Learning to Dive in Koh Tao

Whelp… coming close to the end of the adventure. Our final destination in Thailand is a good one: The amazing island of Koh Tao, an incredibly beautiful, small island located in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao is world famous for it’s dive sites, and a popular place to spot Sea Turtles, Whale Sharks, and a multitude of tropical fish. After all the excitement at the Full Moon Party, I think we were all looking for something a little slower pace and a little more relaxing.

Leaving to Koh Tao was uneventful. In typical Thai fashion, the boat was late, for no other reason than “it’s late.” We boarded an hour late and a short trip later, we were offloading and in the back of a truck on our way to Carabao Dive Resort on the other side of the island. Being late, we quickly hustled in to the office to get started on day one of our open water dive course. Hoping that we were not to late, we were told to relax: day one was strictly orientation, and was only the two of us.

After unloading our packs in the dorm and ordering food at the restaurant onsite, we settled in to our class room and watched our diving movie. A couple hours later, we were all schooled up, and ready to retire for the night, to complete homework and finally get some R & R. The dorm in Carabau was really interesting. A huge room, with 8 bunk beds, but big, almost queen sized, with lots of locker space and a view to kill. When we arrived we had only two roommates: a couple quiet dudes from Germany. We spent the night chilling out, enjoying the A/C and talking to loved ones back home.

The next morning, bright and early we got back in to class. We found out that our two German friends were also going to be taking their Open Water Certification with us. The morning flew by, as our instructor, Xavier, taught us the ins and outs of basic diving and teaching us how to breath and how to use the SCUBA equipment. After a quick lunch we were already on the boat, on our way to Shark Bay, to do some hands on learning. Sadly, or luckily, depending on how you look at it, we saw no sharks, but had a blast learning how to do the basics, staying under the surface for about an hour. Pretty surreal stuff, especially for the first time.

After our lesson, we retired for the night, and took a short nap again. While it seems easy, diving really took a lot out of me, and i found myself drained. We chilled out for a bit, before getting dressed to head back up island in to town. Kirsti and Russ had made it to the Island and I wanted very much to have a little bit more of a relaxing night with them before parting ways again. Josh and I hitch hiked, and were picked up by an old local lady, and her dog on a scooter. Being hesitant at first, given my scooter history this trip, the three of us, and the dog, made out way in to town. Arriving all in one piece, we met up and found a neat little Italian place for dinner, as we all still seemed to need some carbs after a rough full moon.

The next morning we had our second day of classes, finishing off our book work and testing, and then heading back out to Shark Bay (again, no sharks, don’t worry Mom) for the final of our skills tests, and a quick fun dive around the bay. What can I say? totally totally surreal. Floating, and swimming under water was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Even though I just spent two days learning, i kept catching myself forgetting to breath, as I was entranced in the fact that I was 30 feet under water.

Time out. I just realized that we had dinner with Kirsti and Russ this night. Not the night prior. We didn’t do shit the night before. The only reason I remember this is because Xavier gave us the terrible news that we had to be up and on the boat. I refuse to edit my blogs, so… deal with it.

The next morning the four us were up and in the water by 7:00 It was great, since the air was still cool, and it was easier to get suited up. We dropped anchor at a dive side called Shark Island. Again, Mom: No sharks. It’s called that due to the shape of the island, which looked like a huge fin. This was our first big deep dive. Going down 18 meters, we explored and circled the whole little island, seeing a sting ray, angel fish, barracuda, and thousands of other fish. After an hour, we surfaced, and made our way to our last site for diving, which took us on a tour of an old sunken diving boat, as well as some fantastic coral.

Back on deck Josh had made friends with the boats skipper, and assisted in catching some fish to be used for dinner that night. Who knew how simple it was to catch fish with nothing more than a piece of twine, a hook, and some rice. Several dumb fish later, we were on our way home for lunch. We made it to shore, and put away our gear, now officially divers. IMG_8802

I honestly cannot wait to dive again. While it was on my bucket list, I was quite hesitant. I’m not big on being in areas where I feel trapped, and 18 meters under the water was definitely daunting. I’m looking forward to some of the amazing dive sites that BC has to offer. In the afternoon we packed up, as it was our last night in Koa Tao. We opted to go to a bar just a short walk away, to enjoy the scenery, relax, and, of all things, play some chess. After getting my ass kicked twice, I kindly declined a third game and focused on my drink at hand, discussing our game plan for the next day.

IMG_8826We retired early, and woke up with our bags ready to go. Bidding our good byes to our German friends, we made our way to the dock to catch a  catamaran to the mainland. A short two hours later, we were back on shore and loading on to a bus. Speaking too soon, Josh proclaimed that we were finally going to get a good bus, as the company we’d booked through was one of the best. 2 hours in to our trip, the AC turned off, and the bust started heating up. The driver opened all the windows that opened, two of them, and continued down the road. 30 minutes later, the bus smelled like a boys middle school locker room, and I wager half the people in the bus had opted not to wear deodorant. The bus pulled off to the side of the road for a couple hours while we waited for a second bus to pick us up. After reloading our baggage and getting back on a nice cool bus, we uneventfully made our final destination back to where is all began: The Oasis Hostel, Bangkok. With a few hours to spare before bed, we toured Khao San road one last time, picking up trinkets and gifts for our friends back home. I had to leave at 5 AM, so I wanted as little sleep as possible, so that I could sleep the entire way on my flights. Getting back around midnight, we showered, and went over luggage, packing as much in to my bag as possible, so that Josh’s trip to Japan could be a little bit lighter. I lay down to sleep, sad that this was the last day together, but excited for the next: A full day solo, in Taipai!

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Gotta love Thai Transit.

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