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My initial decision to leave Koh Tao was greatly influenced by my inability to continue diving. After falling in love with the sport – enough to become an instructor – I found an old injury putting a dent in my life-as-a-beach-bum plans. Back when I first arrived in Thailand, I was in a motorbike accident that ended in a sprained foot, a severely scraped face and a separated shoulder – the latter of which had come back to haunt me. It appeared that after an insufficient recovery period from the original injury, constantly lifting tanks, heavy crates, and dive equipment, the weakened muscle of my left shoulder had again separated from my clavicle. It got to the point where I had DMTs throwing my equipment into the water before I could put it on, but eventually even wearing my BC and tank was too much for my shoulder to handle, and it would ache for days. Unable to dive, work, and keep myself entertained, I slowly started to come down with island fever. When the opportunity to go to Bali - and eventually Ireland - to meet Tommy came up, I packed my bags and left Thailand behind.

Bali was much different than I had expected – I was thinking I was going to be visiting another small, laid-back island like Koh Tao, but Bali was much, much bigger, busier and more overwhelming. The streets are packed with motorbikes and cars, causing many traffic jams, and the sidewalks are swarmed with tourists, keen to enjoy Bali’s cheap culture and beautiful beaches. Easily the most irritating thing about the island is the shopping vendors – don’t you dare glance at their wares unless you want to be harassed for several minutes, even as you walk away disinterested. I started to tire of the shopkeeps very quickly, often forgetting my Canadian manners and just employing an easier method of ignoring them.

Bali was beautiful – our hotel was in the busy district but still tucked out of the way, with multiple pools and luxurious rooms – but unfortunately, my first few days there were marred by an onset of extreme dehydration. The constant, excruciating leg cramps, the headaches, the dizziness, and the fainting spells followed by mild seizures didn’t exactly make for a restful few days in my new paradise. I would find myself on the ground with no recollection of falling or losing consciousness, Tommy holding onto me to stop me hurting myself. After being hospitalized twice and tested for every possible disease, I was given painkillers, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants and the doctor’s orders to drink a lot of water and a lot of electrolytes. Being in the sun accelerated the dehydration so I spent most of the first few days in bed, afraid to stray too far in case I fainted again. I constantly saw lights in one of my eyes – a strange little side effect that took weeks to fully recede. A few months later, when I was filing for my insurance to cover my medical costs, I found out that the hospital had diagnosed me with Dengue Fever – a dangerous, mosquito-transmitted disease rampant on Koh Tao as I was leaving – and I was never told about it.

Luckily, after about 4 days I started to return to normal, and was able to enjoy the sunshine, poolside, listening to my favorite music on my newly repaired iPod. As I basked in the sunshine, I contemplated just how very lucky I am to be doing what I am doing, what I have done, and what I will do in the future. I may have had to take a break from my amazing new job, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was giant striding back into the ocean.

10 days in Bali passed by incredibly quickly, having spent the entire time (after my illness passed) by the pool, enjoying the sun and each other’s company. Soon enough it was time to re-pack our suitcases and head to the airport. We were leaving behind the sunshine and heat of Thailand and Bali to relocate to the clouds and rain of Dublin, Ireland, a city I’ve always wanted to visit. We said goodbye to Bali, and 25 hours later, after a three hour break in Kuala Lumpur, where we enjoyed unlimited glasses of wine, and a short stop in Abu Dhabi, we stepped off the plane and into our new life.

Posted by bgriffs 07:34 Archived in Indonesia

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