Cathy and Jason's Travel Journal
About Us (1)
USA - California (1)
USA - Mid-Atlantic (1)
USA - South (2)
USA - Southwest (1)
* Cameron Highlands
* Kuala Lumpur
* What we did in Georgetown
* Georgetown, Penang
* Scuba divin'
* Ko Tao and diving!
* Laos wrapup
* Slow boat to Luang Prabrang, or Ship o' Fools
* What we've been up to
* Thailand photos 1
* Burma photos 3
* Burma photos 2
* Burma photos 1
* India photos 5
* India photos 4
* India photos 3
* India photos 2
* India photos 1
* Photos, continued
* The many uses of...
April 21, 2005
Scuba diving -- I'd always thought this was a psuedo-sport for the idle rich. Then it dawned on me... I'm idle and being in Thailand, relatively rich! Perfect!
Jason and I decided to do this on a whim. I wanted to leave Hua Hin, but all second class train seats to Surat Thani (near to Ko Samui) were booked up. We ended up taking a bus to a halfway point that also happened to be the jumping off point to Ko Tao.
Ko Tao is the place backpackers learn to dive. At twenty-eight, I was feeling on the old side. Getting your PADI open water certification is a mere 8500 baht, or $215. Guided boat dives with equipment will only set you back $17-20.
We went diving with Scuba Junction and stayed for free (during our course) at their beautiful bungalows in the Sabai Sabai resort. Despite a lot of recent development, Ko Tao is still a beautiful place.
One afternoon, I walked across the island. Jason was off buying some shorts in the main town and there was a bit of cloud cover. I walked along a dirt track and only saw a few people. Along the way, I ate some tasty mangos that lay on the side of the road underneath big mango trees. I saw a man cracking open coconuts in the distance. On the way back some local guys bringing water to a resort gave me a ride back to my hotel. Ko Tao has a small town feel that reminds me of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
But, back to the scuba diving. This is a lot of fun! Suitable for anyone in reasonable health. After my first open water dive (that's when you go out in the ocean!), I hated diving. I felt claustrophobic, my sinuses hurt, it was hard to look around without getting water in my mask, my mask kept on fogging up.
Then, on my second dive, everything was great. When I'm not in the water, I still get scared about diving. It seems a bit insane to be trapped under so much water. But if you like seeing animal and plant life in a natural environment, diving is wonderful. In Thailand, the water is so clear, you feel like you're in a giant aquarium.
Of course, our diving was not without some excitement, provided by Jason. On my first miserable open water dive, Jason's tank came loose from its harness. I panicked, got the instructor to put the tank back on (Jason had no idea what was going on) and was so upset that I just floated back to the surface. Then, I was upset at floating up so quickly, thinking that maybe I would get decompression sickness. I managed to descend again and the instructor found me and pulled me back down to where our little diving group was patiently waiting for me.
Then, on a fun dive I looked back at Jason and he was giving me the "something is wrong" signal. If my palms could sweat underwater, they would have been sweating. He appeared to be fiddling with his mask and then the mask strap flew off. All of this at 18 meters! He handed the mask to me and I was unable to put the strap back on. I handed it to our divemaster. This skill (not putting the mask back together) is called "full mask removal". You practice it in your diving course. In our first dive at 2 meters, I choked on water when the mask came off and shot to the surface. Naturally, I was afraid of having to perform this skill at 18 meters. I was able to do it, but it's a funny feeling being without your mask underwater. Water fills your nose, you can't see. When I was trying to put the mask back together underwater, I was thinking -- what if Jason chokes like I did? What if Jason is scared? AGGG!! Thankfully our last two fun dives passed without incident.
Jason and I are on Chaweng beach in Ko Samui. A beautiful beach, if you avoid looking at the trash and topless Euros. We miss Ko Tao, but our time in Thailand is almost at an end. Only one more week on our visa!
Posted by Cathy on April 21, 2005 10:50 PM
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