Today I discovered Moondance beach, and now I'm officially done exploring Ko Tao. Why keep searching for paradise, when you've already found it? Situated on the other side of the western headland of Chalok Baan Kao — just a 10-minute walk from my pad at Taraporn — this tiny beach is home to just two resorts, called Sunset and Moondance (respectively). Moondance beach (I forget its proper name) is calm, sandy and serene. Today, I spent the better part of the day chilling here: just swimming, reading, sunbaking and sleeping, all day long. Life here on Ko Tao is just getting harder and harder.
The second day of our PADI Open Water course began quite similarly to the first day: with more theory, and more boring educational diving videos. We revised yesterday's material, and went over our "homework", before finishing off the 5-part video series. The theory is a total joke — the instructors don't take it seriously, the material is largely common-sense stuff, and it's all done simply "for the record" — but at least we're now through most of it. Then, in the afternoon, our practical tuition began: for the first time, we got fitted up with scuba gear, and we jumped in the swimming pool at Ban's for our introductory "simulation dive".
As of today, Marie, Claire and myself have moved out of Mr. Jan's Bungalows (cosy though they are, and nice though Mr. Jan is). Following Sonny's example, we've moved over to the Unicorn I bungalows, where we are privy to what is possibly the deal of the century. For a mere 100B/night, the Unicorn I offers quaint little bungalows (albeit rustic), in a gorgeous grassy field — plus, they let you use all the luxury facilities of the nearby (but much pricier) Unicorn II resort! The newer and flashier Unicorn II boasts such freebies as a private swimming pool, a sauna, and free Internet. If you're heading to Pai anytime soon, be sure to check out the Unicorn thing.
We were a bit hot and worn-out from our wicked motorbike ride; so this afternoon, Marie, Claire and myself cooled off by taking a dip in the Pai public pool. The pool is located up on the eastern hillside overlooking the Pai valley, and it's run by a kind old Thai couple. We met a few other people at the pool, and we splashed around for a bit; but mostly, we just ended up relaxing in the large deck chairs, enjoying the gorgeous view (and the divine sunset), sipping fresh juice, and playing cards. Life sure is strenuous here in Thailand... I don't know how much more of this I can handle :P.
The third and final day of our romping through Doi Inthanon was pleasant, mainly downhill, and all over by lunchtime. We had a relatively early start: we left the Karen village at about 9:30am; and it was more jungle scenery, winding paths, and fairly easy walking for most of the morning. We were followed for some time by a few of the village dogs: the dogs around here are amiable enough to visitors; but they're bloody wild and vicious with each other! I guess that's what happens when none of them are de-sexed, and when they're all on heat 24/7. The morning rest stop was a looong and very relaxing one: we found a lovely natural pool, with a bunch of flat rocks all around, that was perfect for a ½ hour or so of swimming and sunbaking (and reading).