Trip Report A Trip to Thailand 17 Months Late!

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BigJeff

Contributor
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189
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Location
Wales
# of dives
2500 - 4999
After buying a new camera and housing in January 2020 I was really looking forward to my trip to Thailand and Indonesia in April/May of 2020.

Three days before I was due to fly out the UK Government put the rest of the world on a no-fly list.

Not getting on the flight was tough but I did manage to get travel vouchers from Qatar Airways and Singapore Airways and booking credit from NAD and Gannga in Indonesia. Thailand didn’t need any credit as it was payment after stay.

Forward to May 2020 and I rebooked exactly the same trip and time for Apr/May 2021.

September 2020, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airline (Silk Air) cancelled flights. Luckily for me both airlines refunded my money without undue hassle and in good time.

Earlier last year (2021) Thailand opened to vaccinated travellers with a “Sandbox” program in Phuket, so after waiting for a while I decided to book a trip in Nov /Dec 2021.

The sandbox means you must stay on Phuket for 7 days after arrival, but only in your hotel room for the first day until your arrival PCR test comes back. In October I applied for the sandbox COE (permission to travel) with the required proof (Vaccination Cert, Hotel booking, Covid insurance …)

October 26 the Thai Consulate cancelled my COE, this is because they were moving to an alternate system “Thailand Pass”. On 1st November I applied for Thailand Pass, had lots of problems as the website to apply was not working correctly but on 9th November I received my Thailand pass for travel on 18th November.

I had booked a required pre-departure PCR test at London Heathrow along with a hotel for the night before my direct flight London-Phuket with Thai Airways. All of this worked just fine.

On arrival in Phuket there was another PCR test and transfer to hotel (all pre-booked), this was surprisingly fast, and I was off the plane, through immigration, collected baggage, swabbed and into the taxi in just 30 mins. My PCR result came 8 hours later, and I was free to go diving locally the next morning.



I have dived in Phuket a lot and use Sea Bees Diving as they have a very nice day boat (and food!). They have a 7 day a week boat schedule but with the low customer numbers the boat is sometimes cancelled – if this happens, they will send you on another boat along with a Sea Bees divemaster.

My equipment was stored for me during the long break by Sea Bees and they were kind enough to have the dive computer batteries changed and regs/BCD serviced before I arrived.

I did not travel out to the Similan Islands on this trip so did not get a chance to give my new wide angle a workout, all the pictures were taken using my “New” 2-year-old Sony A7R3 and a Sony 90mm Macro.

I found there was quite a steep learning curve with this camera, and during my initial dives I also manged to flood a strobe head and battery pack – both probably due to old age o-rings as I had not had them serviced for many years. On changing to my second camera body I also set the date incorrectly, so some pictures have the correct day/month but an incorrect year (2020) Doh!


In the long break the coral around Phuket has improved, possibly due to the lack of divers.
 
OP
BigJeff

BigJeff

Contributor
Messages
189
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Location
Wales
# of dives
2500 - 4999
Thank for the report. Was hoping to go early Feb. Hotel have already emailed they are closing again and cancelled my booking.
Don't give up, there are many hotels in Phuket (Agoda has over 400 SHA+ listed).

The no quarantine sandbox is still worth it, it takes less than 12 hours for the airport PCR to release you on the island.
 

Centrals

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Completed seven days stay in Phuket and then you are free to move to other part of the Kingdom. Is it still applicable?



Still available.
 

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