Perfect end to a perfect week
Koh Tao Travel Blog› entry 84 of 98 › view all entries
I have just had the most amazing week ever. Really.
When I first started my open water diving course I was a bit disappointed by how small my dive group was. I'd heard that the island was a bit cliquey and that you hang out with the people you dive with, and it seemed to me that no one in my group was the party type. I was saved by Irene, one of the girls I'd met in Laos last week, who randomly showed up at Ban's, taking her final exam as I was just starting the course. I met up with her and a few of her Dutch friends in her group both the first and second night, jumping up and down in a sea of excited Dutch football fans before the start of the World Cup final game, fans who weren't quite so excited when they lost by one point at the end of nearly thirty minutes of overtime.
I wasn't there to see the end of the game though. Somewhere in the middle of all the madness I left the bar to grab something from my room and I ran into Poli, my dive instructor. Before I knew it he asked me if I wanted to go dancing and I was being whisked away on the back of his motorcycle. It seemed like from then on, my time not spent on breaks eating with Mike, my dive buddy, was spent with him. I had an absolute blast riding the backroads to slightly more secluded beaches I'd never have found on my own, looking out over the view from his hammok on the hill, and just hanging out and talking. He's got to be one of the most interesting people I've met in a while-wandering the world doing various jobs, including being in the Israeli Seals. It seems the man can do everything from flying a plane to flying off a flying trapeze to free diving 30 m to building his own furniture and even sewing and cooking.
The diving itself was incredible. I'd thought that I might be more stressed breathing under water, but it seems incredibly natural once you're down there. The dives varied in visability, marine life we saw, and skills we practiced. We started our first dives with the more practical safety measures, such as using the buddy breathing system where you signal that you're out of air and your buddy gives you their "octopus," or secondary breathing device.
By the time we got to the advanced open water course, we were practicing slightly more advanced things like navigation (which was using compasses and dive computers and was fairly hard since the visability for that dive was only about a meter), peak performance bouyancy control (where you use not only your BCD or 'bouyancy control device' but your lungs to control your bouyancy-we got to practice at a site called Red Rock where there were plenty of swim through's), etc.
One of my favorite dives was the night dive where we used torches to find fish but also to help the Baracudas hunt by lighting up their prey. We were rewarded when one of them snapped at a fish, consuming half of its body but leaving the severed head to drift to the bottom where it desperately flapped around and gasped its mouth open and closed while blood gushed out of its head. It was pretty gruesome, but kind of cool to see nature at work. The last dive off Koh Tao was probably the best though, with pretty good visability and amazing corals and fish.
That last night everyone from our class went out to dinner together and were joined by two of Jeff's friends. With them there, the table had a whole of four Americans at it, which is a rare sight while traveling. I got funny looks for simply ordering cheese fries, but once again my excitement at finding ranch dressing somewhere other than the States had taken over and I couldn't resist. With grand plans to make it to the mini-golf course later that night, we all headed over to Lotus, a cool bar right on the beach. Jeff and Mike both got fairly drunk and were amusing to watch and we all enjoyed watching the flame throwers who are pretty impressive.
I'd been looking for the perfect ankle bracelet as the one I'd gotten in Vietnam came off during one of the dives, and I found a great one on a table right outside the bar on the beach.
The next morning I headed for the ferry that would take me to Krabi for my flight to Singapore.
Good-bye Thailand; I'll be back again :)