Asia | South East Asia | Thailand | South Thailand | Ko Tao – diving
life moves on
Christmas was night was superb. We booked an outside salas at a hotel in North Chaweng, and had an evening of cheap cocktails, gorgeous fish and Traditional Thai dancing. It took us 4 hours to finish it all off.
One of the most chilled out christmas’s ever.
Boxing Day was different, up at 7 to be picked up by taxi then speed boat to Ko Tao and diving. Diving was Martin’s idea. He did the research, talked to the shop owners and a few travellers who’d just come back and we chose EasyDivers, 6,800 baht and i was really impressed.
The crossing from Ko Samui to Ko Tao though was a disaster. There were 8 spaces outside the boat at the front and about 40 inside. We sat outside. The journey to Ko Pha-Ngan was great; banana’s, views, sunshine on my face. i was happy. From Ko Pha-Ngan tpo Ko Samui its totally different. The swell is really high and the speedboat just pounds into the waves. Everybody inside the boat threw, everybody outside got soaking wet. It was like having a bucket of water hurled at you every 30 seconds for an hour and a half.
Arrived in sunshine and we just dripped on the pier. The EasyDiver set up on Ko Samui is right next to the pier at Ban Mae Hut, so we dripped in there for a while, drunk coffee and got to know our fellow students.
8 of us in total and they were a really good crowd; Timo from Austria, Liz from the UK, Steve and Evelyn from Ireland, Martin, James and I and Anna a Swedish girl with the face of Linda Evangelista.
Anyway the first day was easy, a few classes, sorting out our accomodation and a bit of homework. Where we are staying (Sea Shell Resort – Ao Charok Ban Kao) is really nice. Run by an old Thai couple and their daughter, the bungalows are really clean, their bathrooms are lovely (cold water obviously) and they have a great little platform lounge overlooking the bay. They seem to have a fondness for Elton John and The Eagles which is a bit unfortunate and ordering food is always an adventure but i really like it.
For the dive course you pay a supplement if you want the bungalow to yourself, I did, James didn’t. James and Anna are sharing. I think he’s in heaven.
Anyway we spent the evening in the restaurant doing our homework, then up the beach to the football bar, ‘a simple life’ to watch football. A few large bottles of Chang later we were asleep dreaming of the fishes.
The second day of the course was spent going over the homework, getting fitted for the equipment and trying to find a good place for lunch. Farango’s for a large bowl of spaghetti, expensive but really tasty.
We were on the boat at 1:30 with our instructor going over the dive plan. In our wetsuits by 2:30, ‘giant striding’ into the Gulf of Thailand by 3. Hitting the water was an amazing feeling, a tank strapped to my bank, 5 kilo’s of lead weight hanging none to stylishly on my waist but i had a partially inflated jacket – and none of the previous incumbents had drowned, so i felt fairly confident.
An afternoon of exercises and sign language. I took my respirator out, took my goggles off, took my jacket off, all the time kneeling on some fairly unforgiving coral. But i saw some great fish, i breathed underwater, i swallowed sea water, coughed, spluttered, concentrated on staying alive. A stunning experience. Came up with a buzz that kept me talking for hours.
The third day was better. More lessons, an exam, more food (this time chicken sandwiches to die for) and in the afternoon we were on the boat again. Dive boats are really cool, full of eccentric europeans, extra’s from ‘the big blue’, clean cut Danes, flamboyant Dutch, a score of understated swarthy mediterraneans, us and a class that was us the previous day.
We did 2 12m dives that day and its like driving a car except you’re the engine. You kick your legs to go forward, breathe in to go up, breathe out to go down. I hadn’t mastered turning left or right and stopping was a bit of an issue but they were great dives. I saw more fish, breathed less air, both dives over to soon, one by emergency ascent the other by more traditional means. A great great feeling, almost as good as the chunk of watermelon and the mouthful of hot coffee when you get back on the boat and your body stops shivering.
Exhilarating, the whole experience. We were in bed by 10 having consumed a moderate number of large Changs.
Day 4 started 18m under the water. I tried not to look at the surface. 2 dives, by the end i was doing forward rolls, backward rolls. It was weightlessness and it was gorgeous. Anyway, today is our day off. you get a free dive at the end of the course so we are doing that New Years Eve. Chumlong Pinnacle, a 30 m stick of granite off the islands in the South China Sea (well almost).
Today we moved house, up the beach to Mama Katts. It saves 150 baht a day and my bungalow is 10m from the sea. I had a sunbathe in the morning, had a thai massage after a leisurely thai lunch at seashells and a bit of a smoke as the sun went down. All a bit taxing really.
Tonight Anna’s brother is in town and Newcastle play Manchester United at 10, so we’ll be back at ‘a simple life’ for some food and a few large changs before bed and dreams of more fishes.
Result Manchester United 1 Newcastle 1
Big spider in my bathroom.