Swimming with Jaws

Trip Start Nov 14, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, May 10, 2007

The 'Turtle Island" was very similar to Ko Phangan but felt like a refreshing change. This island is smaller and more laid back than it's neighbour and the sun even came out too. It was  perfect. Everyone comes to Ko Toa in order to Scuba Dive and most of the shops and guest houses are geared towards it.  There was a great atmosphere on the island, everywhere seems quiet during the day as most people are out at sea and in the evening there is a nice buzz around the bars as everyone talks over their day's dive. Then in the late evening the Thai Buckets have played their part in proceedings and everyone loses the plot.  The very thought of the drink makes me shudder.
On arrival all the dive companies were represented by touts all trying their  best sales techniques which usually involves establishing that you are English and then saying "lovely jubley" in their best cockney accent. So we opted  for  one, not because his Del Boy impression was particularly good but because he was the one stood next to us once we had managed to retrieve our bags from the huge pile on the front of the boat. It was a good choice too. We went with New Way Diving and the package was a 4 day PADI Open Water Diving Course, which would qualify us to dive down to 18 metres on our own . The 8500 Baht (about 130 quid) was an absolute bargain and included accommodation which was the best located bungalow on the island. We reckon anyway. It was right on some huge rocks in between two beautiful beaches overlooking the  crystal clear sea.
On the first day we had to do some homework :(. The second day we went out to a shallow bit of water to practice breathing under water. Amy started to get worried about the whole  thing and kept reminding us that she didn't want to do it in the first place. In the morning we did some exercises underwater to get used to it. It is a really weird feeling at first and I wasn't very comfortable with it, however  in the afternoon  we went for a dive and as soon as we were underwater and could see all the colorful fish and beautiful coral the worries and uncomfortableness disappeared and breathing underwater became second nature. It was absolutely awesome and the whole thing blew us away. We couldn't wait for the next day. That night we joined Alice, Katie, Jim and Henry and  the lad I have nothing to say to (from Laos and Ko Phangan) to relive the days events in the Lotus Bar.
The third day was excellent and we went to 18 metres. We saw all different kinds of fish including a massive turtle, grouper fish and an Indian Walkman Fish which looked exactly like a rock. "Don't touch anything pretty or anything ugly" was the advice given to us, as it cold result in a trip to hospital. We met a couple of Germans. A lass called Angker and a lad called Flo. When I cracked a joke,  "Anker Wat?" (as in the temple in Cambodia) she didn't get it. Typical!
On our final day  of the PADI course we were tested on a few dive techniques such as removing our masks (not a nice feeling) and surfacing using a buddy's alternate air supply (scuba speak). It was another great dive and we saw a Grey reef shark swimming around below us. Amazing. We had a short written test too and then we became Scuba Divers. Our final day was filmed and the DVD is excellent. Any thoughts about not buying it when we were shown it were extinguished as it was so good. The editing and soundtrack made us part with the Baht. However we only bought one and made copies of it later.
The whole experience was out of this world and we can fully understand why Scottish Mike and Italian Riccardo, our instructors have left home to live here permanently. Riccardo had just become a qualified surgeon in Italy, came on holiday and then decide to pack the being a doctor thing in and live in Ko Toa.
We celebrated on the night with Mark, a lad who had done the course with us and Katie and co. The next day we watched Babbel with no subtitles. At first we couldn't decide whether it was meant to have them even though most of it was in Spanish, Arabic and Sign Language. We thought it must be an 'arty' film and wasn't actually meant to have them. Funnily enough we quite enjoyed it but at the end an American girl came over and let us know that in fact it was meant to have them. She said, "the film is much better with subtitles" and then she went on to answer the dozen or so questions we had about the film's storyline proving that we didn't actually get the plot of the film at all.
We had to leave our beautiful accommodation once our course had ended and we moved into what could possibly the worst bungalow on the island. It was a  wooden sweat-box and was pretty uncomfortable but it was very cheap so it was okay.
We saw the last couple of days out on the beach and in the bars. Talk of the Asian Adventure coming to an end was beginning to become more of an occurrence along with it the notion that once in Australia we would have to  get a job too. Well actually I was quite looking forward to that but I really was sad to be leaving Asia. We thought about going to Indonesia but unfortunately the money situation dictated otherwise.
We had to go back to Bangkok to fly to Sydney but not before spending a bit of money on loads of clothes and souvenirs in Koa San Road. We got our flights and Amy left us to fly to Singapore where she would spend a couple of days before joining us again in Oz.
Well I should have a conclusion about Asia but I have already said everything. If you want the best beaches and most things to do come to Thailand. If you want the 'oriental feel' and picturesque scenery head to Vietnam and if you want to see two countries that have dealt with a horrendous and very violent recent history but paradoxically have ended up with the friendliest people on earth visit Laos and Cambodia. If you fancy the more developed and hi-tech Asia go to Malaysia and Singapore. If you want to see it all and have the time of your life, pack your job in, sell your house and get your ass on the next flight.
Anyway must dash, got to go to work!
Next is Amy with her more favourable take on Singapore and then maybe I will keep the Blog up in Australia.
Catch you later!!
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