In 1972, set the Dino Klaus
his foot on Thai soil for the first time. During that time he managed the Poseidon Dive Center in Benidorm and always travelled with two groups of regular guests to different destinations in winter time. Canary Islands, East Africa and Egypt were popular destinations at that time. And then the then young Gruftis wanted to experience something new.
At the beginning of the 70’s the choice of exotic dive destinations was not so big. The Caribbean was developed. But the Gruftis didn’t like it so much because of the “American way of life”. Asia? There wasn’t much there yet. Bangkok was already popular. But not for diving. Pattaya? Where the Vietnam GI’s relaxed? Good for boozing and girls.
But Thailand’s nature and culture – it was a nice touch. So the dino looked at marine biology studies, charts and reports and found the west coast of Thailand interesting.
How do you get there?
Travelling was still a bit tedious in those days. They had to find an airport on the west coast. There was not much choice. The only one airport on the whole west coast – Phuket. A former Japanese field airport. From Bangkok there were two flights a week to Phuket! A Fokker Friendship with about 30 seats! To make sure that the trip was an experience for both groups, Klaus and Bobby Geldner, the father of the Poseidon logo, flew via Bangkok to Phuket. In Bangkok the two smurfs got caught in a bar during curfew without knowing it. When suddenly the police pounded on the door the lights were turned off and silence was ordered. Then they and two other guests were led to the toilet and were told to crawl through a hole in the wall.
That’s when Bobby and the dino
… had some doubts. One had heard a lot about the nightlife in Bangkok. After we crawled through the hole we found ourselves in the tailor shop next to the bar! Through the darkened window we watched until the police was gone. We crawled back through the hole and were released from the bar undamaged. On the way back, the police led us to the hotel at a roadblock without explanation. The next day we flew to Phuket. And there we found out that there were student riots in Bangkok and therefore the whole theatre had taken place in the night!
Finally in Phuket
we rented a longtail boat and explored the surrounding islands and found Phuket a good dive destination. Now it was time for the accommodation of the dive groups. In Phuket city there were a few inferior Chinese hostels and a not very nice hotel for mining engineers and business people. All far away from the beach. Then we learned that the “Phuket Island Resort” on the beach of Rawai would just opened. Phuket’s first and for many years best hotel for vacationers. At that time it consisted of just a dozen wooden bungalows. But at least we had a place to stay for the winter.
Two dive groups
went to Phuket for the winter. Both were thrilled and wanted to come back next winter. So it was agreed with the hotelier to store the equipment for the next winter.
At that time in Phuket there was not even a mask or fins to buy or to rent. Nor tanks, regulators or instruments.
To be able to dive at all we had to carry a dozen of complete dive equipments including weights and a small compressor from Europe. It was a total of 480 kg “luggage”! Thai Airways carried this free of charge. Because the route Frankfurt – Bangkok was just being built and they hoped to generate customers in this way. Which was then done by us. From Bangkok to Phuket half a ton of dive equipment was transported by minibus. On an adventurous route with bad roads and now and then muggers.
completely undeveloped for tourism. You could only get to Karon and Patong by boat. Or you had to hack your way through the jungle with a machete. The road ended in Kata and there a sand road led to the beach. Where there was only one open air restaurant! After both the seasons in Benidorm and Phuket got longer and longer and overlapped each other the dino had to choose one of the two destinations and chose Phuket. Where he then stayed.
And if he did not die he probably still dives today 🙂