Swimming in a Monsoon

Current Location: Koh Tao, Thailand

It’s was quite an adventure making it to Koh Tao after being in Chiang Mai.  It took me two bus rides, each about 12 hours a piece, and 2 more boat rides to make it here.  The first bus ride straight after the Loy Krathon festival got me to Bangkok where I was supposed to catch a connecting bus to Surathani where I would connect to a boat.  But the taxi driver in Bangkok took me to the wrong bus and I ended up missing the bus and had to waste a day in Bangkok getting things sorted out.  So I ended up on a bus later that night and it was another over night spent on a bus making it to Champon to catch yet another bus to Suratani where I could catch a boat to Koh Samui and then Koh Phangan.  They kicked us off the boat at Phangan just saying we had to switch boats.  Little did we know they were asking us for 140 baht more to catch the next boat.  We were all pretty unhappy with this as it’s a common scheme to get more money but what choice did we have as we couldn’t get on the next boat without paying.

The next boat ride from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao ended up being quite an experience.  The waves were estimated at 3meters and the boat rocked, a lot.  By my guess there were over two dozen people sick all over the boat.  I was running around with other passengers who weren’t sick getting bags for people and trying to keep things in order.  Little did I know but even the boat engineer was sick in the back as well.  I had wanted to ride through extreme conditions and this satisfied that, I went through it with no reaction at all.  Wish I could say the same about the rest of the passengers.  After what felt like a precarious 2.5 hr boat ride we finally make it to Koh Tao just in time for a great sunset.

I signed up at Big Blue dive resort for my open water certification where they give accommodation and training for 9000 baht, a little over 300$ us.  My luck has it that the next day as we spend all day in the classroom the weather is amazing.  The next day as we start our practical  exercise the monsoon starts.  The rain falls in walls, not sheets.  Rivers everywhere and thunder and lightning to boot.  Our first open water dives the visibility is just about nil where the normal visibility here on the island is typically about 10-20 meters.  Our second day of diving the weather opened up for us and it is actually a postcard perfect weather day.  The second day of diving we made it down to 19meters (62 feet) and visibility was noticeably better.  Saw loads of fish and had a great day diving.  I took to it quite easily probably thanks to being in and around water a good portion of my life.  Some people had difficulty getting accustomed to taking off their mask and dealing with being underwater.  In the end 2 people in my class quit before finishing, it’s not for everyone.

We finish up with the tests tonight and I’ll be certified as an open diver by SSI (Scuba Schools International.)  I’ll probably hang out on the island for a few more days as the weather is supposed to stay this nice and then take off for somewhere else, just not sure where yet.