I'd like to be, under the sea...

Trip Start Feb 29, 2004
Trip End Apr 12, 2005

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A big milestone has been passed as, after many years of thinking about it and saying 'one day...', I've made the plunge--as it were!--and got my open water PADI certificate, so it's official now--I CAN breathe underwater and still live to tell about it! WOOHOOO!!

Ko Tao is known for its good underwater diving spots (obviously!) and especially its unbeatable prices for initial diving certs--about $200 for a 4-day course like mine, and I even got my room and transport from BKK thrown in for good measure. Hard to beat that.

The course was good, and met some more good people. Lucked out in having a small group, only four students, but 2 of them dropped out for health reasons, so in the end there were just 2 of us, a really nice guy named Andy from Sherwood, UK (yes, we did all the Robin Hood jokes) plus the instructor--can't top that for a learning situation. And in a really good stroke of timing I met up again with Gill and Karl, the great Irish couple I'd met in Lao. They had just finished a 2-month master diver course and I got to see their final initiation rite--wearing a diving mask and downing a small bucket of liquor through a funnel and snorkle tube in a matter of 30 seconds or so. Not for the faint-hearted!

The diving itself was pretty amazing. I'll never forget that first jump into the pool when I htook a breath through the regulator for the first time, and (after the initial OH.MY.GOD moments) descending into the sea and actually swimming and breathing underwater in the open ocean was absolutely incredible. The first dive was bizarre and pretty weird, with plenty of moments where my brain kept trying to intervene by screaming, "YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE UNDER HERE--WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?!?!?!", but it just got easier every dive.

On the second day in the open water when Andy and I dove for the last two times we decided it felt like we'd gained some sort of extra experience overnight because it felt pretty damn comfortable under the water all of a sudden. No more concentrating on how and when to breathe or how you're floating and what you're about to run into and god my ears hurt oh yeah, equalize oops I'm sinking woa watch out for that coral OH, my mask is filling up with water again UGH what's that on my arm EEK I'm heading for the surface for some reason god, what a brilliant stripey fish, etc. It was just lazily kicking around and gazing at the coral formations and all the weird and wonderful creatures in the area. I kept thinking it was just like in dreams when you can suddenly breathe underwater. But there's just more goopy stuff like fish shit and random floating stinging things and some plastic bags in real life. No shark sightings as of yet, but that's probably just as well, seeing as I'd most likely go completely mental and forget to breathe or something worse.

I could definitely do more of this...

Next it's back to Big, Bad Bangkok and then to--INDIA!!!!!
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