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Burma with Colona II, 9-23 April 1999 Arnaud & Serene

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colona2.jpg (12213 bytes)We were two very eager divers who had not had a good opportunity/time to dive for one full year. This is the trip we had been planning for a year and desperately looking forward to. We chartered Colona II from 9-23 April 99 (the last trip of the dive season in Burma for Colona II). In total we sent 28 e-mails asking about Colona II and were told clearly what we would have and would not have. When we arrived in Phuket we took a mini-van and asked the driver to take us to Patong Lodge Hotel which we had booked through the agent. It was a decent hotel with a pool and of course not forgetting AIR-CON in the room. It can be very unpleasant without air-con when the temperature is around 35C. First night and first time in Phuket, so we went to try the original Thai Food and Seafood. We had a very sumptuous dinner at one of the restaurant along Patong Beach.

The next day we checked out of the hotel and were picked-up by the agent who was to drive us to Rannong. When we arrived at the lobby we met this couple; one from Switzerland and the other from Germany and knew immediately that it was gonna be tough on the boat for us (they detest air-con). So during the trip to Rannong by mini-bus, the air-con was turned down and 5 of us were drooling down with sweat in the back of the van. It was our unfriendly couple imposing their no-aircon policy to everybody else without asking our opinion. Despite many complaints, to no avail. Where I come from is a very hot and humid country with a temperature of 32C. I know what heat is all about; so for the next nine days on the boat we had completely no air-con during the night. The air-con was only switched on from 6-10pm. Then, total silence and no wind for the next 8hrs (compliments of our two egocentric and egoistic guests). They felt that it was freezing cold at a temperature of 23C with the air-con on ! But coming from where they come from with the possibility of -10C isn’t it quite a surprise ? They wanted peace and no noise during the night with no generator running as it would spoil the atmosphere of the cabin they were sleeping in ? Well, it’s funny isn’t it? And it really makes me wonder until today why coming from a cold country they think that a temperature of 23C is freezing. So for nine nights we slept at 9pm and woke up at 10pm. Then, we had to go to the deck where the skipper steers the boat where there were two benches on each side(about 100cm in width) to sleep. Quite an achievement when keeping in mind that my husband weighs 110kg and is 6ft3 tall.

DIVING? Well, I only did 8 dives for the whole trip, need I say why? Of course it is up to me to dive 3 dives a day but then where will I find the energy and enthusiast to dive without ample sleep in the night? Those two? Of course they did three dives a day without fail, unless there was a storm or bad weather to stop them. On top of having to share the boat with two A..H…s, the weather was stormy the whole trip. I guess we were cursed by the Gods; during this trip we had very bad weather and there were many good sites we were not able to go to. We only managed to go to Rocky Island, Colona Rocks (4x), North Twin South & North, Clara Island, North Sentinel, Kamzagyi Island, Putika, Steward Rock, Boulder Point (aborted cannot find dive master), North Rock, Faraway Bank, Cupola (Bird Nest Cave = my favourite) and Richelieu Rock. On the 19 April 99, guess what happened next? The bloody compressor broke down and we were parked in Surin for 7hrs so that Freddy (owner of the boat) and Patrick (skipper) could repair the compressor, in the meantime we were left with two full tanks and guess who rushed to go diving with the last two tanks??? Of course they off the starting blocks as soon as they found out that the compressor would not be repaired. When the dive master was asking who would want to go diving, the other two already had their masks, BCD, fins…etc on and were ready to jump. What a pleasant holiday when you have to rush for everything and argue about everything. I guess courtesy and respect for the individual was not an inherent part of our two german-speaking fellow divers. so I said "errrrrr I guess not Mr dive master because there is no more full tank". After 7hrs of trying to mend the compressor they finally gave up. Freddy knew that we had problem with the other couple and gave us two choices : either we leave the boat and he pays us back the remaining 3 days trip or we can stick our neck around for another 3 days but the boat need to go back to Chalong to fill the tank and get more tanks; which if we go there will be 24 tanks on the boat in a hypothetical situation that all four of us will be doing three dives a day for two days. We chose to leave the boat anyway and got our three days money back, well if you ask me if its kindness or out of pity I really don’t know. Is this unlucky trip of the Year or what?

In summary, we did not pay US$4600 to sleep on the bench and have the staff (well actually one person, the others were all very friendly and polite) being rude to us on some occasions. The only reason we took Colona II was because we were told by the agent that we would have Air-con, but I did not ask for air-con during the day. All I had asked for was to switch it on during the night so that we could have some sleep. If I were to know that I was not gonna have air-con for this trip, you could have paid me US$10million I would not have stepped on Colona II. I’m not being mean or crude but coming from where I come from and with the temperature of 33C in the night for nine nights can be very intolerable and I don’t think this is an unreasonable request. I guess the skipper chose the couple request over us what can I say? Ample of water on the boat well, we have 9 person on the boat for 10days and we nearly finished the water. We had our refill in Kwathong on 19 April 99. Compressor, well this is the extract from the agent when we asked him about the compressor: "Colona II charters for over 17 years and has never had a compressor breakdown and she is still using the same compressor". I guess it’s self explanatory. I have been to far worst condition than this, I was on M/V Joanasis travelling to Anambas and Natuna and the boat carried 20 people on the boat with only two shower heads. Yet, I enjoyed it because there was some air-con during the night. I agree 90% of what Stefan wrote on the report because I’ve had the same experience! And we’re not a Cocktail Diver!

Written by Arnaud & Serene

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Last modified: 6:st of June 1999
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Arnaud & Serene 1999