Diving: The Art of Flying Underwater

Trip Start Sep 22, 2010
Trip End Jun 22, 2011

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Where I stayed
Carabao Dive School

Flag of Thailand  ,
Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 75 – 06 December 2010

Laptop purchase day! A whole world of net based travelling opened up before my very eyes. Now I was that backpacker with the empty but stained strong cafe latte glass and half gone banana shake by his side; whilst leisurely tapping away as if the Wats and Temples were not as interesting as the latest Facebook news from my many Facebook amigos. "Jon realised he didn't put pants on the morning, and it felt good!" ... that’s great Jon, good for you.  Is this laptop going to be the death of my travels?  Tune in tomorrow to find out folks! Right now, I’m off to Koh Tao to learn how to breathe underwater, Kevin Costner style.

Day 76 – 07 December 2010

A 4am 'bus change’, followed by a stormy 1.5 hour boat ride from Champong port to Koh Tao, meant for a fairly unpleasant but successful journey.  Arriving in stormy rain was not fun, my bag was soaked, I was soaked and my fellow Quebecans who jumped in the back off the same pickup as me, were also soaked.

The storm raged but after checking into my double bedded room (Lucas 1, Koh Tao 1) I watched some crappy T.V whilst sulking that the free Wifi was down in the room because of the storm.  My new beginner diving partner Emily from Canada, and I, began watching the instructional PADI videos, horrible, horrible 90’s cheesy American videos, 4 hours worth in fact!  The storm had had enough too and cut the power to the whole resort so we no longer needed to watch and I chilled with my new electronic device until 2am, as the internet got working again eventually.  It was pretty expensive on the Island, so I lived off 7-Eleven pot noodles, bread and tuna which I imagined would keep me going for the next 4 days too.

Day 77 - 08 December 2010
Me and Emily bashed out the next 5 modules of the PADI open water diver course and met our instructor Julien, a crazy French guy, in the process.  I aced the PADI exam with 98% high score, and technically the 1 answer I got wrong we weren’t taught anyhow... so... basically, I had the theory down.  2pm was end of day for us, but the weather was still end of stormy, so I hit the working internet in my room for a few hours and then went for a 10 km run up and down the tiny island of Koh Tao.  Little did I know despite the rain, this tiny island was still half under puddles so I ran through a lot of big puddles of water in the dark, whilst fellow tourists and locals alike looked on in disbelief at the crazy, sweaty but smiling guy.  Sometimes, the attention gives you quite a buzz to keep running further, so this made up for my soggy, soggy trainers. 
Day 78 – 09 December 2010

Diving.  After today, I hate the word.  I had my first 3 dives today with Emily as my buddy and Julien instructing us through the basics of diving.  My first experience diving, the confined dive, was in the tidal sea in 1.5 meters of water.  Most people get it in the calmness of a pool so it was an interesting experience for me; someone who had initial fears of sharks to cope with, without dealing with the complications of life underwater.  Once geared up, which ways a tonne until you actually get in the water, I was really excited and anxious.  I enjoyed floating along the surface whilst breathing through my regulator (* reg from now on) and looking below at the fishys and coral. 

But when it was time to go down and trust my reg to keep working, I got a bit scared to be honest.  Nevertheless, I sank to the bottom like a champion getting ready to show Julien I can ace this course.  At first, I was doing the procedures which included taking your reg out, breathing from a malfunctioning reg (which i swear still looks impossible when I see people do it!) etc etc.  But when I came to the taking off my mask, then clearing it, I was having a bit of a problem.  I bounced out of the water and Julien, who taught in an almost military fashion exclaimed in a thick French accent, “if yoo cant doo itt, den go play piing pong!”  At the end of the day he was right, without passing these basic tasks I could not pass the course.  So I sank down once more and pulled off the ‘mask task’ as it became known to me in my head, to satisfy Julien for now.

My next 2 dives for the day went well as we combined skill dives with pleasure dives as to not overload our water filled brains.  However, as I diver you should always be near your buddy and during the second dive, Emily had issues with her Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) and surfaced whilst we were diving and we lost her underwater! Me and Julien searched for her for 1 minute underwater as procedure then surfaced too.  Emily was floating away and then we got a major telling off from Julien, “Neverrr EVERRR leave yurrr Buddeee!”  Lesson learnt I guess, and I definitely am a sole believer in never making the same mistake twice.

The third dive of the day went well and I almost aced the mask task, although, I still am visibly anxious underwater as I’m breathing like a 400m meter sprinter upon reaching the finish.  I think years of Tai Chi and Kung Fu made it very difficult for me as breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth was an innate function for me, therefore, breathing always through my mouth took some concentration.  I learnt a lot today, and continued to practise the mask task in my room without my gear until bedtime came about.

Day 79 – 10 December 2010

I had an anxious night’s sleep as I wanted to be on top form for my dives today so I could pass my PADI open water certification which I have already had paid for.  The first dive today was a fun dive far out in the gulf of Thailand as there was a whale shark sighting at this dive site the day before.  This meant lots of divers from all the Koh Tao schools were present and we were diving amongst more experienced divers from our school also as Julien praised us on our buoyancy skills underwater.  The dive was ok but the visibility (vis) was fairly crap and there were no whale sharks.  However, on this dive we did proceed to dive to depths of 18 meters which is the maximum a PADI open water diver is allowed to dive to. 

Now it was time for my final dive and we both aced the skills that we needed to perform, including my mask task, and so I had a great dive.  The vis was the best so far and the aquatic life was phenomenal.  I was ticking off all the Finding Nemo characters as I span around like a fish underwater, slowly paddling my fins whilst I took in the scenery.  After the dives I went for a walk along the coast of the island, enjoying the gorgeous weather that we were having and relaxed in knowing that I passed my PADI with a truckload more confidence in the sea than when I started.  There was a party at the Carabao that night as 3 other divers had just completed their ‘dive master’ qualifications and so had many drinking based games and initiations to complete.  I hit the hay at 2am, ticking the box name ‘swim with Nemo’ off on my invisible to do list.

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Sarah Fernandes on

Ahh loved reading this entry, didn't realise you had such poblems with your mask skills, such a shame you didn't get to see the whale sharki would have been soo jealous, reading this makesme want to go on a dive holiday next! x

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