One of the things I had always dreamed about – becoming a qualified Scuba Diver, was about to come true. A ferry ride from Bangrak Pier, Koh Samui to Koh Tao, saw us collected by the Simple Life Divers crew as well as another reunion with my friend Emma. It seemed like there were many good dive schools available, however these guys were efficient in their email replies, and located on Sairee Beach (a great place to be). They took us back to the Dive School so we could ‘dive’ into the paperwork, and after a muck-up with the bookings we were shown to our rooms at Tommy’s (non) Resort. Emma and I shared, whilst Cam and Summer were next door – and I don’t know if the standards of a “Resort” could get any worse, unless it was a self-proclaimed statement in the first place.
Cam and Summer both spent a lot of the next few days being sick, and consequently (but not unwelcomely) spent a lot of time at the poolside, one perk (the only perk) of Tommy’s Resort. Meanwhile Emma and I spent a lot of time holed up in a classroom with our two Aussie instructors (Baden and Nick), some over-concerned Canadians “whose lives were on the line”, two Brits, Hayley and Sam (whom we ended up spending quite a bit of time with) and a few others – making for a diverse and interesting group. When we weren’t at dive school we could always be found either at the beach, or at In Touch – a beach-side cafe, restaurant and bar that had a balcony on the sand, fantastic wi-fi and the most extensive menu one could wish for. As I googled it, I also discovered that it is actually a resort – wouldn’t be a bad place to stay, and it couldn’t be a more central location!
The course itself was comprised of two mornings in the class room, one afternoon in the pool, and three dives out at sea. I quickly realised that I was simultaneously fascinated and (unexpectedly) petrified by the underwater world. Our underwater exercises in the pool taught me the dangers of the sport, and for me, it became a huge mental game of remaining calm and just breathing slowly. It was so frustrating. I hated the thought of my oxygen intake being limited to what came through a tube, and I was continually in fear that I would not be able to get enough. Practice makes perfect I guess, and the longer I spent underwater the easier it became. It only took seconds of being underwater in the actual ocean for me to become mesmerized – what you see on TV about the existence and serenity of the underwater world couldn’t be more true. The feeling was surreal.
Our first dive was at Buddha Rock, and our second dive was scheduled for Sairee Beach, however the weather packed in, and not long after we also had to call it quits due to a lack of visibility. This wasn’t a bad thing; we were all shattered, despite the seemingly endless supply of sweet and savoury biscuits on the boat. On our third and final morning we arose before the sun, and managed to dive down to 17.6m at White Rock. We then had another attempt at Sairee Beach, where we got to visit the ‘Junkyard’, an underwater playground with gym equipment, a piano, and old tables and chairs. I was so relieved to have completed the course, and while I loved the experience I was unsure when/whether I would attempt it again. The school itself was incredible, I’d recommend it to anyone in a flash. [Insert Koh Phi Phi – where I would become addicted to diving]
Ferries run twice a day to both Kohphangan and Koh Samui. We opted to ferry back to Koh Samui for another night at the Buddha Lounge (and to pay our last visit to Rob’s Bar) and then fly from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai. It is also possible to ferry/train/bus – but we wanted to save on travel time.