Phuket Diving = awesome (delayed entry)

Phuket Travel Blog

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The scuba dive day started early as could be expected for 3 dives. I was picked up at 7:30 AM and we were out at sea by 9:00 AM. Our first dive was at a site called Koh Doc Mai which was essentially a huge limestone island in the middle of the sea. We would swim north along the east side of the rock. It was quite a nice dive as we hugged the cliffside and saw marine life like baby moray eels peeking out of coral and even a sea snake. The biggest surprise was when I spotted a large fish probably about 10 meters to my right about 2/3 of the way through the dive. It was a shark (leopard shark from post dive research) and my eyes almost popped out of my sockets. The thing was probably not quite a meter long, but it sure looked intimidating enough to me. In the end, it paid us no attention and swam along so that was my shark encounter.

The second dive had us travel to a place called King Cruzer or Cruiser. What it actually was, was my first shipwreck dive!!! The King Cruiser was a large passenger and car ferry that sank in the Andaman Sea in 1997. It since became a quite lively artificial reef as well as a fun dive to do physically. We traveled through parts of it, seeing parts of the deck and even a section of toilets. The marine life was quite abundant too as we swam through different schools of fish. Also, we didn't really get to explore through the interior of the wreck, but ducking through some of the overhangs was a thrill as these sections were almost completely in the dark. Finally, to surface, we actually took a drift line up which pretty much meant clinging to an underwater line as the current at around 5 meters was quite strong. Due to the novelty of it, King Cruiser was definitely the neatest dive I have done.

The final dive occurred after lunch at a location called Shark Point. Sad to say, it formally was a good place to see sharks, but parts of the reef had been damaged by careless fishing so we weren't expected to see any there. What we did find at least at our dive entry point were huge fields of pink coral. It was quite bright and pretty to behold. However, I spent most of the dive battling very strong underwater currents that literally would sweep us this way and that. I also got distracted with having some difficulty equalizing the pressure along the left side of my head so it made this the most challenging dive I had to work through. Overall it wasn't bad at least and I got through it unharmed.

One interesting distinction about diving with this larger company (South Siams) over Scuba Shack was that the boat was a lot more comfortable and stocked. The oxygen tanks were more uniformly placed and they had a nicer open air deck and cabin along with more variety of food and drinks. There's a marked difference between the two, but I can appreciate the smaller ship for more personal interaction and a larger ship for more organization and easier planning for major dives. They even prepared all my equipment ahead of time after I only submitted my basic measurements when I booked the dives through the travel agency.

After getting back from the Patong docks, I made plans to depart Phuket for Malaysia since my visa was going to expire the next day. I'll have to remember that despite adopting a laid back backpacker style, there are definitely times you need to plan ahead. Like during major holidays like Chinese New Years. I had imagined the easiest way to go would be to book a relatively cheap flight from Phuket to Penang, but they were already full. That left me to resort back to bus tickets and I was stuck with a bus leaving at 5:30 AM that would get me to the border town of Betong. So it was a light meal and some late night wandering around before I packed everything up and slept fitfully to make sure I didn't oversleep. My alarm clock had broken sometime before and after one incident in Cambodia, you can't always trust the hotel staff to wake you up on time. At least getting a bit sunburnt during the day kept me from falling asleep too deeply too.

It's a shame I don't have pictures for this day. In the future, I could always take advanced scuba diving lessons and focus on specialties like underwater photography. But for starters, I'll need to think about getting some of my own gear. Starting with a custom made mask with tempered lens so I can actually see better.
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photo by: Aclay01