Time to see what Thailand has to offer! Our mammoth journey to Koh Tao started with a 9 hour bus ride across the border and into Bangkok. Then we got our first taste of Thai food! I went for the nation’s favourite; pad thai from a street vendor, it looked lovely but before I could even say thank you he got the hugest spoonful of chili powder and dumped it all over the top, going to have to learn to act quicker in future or I may go hungry! After we were fed we boarded the 9pm night bus down to Koh Tao, another 9 hour journey on a upright chair, safe to say I didn’t sleep much. Finally we arrived bleary eyed to the ferry port at 6am then had an hour to wait before boarding the boat. Don’t think I’m made for the sea, three hours across the choppy waters felt like a lifetime but finally we pulled up to the little island of Koh Tao, and relax!
It’s a beautiful island on the East coast of southern Thailand and is apparently one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to scuba dive, can’t say no to that! Even though the island is only 21km all the way round it has over 70 diving schools on it! We’d found Easy Divers on trip advisor so we collected our new diving text books and went to check in. We spent the first day by the beach reading up on scuba before our 4pm classroom session, there were only 3 of us in our class, me, Rob and Mads from Norway. We learnt the basics about the gear and then were sent off for a good night’s sleep before getting in the water the next day.
We arrived for class 8:30 the next day, it’s a full on course like being back at school again! We had to read textbooks and pass tests before we were authorised to go into the water! Our instructor Tim talked us through what we’d need to do in the water, not going to lie I was bricking it, but we started in shallow waters and after a few tests bobbing my head under water I began to trust that the gear would keep me alive whilst I swam to the bottom of the ocean. After an hour of mastering the basic skills and proving we wouldn’t freak out we headed back to the boat to find a deeper dive site. Lesson two meant going deeper! We had a few more competency tests down at 12m then we got to explore the reefs. It was amazing! I’ve never been a lover of fish but to see all the types of colourful fishies going about their business was so cool. The only thing you could hear was your own breathing, it was proper peaceful down there so we were taken by surprise when we popped our heads back up and found the sun had disappeared to be replaced by the biggest thunderstorm you’ve ever seen! In Thailand when it rains, it pours! The waves were ten times bigger than when we went down which made climbing up the ladder to the boat in complete scuba gear pretty difficult! It dumped down so much rain on the island but the next day it was like nothing had ever happened. We had our final scuba exam; passed with flying colours; and then went to do two more dives. A few more skills to show and then more exploring of the reefs. By the end of the day we were only 2 open dives away from being qualified. The next morning we were on the boat for 8am and we did 2 dives down to 18m, this is the deepest we were allowed but it felt deep enough! We had to practice emergency ascents and sharing air with the other divers and then when Tim was satisfied we’d met the criteria we were qualified! Now me and Rob can go off and dive wherever and whenever we want… as long as we buy a wetsuit, a tank, a respirator, a mask, fins and a BCD jacket… On second thoughts maybe we’ll take a break from diving for a bit first.
To celebrate our success, me Rob and Mads hired some bikes for the afternoon and went to the otherside of the island. It was like a little slice of paradise, a deserted beach with amazing coral reefs to scuba round and a small bar. The boys climbed up a rock to jump in (I watched from afar) but they ended up disturbing a gulls nest and got repeatedly attacked whilst they climbed up! After we’d soaked up the rays, and accidentally burnt our backs face down snorkeling for a full afternoon, we drove to the highest point of the island. It was an amazing view of the whole island, Koh Tao really is beautiful. We finished the day off with a good hearty burger and a few rounds of cards with our new Norwegian friend Mads. Tomorrow we head to Phuket, it’s time to run a marathon!