Scuba Duba

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Thailand  , Trang Province,
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Koh Mook is a strange island, whilst it is only accessible by boat it seems to be a hot spot for Swedish tourists, we were more or less the only people not Swedish in the resort. Koh Mook is a great island in that it is basic and rustic, there are no 7/11's, no ATM’s and save for a few sets of bungalows and 2 hotels the island is just covered in rubber trees.  There are 2 hotels on Koh Mook, Charlies which has a selection of cheap bamboo bungalows and also a selection of nice air con concrete rooms, the other hotel on the other side of the island is 5 star but apparently the beach is filled with pesky sand flies, so I was quite pleased to be on our little beach with a cheap bamboo hut.

We set off to explore the island and thought we would have a walk and see where we ended up, there is only one road that goes through the island so we followed it and hoped for the best.  After a good hours walk we found ourself on a beach filled with longtails being repaired and were in the real island where people live.  There was yet another awful reminder of the tsunami with a marker post showing how high the water came and it was well over my head.

What we liked about Koh Mook is that whilst it is still wild, the hotel had all the luxuries that you would get on the mainland, a nice pool, a good restaurant and a lovely beach.  This turned out to be our favourite location in Thailand.

Koh Mook was so wild it was a bit like living in a zoo, at night huge bats would be flapping around the coconut trees and at night I would hear rustlings in our bamboo hut.  I thought that I had found the culprit when I found a big adult Tokay lizard chilling in the corner, but then the real culprit outed herself and all became clear.  We had a 3 foot monitor lizard that used to climb up the gap between the bamboo hit and the concrete wall of the bathroom.  In the morning she would be sat on the top of the bathroom wall looking down at me and then would quickly sneek back and hide in the wall.  I know that she didn’t come down into the bathroom as a huge spider used to sit on our toilet taunting her (and me).  We called her Jenny the lizard and quite enjoyed living in a reptile house, the mosquito count was definitely down when the lizards were out and about.

We managed one mini tour on Koh Mook whereby we booked a longtail to take us around the island to the bits that are only accessible by boat.  Our first stop was meant to be Big cave but unfortunately the tide was against us and the longtail driver told us it was not safe to snorkel so he took us to a little secluded beach, we had a dip in the sea and a bit of a snorkel but we could not wait for the main attraction the Emerald Cave.  This is actually not a cave technically, it is a sinkhole where the roof of an underwater cave collapsed creating a perfect little bay where the only way to enter is to swim through an 80 meter long pitch black cave.  Typically our underwater camera chose this trip to fill with water and die, awesome thanks Olympus!  However ready to take to the water and commit the view to memory we set off from the longtail and with our life jackets secured jumped into the fierce looking sea.  The boat was bouncing all over the place, there were speedboats to navigate around and we were generally wondering if this was such a great plan.  As we followed our longtail driver who was swimming in front with the torch, I did have one of those, this is really not that much fun moments.  However we persevered, with the lifejacket skinning my arm a little more everytime I lifted my arm to swim against the current, with the feeling of impending doom I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel, literally.  The beach was well worth the scary ass swim, even if it was filled to bursting point with other tourists.  Thankfully the Emerald cave is on the to-do list when we come back to Koh lanta with Tims mum so you will have to wait for the next trip for some pictures, sorry, please address any complaints to Olympus Customer Services :o)  Our swim out of the cave was just as exciting and terrifying as the swim in, with leaves (I think) brushing against my legs and scaring me witless.  Lets hope that the next trip there is a little more relaxing and fun.

We were just getting into the routine of chilling out reading our books around the pool and relaxing to the extent that we were barely vertical for more than 45minutes a day when a chance encounter changed everything.

After our snorkelling trip in Koh Lipe we had seen a whole host of amazing fish and the one species that stood out was a big blue starfish.  Usefully, outside the dive shop on Koh Mook they had a fish identification chart, so we decided to take a look to see who our blue starfish really was.  Seemingly he is called the Big Blue Starfish, original!

Whilst loitering outside the dive shop we got talking to the managers Lyn and Gary.  Like us they set off travelling from Ireland but rather than bumming around like us they have been working their way around the world diving.  Tim and I had a 'quids in’ introduction to diving on a cold and murky day in Bouley Bay in Jersey, which left me sat on the beach crying because I didn’t like the zero visibility and the fact that Pavel the instructor was just dragging us around clueless.  Not the best introduction to diving and didn’t leave me desperate to get back in.  However after a nights sleep we decided that we might like to do our Scuba Diver Course, which is the most basic qualification from PADI.  Next thing we have our noses buried in books and videos and we are getting suited up for our first training sessions.   Before we know it we have changed our mind and we are going for the full Open Water qualification.

The training was quite intense and even in the shallows of the sea it is quite a scary feeling to take out the respirator and put it back in, but possibly the scariest bit was taking off our masks and putting them back on underwater.  A couple of hours later and we are fully practiced in taking off every bit of kit whilst in the water.  That afternoon we were all set for our first dive, the weather had been getting a bit miserable but just as we were headed to the dive boat the heavens opened, thankfully the rain doesn’t really matter when you are headed 12 meters under the sea.

Unfortunately with the rain comes the wind and as we set off to Koh Waen the waves were getting choppier and my heart rate was rising fast, fortunately as we headed around the back of Koh Waen the sea calmed and we were getting kitted out ready to dive.  Being sat with weights and heavy tanks about to roll backwards off a longtail is possibly one of the scariest feelings ever, but once we did it once we felt invincible, it was like a James Bond moment.  It was amazing how quickly all the fear of being under the sea vanishes when you are swimming along side a wall of coral with huge puffa fish, scorpion fish, lion fish, barracudas and morey eels every which way you look.  I think we both got the hang of it quite well, save that I could not quite keep my hands from flailing about.  I quickly remedied this problem after I slashed my hand open on the coral, ouch.  After a while we couldn’t go any further against the current so we returned to the boat for the next dive.  The next dive was a real test of how brave we really were rolling in backwards as the boat was bouncing 2 feet out of the water in the crazy waves.  I surprised not only myself but also Tim with my total lack of any hesitation getting off the boat.  For once I actually thought bouncing around in the sea would be more pleasurable than the boat.  I was right.  The sooner we got down the sea floor the better. After a nice little swim with some more amazing fish we came into an entrance to a cave and sat on the sea floor.  This is where we then had to test our skills of switching respirators and filling our masks with water and emptying them whilst 12 meters deep.  Thankfully we both managed it without freaking out and shooting to the surface.  Diving for the day done we were back home to study some more.

Day two dives were quite a treat as we were on the morning boat when the sea is calmer and the visibility better.  This time we went to Koh Kradan.  Coincidentally every Valentines day couples get married under the sea in fully scuba gear at Koh Kradan and as we were there on the 13th February the special wedding dive boat was out ready for the next days proceedings, so if anyone is looking for a novelty wedding…..

Koh Kradan diving was stunning, the coral was astounding, with soft coral like purple broccoli and huge purple cabbage leaves covering the sea floor it was  no surprise that the fish life was equally amazing, more puffas, more eels, more lion fish, a huge jelly fish and even a little nudibranch pooped by to see us.  There was more mask filling and emptying, more taking out of the respirator, a swim into the abyss alone with just a compass and some new found navigational skills to find our way back and a final test of taking off all our equipment on the surface and putting it back on.  We were totally exhausted, but definitely had a new found love of being under the sea.

Now just to get reading and get our exam done.  It turns out that I am a bit of a geek when it comes to diving and I have now become addicted to calculating pressure groups using dive tables, that will make no sense to anyone who has not done PADI, but there is this amazing table that you use to calculate how long you have been under the sea, how much nitrogen has built up in your body and how long you need to be at the surface before you can go in again and on that dive, how deep and for how long.  I am officially a dive geek and I could play maths games all week with this table, I am so sad!

After lots of reading and testing each other and arguing over sample questions, we sat our exam and we passed.  We did not get each other anything for valentines but Lyn and Gary gave us our very own divers log books and declared up PADI Open Water Divers. Awesome.

Koh Mook left us with new friends, new experiences and a new possibility for finding work around the world, thank you Big Blue Starfish (and Lyn & Gary at Charlie’s Resort, Princess Divers), we owe you one.

The speedboat to Koh Lanta beckons, so long Koh Mook, maybe see you and your lizards again some time.
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