Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Thai Adventure Part 2: Koh Tao

So after having a great time in Chiang Mai, we traveled south-west-ish towards the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. We decided to try diving. We'd signed up for the basic course and be certified divers by the end of it. With this certification, we could dive anywhere in the world! For this, I had to swim 200 mtrs and float for 10 mins as a test of my swimming skill(which was non-existant when we first decided to go).

Backstory: I really do like water and have always been beach person but somehow I never ever learnt how to swim. I wanted to learn but never really got around to it. When boyfriend suggested diving, I thought this is the push I need to learn how to swim. I had 2 months to learn and I was determined to have some skills at the end of it. By the time it was time to leave, I had spent quite sometime in the water (and quite some money too) learning a basic life skill. However, I had spent all this time in a pool where my feet hit the bottom. I was really nervous about swimming in the sea.

Koh Tao is a small sleepy island really, especially around the rainy season. We travelled nearly 24 hours to get there. First impression: the beach looked beautiful. It was a cloudy day but the water looked pretty clear. We headed out to our resort, Crystal Dive. We got a really nice room for really cheap because we were diving with them! I had a pit in my stomach just thinking about the starting class the next day. Since we did our classroom training online, we spent the afternoon chilling out at the beach. It was a beautiful evening. Sunshine and clear waters.

The next morning was our confined water training which is a fancy way of saying: diving in a swimming pool. We put on all our gear and jumped into the pool. I was petrified but somehow I got through the whole morning. I freaked out quite a bit at first then it got easier the more time I gave it. We basically practiced some skills that are needed as divers. We would have to repeat it for real that afternoon. The pit in my stomach was getting bigger and wider. But I held it together.

Then, We had our swim test. We had to swim 8 laps around a deep deep pool (16ft is deep deep). Everyone in our group jumped in and lazily swum those laps and I struggled to step in. Our instructors were super nice though. :P They gave me fins and snorkel and told me to take as much time as i wanted. Somehow I got through it and was so happy that I did!

Then it was time to hit the boat and get geared up for our first 2 dives. It was so surreal being in the sea, watching fish going by, doing their thing. We practiced all our skills and then just swum around, pointing at things excitedly. We had some hand signals which I kept getting wrong! It was one of the most exhilarating moments in my life. We did two more dives the next day, the weather wasn't so good that day and just got worse after that. Since our basic course went so well! We decided to stay on and do the Advance course which was 5 more dives which gave us different skills. So we spent our free time reading up on our course, eating, drinking and being merry!

We had fun even though the weather wasn't on our side really. The day before we were to leave, we heard talk about boats being cancelled. Instantly, we were worried since we had a visa for 2 weeks exactly, our tickets back were booked. We went to their office and learnt that the boats were indefinitely cancelled. Our hearts sank, we were surely going to get fined and never allowed entry to Thailand for overstaying our welcome. We spent a very rainy evening postponing tickets, extending our stay indefinitely and feeling sorry for ourselves. The weather didn't look like it was letting up.

We woke up the next morning to sunny skies and suddenly we were hopeful of leaving the same day. Our original flight was the next morning, it suddenly all looked possible. We went to the booking office got tickets on the boat out (yes!) and re-booked our tickets on the same flight and got off the island! Island life looks so good from far away and then at moments like these you realize that how nature can really play havoc in an instant!

At first we were sad to leave, but once all the drama happened, we were happy to leave in time for our flight and the end of our visas. All in all it was a eventful, adventurous and fun trip!


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