Diving Ko Tao

Trip Start Mar 20, 2009
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Monday, January 4, 2010

Now was time for some serious diving. Ko Tao is one of the top diving destinations in the world, being 2nd only to Cairns for the number of PADI certifications delivered.

I only had 4 days as my visa was expiring on Jan 9. I went straight to the south of the island, a village called Chalok Baan Kao which has simple bungalows and a half dozen diving facilities. Fortunately it was precisely 6 months since my last dive in Australia so I could do fun dives without re-certification.



I chose Carabao led by a French guy and did 6 dives with them mainly at White Rock, Twins and Chumphon Pinnacle dive sites. The guys are nice and they do their job properly but being a relatively small facility we did not go to some of the main diving sites farther away (you need more divers to make the trip profitable). I got myself some good new fins and shoes in one of the wholesaler diving shops.

I got my PADI night certification with another dive club: Buddha View divers. I already had done a night dive on the Great Barrier. Impressive to see the difference between day and night not only because with a torch you can see the red and yellow colors down there (as opposed to blue) but also because corals don't show you the same face at night and/or some corals just open up at night.

A new fish I did not know is called Trigger fish and is very territorial which make it dangerous for divers as it attacks until you leave its turf... Funny to see that this little fish is way more feared than the big sharks... Every time there was one trigger fish the dive master would point at it (his finger miming a gun) and then quickly doing a big deviation to avoid it. We saw a few blue spotted rays, turtles, lion fish, yellow box fish, long fin banner fish and quantity of other tropical fish including the rare harlequin sweetlips. During one dive I took pics of mainly corals (using a professional camera). My Olympus camera only goes down to 10m which really makes it useful for snorkeling or shallow dives (most dives are 15 to 30m deep). I easily revived the technical skills learned in Cairns, and apart from some weight/buoyancy issues (I was coming up to the surface at the end of a few dives as my tank was getting lighter), everything went perfectly.

During my last dive at Chumphon Pinnacle, down at 29 m (my deepest dive to date) we saw 3 bull sharks!! Amazingly designed. Beautifully water-dynamically shaped. My first shark. Funnily I was more impressed than scared (maybe being alone would have been a different story - we were 7 divers with 2 confident instructors). Still my air reserve went down a few dozen bars during the minute we saw them. One shark, 3 meter long, passed by 5 meters from me. I would learn later on that it is one of the most dangerous types of sharks for humans... We were swimming counter clockwise around the big pinnacle and the sharks doing a bigger circle clockwise.. Great stuff! Unfortunately no camera for this dive.

Then going back to the ground I ran to my room, took a shower, packed my bag, grabbed something to eat, drank liters of water (deep dives make you a bit dizzy, and water helps get back to normal) and ran to catch the ferry going to Chumphon, where I would catch a sleeper train towards the Malaysian border.

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