Phi Phi Double Whammy
Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
163Trip End May 02, 2013
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As mentioned previously, we signed up with The Adventure Club to complete our PADI Open Water Diver certification, which consists of a) learning five chapters of theory with quizzes along the way and a final exam, b) completing confined (shallow) water dive skills and c) completing the same skills in four open (ocean) water dives at certain depths and times. This typically takes three or four days and we chose the latter. Some of the required knowledge is quite complex, involving mathematical calculations and the use of dive tables to ensure safety limits are not exceeded. It has been a long time since either of us has written formal exams and it was a new experience to take a course together.
The course book says there are supposed to be five confined water dives, but to save time, we completed all the skills in one session, which meant almost four hours in the water, with all the gear on, exhausted and freezing cold by the end
We had left our previous bungalow behind and moved down the hill to a sea-view room in the same complex. Our initial impressions of this room were good, but that all changed the next morning when Sylvia spotted a pinhead-sized bedbug crawling on her sleep sheet. Obviously, we would have to move again that day, but our SCUBA schedule prevented us from doing so immediately.
We took the Reef Ranger boat to two nearby diving sites (Bida Nai and Malong) for our first two open water dives. The scenery was spectacular, both underwater and from the boat. We saw a black tip reef shark, sea snake, a wide variety of colourful tropical fish and several turtles. Despite his early morning anxiety, Jason grew more comfortable with the experience throughout the day. Our lunch break included completing swimming and floating requirements in a beautiful bay surrounded by limestone cliffs, right after wolfing down our meal. We went back to our place feeling tired but also quite proud of ourselves.
On the way back through town, we inquired about rooms at several places; many were full, had evidence of bedbugs or were outside of our budget. Koh Phi Phi is a small and very busy island so the competition for clean rooms at reasonable prices is fierce. We eventually found a room at Ibiza Hotel with a fan, separate beds and a bathroom shared with others. It was hot but had a cooler outside sitting area overlooking a quieter footpath.
We then went back to check out of the bedbug joint
That night, the new room cooled down but the beach bars came alive so it was almost impossible to sleep, even with the earplugs we brought with us in place.
The following morning, Sylvia awoke with an all too common ailment for those on the road... Traveller’s Diarrhea. The timing couldn’t have been worse as we were scheduled to complete our last two open water dives that day. We had no choice but to postpone the dives in hopes that she would recover quickly. Unfortunately, despite Jason’s best pharmacy and nursing care, Sylvia continued to feel unwell that whole day, enduring 40-plus degree heat with minimal intake. Whether for real or by proxy, Jason started to feel a little unwell later that day too, but not until after he ventured out to gather a few items for Sylvia and take the short but steep hike up to Phi Phi Viewpoint, which provided panoramic views of both the Ton Sai and Loh Dalum sides of the island. Perhaps midday was not the ideal time to do this. Drenched in sweat, he returned with a watermelon shake in hand.
Jason had to inform the dive company that we could not continue with the planned certification, but would complete the final exam the next morning. Sylvia rose to the occasion and achieved a 100% score, far exceeding Jason’s paltry 92%. As a result, we got certified as SCUBA Divers, with the option to complete open water dives 3 and 4 to obtain the Open Water Diver designation later. The dive company generously refunded us the money for the dives we didn’t complete.
With not a moment to waste, we went straight from the dive shop to the pier to catch a boat to the mainland town of Krabi, the jumping-off point for more beautiful beaches and fun outdoor activities. Hopefully we’ll both be feeling well enough to enjoy them.