Well I got back to the island just in time for Paddy's Day and as my mini-bus made its way around Saladan I noticed about 20 people dressed in green, with a huge flag, on a bit of a pub crawl, complete with five tuk-tuks to lead the way. It was only 2.30 p.m. and on closer inspection I could see it was Darren, John, Jamie and company from the Irish Embassy.
John was in flying form, having come back from Malaysia, and his daugther won the 'Miss Lanta' beauty contest the day I left. One up for the Irish, all dozen or so of us on Koh Lanta!
I got back to my bungalow at Red Snapper and, after arranging laundry etc, took a tuk-tuk into Saladan where Gin had my beloved motorbike ready for action for another month. There was great excitement in the Blue Planet office, as American couple Antonio and Jenny got engaged underwater. Jenny (Prunty, no relation to the Mayo GAA official) is Irish-American and loves Paddy's Day.
He did well to keep it a secret from her because everyone on the boat knew of his intentions. Later in the day, I interviewed them for 'Krabi' magazine - she smelt a rat when the slate bearing the words 'Marry Me?' slipped out of the pocket of the BCD - and I met them drinking flat Dwyers (a stout like Guinness) in the Embassy. Being Americans, they had the sense to go home at midnight. Being Irish, I was still in the pub after 5 a.m.
My eyes were still bloodshot which meant no diving on Thursday (good job) so after a long walk along Phrae Ae and a two euro meal at a Thai food stall I joined in the festivities. Within half an hour I had met Alan and Michelle, the Irish couple I'd watched the rugby with in Langkawi the previous Saturday night. They're staying on in Lanta for next week's game and we downed the Signa, til it ran out, and then the Tiger until the early hours.
Met loads of people, quite a few of them Irish, and the resident band made up for their lack of talented with some spirited renditions of old Irish ballads. I'd never seen the Embassy so packed, not even the night Ireland beat England in the rugby, and the 'craic' was mighty.
Meanwhile, the texts were coming in from home, informing me of Portumna's demise. I felt for them, even 9,000 miles away, because this team have become Galway sporting legends and have been an absoulte pleasure to deal with in the last decade. Possibly the best club team I've ever seen, at least I can treasure the memories of covering their three victories at Croke Park ... and they are not finished yet, either!
Funny how you can be living on a tropical island in Thailand, but still anxious to hear how the GAA, Galway United, etc. are going. And, of course, I've hardly missed a Liverpool game since I came over because there are more of them on TV in Asia than in Europe.
The Americans forced me to wear a leprechaun hat, seeing as how I was 'real' Irish and I eventually stumbled home at 5.15 a.m. Needless to say, I've been pretty quiet in the Blue Planet office today. Time for a swim now, then a quiet night, cos I'm diving tomororow for the first time in two weeks.
I'm hoping to get the Divemaster course finished in about three weeks now. There are only two of us left now, Raggi (Norway) and I, as the other five DMTs have all completed the course and moved on. Time flies and it's strange not to have the likes of Chris and Jane, Aude and Sabrina, around the office, even though Emma is still on the island. I'll do a full post on the DM course when it's done and dusted1
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