After my experience at the Suan Mokkh Buddhist Meditation Retreat, I had ten more days before I needed to be back in Bangkok to meet up again with Shawna and the girls. Wanting to make the most of my time, I headed to Koh Tao to try my hand at a little scuba diving! It’s been a loooong time since I strapped a tank to my back, so I was more than a little interested to see if I was able to remember what I was actually doing under water.
The first step in all of this was to find a dive shop to dive with. On Koh Tao, this was not going to be a problem. There are over 50 dive shops on the island to choose from. I however, decided to do my diving with the first shop I walked into, Master Divers. They made no bones about it, they were not the cheapest guys on the island. But they keep their group sizes small, and they seemed to be a really environmentally aware company, so I felt really great about my choice.
As I mentioned above, I have been scuba diving before, and I even received my Open Water Certification. Unfortunately, after 15 years I have lost any and all proof of this certification. I didn’t have my card with me, and sadly 1997 was B.I (before internet), so it wasn’t going to be easy to just type my name into a database, at least I didn’t think so. And if I couldn’t provide the dive school with evidence of my past experiences I would have to retake my certification and schooling, at the cost of about 9,000 baht (or $300CDN).
Fortunately it was much simpler than I could have ever imagined, and after a quick email to the SSI office in Australia (where I had done my previous dives) they were able to search through the boxes of files in the back of some old CSI warehouse and find what I needed!! Awesome!
In the end, all I needed to do was a quick “refresher”, which I am happy to report that I passed with flying colours. It went something like this:
Can you breathe under water?
Not by myself.
What if I put this in your mouth?
No stupid, THIS! Your regulator.
Oh… of course. Yup that seems to work.
Okay, now put your head under water.
I did, but everything is blurry.
That’s because you forgot your mask.
Wow. How did i miss that one?
You sure you have done this before?
Of course! Why do you ask?
See. I told you….flying colours!
I decided to do fives dives on Koh Tao over the course of three days. After completing them, all I can say is I cannot believe it has been so long since I last went scuba diving.
There are two things (at least) that make diving such an amazing activity. The first is obvious…it’s what you see: the fish, the coral, the shipwrecks, etc. You can just sit there for hours (or until you run out of air) watching life take place under water. The second is the fact that you are actually breathing and moving underwater! You are neutrally buoyant which essentially means every time you inhale and fill your lungs with air, you rise up (slightly), and then when you expel the air from your lungs you will come back down. There is no frantic swinging of limbs required to keep you in one place… once you strap that tank on (and ideally put your mouthpiece in), you become a fish. It is quite surreal, really.
On my final dive, I had asked Nick, the Master Diver photographer, if he could come with me. I had no underwater camera, and was really wanting to capture of few photos of my dives. He was able to, and as a result, I have all of these awesome pics. Thanks Nick and the rest of the Master Divers crew for giving me such an incredible experience underwater. This will not be the last time I go scuba diving on this trip.
Now if only I could convince Shawna!! What do ya think?