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Diving in Koh Tao

THAILAND | Saturday, 8 January 2011 | Views [495]

In a lucky moment of non-thinking I subscribed to the PADI Open Water Diving Course in Koh Tao. This small island is the best place to do it: stunning reefs, friendly people and competitive prices.

After two strenuous days of theory and some skills in the pool, we finally got onto the boat to do our first dive.  It was exactly in that moment that my thinking set in again. What was I doing? Going ten and more meters under water, where all sorts of lethal things could happen? What, if I forgot to breathe? What, if I mixed up the inflate and deflate bottom on my BCD and shot straight to the top? What, if I simply got lost in the infinity of the ocean?

I was on the verge of panicking. However, my personal pride and about 260 more reasons (in Euro) were at stake, which made sure I did not back out in the last moment.

So there I was. Massive fins on my feet, an enormous air tank on my back, mask on my head and air release between my clenched teeth. The water was under me, threatening and hostile. This was the point of no-return. Right hand on the mask and air release, left hand on the weight belt – there was no time for emergency prayers – and a giant step forwards. The water closed over me for a second, I inflated my BCD and emerged immediately. The adventure was about to begin.

When we started to go down, my heart was hammering against my chest. The surface was getting more and more distant and bubbles were everywhere. I didn’t have a clue how fast we were going down. Luckily we could hold on to a rope. Everything seemed to go well. Then my ears started hurting. Not very nice. Was I not equalizing properly? I swallowed and wiggled my chin but it took some time for the pain to go away. Now I was concerned and kept worrying during the whole dive. I was slowly going up and down, which did not make it easier for me to equalize as the pressure continually changed. As I was so busy adjusting to this new situation, I was not able to enjoy the different fish we saw. And there were a lot. What a pity.

Second dive was not much better. This time visibility was as poor as in a puddle of water and I thought I would loose the others, which of course was not true. My ears still hurt although I was equalizing like stupid. Maybe I was not doing it correctly?

Next day started off so bad it could only get better: When we hopped on to the pick-up truck to get to the diving school, it was drizzling already. By the time we got there and I realized someone had “accidentally taken” my new flip-flops, the thunderstorm was well under way. And what a powerful thunderstorm! Water was pouring down and the lightning seemed dangerously close. Could we ever go diving under such conditions?

Of course we could. And it was not even bad, as we were soaked already. The water was not too cold and amazingly calm. Once we started sinking, I started equalizing, equalizing, equalizing. That was all I thought about. And everything went well. My ears almost never hurt! Great. After having done some skills, we went for a swim. This time, I really focused on the fish. There were so many fish of all colors and sizes, I could hardly believe it. Besides, I am sure I swam past many other fish without even noticing them.

Dive number four was good as well. At some point we took off our fins and started running up an imaginary wall like a hamster in its wheel: a somersault under water! Unbelievable! So much fun!

I am a proud Open Water Diver now and I definitely will dive again.

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