Lanta and have the opportunity to catch up with all of my lovely Lanta Diver friends. Brings back happy memories of doing my divemaster course, and working as a DM guiding for a season in 2007/08 and playing with all of those wonderfully awesome manta rays :)

After surviving 17 tedious hours in the airport at Singapore, walking between wifi venues, and sleeping on the chairs trying not to be sick with a bug I managed to catch - I finally got off the plane in Krabi with a big smile on my face! As soon as I got off the plane, my bag was waiting and I went through and booked my minibus and ferry tickets to the island, and 30 minutes later was on my way.

Somewhere between Krabi and arriving on Lanta I managed to completely mind blank on where Nora had booked for me to stay, so had to ask the driver to stop at Lanta Divers to see if Cazza knew.  Bamon (My DMT buddy!!) was on front desk and smiled politely to who he initially saw as a customer, and then his eyes popped out his head in his hurry to say helllloooooo!!! Cazza came out to see what all the fuss was and gave me a big welcome hug. It had been so long since I had seen these guys! Cazza reminded me that I was staying at Blue Sky (I knew it was Blue something...) and off I went in my minibus full of french people and eventually landed at Blue Sky Bungalows. After confirming diving with the lovely Nora at Hin Muang and Hin Daeng the next morning! Yay!

My bungalow was just perfect! I had a hammock, a massive bed inside, and literally 100m (if that) to the right was the ocean and Long Beach - my favourite beach in Lanta with so many fun memories. I was right next to Mr Wee's, Funky Fish, Somewhere Else - all the old haunts for dinner settings.  So cool. I took myself straight to the beach and ordered a Chang and sat and watched the sunset, and the World go by. My favourite thing to do in the whole wide world.

That evening I met Nora for dinner at Mr Wee's and we ordered salami pizza, again just like the old days. She introduced me to her lovely new boyfriend Marcelo and we swapped stories as fast as we could about life, and where next plans, in between stories about what they can expect in Lembeh when they go diving with Two Fish Divers in May. Can't believe I will miss them, but so happy for them as I know they will have awesome times. Marcelo is an underwater photographer (well I guess above water too, but works as underwater in Lanta...) so he will have a total blast with his camera!  Nora looks so happy, so was cool to see her so smiley!

The next morning I was up early to meet the minibus to get into town for diving! I was super excited about the possibility of seeing manta rays, less excited about the 4 hour boat ride to get there however. It did provide us girls with a good amount of time to gossip our way to Hin Muang though and catch up on the last 4 years. Anjali was on the boat as well so was lovely to gossip the day away. Anjali suggested my doing another season in Lanta or considering coming back here to teach yoga which is definitely an idea for more consideration :)

First dive of the day was Hin Muang and it was the most beautiful dive ever. I have never dived Hin Muang, as a customer or guiding it, when the conditions were so calm. The visibility was like forever, and the reef has grown back in such a healthy way since 2008. There's so much life underwater, and the strangest part was no current whatsoever which is just unheard of. Normally this dive site can be exhausting with always having to change directions to avoid ripping currents and the mantas appear through a green haze as viz is so bad.  Hin Daeng was exactly the same, gorgeous to dive but no manta rays as just too calm a day for them. They haven't seen them in a few weeks so chances were slim anyway. Was just really nice to be out on the water.

Nora and I used to work together at Lanta Divers and were nearly always on the slow boat to Hin Muang/Daeng which meant we had some awesome dives with mantas (sometimes 5-7 at a time playing so close we had to move out of their way! Very lucky!!) through this season but also meant we were always on the early boat and up at 5am to work!! We put the world to rights on our early mornings though and both went through differing degrees of life experiences during our time working together, so our days were always filled with plenty of stories ;) That was a season where we both learnt a lot.

I dived with a Swedish couple who were a bit tricky to begin with but warmed up as the day went on, and ended up joining Nora and I quite a lot chatting. They invited me to dinner with them that evening and I went along to find out more about them.  They were a nice couple, who make a point of traveling somewhere exotic in Asia each year with or without their children which I think is kind of cool. I always like when people continue their travel dreams and adventures even though they have children. They very kindly paid for my dinner saying I needed to save my money for more exciting things on my travels :)

I had plans to stay longer and dive again with Nora, and have girls drinks on the Tuesday evening. I spent the morning sending emails to find out how long I needed in Bangkok to get my visa for India, and then got myself ready for the beach. Surprisingly the Embassy responded quickly and told me I needed to allow 8-9 business days for the visa at a minimum which sent me off into a panic as I only had 8 business days left before flying to India, and even that meant leaving Lanta much sooner than I had intended. The day quickly became about racing into town to get bus tickets to Bangkok, finding a hotel and saying goodbyes instead of chilling. I did manage to get some yummy street food in Saladan and enjoy a mango shake in the tuk tuk back to Blue Sky and hit the beach for a bit in the afternoon which was a relief to have time to do so :)  Also managed to fit in a 3 mile run along the beach that evening too which felt great after not having run for a full month since my Dubai runs! I miss running so much and my track sessions, and all of my running friends, and races and goals.

On my final night, I had dinner with Nora, Ivan (My DMT Instructor and friend) and Marcelo at Somewhere Else. So sad to be saying hi to Ivan at the same time as saying bye to everyone. I feel like I just started to relax and then it is time to move on all over again.  Sucked big time as I was really hoping to have at least another 3 or 4 nights in Koh Lanta to catch up properly. Ivan talked about sunset drinks at his new place.  I decided I would try to get back to Koh Lanta after submitting my visa in Bangkok if I could find decent flight prices. Guess we will see once I get there, and what I need to do about passport and visa details.  It's so hard to figure out from their website...

Anyway spent the final morning chilling in a cafe on the beach reading and doing not very much until the minibus came to collect me, and then very sadly saying bye bye to Koh Lanta :( It was an awesome 3 night stopover lol!!  Looking forward to catching up with Nora and Marcelo somewhere in Indonesia later in summer, maybe Ivan and others too xx

Ah Koh Lanta I still <3 you!

Monday, 4 March 2013



Ok so I confess a lovely girl called Ash created the name of this blog, unknowingly. After an awesome week together diving, Ash posted her diving photos onto facebook with the title "Lembeh-licious" and it has stuck in my mind ever since. It is perfect :) 

Lembeh. I have to restrain from simply writing I <3 Lembeh, which I was tempted to do so many times as there are not enough words to say how much I enjoyed this trip. This island is my idea of heaven. As soon as I stepped off the boat and landed at Two Fish Dives, I already felt as though I had found home! It was a beautiful love affair lol.  I was supposed to leave after 9 days, and ended up staying just got better and better each day and fear of missing out kept me delaying my departure.  I changed my flight twice and finally left  when I ran out of days to do so, and Dani and Matt were also leaving for holidays!

Lembeh is a small island off Manado, in Indonesia with THE most amazing macro diving I have ever done. I arrived with hopes of seeing a blue ringed octopus - on two afternoon dives I actually got to dive with not one, but two blue ringed octopus.  Add to that the pygmy seahorses, flamboyant cuttlefish, sea moths, frogfish galore - shaggy, painted, giant, hairy...ranging in size from pinky finger nail size to 5/6 inches long. Who knew there were 4 different types of pygmy seahorses too? Not me. Guess who has seen all of them now? Yep - yours truly :) Lembeh stole my cherry on a whole array of critters underwater which I didn't even know existed - zebra crabs, tiger shrimp, coleman shrimp, tozeuma shrimp, donald duck shrimp, candy crabs, boxer crabs.  I saw the biggest robust ghost pipefish ever.  Seriously in one day it was entirely possible to see pygmy seahorses, seahorses, frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, several of the shrimp/crabs above, blue ringed octopus, mimic octopus, long armed octopus and wunderpus octopus. SO lucky. Every day I came out of the water smiling.

Diving makes me so deliriously happy. I am so calm and content underwater in my peaceful little bubble. It was noted often that I hardly breath underwater and frequently finish an 80 minute dive with 100 bar left in my tank.  My mind is perfectly still underwater, no demons, no worries, just me, myself and I...oh and a zillion amazing things to see in Lembeh.

We had some awesome dives, so many different stories underwater :) Best was the frogfish Jason and I were taking photos of which was orange and 4cm long with a sandperch next to it. All of a sudden there was a big sand storm in front of us, some thrashing around and then when it cleared all we saw was half the sandperch (twice size of frogfish) hanging out of the frogfish's mouth!! INSANELY funny!! We finished our last dive on a hairy frogfish - and anyone who disputes it I am willing to fight lol! We searched high and low for the hairy frogfish, thinking several times over we had seen one only to be told it was a shaggy instead! Many a 'look at the lure, look at the lure' joke was had in the bar and flooding our masks underwater laughing!! I swear to god on the last dive of 21 days the final thing I saw underwater was a hairy frogfish - happy days :):)

I have loved diving with Doan, he's 18 years old and I could literally adopt him, he cracks me up underwater writing me messages or singing or breaking into a yoga pose or sword fight. It has been a lot of fun. All the guides and boat boys are awesome fun and have such amazingly good eyes for the macro. When I told Doan I am coming back again, he said sincerely please bring a macro lens with you next time ok...most things he shows me are just too small for my little camera to even focus on! As for Rein, well I just want to adopt him as well - he is kick ass awesome with a smile ALWAYS on his face :) Love that!! <3

Everything about Two Fish Divers is eco-friendly, so there are bins everywhere for different types of products. The Divemaster course has eco options, and Sarah who was doing her DMT had chosen the resort based specifically on this. She was such a cool chick, shame she had to spend second half of her DMT in Bunaken - really pleased that she finished her course well and had an awesome experience, even if she did manage to escape the snorkel test celebration :) Would have liked to stick around to see that.  As part of her course she organised an underwater beach clean up in a local village. It was disgusting how much plastic and rubbish was under the water, just horrible. Every customer came along as well as all the guides and we each filled an entire bag with junk :( There is a lot of educating to do in Lembeh around throwing rubbish into the water. 

The resort itself is like a sanctuary it is so peaceful and calm. I am picturing yoga and teaching here being dreamlike and perfect :) The cottages are just beautiful, and every little detail is thought of for you. You are looked after so well. The food was to die for and loads of fresh vegetables and fruit as well. Everyone who works there was awesome.

In between dives we got into the habit of doing boat yoga. I don't really remember how that happened actually. But it quickly took a significant part of our surface intervals, and I would look at Rein and point to the boat roof and off we ran to take our spot and throw ourselves into poses. I say we, I mean Rein - quite possibly the bendiest 18 year old in Lembeh. It took me practice to perfect the headstand, and the 8 angle pose, and the crow, and the side crow. Rein would watch me work my way into a pose, I would turn around and he would be in the pose already! His second attempt at headstand started in crow, then became headstand and then pushed up into handstand and to standing.  He copied this from Jason who also watched me struggle (in a wetsuit) into headstand on a reversing boat, and then jumped up casual as can be and did crow, to headstand to handstand to standing - just like that. Didn't frustrate Dani and I

In the evenings before dinner, Dani and I became focussed with our yoga, and perfecting some of the cooler crazy kick ass yoga poses. Again, I forget how it came about but we specifically focused on getting into the splits and getting our legs behind our heads. Dani focused on the 8 angle pose too, and practiced like crazy to perfect it. After a zillion sun salutations and hip opener exercises and sweaty yoga classes, our hips opened enough for us to both jump into the splits on the roof of the boat one day :) Yay! The leg behind the head took a little longer but we got there too.  What started as gentle yoga classes to stretch, quickly became what can we do next and how fast lol! 

We even did an underwater yoga class, bringing along Rein to join in and help us take some pictures. So much fun though we did kick up a storm down there, and I did flood my mask laughing a fair few times. We did warrior 3, tree, handstands, headstands, warrior 2, triangle, lotus pose and several others. Matt and Dani were awesome in helping me set up a facebook page, identity and a logo for teaching yoga as I travel through Asia. It's super cool so if you haven't already liked it then click on Serenity Yoga on my facebook page. It's where I will keep all of our boat yoga and scuba yoga photos!

During my 21 days in Lembeh we had such a cool group of people come to visit Matt and Dani. A Scuba Junkie reunion, which was so much fun - Ash & Dave, Debs & Neil, and Jason all arrived for a week or so and we all dived like crazy. Brilliant diving days, fun on the boat, fun underwater, fun in the bar in the evenings. One memorable night stands out for me - the drinking games night.  I was shockingly bad at each of the three games we played and ended up drinking a lot of gin that night. We played a neighbours game where I completely forgot to say "G'day there..." and insisted on saying "Hi there" - my defense being I am English though...didn't work and I was first out of the game which is pretty impressive as you get so many life lines along the way. We tried some kind of Captain drinking game, again fail. Then we tried a memory game which was hilarious!

Neil, Debs and I went to the jungle one day to see the tarziers.  We walked for hours and got eaten alive but the reward was meeting face to face the cutest and weirdest looking creatures, which at about 5 inches tall are the smallest monkeys in the World. Their eyes are enormous and their bony little hands remind you of ET. Debs and I wanted to take one home with us :) 

Indonesia cracks me up with all the love songs blasting out of the radios, the boys crooning to Celine Dion while they clean the garden areas and singing to themselves underwater! When we were in Manado in the van, my ability to fall asleep as soon as a car starts moving served me well so I didn't see too much of the lethal driving that goes on with trucks pulling out in front of each other and whole families (without helmets) on scooters.

I was particularly clumsy on this trip (in true Caroline fashion as you all know well ;) and got myself quite a reputation to the point where people would think to themselves what might Caroline do today. Several times I had camera issues which ranged from me getting to 30m underwater and trying to take a photo to realise I had not put the battery in, almost flooding the camera at Nudi Retreat, diving with a housing filled with toilet paper to test housing several times over to the boat boys amusement, and fogging up the housing almost every other day as I didn't change the silica packs often enough. One morning on the way to our afternoon dive, the boat boys stopped the boat and said someones jacket fell off the boat. Jason, my upside down all the time dive buddy, looked at me, I said it wasn't me, my jacket is there. Then they said it's green...and everyone looked at me and I had to hide my head in hands and admit I had left my green towel on the roof of the boat and it had indeed vanished like a green manta into the ocean. The shame lol!! The best was on the last day when I was trying so hard not to do something silly, everyone was handing in their towels while I frantically looked for mine - Neil just shook his head and said it's round your neck Caroline. Neil eventually ran out of words after 10 days and just chuckled to himself instead.  I like to think I provided the entertainment.... :/

I have had the most amazing time, and can't wait to come back in May/June to dive and teach yoga :) Matt and Dani you are the best hosts in the World. Miss you guys already! 

I <3 Lembeh xx