Koh Tao Diving
Two weeks over Christmas, what to do………diving, why the hell not, looks like fun.
Looked at the Internet and after doing a few sums and looking at all the different places, decided that Koh Tao just looked a bit better and a bit cheaper than anything on the Andaman Sea side, (boy did that decision pay off).
I looked at the different options to get to Koh Tao, but decided on the most pleasant and quickest, therefore the bus and train got kicked into touch.
I managed to book a flight out to Koh Samui on the 22nd December and back on the 4th January, figuring I would spend a couple of nights in Koh Samui before coming back to Bangkok. Because I booked the flights at 6am both coming and going, a reasonable 4000 baht return.
So at 4.30 am I'm taking the taxi to the airport for the 6am flight, its an e-ticket, always a bit apprehensive about these, but show the credit card and bingo, I'm booked on. Arrive at Samui Airport and I buy a ticket for the ferry crossing to Koh Tao on the Super Fast Catamaran, 550 baht plus 30 baht for the taxi fare to take you to the pier. 8am arrives and we’re off, the Cat is quite a pleasant ride, but has the weirdest way of dealing with luggage, it just gets dumped at the front of the boat, one of top of each other. The boat has a little snack bar and it shows a DVD (Prince of Egypt, not brilliant but keeps you from getting bored). It stops first at Koh Phangan then on to Koh Tao, finally arrive at 10.10am.
A short walk to Crystal Dives and I'm given the key to my accommodation, 200 baht a night, cold shower, fan and a double bed, not the height of luxury but what do you expect for these prices, I’ve booked an Open Water Dive and an Advanced Open Water Course, and including the accommodation for the period 22nd Dec to 3rd Jan, the price works out at 16,670 baht.
That afternoon we start to learn the theory in a classroom, very easy and the instructor really explained it well, next morning it's back to the classroom to learn more theory and a couple of more tests to see if its sunk in and in the afternoon its our first chance of putting theory into practice. We're off to the pool in all our diving gear to go through some basic drills, let me say here and now, you just don’t realize how much all the diving equipment ways, but once you're in the water it's bliss.
So we all traipse into the pool and take our first breaths underwater……..weird is one word but it doesn’t do it justice, its just really strange hearing your breathing (Darth Vader style) and when you first start you breathe very quickly (well I did!). Then it’s the start of 3 ½ hours of drills, mainly concerned with safety, swapping regulators for snorkels, taking off weight belts, clearing masks etc all the while thinking “We will be doing this in the sea tomorrow, where we just can't stand up!”.
The next morning comes around all too fast and at 7.30am we are on the boat for our first dive, we all get paired off with our respective buddy to help check everything is OK and to keep an eye on as we descend. The Divemaster explains that we will be going down a buoy line to about 6 meters (that’s 18 bloody feet or 3 of me standing on top of each other…gulp) then we will swim away to a sandy bottom at just under 10 meters (30 bloody feet, double gulp) to perform some safety drills. So we all gear up, each checking everybody gear and then we are in the water, everything is OK, I take a quick look through the mask and look at the water below…fishes, lots of fishes, oh this is it, masks on, regulators in and remember to go slowly and equalize the pressure as we descend. So there I am, first in line, descending the line and I'm going as slow as a dog with no legs climbing a hill, and I'm breathing like a pedophile in a line up, very nervous, right in front of me is a Fish, big fish, multi colored and looking really cool, its just biting at the rope, so I concentrate on that and try to slow my breathing down, before I know it, I'm at 6 meters and ready to let go of the rope and I swim away to the sandy bottom, I cant believe I'm doing this, but everywhere I look are fish, all different varieties and different colors, man is bloody marvelous you don’t know where to look. We do a couple of drills, all Ok, and its off to have a quick swim around the site, talk about being a kid in a candy store, you don’t know where to look first, your watching the fish, looking at the coral, keeping an eye on your buddy, the dive master and your air gauge, and the first time I swam on my back and looked up to see the surface and all the air bubbles going up, totally indescribable (but it was the dogs bollocks) visibility was 15 meters plus, suddenly the Dive master is signaling for us to have a look at something, there, perched on top of a rock is a turtle just sitting there, man this is so good, and before we know it its time to go up, 30 minutes have passed in a flash, my grin is from ear to ear.
I actually managed to do 13 dives in total, including 2 deep dives and a night dive, where I saw Barracudas, needless to say I'm hooked and will be going back as soon as I can, a big thumbs up to Crystal Dives at Koh Tao who made the experience so worthwhile.