After spending my first week in Bangkok I took an overnight bus and ferry from Khaosan Road to Koh Tao. The bus headed North and arrived in Chumpon at 4am, where we waited for the ferry to take us the rest of the journey at about 7am.
Arriving in Koh Tao at about 9:30am I found my dive shop (Easy Divers), checked in to my accommodation and collapsed on my bed.
My main aim in Koh Tao was to take my Open Water diving course and become a certified Scuba Diver. I started the course on the first day with some theory and meeting my instructor Craig. The course itself was quite academic with some formulas to learn regarding nitrogen exposure, many techniques to learn and abbreviations to remember.
The next day we took our first introductory “confined water” dive in full scuba gear – basically this is to get familiar with the concept of breathing under water. It was done at the beautiful Nuang Yuang beach in calm water only a meter or two deep.
Some people can struggle with this first step but I was fine with the equipment and breathing below the surface, probably due to snorkeling I have done previously. Zita, my only other classmate, struggled a little bit initially but soon got the hang of it.
The same day we did a deeper dive, against the rules, to about 15 or 20 meters and for me this was the best dive I did all week. I had never seen so many different fish, coloured coral and the waters were perfectly turquoise.
It was a fairly easy first day and after watching some videos, quizzes etc. I got some dinner and headed back for an early night. On the way back I started to feel dizzy and tingly-numb so I had to sit down and rest. Thankfully Zita saved my life – or basically talked to me and told me to man up!
A local doctor sorted me out and said I was probably dehydrated and exhausted from not eating properly, gave me some pills and re-hydration sachets. I had to postpone the course and take a day off after not sleeping which meant I changed instructor and class.
While the instructor was fine he wasn’t anywhere near as fun as Craig, who had been teaching for about 12 months and was originally from the Isle of Man. We got on quite well, he was a good laugh and he didn’t do things by the book which made it more interesting.
During the next dive I had problems with my sinuses – going down under the water increases the pressure (like being on a plane but much stronger) so the air in your ears needs to escape. I used decongestants but I think traces of a cold or perhaps just a natural problem meant it was difficult to “equalise” (basically blow your nose to move the air out).
The rest of the week the diving conditions got worse and I was actually relieved to pass in the end. I didn’t see anywhere near as much as that first dive and I still didn’t feel that well, but the main objective was to pass so that I can scuba dive anywhere in the world.
Koh Tao is a beautiful island and well worth visiting for a holiday with or without scuba diving – check out some pictures of around Koh Tao.
After Koh Tao I headed back to Koh Samui to see friends and spend a couple of weeks in the sun, plan my trip and close up the final work loose ends ready for travelling with Wozza.