Well....over the last three days we have been doing our PADI Open Water Diving Qualification - which certifies as divers to 18 metres anywhere in the world - and today we completed it! First of all we had to do a morning of intense theory and quizes, and then we had to do loads of practical exercises in the swimming pool
(which was at a really posh hotel, which was fun for us to have a nosy in!).
Then yesterday we got picked up at eight o'clock and we drove to the harbour and got aboard the boat - which was a lovely big boat, with a really big upper deck with shade which was nice. And then we "set sail" and we journeyed for about 2 hours before making our first dive of the day, Shark Point (unfortunately (or fortunately) we didn't see any sharks, because at that time we couldn't go very deep, but others in our party saw some leopard sharks which was cool).
After getting kitted up and doing our "buddy checks" we jumped off the back of the boat and bobbed around for a bit. We then descended and caught our first glimpses of the underwater paradise! There were hundreds of fish as soon as we got down to about 5 metres. They were all different colours and shapes and sizes. One of our first memorable encounters was with a metre long black and blue stripy sea snake which was awesome! We then continued on our way around the pinacle of shark point and saw many other fish including moray eels, butterfly fish, emperor angelfish, and also some really cool crustaceans! Jim's favourite of the dive was the Moorish Idol and Nat's was the bicolor parrotfish.
After a fantastic lunch, we prepared for our second dive of the day and descended to Anemone Reef. This dive was to 12 metres, for forty seven minutes. We saw lots of beautiful coral and it looked a lot like Finding Nemo at the "dropoff" point with all the anemones and soft coral.
The colours were really wonderful, and as we gained a little more experience we began to relax more and this dive seemed a lot more fun and less confusing - though I (Nat) do seem to have trouble sinking! ha ha. we got back to the hotel at about 5 and we had grand plans of going to watch the sunset and going out to eat, but we were actually exhausted and crashed out with some crisps and an ice tea and a sprite.
Today was brilliant. We headed on the boat at around the same time towards the island of Koh Racha Yai (which means big king island in Thai). We had loads of fun and we had to do various exercises, such as emergency ascents, removal of masks and compass navigation - which is fun and a lot like orienteering underwater. Again, we saw many beautiful things. The first dive was at a reef called Stag Horn Reef (so called because all the coral looks like the antlers of stags).
Today we saw a massive Moray Eel in a hole watching everything go by. It must have been about 1.5 metres long or more! There were also loads of other fish around and the reef seemed to be teeming with life.
Today we also seemed much more able to spot things that were pretty - like clams which I don't think I noticed yesterday, but today seemed really cool - they have a "soft colourful bit" which sits outside the mouth of the clam, and then if you go too near it, they contract inside. We also got to feed some fish today - after lunch we took a banana each in with us and peeled it and the fish love it and they come and eat it. It was amazing. It was also really heartening how careful the divers were not to touch anything or damage any of the coral - so at least we can rest easy knowing it's not being abused by divers.
After a few more skills we were done - we got stamps in our new log books and temporary licences untill our new ones arrive - and now our dive careers have started....hopefully we will get to go on a dive again soon (Koh Phi Phi is supposed to have very good diving).
Hope you are well and love to all of you
p.s. - check out the videos in our album - all the photos courtesy of our instructor Rene.
p.p.s. Daddy if you want to help out with identifications of crustaceans or the wormy thing we would be grateful.