Posted by Sean on Jan 4, 2011 in Blog, Thailand | 0 comments
Every now and then, we run into people and companies that make our trip more enjoyable and life a little bit easier. When you are traveling for an extended period of time, you really come to appreciate the really great experiences that you know will stick with you for your entire life.
As most of you from reading our blog, Jessica and I have taken a PADI scuba certification course while in Koh Tao, Thailand. It turned out to be the experience of a lifetime. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have concerns about the unknown before we got started. How do we know if the company is safe? What are the class sizes going to be? Are they reputable or a fly by night operation?
We were ringing our hands trying to sift through all of the companies offering scuba certification courses and trying to decide which one we were going to ultimately choose. We had some guidance from a friend of ours in Hong Kong that helped guide us in the right direction (thanks Ingrid!). One thing we found out is that finding reviews for this sort of thing isn’t as simple as going to amazon.com to find multiple customer reviews. So if you are going to be in Koh Tao, Koh Samui, or Bangkok and in the market for a PADI certification course, please read on.
While we were searching the web for companies, we found bits and pieces about the services of one or two different companies but no in-depth reviews that would help us to make a decision on one particular company. After many emails and phone calls back and forth between three of our top choices, we decided on going with Planet Scuba. Planet Scuba turned out to be a great choice based on four main factors: professionalism, convenience, fun, and safety.
Professionalism and Convenience
- From beginning to end, all of the staff at Planet Scuba were very professional and an extremely helpful group of people. They always answered our emails and phone calls without acting perturbed that it was the third call in 5 minutes or multiple emails asking more questions about the same thing. This helped to put us at ease knowing that they were more than willing to answer our questions to make us comfortable about our decision to go with them.
- They also were able to bundle in accommodations at a great rate, especially considering the location was so convenient. It was right above the dive shop. They also own a restaurant directly across the street that serves up some of the best Thai food we have eaten. The restaurant is called Safety Stop. We are still looking for comparable Massaman curry and Panang curry but have yet to find anything close. Prices for Thai food are also very reasonable at the restaurant and the service was great too!
Fun and Helpful
- the staff are a fun group of people. They are all very welcoming and accommodating. When it comes to questions you may have about anything, they are happy to help. Actually, they were so helpful that we planned the next segment of our trip based on the information that they shared with us. Not only was it great information but it probably saved us a bit of money knowing that because of the seasonality, it didn’t make a lot of sense to head to the west coast of Thailand. Instead, we headed for the East coast of Malaysia for another diving adventure. That alone speaks volumes about our experience with Planet Scuba.
- Koh Tao is a significantly smaller community than Bangkok or even Koh Samui. Because of this, we had many opportunities to hang out with the staff of Planet Scuba and get to know them better. Through these conversations, we learned more about diving, the ocean, its inhabitants (the tame ones and the scary ones), and what it is like for expats to live in Thailand. This really added to our experience and we felt like we left as friends, not just customers.
- Safety was one of the most important things when we were considering companies. It was certainly more important than price and location. With Planet Scuba, safety began in the classroom setting with our instructor Geoff. I think we were especially lucky to get Geoff as our instructor. He has many years of experience not only diving but also instructing, yet he was able to speak at our level (newbi) so that we could understand everything. He always made sure any of our questions were answered no matter how silly they may have been. This helped not only to build confidence in our skills as new divers but also built confidence in those we were trusting our safety to.
- There wasn’t one single time when we felt unsafe or at risk while on the boat or in the water.
These are just a few of the things I can think of right now but I know that you can’t go wrong with Planet Scuba in Thailand.
After our time in Thailand, we continued in our education and both Jessica and I are now certified advanced open water divers!!!
Please let us know if you have any questions and the link for Planet Scuba is below.
Planet Scuba Website
Posted by Jessica on Dec 26, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments
Hoping you all had a very merry Christmas! Thanking God for His gift to us sinners as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ…praying for blessings upon you and your family this Christmas Season. It’s been busy as we settle into life back home, moving into a rental house in Phoenix, and getting back to the swing of things at work. One more blog post after this one to round up to Top 100!
#40 – Massages. We got massages in S. Korea, China, Thailand, and Indonesia. They were as cheap as $4/hour for full body. These photos are of us going to my uncle’s massage place in S. Korea, and we are soaking our feet in a bucket of water for our foot massage ). Typically you change into their “spa-wear,” and sip tea.
#39 – Panda bears. Chengdu, China.
#38 – Seeing a church in rural China.
#37 – Seeing elephants being walked by their owners on the streets. Chiang Mai, Thailand
#36 – Eating on the floor. Cheonan, S. Korea
#35 – Ruins. Olympos & Phaselis, Antalya, Turkey.
#34 – Huge rainbow in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
#33 – Blitzing through Rome in one day.
#32 – Dim sum with Ingrid. Hong Kong
#31 – Gelato in Italy.
#30 – Walking through the village on the island of Gili Air, Indonesia.
#29 – Cute kids
#28 – Coliseum. Rome, Italy.
#27 – Surfing in Bali
#26 – Day road trips to 2 other countries: Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
#25 – Thai food
#24 – Bill pictures. On the Li River. Somewhere between Guilin and Yangshuo, China
#23 – Panmunjum (DMZ). Korea.
#22 – Nemos. Gili Air, Indonesia.
#21 – Beach kisses. Koh Tao, Thailand.
Posted by Jessica on Dec 10, 2010 in Blog | 1 comment
#60: Temples/Shrines. Japan, Thailand, and Nepal
#59: Riding scooters. Chiang Mai, Thailand; Bazhong, China
#58: Making instant friends over tea. Kathmandu, Nepal
#57: Tibetan monks. Kathmandu, Nepal.
#56: Going to an olive press in Italy. Finale Ligure, Italy
#55: Croatian sunset
#54: Experiencing the World Cup craze in South Korea. Please see video of Korean housewives going crazy over World Cup Soccer in the past blog post titled “Football…” Here is the site to copy and paste: http://seeklovesee.com/?p=614
#53: Sleeping in a cave. Cappadocia, Turkey
#52: Spotting a real life geisha. Kyoto, Japan
#51: Double dates. Xiamen, China and Bazhong, China
#50: International churches. Tokyo, Japan and Antalya, Turkey
#49: Underwater diving photos. Warm, clear, tropical waters of SE Asia )
#48: Not knowing what is being ordered because the menu’s in Chinese, and then loving the food. Everywhere in China
#47: Old cave dwellings. Cappadocia, Turkey
#46: Rice paddies. All throughout Asia…these photos are from S. Korea
#45: Stuffing ourselves with crazy amounts of food in Finale Ligure, Italy.
#44: Beautiful architecture in Dubrovnik, Croatia…red tiled roofs are stunning
#43: Underwater life: beautiful fish, cuttle fish, and rays. SE Asia
#42: Singapore zoo…the best zoo in the world! In our humble opinions at least.
#41: Going to a hamam in Turkey for a Turkish bath. No pics of this experience, but basically your entire body gets scrubbed and tons of dead skin chunks get scrubbed off. It feels amazing, and your skin is so smooth afterwards. Loved it! Wish we had one here!
Posted by Jessica on Dec 6, 2010 in Blog | 3 comments
Finally figured out how to post blogs using a real computer…now I can finish the Top 100! Enjoy!
#70: Chinese tea house. Chengdu, China
#69: Sushi in Japan (on a conveyor belt, nonetheless). Kyoto, Japan
#68: Tropical drinks by the beach…sodas also ) Lombock and Bali, Indonesia
#67: Baclava. Cappadocia, Turkey
#66: Funny Signs. These are from Japan, but they were everywhere in Asia…EVERYWHERE
#65: Kimonos. Kyoto, Japan
#64: Monkeys Everywhere. The world.
#63: Hagia Sophia & Blue Mosque. Two very different sites, but right across the street from each other so I bundled it up. Istanbul, Turkey
#62: Watching storms roll in. Beaches of SE Asia
#61: Hammocks on the beach. Gili Air, Indonesia
Posted by Jessica on Dec 3, 2010 in Blog, France | 12 comments
Like Rome, we had only one day in Nice. Unlike Rome, we didn’t set out all day to see as much we could. Instead, we slept in, savored the last day of traveling life, and made it a lazy day. We took a 3 hour train (changing trains 2 times) from Finale Ligure, Italy, to Nice, France. It was sad to say bye to Jocelyn and Andrea and his family, but awesome that we had a wonderful time with them. Here’s a view of the French Riviera from the train:
In Nice, we walked around, looked at shops and walked down to the sea. Crazy that we were looking at the Mediterranean Sea, which we also saw in Antalya, Turkey, far far away. We loved the architecture and the beautiful buildings. Nice is a beautiful city, a place we would love to come back to when it is warmer. It was cold and a bit rainy, but still fun to explore.
There are many small dogs here…every few minutes or so you would see a cute dog being walked down the street, or even going shopping with their owners. Baylee (our pup) would fit right in.
And of course we had to go to a café and people watch while we drank yummy cappuccinos and ate yummy french pastries (an apple tart with the best whipped cream ever!)
Right this moment, we are home!!!! We flew out of Nice to London, then took the direct flight on British Airways to Phoenix. The French Alps from the plane…so breath taking:
It was a very strange feeling to be on a plane and the destination be Phoenix. We’ve been on about 15 plane rides the last 6 months. However, we were always heading towards a destination we have never been to. Aerial views and buildings and roads were all foreign and exciting. This time, we were heading home! A new kind of exciting. It was a bittersweet day of travel as we were sad to leave this life of travel, where we wake up when we want to (or early enough to make it to breakfast), virtually have nothing scheduled, walk around seeing amazing sites, or just walking around aimlessly, and often times the biggest questions we have to answer is “What and where shall we eat today?” But we are anxious to see our family and friends whom we’ve missed, share stories, and see what the Lord has in store for us in the next season of our lives.
I will continue with the “Top 100″ list of our trip after this…seems like a nice way to end our blog. Feel free to unsubscribe if you want. And feel free to email or call (same mobile numbers), and we’d love to answer any questions you have, or just chat
Thank you so much for following us through our travels! Besides the obvious high points of traveling around the world, one highlight for me was writing about our travels, sharing photos, and hearing your comments…seriously! It saddens me that this is the last official blog post. We really can’t believe the 6 months is over…it was a whirlwind of fun and exploration, with lots of learning, a few struggles, and MANY blessings from Him who all blessings come from. Words can’t describe how thankful we are for God’s provision, guidance, and overflowing grace, and for all you who read this blog, supported us, and prayed for us. Thank you!
Now…I suppose some things from traveling remain the same because we are asking ourselves “What shall we eat?” Chipotle, here we come!!!
Posted by Jessica on Dec 1, 2010 in Blog, Italy | 0 comments
So much good food in Italy! The best part of Finale was seeing family and spending time with them. And everything we did revolved around food. And it was awesome! A huge part of Italian culture is wine, too, and perhaps some of the best wine around.
Here is what we ate…
A beautiful green spiky cauliflower we’ve never seen. We dipped this and other veggies in a sauce of anchovies and garlic. Delicious!!!
Fresh baked bread…see the steam?
Bread with olive oil
Yummy cod dish with potatoes and olives
Franco’s homemade wine
More amazingly good wine
Apertivos…olives, chips, mini sandwiches, and the best, most perfectly moist almond cookies ever
Pancetta on bread
Huge, incredibly tender and delicious steaks, fresh from the butcher
Italian parsnip-like vegetable
Juicy, plump tomatoes (they grow all the veggies on their own, in their huge garden on their property….organic!)
FRESH focaccia…it was soooooo good
Octopus and potato salad
Italian chocolate…melts in your mouth
The most amazing cookies in the world…so light, buttery, and not-too-sweet
Italian sausage and fries from scratch…fried in yummy olive oil, seasoned with rosemary
Tripe Italian style
Italian cold cuts
Carpaccio with Parmesan and freshly grated truffle. Truffle! Never actually seen it before…
Special cheese. This cheese is made from sheep’s milk, and it is set out in the sun for a while. For a long while actually, where worms will start appearing in the cheese. There were no worms in the cheese when we were eating it, but it sure was a tasty cheese. It is eaten with honey.
And finally, Korean food. Andrea spent a semester in South Korea for school, and sent to his home a bunch of Korean food and seasonings. He wanted my mom to throw together a Korean meal of rice, bulgogi (marinated beef), nakjee bokum (sauteed spicy octopus), and spicy Korean salad. This was also an opportunity for Andrea’s parents to try Korean cuisine. It was all very delicious and a fun way to end our time there. I was so consumed with the eating part, I forgot to take photos!
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