I’m heading for the wilds of Burma tomorrow on a scuba diving liveaboard. We’ll be departing from Phuket in Thailand and then crossing over into Myanmar and exploring the Mergui Archipelago
Almost a year ago to the day I did this same journey, and on the same boat – the MV Jazz, owned by my friend Pat Cotter and currently staffed by one of my best mates, Clive White, who taught me a lot about diving in Thailand when I first got here four years ago. I enjoyed the trip so much I jumped at the chance to do it again – my only regret is that I can’t go on the longer 7 and 9 day trips the Jazz has planned in February, where they’ll be seeking out new dives – it’ll be real exploratory diving.
Because so few boats go to Burma, and because there are so many islands in the Mergui Archepelago, Burma’s water remain relatively unexplored. They’re also a lot more unpredictable than the Similan Islands, Thailand’s most famous dive area which lies at the very end of the Archipelago – while the Similans has almost uniform great visibility and calm conditions, Burma can have murky viz (murky in Mergui), strong currents and sometimes a disappointing absence of much to see. So why go? Because on its day Burma’s diving is spectacular – manta rays and whale sharks are spotted fairly often, along with a lot of smaller critters like frogfish and pineapple fish. Coupled with the rugged beauty of the limestone islands topside that make up the archipelago, and the absence of anyone else around save for a few friendly sea gypsies who live on their boats, diving in Burma really is getting away from it all. You’re not really sure what you might see and that’s half the fun.
Hopefully from this trip I’ll come back with some decent photos, because last time I had no luck getting good shots – either way, I’ll be writing up a trip report here to give a rundown of what we saw and the MV Jazz as well.