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Going Around the World

Koh Tao

THAILAND | Tuesday, 16 May 2017 | Views [528]

As we jumped in a taxi to head to the ferry boat to the island of Koh Tao, it seemed as pretty much everyone who was on the island for the “Full Moon” party was heading over to the new island. I saw all of the same faces on the boat of people that I had seen the last few days on the beach in Haat Rin. The 4 Michigan guys from my hostel were taking the same boat over, as well as my buddy Zayn and Nick and TJ. I did some research while I was on the 2 hour boat ride and determined that I would give Scuba diving a shot. Once we got off the boat, Zayn, Nick, TJ and I all headed down to a Scuba school named Big Blue. Zayn and I were going to dive and Nick and TJ were only going to snorkel. Included with the diving is a free bed in the hostel on the property. When I first showed up, the first thing I noticed is that there are dogs and chickens everywhere. It is apparently a thing on the island for different people to “own” stray dogs. The vets on the island give the dogs shots and fix each of them if they are stray, so even though they look really rough, they are actually pretty healthy.

We got to the dive resort pretty close to 5pm and that is when the first class was going to start, so we dropped our bags at the reception desk (didn't even see if they had any open beds) and went and watched the diving videos for 2 hours, starting our SSI certification. We finished with the training videos and went downstairs to do our paperwork and check into the rooms.

I was filling out the paperwork and I had to disclose that I had previously had back surgery. This required me to go to the Thai doctor to get approval to dive! Zayn also had to get approval, so we walked down the street at 8pm and went into this clinic to be seen by a doctor. This doctor sees people all the time for minor things and he just stamps their approvals on the dive check sheet. This guy does not turn down anyone really and he just charges people 200 Baht a visit (about $6) and just rakes in the money. Zayn and I went back with our approved health sheets and were good to go for the rest of the class. The first set of keys they gave me were to a room that did not have air conditioning. So i went back to get a different room, since I would die if there were not air conditioning in the room over night. They then gave me a key to an air conditioned room, but this time the two available beds did not have any clean sheets that could be put on them. Again, went back to the front desk and told them the issue. Since it was so late, the housekeeping already went home and no clean sheets were to be found. They ended up giving both me and Zayn our own private rooms for the night, it was a wonderful end to a potential issue.

The next morning we spent the first hour or so in the classroom and the rest of the day we spent practicing diving skills in the pool. It was a really fun day, but very tiring. We had homework to do that night, to ingrain certain parts about diving into our heads. The next day we were actually going out diving into the ocean. After some more class work in the morning, we went out in the afternoon. Since the water in front of the Big Blue resort is so shallow, they require a small boat to load up about 20 people at a time and take us out to the huge diving boat. Once everyone is loaded on the large boat, they took us over to our dive site. There were about 60 divers on the boat, but there was plenty of space on this double decker boat. They provided us water, coffee, cookies and fruit on board for after the first dive. We went out for two dives total, the first was only about 30 feet down and the 2nd was about 40 feet. The first site was extremely wavy. There were 3 and 4 foot waves that we were bobbing up and down into before we went under the surface. We did underwater skills like taking our mask off and putting it back in, taking out our breathing regulators and finding ways to put them back in. We also simulated running out of air and needing to share off of a buddies tank. All of this happened when we were sitting at the bottom of the ocean. It was such a blast! We saw so many incredible fish and coral as we followed our dive instructor, Andreas, around. My group consisted of me, Zayn, Sandro (from Germany), and Peter (from Austria).  At the 2nd dive site, we had a swimming test since it was much calmer out and we had to prove we could swim 4 lengths of the large boat. We then had to float in the water for 10 minutes to show that we could tread water, both tasks were very easy. We dropped down the 2nd time and the water was very clear and we could see even more fish. Again we did underwater emergency skills while we were on the bottom of the ocean. I had such a blast on the first day in the ocean, I could not wait to get up and go out again early the next day for 2 dives. This morning we had to be up ready to go at 630 am. The goal was to go out and see whale sharks on these two dives. People had been seeing them the last few days, so I was super excited to get out there. This time we were diving down to 48 feet and 46 feet. We again did emergency exercises under the water and spent the rest of the time looking at fish. We saw a trigger fish, and they are very territorial. Our instructor made us move and he got in between us and the fish. The triggerfish darts around and charges you aggressively, it was pretty funny to watch as Andreas (instructor) was using his fins to block the fish until we got far enough away. On the 2nd dive we saw 2 stingray and another variety of fish. Unfortunately we did not see any whale sharks as they were in the more choppy dive sites and our boats decided not to go over there today.

On the way back Andreas pulled me aside and suggested I think about the advanced course because he said something about me becoming a rescue diver? He said we would chat tonight after dinner, there is a diving resort olympic challenge happening tonight for all of the instructors of the different schools, so I will see what he has to say. Tonight is the last night I have booked anywhere, so I could in theory leave tomorrow, or stay and do the advanced course. I will wait till tonight to decide. But right now I am officially SCUBA certified and now I am relaxing on the beach the rest of the afternoon.

Why do I love the expensive hobbies....


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