E-mail Update - 2005-08-09

Adjusting to Ko Phi Phi

Hey Everyone,

I am settling into Ko Phi Phi nicely now & just thought I would let you know where I am at. I have passed my PADI Rescue Diver course & just finished the second day of my PADI Dive Master Training (DMT). The first day I spent reading the PADI DMT book & taking my first 3 exams! I got 95%, 90% & 95%, so that means I passed ;) It was not very much fun, but it was required before I could go out on the boat. They were going today so I needed to be ready for that by reading the book, finishing the knowledge reviews & taking the exams. I am taking my DMT course at Visa Diving, which is a small dive shop in town. It had 2 shops before the Tsunami & was hit rather hard by it. They were really accommodating to me wanting to get my program done quickly. They also allow me to make money from commissions if I bring people into the shop. It is not much but it all helps. The people there are really nice & very willing to help, which is good because I want to become a quality divemaster. Right now I am at 35 dives, but I should be getting about 2 dives a day until I get my DMT certification (you need 60 dives for that). I would like to have everything done by the end of August. That way I could spend most all of September working to make some money back from the course & to get some experience. I do have to wait about a week until after I am done with the course to get my divemaster number from PADI before I can start working.

I will leave here September 29 & go to Bangkok to catch my flight to Japan. Once back from Japan I would like to become a PADI Instructor, which requires 100 logged dives.

At night I am working at one of the 2 coolest bars on the island, Reggae Bar. I am the only “European” employee, as my Thai boss calls me. My job is basically to hand out flyers from 7pm until about 8 or 8:30. Then I come back & get drink orders from people. The owner also told me that I can pretty much just sit & talk to people as I want, so that is cool. I have gotten to know quite a few of the patrons, but it is mostly different people every night. The other nice part about this is that it allows me to ask them if they are interested in diving & perhaps get a new customer at Visa. I have no sales yet, but I am still learning the prices & such.
I am also the announcer now which is interesting. I am hoping to find my groove soon; I hate lame announcers, which is basically my level right now. The owner thinks I am great at it, so that tells you how bad it was before. The job pays almost nothing. The main reason I was going to do it was for the place to stay. Although upon closer inspection we both decided it would not be feasible for me to live there. I felt like I was willing to give up all comforts. The room was nice & big, but I only had a small fan & blanket/pillow, nothing & I mean nothing else in it. The bathroom was a horribly dirty one that was shared, but I could deal with that. But there was one thing I just could not deal with which was a big bucket that everyone uses to shower. I need my overhead shower, that was just one place I could not compromise. It worked out ok though because first I negotiated a lower rate to stay at the place I was at which is Rimna Villa (from 300 baht, down to 150 baht per night). My boss is giving me another 100 baht towards this 150 baht, so that helps it is worth 50 bath for the extra comfort. I mean that room is very basic, bed, fan, bathroom, but it works well. I am back in Room 5, which is one of the nicer rooms & is where Nina & I originally stayed. I get 200 baht a night for working (plus the 100 towards my room). So 300 bath in total cash which is about $7.50 USD per night. I also get a meal each night (worth about 50 baht) & between 50-80 baht per night in tips (which means I am really good because I have never seen a tip given here, ever, anywhere). I also get drinks from the bar which probably add up to around 100 baht per night (I just stick to water & juice, even though I can have anything I want). So when you figure it all out I make about 500 baht in reality, which is about $12.50 USD per night. I am guessing that I make more than any of the Thai people working there now, which is probably unfair, but they get the Thai price on the island, where I pay the tourist price most places, which is between 20-50% higher. Also, I have been able to negotiate a 50 % discount on Internet, but it is still more expensive than anywhere else in Thailand I was. My goal now is to live off the money I am making at the bar & not spend any more money. The nice thing is that staying here still allows me to spend money in lots of different places which helps the people. The people here are the best, they are always willing to share with you & you get what you give to them & more.
There is a cool fire show (people do tricks with fire sticks & chains), which is the other good bar in town that people go to. Reggae Bar’s big selling point is the projection screen for the big games & movies & our nightly Thai Kickboxing (which is the coolest). But most people have left the bar by Midnight or 1am.

Other than that I really have no life, it is basically just eating & sleeping, plus trying to read for the DMT when I can.

Sorry to all everybody who I am behind in e-mail to, but there are just not enough hours in the day here! The nice thing is the question I had about being able to focus & work hard again has been answered. It helps that I actually love being here though. Plus both jobs are demanding in different ways, but fun. It lets me continue to meet people & still do what I want long term. Here is my Thai mobile number - 046669308, for people internationally it is 6646669308. You may or may not have to put something in front of that, I am not sure. Know that I can't call you from it & it does not take messages. This means you have to catch me with it, when I can talk. That is basically from 5-7pm Thailand time. We are 12 hours ahead of Central Standard Time back home in the states.

Peace & Love to you all!