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Nicola and Christopher's Grand Adventure! This is a little story of our 3 month journey through, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. We hope that you (our friends and family) enjoy reading about our trip!

We're forever blowing bubbles... doo, dee, doo

THAILAND | Tuesday, 14 September 2010 | Views [574]

You will be glad to hear that we didn't drown while we were in Koh Tao, not even close. We are now certified open water divers, and with an additional dive a couple of days ago, we are now qualified to dive by ourselves to 30 metres. The trip to Koh Tao turned out not to be as relaxing as we had hoped for but the diving course was pretty amazing.

Our first afternoon consisted of about five hours in the classroom watching various videos about what we would be doing in our training dives. Maybe we could have done without the cheesy music and American voice overs, but it still got us excited about what lay ahead. Christopher decided to develop a blocked ear a day or so before the practical work got underway, good timing boy! After speaking with the instructors we headed to the pharmacy in town and purchased some drops for the old ear...

The second morning the class was broken into two groups, luckily we were the smaller group with one other couple. We had more classroom time while the rest of the group got into the pool. After a couple of hours the classroom stuff was done for us as we were getting our hands on some kit. One wet suit, weight belt, scuba tank, mask and a set of fins each later and we were ready to get to grips with this breathing underwater malarky. We expected to get going in the pool but walked out into the sea, no mucking around. We did a bit of a swim test and then went underwater, scuba style for the first time... if you don't think about it too much it is quite easy to do. We then go some skills under our belt, switching from regs to snorkels, clearing our masks if they get flooded underwater etc. We finally moved back to the pool and found it a lot easier as we weren't fighting the current etc.

It was a successful but long day and we were hitting the hay by about 9.30, pretty wiped out. The following day we would sit our final exam and then be off on the dive boat for our first open water dive to 12m. The test was a breeze, Nicola almost aced it, dropping about two answers but beating Christopher who got about 6 wrong. We kitted up after lunch, finding out that one of our group had decided not to try the open water dive as she had struggled so much with the confined skills. It was a shame, but meant our group was down to three, so more focus from the instructor etc. We jumped on the dive boat and headed out to a dive site called the Japanese Gardens, about 30 minutes from the dive resort. Christopher was excited about the idea of diving but had forgotten that in order to dive from a boat we would have to be on a boat, and that his stomach and boats just don't get on. Thankfully the weather cooperated.

There were a number of dive boats moored up when we got to the dive site. We kitted up and were doing giant strides into the water. A minute or two later and we were deflating our BCDs and sinking. It is amazing to slowly submerge, the underwater world emerges for you. Christopher's ears were cooperating but Nicola's decided it was time for hers to play up, we took it easy, going down to 12m v.slowly, allowing our ears to equalize. Once we were down we were horizontal and swimming around, watching the fish and the wildlife that was down there. In no time our air was getting low and we were back to the surface. Our first dive under our belts, 40 mins +/-, so much fun. After an hours break and a cup of coffee to warm up and we were getting suited up again and back into the water, more of the same but more confidence with what we were doing... we could get to really enjoy this.

Our third day was an early start with the dive boat heading out at 7 a.m. We were there, this time we would be hitting 18m. Nicola's ear was still blocked and Christopher's had decided to clear itself at some point the previous day, yuck! Nicola took it easy and we got down the bottom, we went through our skills easily and observed some amazing fish and coral. This time with a cameraman in tow. The second dive was harder going for all of us, the battering the ears take is quite something, but we pushed on and had another great dive. And that was it, four dives and we were certified PADI open water divers. It is what we had hoped for, the weather had cooperated and we had a great instructor. We took the afternoon off, sleeping and trying to hydrate ourselves, and had decided that we wanted to push the envelope a little more with a advanced deep dive to 30m. This would involve a 90 minute boat trip and another 7a.m. start though...

We were there, suited up and looking at getting down to 30 m. The fish would be bigger and more abundant... Nicola took it easy getting down to 10m as her ear was giving her a hard time. A lot of self pressure and perseverance and she was down, the first 10m seem to be the hardest for some reason. After that things got easier... best not to think about being 30m underwater when you are. We finally touched down at 31.15 metres to look at how the red in a coke can we took down was no longer red but black. The shoals of fish were big, the fish were big, it was amazing. We ended up down for about 40 mins and thankfully the weather cooperated again. A boat ride back towards Koh Tao and Christopher was back in the water for his final dive, Nicola decided to sit this one out as her ears had taken such a battering over the three days. It was a great dive, with a green turtle thrown in for good measure.

Our diving experience is another highlight of this trip. We are glad to have got our certification and that we made time and saved enough to get this trip in. We made friends with the couple on our course which was an added bonus. Nicola is already getting excited about trying to go diving in Egypt in the not too distant future. The memories of Koh Tao will stay with us!

The trip back to Bangkok was straight forward, a 90 min ride on the Catamaran, 7.5 hour bus trip with four pirated movies later and we were back where we started six days ago. We even checked into the same hotel as it was easy and we knew what we were letting ourselves in for. 

Today has been a very cruisy day. We got up late and headed to the big shopping centres of Siam in the centre of town. We mooched about a bit, bought a travel guide for Paris, Christopher tried out a few guitars in the shops and had to have a few doughnuts and coffee. It was just what we needed before we head to Paris tomorrow.

It is hard for us to get our heads around not being in SE Asia any more, let alone to be in Paris tomorrow night. We are excited about seeing the city and continuing our adventure but are all too aware that the end of our holiday/travels is only a matter of a few sleeps away...

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