Back To School With PADI
Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
48Trip End Aug 05, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
We caught the sleeper train from Bangkok down to Chumporn (what a clever design they are!! seats that turn into bunk beds!) and as we only had a fan carriage ticket it was stifling hot, but bearable. Think my clothes were starting to grow legs though. After that it was a bus and ferry over to Koh Tao, before a bit of an accomodation disaster....long and boring story, but it was sorted eventually and 16 hours after we had left Bangkok we were at our bungalow ready to start the open water course the next day!
Day one was all classroom based, learning the science behind scuba essentially and a lot of dive protocols - hand signals, buddy checks etc etc. Call me sad but I did actually enjoy this; it was nice to have to chance to use my brain and get stuck into something new
Day two was painful 8.30 start and a morning of classroom stuff again, getting our heads round the dreaded dive planner tables! They take a bit of getting used to but aren't as complicated as they seem once you've got the hang of it...which is worth doing as they basically help you not become a squashed coke can by diving too long/too deep/too often. I think poring over silly spreadsheets in my previous life as an FO may have helped me personally, but it was at this point I felt in complete awe of the guys who weren't doing the course in their native language! That afternoon we finally got to get our hands on the equipment, spending a good hour learning how to set up and use all of the gear which was almost like setting up for a space shuttle mission! After lumping it onto our backs (the rucksack will never feel as heavy again!) it was time to give breathing underwater a whirl!! We spent over two hours in the pool, and I must say it felt bizarre at first - completely unnatural. We soon got used to it and Tina ran us through all skills we could ever possibly need (Bangkok Women Really Are Fellas, mask clear, regulator recovery, buddy breathing, out of air - tank turned off - yikes, etc etc) and a few more that I am convinced she made up to make us look stupid - taking off the tank and sitting on it with hands in the air for instance!
Day three came with a mildly better 9am start, and we had to complete our final exam (Mel's colleagues would have a fit with the exam conditions; we were in the bar crowded round a tiny table chatting away to each other about the questions!), learn how to compass navigate and do a 200m swim test...shouldn't they have done that before they sunk us in the pool?! Anyway, after a hearty lunch at Zest where we all bricked it about actually going 12m down we got on the boat that afternoon pretty much fit and ready. The first thing we learnt was setting up your kit is a darn sight harder on a rolling deck. After a final briefing we flopped ungracefully into the water at Mango Bay and decended to the sand below. Wow. Oh wow. Wow wow wow wow woooooooowwwwwwww! Stunning. We could see so clearly (about 20m vis, for those who know diving) and the reef was teeming with fishy fish off all shapes, sizes, colours and varieties -we saw Angelfish, Groupers, Butterfly Fish, Bannerfish....there is just too many to list
On day 4 we met at a simply ridiculous time of 7am ready for dives 3 and 4, at White Rock and Twins respectively
Despite this, diving was an awesome experience and we're so glad we shelled out for it. Definitely going to do more as we go through Malaysia and Aus...as much as the budget lets us. We loved it, and it's opened up a whole new world. We also really enjoyed the social side, and had great fun with the group both in and out of the water; whenever the two groups passed each other underwater we all behaved like complete lunatics, manically waving and pointing and it was good to share our experience over food and a drink or two. I guess with all that responsibility you have for each other you become pretty close pretty quick! Sitting at a beach bar on a table for ten reminded me of those old Smith/Wright/Damms holidays! Although those classroom videos were the cheesiest thing you can imagine, we now get the PADI motto - "Go places, meet people, do things!" Hahaha! Brilliant!
PS: For those of you who wanted to know - yes we did meet Nemo!!! A little family of Nemos in fact, with a mummy, daddy and baby. In fact, we met pretty much the entire cast of Nemo - Dory, French cleaning shrimp, Gil, Flo and her sister...no sharks though - shame! Maybe next time.