The first time we heard about the Similan Islands, (regarded as being in the top ten best dive sites of the world), we also heard the price (about 255 quid) and decided that we had to give it a miss. As time went on, we started thinking about it more, and the more we found out about what it is like there, the more we wanted to go. Eventually we agreed – sod our budget – we’ll eat less, spend less on accomodation and somehow try not to run out of money. The day we decided to make our way there was the day I got ill. When I eventually recovered, we went out for a walk and Mike tripped over a gap as he crossed the road, twisting the same ankle that has already been twisted before from Basketball. That put him out of action for a bit. And as soon as his ankle healed, his elbow decided to swell up and become infected! Nevertheless, we thought we could make our way to the Similan Islands regardless, and hopefully the elbow would get better by then. So we arrived at Hat Khao Lak, a nice area on the west coast, right by the beach – the place where you can book dive boats out to the Similan Islands. Excitedly, we went to book our places, only to find that our chosen dive shop had only one seat left! Now we were gonna have to look in every dive shop in the area to find a boat with seats left. But we needed a room first – so we set off to find some accomodation in the area. We went to about 10 resorts – they were all full up. Those that weren’t full up were way out of our price range. I let Mike sit down with all the bags, as I walked for over an hour to find somewhere to stay. The only place was ages to walk to, and we were both too tired and too hot by now. We went back to the bus stop to catch the next bus out. We decided that we should just forget the whole idea of going to the Similans – especially since Mike’s elbow was still not 100%. Just as the bus turned up, we both had a change of heart. Should we go ? Should we stay ? The bus driver asked if we were getting on. We looked at each other – ‘No’ we both said. The new plan was to hire a moped. Mike was gonna ride to our accomodation with our bags one at a time and then pick me up last. Then we looked for dive trips and found just two other places that were in our price range with seats left. Cool! Mike spent the next two days in bed with a high temperature. His infected elbow was not gonna let him go diving. He hardly had the strength to do a thing. By now, we were thinking – this is happening for a reason – someone or something does not want us to go diving. First me getting ill, then Mike’s ankle, then the dive boat being full, then having a hard time getting a room, and now an infected elbow!!! On Sunday morning, we checked out of our room and made our way to the bus stop. We were gonna forget going diving, and get on the next boat out. Ten minutes before the bus was due, we had another change of heart…let’s just go and see if there’s any spaces left.. The first dive shop had none left. We were back at the bus stop. Then I nagged Mike again – there was still one dive shop that might have places. I wanted to go and check. And once we were at the dive shop, we heard that there were spaces…we heard about what the trip would be like….we heard that it was leaving in the evening…and we wanted to go. Before the elbow got any worse, we were gonna book ourselves onto the trip – and then pray that Mike and I would be OK. The trip was for 4 days and 4 nights. On Sunday night we sailed 60km through the night to the Similans. By 7am the next morning, we were diving. We did four dives a day. We saw small rays that were camoflaged on the sea bed under some sand. They only moved away once you got too near them. Mike saw some sharks in the distance. We did our very first night dive. It was really beautiful. We went to a place in the Similans called Donald Duck Bay and it was the most beautiful place I have ever been to. The sand was so soft and white, and the sea was a gorgeous shade of turquoise, with tropical, colourful fish and coral reefs. I was struggling with my diving quite alot – not getting it right – but Mike was good and even went once without the divemaster looking after him. I was once so bad that I had to hold the divemasters hand all the way through the dive!! I eventually started to get better on my last two dives. One of the most amazing sites was when we saw manta rays. We were about 12 metres down and above us we saw it – huge – looking like a bird flying above us. All the divers in the water were amazed by it. Everyone just stopped what ever they were doing, kept still and looked up in amazement as it moved gracefully past us! Then about 5 minutes later, another one passed over us and everyone felt so lucky that they had got to see 2 Mantas.