Hitting the Thai Islands - Ko Tao

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End May 25, 2009

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So... after a long night bus ride and a short but cold ferry crossing, we arrived on our first Thai island... Ko Tao...  We headed here to relax on the beach and do some diving... we had some great recommendations to go with Big Blue, and that's exactly what we did...

Inititally all their accommodation was full, but we soon sorted ourselves out with one of their bungalows and got to work... My plan for the week we planned to be there, was to lie on the beach while Tom did his Open Water and Advanced dive courses, and get a tan, then do a fun dive or two... take it easy and spend little money...  However, when we got there, we found out that the AUSI qualification I gained on the Anaconda III in Australia, isn't actually worth the paper it's written on, and while PADI Thailand would recognise it, it's not likely anyone else would... in order to remedy this, I decided to do the next certification up and become a Rescue Diver... so much for relaxing on the beach!

The Rescue Diver course entailed half a day getting an 'Emergency Responder' (read: First Aider) certification, and then 3 days learning how to be a rescue diver, both in and out of the water.  The First Aid training was with Barry - a name I had already heard, as our friend Kate (who we also met on the Anaconda III) recommended.  It was pretty straight forward and I got to play with a defibrilator too, so that's all good!!!  After that I started learning with Tim - my German instructor, and two other students - Hans from Austria and Stephen from the States.

The Rescue Diver course teaches you how to be a bit more confident under water, to cope with panicked and unresponsive divers, both on the surface and under water, how to search for missing divers and how to generally look after yourself and others you're diving with.  It is hardcore... for 2-3 days we had people jumping off the boat screaming for help, then trying to drown you once you got to them... Tim timing us on how long it took to get to our drowining victims, Dive Master Trainees swimming up to us at 15m and ripping our regulators (air supplies) out of our mouths and our masks off our faces...  It was all very tiring, but also really, really fun, and I'm pleased to say that I passed... :)

All the while, Tom was working on his Open Water and Advanced courses so that we would be able to five together, and I was able to join his group for their deep dive (up to 30m) on the last day of his course - a fun dive for me and a little test for him... Unbelievable while we were on this dive, we saw a 3m jeuvanile Whale Shark - the biggest fish in the world.  It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen... swimming slowly and gracefull right past us... Tom and I were at the back of our group and saw it behind us - we tried to get the attention of the rest of our group, but by the time they got there, it had gone... which they were not pleased about when we got to the surface!

Also while on Ko Tao, Christian, a Norwegian guy who was on Tom's Advanced course, VERY kindly leant me his laptop so I could use the Big Blue wireless, and I was able to do a lot of work on Casey's website.  I met Casey in Pai, and she is starting her own Thai Massage business in the States and needed a website to promote herself, and I need to build my portfolio and make some cash, so it was perfect!

We had one good night out with Christian, Eli (pronounce Ellie), Veronica and Havi, all from Tom's advanced course, and had a great time walking down the beach at 4am, swinging on the rope swings :)

I've been in love with diving for a long time now, but Ko Tao has sealed the deal for me... I love it, I mean, I really, really love it... and so does Tom... we are seriously thinking about going back to Ko Tao when we can afford it and spending 6-8 weeks doing a Dive Master course with Big Blue, because they were amazing... I can't think of a better way to spend a month or two... :)

But soon enough it was time to leave Ko Tao and check out another island... we decided to bypass Ko Samui and head to Ko Phangan... but that's another blog!!
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