Diving in Thailand
Live the Diving Dream Contest (Asia Pacific)
Congratulations Oliver Furlow - winner for September 2013!
The Live the Diving Dream Contest is open to anyone who completes the PADI Divemaster course in the PADI Asia Pacific territory from July to December 2013. You simply enter and tell us what you enjoyed about the PADI Divemaster course and gain a chance to win one of six Apple iPads!
Oliver Furlow from Thailand is the latest monthly winner in the PADI ‘Live The Diving Dream’ Contest. Oliver completed his PADI Divemaster training in September with PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre, The Dive Academy in Koh Samui.
Now a PADI Divemaster and the proud owner of an Apple iPad, Oliver’s winning entry in the Live the Diving Dream contest illustrates the spirit of a PADI Divemaster.
“When I was given the opportunity to change my career and my life, I gladly took the plunge and moved to Thailand, where the first step for me was to get qualified as a PADI Divemaster. The staff at The Dive Academy were very helpful before I even arrived, and during the course everyone was on hand to help. I experienced a wide range of dive sites - from the exhilarating and technical, to the beautiful and tranquil.
The course has equipped me well, with lots of very real scenarios and training to prepare me for anything as a professional diver”.
Previous monthly winners in the Live the Diving Dream Contest were Phil Voss from Singapore who entered in July and Ellie Davidson from Exmouth in Western Australia, who was the winner for the month of August.
Do you have what it takes to be a PADI Divemaster? There’s still time to enter the Live the Diving Dream contest. Simply complete the PADI Divemaster course from July to December 2013 in the PADI Asia Pacific territory – then tell us what you enjoyed about it – for your chance to win an Apple iPad!
Monthly prizes of an Apple iPad will be awarded through to the end of 2013.
Refer to the full Terms & Conditions at padi.com/livethedivingdream.
Visit padi.com/livethedivingdream for further information and start to ‘Live the Diving Dream’ in 2013.
Diving in Thailand
Pop Idol becomes PADI Diver
One of the UK’s most promising young musical talents recently visited Koh Tao, in Thailand. Alex Stevens, one third of the Kent based band ‘The Intermission Project’ completed the PADI Open Water course at Crystal Dive Resort - a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort and Career Development Center - along with his sister Jordan, under the watchful eye of PADI IDC Staff Instructor Samantha Mack Johnston. Alex, whose father is a PADI Instructor, was hooked immediately and on completion of the 4 day course, vowed to return to Crystal to continue his scuba diving education all the way through to PADI Divemaster. However,upon returning to the UK Alex and ‘The Intermission Project’ put in some hardwork in the studio and released their debut EP ‘ Sorry’ last week.
The ‘Intermission Project’ comprises three friends from Kent. Alex, along with fellowsinger/ songwriter Jim Rubaduka plays guitar and the third member Charlie Campbell plays drums. Formed in 2011, 'The Intermission Project’ already have quite a following in the UK and played at the ‘Green Man’ festival in August, as well as taking part in a YHA sponsored road trip where the boys played at YHA hostels across the UK. Among their fans is celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver who has featured their track on one of his videos.
A review of their new ‘EP” was posted online last week by ‘the CD critic’ http://thecdcritic.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/sorry-ep-the-intermission-project/
And you can listen to the EP by visiting http://theintermissionproject.bandcamp.com/
Matt Bolton, PADI Course Director at Crystal Dive Resort says, “Everyone at Crystal wishes Alex great success with his fledgling musical career and hopes one day he can take an ‘Intermission from his Project’ and return to achieve his goal of becoming a PADI Divemaster….what better way to get some inspiration for his music than sitting on Koh Tao and blowing bubbles all day!”
Diving in Thailand
Bumrungrad Hospital chooses Emergency First Response
Bumrungrad International located in centre of Bangkok has been described as the best hospital in Thailand.
For years Catherine Harsono, Senior Manager of Expat Marketing at Bumrungrad had received requests for an English language certified CPR class but was unable to provide one until Laurie Colyer came along 4 years ago.
After researching other programs, Catherine and Laurie found the Emergency First Response (EFR) curriculum to be the best with a highstandard of quality that offered an internationally recognised certification.
Laurie was certified as an EFR Instructor to begin with and in the first year, taught a total of 14 Emergency First Response Adult and Child CPR and First Aid classes to both public and private corporate companies. Recognising a huge demand, Catherine then also became certified as an Instructor.
Last year Catherine and Laurie saw the need to certify more instructors to relieve teaching duties. Laurie then became an EFR Instructor Trainer and by the end of 2012, had certified an additional 4 EFR Instructors. To date they have taught over 30 classes.
With the EFR courses going from strength to strength, often students have to join a wait list, as there is a limit of 12 people per class to enable each student to receive the attention they deserve.
Classes are promoted through monthly e-newsletters, their email database and at main Bumrungrad Hospital events with students mainly consisting of teachers from international schools, company employees and Mums and Dads with young children.
For more informationvisit: www.bumrungrad.com
Diving in Thailand
Malene Jensen, PADI Master Instructor and General Manager at KON-TIKI Krabi in Thailand, describes her inspirational day - diving The Phi Phi Islands
One whole family inspired by the sea!
Recently I realised I might have one of the best jobs in the world - sitting onboard Kon-Tiki Krabi’s ‘Petchmanee 10’ on the way back from a beautiful day at sea, surrounded by smiles on the faces of new divers and snorkelers!
You ask yourself… how often does one get the chance to dive with 3 different generations from one and the same family - who love the sea, marine life and everything in between.
Early one morning we set out for the famous Phi Phi Islands together with our guests on ‘Petchmanee’.
Once the PADI Discover Scuba Diving paper work is filled out, we get started with different briefings. Some are snorkeling, some are diving for the first time and some are old timers with 3 digit numbers in their log books. However, all have the same passion for marine life and it’s great to share this. With all PADI briefings done, questions answered and equipment assembled – it’s time to get in the water.
After skills are practiced and divers feel comfortable, it’s time to venture deeper to see what we can find and within minutes the inhabitants of the sea bid us welcome.
Banded Sea Snake is spotted. In search of food between the corals - the famous clown fish is trying to chase us away from its home in the anemone and schools of snapper are circling around us.
Seeing the eyes growing to tea cup size on a 10-year old boy when he realises he’s looking at something as rare and incredible as a Tiger tail seahorse - is just fantastic. And feeling the excitement of a man in his 70’s who’s experienced many things - yet is still amazed by marine life and how it lives in a great eco system - makes you look forward to that time in your life.
Observing the confident diver in the prime of his life, gliding through the water like a fish and smiling through his mask when he spots his son and father in the water. Well, that just makes one PADI Instructor extremely happy. It is just priceless!!
The best part is that the whole family share this together with grandmother on the boat keeping a close eye on her precious family. Mom and daughter have learnt how to snorkel for the first time and were fortunate enough to see a baby Black Tip Reef Shark and lots of interesting marine life.
Time flies on the way home. While we fill out the log books, some give in and take a nap – as after a day with so many new experiences - it can be hard to keep one’s eyes open…
The photos displayed in this article are courtesy of Dorte Jensen.
Kon-Tiki Krabi Co., Ltd. Tel: +66 (0)75 637 826, Fax: +66 (0)75 637 676 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website: www.kontiki-thailand.com
Diving in Thailand
PADI Asia Pacific would like to share a fantastic story - introducing PADI Instructor, Miss Reema Aseeri..
During September, PADI Instructor Miss Reema Aseeri became the very first female PADI Instructor to be certified from Bahrain in the Middle East! She was certified in Phuket, Thailand at PADI Career Development Centre, Sea Fun Divers.
Reema shared her story with PADI Regional Manager, Tony Andrews.
When you did you start diving and why?
I started diving in 2006. Since I was a kid, my father always involved us in sea activities, the sea was the main entertainment for us and so I developed the passion for the underwater world.
Where did you learn to dive?
I first started diving in Australia, where I got my PADI Open Water Diver Certificate and then continued my diving education back home in Bahrain.
Why choose PADI?
After a careful review of all diving organisations, I chose PADI - because to me - it was the most professional and I noticed its diving courses are well designed for recreational divers. It made diving look interesting and enjoyable.
Why choose Thailand, Phuket?
I have heard a lot about diving in Thailand and how great it is and my fellow divers back home recommended it strongly.
Why did you become a PADI Divemaster?
I didn't want to stop at being a PADI Rescue Diver only. My parents, my husband - along with my Instructor and mentor Salman Bushehri - encouraged me to progress further and helped me get to where I am today.
Why did you become a PADI Pro?
Diving is so much fun and a life changing experience, I want to be able to spread the knowledge and enable people to see the underwater world, appreciate it, and enjoy it.
What was your favourite PADI course?
The PADI Open Water Course, the thrill of taking the first breath underwater is just priceless.
Will you teach PADI courses in Bahrain?
Yes, firstly I'm looking forward to enabling more Bahraini women and also men to dive.
What is your main goal in diving?
To learn more about the underwater world and appreciate aquatic life.
Anything to say about your PADI Course Director?
PADI Course Director Bent Posejpal is an amazing CD, I don't think it would have been the same if it wasn't for him, he made the course so interesting, fun and yet serious all at the same time. He has really trained us to be the best there is. A ‘Big Thanks’ goes to him.
Diving in Thailand
GO ECO PHUKET EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
On Sunday 30th September 2012 the world’s largest Dive Against Debris event took place in Phuket, Thailand, in support of Project AWARE’s Debris Month of Action. Go Eco Phuket saw over 650 divers and volunteers unite to help make a positive difference to the underwater environment. Supported by the Thai Government, PADI Dive Shops, PADI Professionals, PADI divers as well as a vast range of volunteers, Go Eco Phuket was officially launched by Raywat Areerob, a member of the Thai Parliament.
The day itself began with 14 vessels, which were generously donated, setting off from Chalong Pier to kick off the Dive Against Debris action. What happened next highlighted the size and significance of the event. The 14 vessels were firstly joined by the Royal Thai Navy who supported the logistical efforts by supplying three war ships, Navy Seals, rescue divers and air support whilst divers safely removed the trash from our reefs! Before long, even local fishing boats changed course to help out and remove debris.
At the end of the underwater cleanup, an incredible 15 TONS of debris was removed! An amazing effort by anyone’s standard! The media also covered the event to raise awareness of the importance of caring for the environment as well highlighting the great work divers undertake as part of Dive Against Debris surveys worldwide. After the event, all the divers and volunteers enjoyed the ‘after party’ where the famous Thai band ‘Job To Do’, kept the masses entertained long into the night.
Tony Andrews, PADI Regional Manager, did an amazing job, organising and assembling the dive community for this significant event. The day would not have been a success without the support of Miss Kerry Leach and Mr Tee, whose efforts were recognized live on stage as they received special Project AWARE awards.
A special thanks must also go to the following PADI Dive Shops; Kamala Dive Centre, Jolly Roger, Sea Fun Divers, Scuba Cat Diving, Dive Asia, Kon-Tiki, Joy Dive, South Siam Divers, Chalong Sea Sport, Khao Lak Scuba Adventures, Thailand Divers, Scandinavian Divers as well as all the other PADI Dive Shops involved. A big thanks must also go to the following organizations and groups; BBAP, Hilton Hotels, Laguna Hotels, Skal, Ferang Food Paradise, Phuket Gazette, Phuket 91.5FM, Rumble Fish Adventures, Davinci, Reef Check, Molly Malone’s, Phuket Art, Phuket Beer, Chang, Kata Group, Ric “N” Roll Adventures, Legend of Sound, and Job To Do.
Without a doubt the biggest thanks must go to the 650 plus divers and volunteers that took part in the Phuket Dive Against Debris event! The underwater environment is now cleansed of 15 TONS of debris, not to mention the extra media attention garnered from the event.
Everyone involved is now looking forward to future events!
Diving in Thailand
A GREAT NEW WAY TO DIVE
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Ian Gardner recently completed the PADI Sidemount Diver course with Bans Technical Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand. His positive and interesting review follows…
When I first heard of sidemount I can honestly say now, that I had some misconceptions. I thought the entire philosophy was purely for the serious cave enthusiast. Turns out I was wrong.
On the sunny tropical island of Koh Tao, I met with Craig Werger, PADI Sidemount Instructor from Ban's Technical Diving, to undertake my course. In literally the first sentence Craig dispelled my fears and took me on the first step of learning a great new way to dive.
I undertook the PADI Recreational Sidemount Diver course. This course is aimed at people who want to have a longer dive, without the hassle of a twin set and of course with that all- important aspect of improved trim. Under Craig's careful instruction I learnt initially the theoretical aspects and was, very soon after, adjusting and setting up my own razor side mount system to ensure correct fitting and the knowledge of how to don and doff, what can be a weird looking bit of gear. And then into the water…
Underwater all I could think was - Wow! The cylinder placement, the trim and overall comfort of the sidemount system was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Craig quickly had us undertaking our skills for our confined water session to ensure we had mastered all that he demonstrated. At times this can be a frustrating experience with such a different configuration, especially when your instructor can break down such skills so that it looks simple and effortless. Of course I managed to look like a complete Gumby, but with Craig's guidance and patience, I could feel myself improve with every move and my confidence grew.
The following days saw the completion of four training dives. With each dive I fell that little bit more in love with the sidemount system. One of the things that really impressed me was that for all our training dives we ensured that we took our team diving ethos into the water. This was a fantastic experience for me, as I learnt the importance of working together to achieve our objective. The result is a significant shift in the way I see myself diving with my buddy in the future.
As part of the sidemount diver course, Craig put a lot of emphasis on improving our buoyancy control. We were taught various different kicks such as the back kick, side kick and helicopter. This was used to control our buoyancy to "almost" perfection. What I previously thought I knew about control, trim and buoyancy has been completely changed thanks to the PADI Sidemount Diver course. I cannot recommend this course more highly, or for that matter my instructor.
Thanks to Craig and the team at Ban's for making it happen.
IDC Staff Instructor
Tec Rec Deep Instructor
PADI Recreational Sidemount Diver
Ban's Diving Resort, Haad Sairee, Koh Tao, Surat Thani 84360 THAILAND
Tel. +66 (0) 7745-6466 Fax. +66 (0) 7745-6057 Email email@example.com or visit their website www.bansdivingresort.com
Diving in Thailand
SAIL ROCK DIVERS (Koh Phangan) receive PADI Award
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO DIVER EDUCATION
PADI is pleased to have recognised Sail Rock Divers (Koh Phangan, Thailand) with an award for “OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO DIVER EDUCATION” in 2012.
PADI Asia Pacific Directors Mark Spiers and Danny Dwyer were proud to present this award to the owner and management team of Sail Rock Divers; Nui, Alex, Rachel and David.
In a short period of time this team of highly qualified PADI Instructors have transformed their facility into a 5 Star Instructor Development Centre, boasting a multi-classroom complex, swimming pool, accommodation and dedicated dive boats.
Sail Rock Divers continue to demonstrate that they are a PADI facility built on a foundation of diver safety and quality education. Fellow PADI Members and student divers have repeatedly given positive feedback about the training offered at this dive centre. When you sign up to dive with Sail Rock Divers you are welcomed with small groups, attention to detail and superior customer service.
Alex Arnold, PADI Master Instructor writes, “We would like to thank every member of staff both past and present for making this award possible. Great team and great friends, we feel very honoured to know each and every one of you”.
Again, PADI would like to applaud Sail Rock Divers (Koh Phangan) for your dedication to quality diver education!
Diving in Thailand
RACHA YAI ISLAND, THAILAND BENEFITS FROM SHANGHAI STUDENTS REEF STUDY
June 2012 marked the 5th year of a five-year longitudinal study of the reefs near Phuket, Thailand by students at Concordia International School in Shanghai, China, led by Mr. Terry Umphenour.
Each year Concordia students are offered the opportunity to join an ongoing Marine Ecology program at the end of the school year. They learn how to scuba dive with the PADI Open Water course and then continue onto the Advanced Open Water course. They then move onto Reef Check. Reef Check works to create partnerships among community volunteers, government agencies, businesses, universities and other non-profits .
If they are a returning student, they are offered Dive Specialties and PADI Rescue Diver training along with a Reef Check refresher class. Over the past five years, over 50 students have participated in the program with many returning year after year.
The diving coursework begins 6-8 months prior to the actual study with theory and pool sessions during the evenings and weekends in Shanghai. Students must finance the courses themselves - they are offered approximately once every week by Joel Klammer and Paul Adams, PADI and Reef Check instructors.
Once the trip starts, students are reminded of the importance of their work to collect valuable information on the marine ecosystem around Racha Yai, a small island frequented by tourists off the coast of Phuket.
The students witnessed firsthand the coral bleaching event in 2010 and also the continued decline of the reefs in the area. This year they saw a great recovery of the hard corals but also the impacts of careless practices by boats in the area. The students witnessed anchor damage on their marked permanent transect line as a speedboat carrying snorkelers dropped its anchor on the line while the students were taking data!
Concordia students collected 12 surveys over two days at depths of three and six meters. Most dives were up to 90 minutes in length as the students carefully, but thoroughly, preformed the surveys during early morning, midday, and afternoon.
Concordia made a commitment in 2008 to the reef at Racha Yai for five years.
This year marked the final year for the particular site but not the end of the program. Continued efforts are underway to identify a new area in SE Asia to continue the study by students.
For further details contact Joel Klammer <Joel.Klammer@concordiashanghai.org> or
Paul Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you would like more information.
Students work to collect valuable information on the marine ecosystem around Racha Yai, off the coast of Phuket.
PADI Asia Pacific and Project AWARE were delighted to recognise the Concordia Group for their help in monitoring and collecting information from Phuket’s reefs over the past 5 years.
Diving in Thailand
An enlightening insight of what it means to be a PADI Instructor, Trainer and mentor in the diving industry, through the eyes of Darius Moazzami, Platinum Course Director, Crystal Dive Resort, Koh Tao.
Reflections from a PADI Course Director
As another PADI Instructor Development Course winds down I find myself with time to reflect about the path that I've chosen and the amazing journey ahead for my newly certified PADI Instructors.
Having been a PADI Instructor for 13 years and a Course Director for the last 8, I still remember teaching my first courses and can almost still feel the nervous energy, anticipation and astonishing sense of responsibility that my new trainees are sure to face in the coming months. As much as my colleagues and I put into our Instructor programs, we realise that the real education of a new Instructor has only just begun.
For many, the challenge of creating their own path in this industry will result in a long-term career filled with an array of experiences that may be unmatched in the professional world. For some, becoming a PADI Instructor is a personal success that will always define them as people who embrace challenges. Others still, may find this new role as a temporary diversion from life's greater adventures. But for all, the time that they have spent in achieving the rating and the work they do in the industry will enrich their lives and teach them skills that will forever be utilised.
At times, my journey as a PADI Instructor has been defined by each of these motivations. Eventually, I came to the realisation that there are few jobs which can bring a combination of the satisfaction, adventure and lifestyle that I enjoy in the dive industry.
Through diving, I have been introduced to some of the most interesting and entertaining people and places the world has to offer. Aside from my family, nearly all of the relationships that I value the most have been conceived along my path as a PADI Instructor. I feel fortunate and a little bewildered to consider the many ways in which I have become close to people of such hugely diverse backgrounds, from the farthest reaches of the planet. And I am grateful for the connections.
As most of us have come to realize, the underwater world is a spectacular place and the protection of it is a unifying force for the dive industry. Regardless of our motivations, we all have a shared sense of responsibility to safeguard its wonders. The threats to our seas are huge, and so must be our resolve to educate and awaken people to its beauty. The importance of PADI Instructors in this process is immeasurable. And only through our success can we continue in one of the most gratifying and fascinating jobs imaginable.
Diving in Thailand - Divemaster Exchange Program
Thailand is known for providing outstanding PADI Divemaster Training (DMT) programs. The country offers fantastic diving conditions, incredible dive instruction and a unique culture to immerse yourself in. When you complete your DMT here, not only will you receive the most recognized dive professional rating in the world - PADI Divemaster - you will most likely change your life forever! Arguably, the only challenge with this program in Thailand is deciding where to do it because of the number of excellent dive centres to choose from.
Recently PADI Region 26, and two PADI 5 Star CDCs Crystal Dive Resort www.crystaldive.com (Koh Tao) and Scuba Cat www.scubacat.com (Phuket) came together to tackle this challenge by offering the first ever PADI Divemaster Exchange program. Each dive shop selected a DMT to swap lives for a week, allowing these students to experience diving on both sides of Thailand. They excitedly packed their dive gear and boarded their respective flights, set to experience the opposite side of the country and its underwater wonders. Along with assisting, guiding, socializing and learning about different shop logistics, both Richard Catt and Emma Van Burk shared their seven day experience on www.facebook.com/PADIRegion26.
Emma Van Burk writes…
“The general experience provided by the exchange program was one that increased my passion for diving, enjoyment of the DMT program and desire to complete IDC ten fold. I would personally recommend all DMTs to complete the same if not similar program as part of their Dive Master training. It gave me more insight into how dive centers are run, how open water programs can be presented, the management of staff and the options available for fun diving. This new information has allowed me to make a more educated decision towards furthering my career in both diving and with PADI....”
“The support provided by both dive centers during this program was second to none. Sarah Kench made an exceptional effort in including me in all aspects of her business and provided the experience of a life time. The highlight of the trip was by far the live aboard trip but the time spent working on land in the shop and assisting instructors was both rewarding and enjoyable. Sarah was hospitable, friendly, professional and supportive in a way that made me feel like I was a permanent part of her team not just a passing through guest. She allowed me to have an experience at Scuba Cat that showed the real side of her business not just a snapshot of the "good things". By giving me this kind of experience I felt that the program provided all the right kind of information for a DMT who is looking for guidance in where to go with their diving career…”
“In comparison I found the two dive centers to be very different. The infamous Thai phrase same same but different could not be more appropriately used than in describing Crystal and Scuba Cat. Both businesses are run to high standard, with well trained staff and exceptional facilities. However, the atmosphere and the general set up sets them apart. Having only ever trained and dived at Koh Tao I was naive as to the variety of centre set ups. By doing this exchange so early on in my career I feel like I have widened my perception on working in the dive industry before I become stuck in a single mindset towards one dive school and it's systems.”
Richard Catt writes…
“Starting my PADI Divemaster Course in England and finishing it off in Thailand has been a great experience. It was good to see how two PADI 5 star CDC centres work especially comparing them to my dive shop back in England, along with many other others places I have dived. Being part of the staff I was able to really see how they run. Thailand has really opened my eyes regarding the professional training supplied and received from both Scuba Cat and Crystal Resort. Both centres have passion and professionalism for scuba diving and PADI. Along with excellent facilities and accommodation, it really has been one of the best experiences of my life…”
“Being able to see both sides of this country and the diving/training these centres have to offer is truly incredible. Anybody thinking of doing this program should sign up straight away. I think doing this exchange… will make me a better PADI DM/Instructor…”
“Best trip I have ever done, do not know how I will beat it. Still smiling when I think about all the things I was able to achieve.”
To celebrate the success of these two Divemaster candidates, PADI Regional Mangers of Thailand Tony Andrews and Tim Hunt, along with dive center Mangers Matt Boulton (Crystal Dive) and Sarah Kench (Scuba Cat), enjoyed a graduation dinner with the two new PADI Pros. Congratulations and thank you to all who participated! For any further information on how you can get involved in the next DM Exchange, do not hesitate to contact your Regional Manager.
Diving in Thailand
An avid traveler - journalist Christine Ka’aloa recently achieved a PADI Open Water Diver certification in Koh Tao, Thailand. Christine describes her new experiences in the article below.
Getting a PADI Certification in Thailand - Christine Ka'aloa.
Word on the street is that you’ll get the best scuba diving deals in Southeast Asia. I was on Bangkok’s Khao San Road, bouncing through agents, searching for a dive package to kick off a birthday I’d be spending on the road. It was my first birthday by myself. Ugh. Wasn’t sure if I could handle it. But after two hours of price tag shopping, my four-day PADI Open Water Diver certification was booked.
What did my package include? Transportation to the island of Koh Tao, a four-night resort stay at Sairee’s Coral Grand Resort - a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort - and four days of PADI certified diver training.
Koh Tao has become a renowned spot for travelers and locals interested in scuba diving and snorkeling. Located three hours off the south eastern coast of Thailand, the island is quite small. There are only two main towns, connected by a strip of road lining the island’s western shoulder. Mae Haad is the capital port town to arrive into and is stocked with everything you’ll need. A 15 minute motorbike drive north and you’ll find Sairee, a welcoming sister town with a chill vibe, cozy nightlife, chic shops and beachside resorts and restaurant bars.
PADI diving certification is the hub to meeting international travelers
Day One: After checking into my room, it was 2pm and time to meet my PADI group at Coral Grand Divers dive center, for an in-class video orientation. Like a U.N. factory for divers, the center buzzes with various training groups, led by a crew of instructors, heralding from countries across the globe. Manuals are in most major languages and if you don’t speak English, the center will try to match you with a dive instructor in your language, if one is available.
Day Two: “The Ocean is a foreign environment… You may start off feeling odd and scared by it, but it’s something you’ll learn to adapt to,” said our Irish instructor, Kevin, reassuringly. From solo traveling as a woman to living abroad, I’ve experienced many types of “foreign”. I’ve always adapted with enthusiasm. But cities, countries and cultures have limits. Could I adapt to being submerged below sea level, surviving from an oxygen tank, in an endless ocean? Fortunately, today lessons are in the pool. We familiarise ourselves with the scuba gear, take a 15 minute treading water test and learn how to deal with underwater emergencies, like recovering our mouthpiece, clearing our mask of water, communicating with hand signals and helping a buddy in trouble.
Day Three: Driven to the port in Mae Haad, we board a boat, which takes us to two of the twelve dive sites surrounding Koh Tao. Diving goal: Two dives at 12 meters! If you’ve ever had dreams of swimming through watery worlds and breathing underwater, then diving lets you experience this dream in reality.
Submerged, all the sea is tranquil, silent, mysterious and awakened… like a slow-motion dream or fairytale.
The ocean bed is a swaying desert. Coral reef towers stand like bejeweled sea palaces, harboring brightly colored sea anemone, eels, fishes and enigmatic sea life within. At one point, Kevin points towards an opening in a cave and signals “Shooter!” Alas, it’s the infamous triggerfish, we must take caution not to antagonise.
Day Four: Diving goal: 18 meters! I begin to get the swing of controlling my breath in deep waters and play with improving my hovering skills. Hovering is the ability to control your depth using your equipment and the amount of air in your lungs. Taking air into your lungs causes you to rise; while breathing out helps descent. After our adventure dive, we move dive locations to run emergency drills from a kneeling point on the ocean floor. Being our last day, the drills are more fun. A videographer is there to shoot us doing crazy things underwater, like handstands, somersaults, blowing smoke ring bubbles and dancing with a pair of sunglasses.
I am a graduated and certified PADI Open Water diver. I did it! After experiencing the mysteries of the sea and breathing underwater, I’m a huge fan of scuba diving! My first birthday alone, getting my PADI Open Water certification abroad was an enormous success… a dream come true!
Christine Ka’aloa is a solo traveler who pens her adventures on Grrrl Traveler, a blog on solo travel and finding one’s GRRR in travel survival.