What a great Chirstmas present for the "Santa" Clauss Fleet ;-) Manta Queen 1's perfect Chirstmas Trip.
The 24th of December most people gather around their Christmas tree at home, but not us! Our group of 28 divers gathered around the Christmas tree in Khao Lak Scuba Adventures. All ready for a unique Christmas experience on the Andaman Sea: a liveaboard!! Place to be: Khao Lak Scuba Adventures dive shop, where we all met each other and were all stoked. An energetic vibe was created, and we all got to know each other. As for me, I was invited to this trip only 3 hours before we left so, I was more than excited. First Similan Island liveaboard as a DMT, to assist with translation into German and do some of my DMT skills.
But first things first, assess the situation, breathe, think and react, as I am correctly educated by PADI Where can I be of use? Who will be my instructor? Where are the customers from? Well, I found out that I could be of use everywhere, and since I am here to learn, I helped out. Assisting with the inscriptions, helping the customers into fitting equipment. Loading the gear and drinks into the truck, getting the customers on the truck as well as their suitcases. Then, the staff jumped in and yay ! I’m part of one ! Off we went with our Christmas hats on, at 7:30 pm cruising through Khao Lak and heading to the pier where our mothership Manta Queen 1 liveaboard was waiting for us. Time to unload the truck and discover our beautiful home for the next 4 days and nights
Xavier welcomed us all and introduced the dive staff and boat staff to all our visitors, coming from China, Korea, Spain, Germany, America… and they all share the same passion : diving! Huge smiles everywhere and off we went into the deep blue ocean with a beautiful moon shining down upon us. Could Christmas Eve be even more special? When everyone went to bed, the dive staff decorated the boat with Christmas decorations, we prepared our Christmas playlist and went to bed ourselves. Sleeping on a cruising boat is very, very unique. Therefore, our nausea pills were also mentioned and exchanged. Better safe than sorry, right?
25th of December and Day 1 on Manta Queen 1. Waking up with Mariah Carey singing “All I want for Christmas, is youuuuuuu” with a beautiful sunset is unforgettable. We hopped in the ocean to discover West of Eden where we saw some beautiful turtles who even circulated our boat while we had breakfast afterwards… Mister Frogfish was there and the Spearing Manta Shrimp waved us off. Then off to Deep Six where some baby Barracudas showed themselves as well as some Giant Travail and Triggerfish…. We ended our sunny Christmas in …. of course : Christmas Point! The sun was still shining so ready for a mini tan session on the lovely Donald Duck bay with a stunning view at sail rock. While the other divers went on their fun dive, I got to guide Riks (my awesome roomie) and Denali on another, shallow dive. My DMT test : use my compass and get them back to the boat without looking on the surface. Exciting, challenging, but successful ! Night fell over Turtle Rock and we went for a fun night dive ! The torches went on and off we went… We saw several Octopus, Cuttlefish, small dancing Durban Shrimp. Stories were exchanged about the wonders of night diving. Then the delicious odeurs of our Christmas meal reached the deck. Nom Nom Nom , what a treat it was… The best was yet to come: Patrick created with the cooks a unique Norwegian dessert: a delicious porridge. Risgrøt is a Scandinavian treat around Christmas since Santa needs his milk. Everyone on the boat got a beautiful cup of Risgrøt, and there was an extra surprise. One dessert had a nut in it, and who ever would find the nut could make a wish. It still, however remains a mystery who found the lucky nut With a well stuffed belly and enjoying the photo presentation of Rich.
26th of December we woke up when everything was still dark… While we were all busy with our beauty sleep, our fantastic captain brought us to Elephant Head Rock, the biggest pinnacle in the Similans. We were treated on a beautiful sunny morning while we prepared for our first dive of the day. Good morning swim through and boulder! Giant Trevally and Great Barracuda were already awake, as well as we all after this fantastic sight. Back on the boat we all enjoyed breakfast and our Open Water student Denali got her certification : hurray ! She even decided to continue her study and started the Advanced Open Water Course as well : double hurray !
Dive number 2 was North Point and it only got better : a school of Barracuda welcomed us. We went through swim through, were surrounded by giant Fan Corals and got some fantastic action pictures taken by our photographer from Zimbabwe : Rich.
After a lovely lunch with some delicious Thai food we sailed to Koh Bon to dive in the West Ridge. A-ma-zing ! Never thought I got to see waterfalls while diving Besides this unique feature, the walls were filled with colorful Soft Corals and some giant Hard Corals. The Maldivian Sponge Snail (who obviously not only lives in the Maldives) was one of the many beautiful creatures we saw today. There they were : Unicorn Fishes ! It was my second guiding dive as a DMT and want to thank Jan and Denali for following me and share in my “I love unicorns” moment Some nice Octopus, Morays and a giant Puffer fish and lots of other great stuff made this dive another success. Time for sun, snacks, some relaxation and more diving ! All well rested for our last dive of the day : Koh Tachei - The Dome. This most northern island of the Similan National Park treated our divers on …. As for Denali, Jan and me we went for some skill training in a more shallow location: Tachai Reef. We were literally swept away by the current, but my heart was swept away by a super cute Longfin Batfish who wouldn’t leave me alone and stayed VERY close to me for 20 minutes. I never felt so loved in the ocean like this and miss him/her already ! Besides this act of love we had the pleasure to see some Octopus and Cuttlefish in action. I still think it is one of the most coolest things ever when they change colour. But to make it all even more awesome (I know I know , exadurating much? No !) when we surfaced, the sun was dropping in the ocean and we were treated of one of the most memorisable sunsets I have ever seen. Thank you Mother Nature ! This second fantastic day ended by another fabulous Thai dinner and all the bellies were once again filled with superb food while our minds are all filled with our underwater memories.
Wakey Wakey at 6 AM. Off course I was tricked into giving a 5 minutes to wake up call - call The fun thing is that I’ve never seen so many happy faces so early in the morning then here, on our mothership Manta Queen 1! We saw the sky turning from black to blue with a stunning morning glory and we all enjoyed this sight. A quick coffee or tea and we hopped in the ocean after another enthusiastic briefing of Xavier. Off to Koh Tachai, down to The Dome ! Lots of fun there, some impressing Tunas, Barracudas, and never forget the small but amazing Ghost Pipe Fish. Time for breakfast so back to the boat. Omelettes, bacon and vegan breakfast was again served for us and oh my god. The best food is the ‘after dive’- food, am I right? Then we took a larger break because …. we needed to head for the fantastic Richelieu Rock. Time for some napping and sunbathing on the deck while we cruise a few hours towards one of the best dive spots in Thailand, and maybe even the world! This horseshoe shaped site is so impressive that we decided to do our three next dives there. Words cannot describe what we saw. An abundance of soft and hard Corals and easily thousands of fish in all shapes and sizes. On our first dive we all saw the one and only famous little yellow Seahorse, waiting for us at 30 meter depth, curling his cute tail around the coral and let us be in total awe. How such a tiny creature captures so many hearts. Off course , the big schools of Giant Barracuda, Tuna, Snappers, Giant Trevallies and thousands of Glass Fish, all sorts of Lionfish and the ninja’s of the ocean: Scorpion fish were everywhere around us… Too much to put in words, just magnificent. The day ended with exchanging our experiences with some fantastic Thai food and once again, happy but tired faces.
A very early morning after three intense days of diving. At 6 am we went off to Hin Luang for some early diving. There was only one boat there, and it was our sister boat Manta Queen 5! Who would be first? We did “Gogogogogo , divedivedivedive” , as the boat boys used to yell I love them, always so happy, funny and super helpful. So, off we all went. I went with Xavier for my deep dive scenario and guess what? A Leopard Shark was resting on the bottom of the ocean, and we all got a good look at it before it woke up and swam away! Everyone on Manta Queen 1 had a good look at it and was absolutely flabbergasted. We were so stoked, and went off to Koh Bon, North Ridge after breakfast. Still excited about the Leopard Shark we all jumped in and Tik did his magic… there is was. My spirit animal. the one I have been dreaming of to see in real life. getting goosebumps all over again when I think of it …. a giant MANTA floated by and yes, I admit. I cried of pure joy. Nothing can describe this sheer beautiful perfection. It swam by, turned around and swam by again for two more times so we all got to see her in every way. We were in love. And I still am. I felt emotional and once again thank Mother Nature for letting me see her creations. After lunch we dove in Boonsung wreck where I did my first mapping and there we all got excited by the tiny tiny Shrimp, Spotted Morays and off course the amazing Boonsung Wreck. Back on board we all sat together, ate some snacks, showed our pictures and films to each other and enjoyed Rich photo session of the leopard shark and manta of the dives before.
PERFECTION ! Sad to go home, I feel a part of this wonderful family and had the time of my life. Special thanks to Jan, Riks, Patrick and Xavier for letting me be part of their dive team, big thank you to the boat staff and shout out to all the lovely customers.
Thank you all and ps : mantaaaaaaaaaaaaa !
Your DMT , Johanna
A beautiful poem by Denali
I move with the water and it with me
As I twist and spin in the swirling sea
Fish dart by at staggering speeds
Through a forest of silken seaweed
My hair levitates in a similar way
spreading about me in a golden arc
like the light around a candle’s flame
My eyes bright as a fire they spark
I cannot help but gleam and glow
As I look on at my watery home
The sun shines through the aqua surf
Scattering sheen along the sandy turf
Colorful corals and graceful anemone
Swaying softly as if stirred by a breeze
Countless bubbles dance as they rise
With each breath’s release
I soar along with dips and glides
This is Peace; This is Play; I feel alive!
This is where my soul resides
Flowing in the current, lifted by the waves, moved by the tides
Eternally ancient and forever young
Awaiting nothing; absorbing all
Alive with life yet unsung
Creation of creatures large and small
None of my wildest dreams compare
I am captivated; captured in a snare
Utterly enchanted as we ascend
This magical moment is coming to an end
Already I am yearning to return home again.
The Team of Manta Queen 1 powered by Khao Lak Scuba Adventures