So as it turns out the 'tribute to my backpack' post was entirely unnecessary, as the day after I posted that, I got an email from Hong Kong Airlines informing me that my bag was found and that it would be delivered to my hotel the next day. So that was good news! I just had to wait around in Bangkok for an extra day or two. Of course I had already spent like $300 replacing all the clothes and other essential electronic items in my backpack, but whatever. My friend Mila already went back up North to resume her English teaching, so I did absolutely nothing but wander around, get massages and smoke hookah for two days. Bangkok has a big Arab quarter, and the hookah places there are absolutely fantastic!
As soon as my bag arrived I booked the overnight bus and ferry combo to koh tao to do some diving. 8 hours by bus and 2 hours by ferry and we were there! Koh Tao is a pretty small island, known to be a bit more laid back than its neighbor koh phangan. It's also a Scuba diving certificate factory! I don't know exactly how many dive shops there are here, but its probably 50+. Every other shop on the beach road is a dive shop. This kind of competition also means very affordable diving. Now from what I researched, koh tao doesn't exactly have amazing diving. Places in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines have much better diving, but none of those places are nearly as heavily touristed as Thailand, hence its reputation as the most popular diving spot in SE Asia.
To be honest, I didn't really care that the diving wouldn't be spectacular, as I was mainly stopping here to do my rescue diver certification on the cheap. Rescue Diver is basically a course that teaches you how to respond to any type of emergency that can happen while diving, and I'd been diving long enough (and with enough beginner divers) that I figured it would be something beneficial to learn. Originally I'd hoped that I could join a group taking this same class, but it seems that 98% of divers on koh tao are either taking their open water or advanced course. So it would just be a one on one. In order to take the class I also had to get certified as an emergency first responder (basically first aid), which is mostly bookwork and demonstrating CPR on a dummy. So the first day I spent watching super lame videos, taking notes, doing quizzes, and going over the answers with the instructor. The second day was in the pool, going over all the types of diver emergency situations and how to properly respond to them. And the third day would be the same thing, but in the open water. But as it turned out I wasn't able to finish the class...
If you're on Koh Tao and see anyone with any type of injury, there is only one assumption as to what caused it: Motorbike! Koh Tao has some terrible roads and slew of 18-22 year old drivers who have never driven a motorbike before. And some 30 year olds who think they can ride... But to my defense I haven't dropped a bike in a long time, since my wipeout in Koh Phangan four years ago, which left me with a nice 'koh phangan tattoo' on my right foot. I'd like to think I'm a much better rider than I was then, but lo and behold, another accident. After my rescue diving class I took my sweet 110 hp, semi automatic scooter out to the southern end of the island with the intention of hiking up to the viewpoint around sunset, which I did. I met a brazilian guy up there who had taken a taxi to get out there (which are ripoffs). Seeing as we were going back to the same place I offered him a ride on the back of my bike. It wasn't a difficult ride, just one steep uphill section followed by a steep downhill section.
The uphill part was a breeze. But as we started on the downhill part there was a truck coming up the road (a rare occurrence) which forced us off to the side of the road, which unbeknownst to me, had a lot of sand/gravel. So as I was applying the brakes, nothing was happening. This was the scary part! With the extra weight we were skidding and picking up speed and still had a long way to go to get to the bottom. I didn't think I would be able to stop the bike from skidding so I decided to bail off to the side of the road, which fortunately was clear, just a grass/dirt mix. The brazilian guy was able to hop off the back of the bike, I went down with it. We weren't going fast, I just ended up with few small scrapes on my knee and elbow, but my foot got caught under the bike when it went down, so I sprained my ankle pretty good. At first I felt nothing, but as the night went on my ankle got even more stiff, and when I woke up the next morning I could hardly put weight on it. Not Good!
I went to the clinic the next day, there wasn't too much bruising or swelling, and they labelled it as a level II sprain, which unsurprisingly is more than a mild sprain, but not a severe one. Probably a few weeks to get back to 100%. The last few days I've been doing the whole RICE thing: rest, ice, compression, elevate. It's also been boring as hell. My scooter, which got me into this whole mess, is also the thing that makes my life so much easier, as I just have to walk the 10 feet from my door to my bike and I can get wherever I want. As I mention earlier I couldn't finish up my rescue diver class, but fortunately I got a referral so I can finish up the open water stuff at the next PADI dive shop I make it to. My ankle has gotten much much better in the last few days, so I can walk with only a slight limp now, and I actually went diving today and did just fine, so all is good! I'm leaving Koh Tao tomorrow, taking a ferry/bus/boat combo to an island called Koh Mook, where I plan on taking it pretty easy! I've been on this island too long now and the crowd is way too young for me, so I'm pretty excited to get outta here!
Sorry Mom and Dad I'll be safer the rest of the trip!