Koh Tao, Thailand
Day 5-8: Scuba diving – first time breathing under water but drowning in the U.S.
I’m just going to start by saying, Yes. All the yes. Day two of scuba dive training consisted of a bit of classroom work, mostly just fitting our gear and
learning to use it. Then we went in the pool twice for some pool dives. I was so unbelievably nervous the first time we went under water. I wasn’t used to being able to breathe under it. I can hold my breath for like all of….20 seconds. Maybe. I don’t like the uncomfortable-ness of it, so I’ve never been one to venture much further than the surface of the water. This day of fundamentals was life changing, but day three is much more exciting, so let’s venture on.
Day three of scuba diving was epic to say the least. But it didn’t start that way. First, we had class for two hours, and then headed to the boat — no, class wasn’t the bad part. On the boat we each set up our own gear and then had our “buddy” check it. My buddy was Kaitlin. Then it was Bri/Patrick and Rodrigo/Nico. After the set up, we were all to the water, for open water dive 1 of 2.
This is where my nightmare begins
In the water, we back paddled over to the rope that led from the boat to the ocean floor. First thing, Kaitlin was having issues with her regulator (the part of the gear that gives you air.) Once fixed, we ventured further down into the murky abyss. It was a particularly cloudy day, so it was near impossible to see more than 4-5 meters in front of you. Scary.
Once on the ocean floor, our group circled round and began to practice scuba drills, such as how to find your regulator and clear your mask. Everything was going relatively smoothly…until it wasn’t.
A dark shadow appeared above Kaitlin’s head. A man. He was an older man with a bald, wrinkly head… (I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) He went to our instructor and they attempted communication with hand gestures. Our instructor motioned for us to stay in place, while he began to swim away and the man took his place. I was so confused. I thought maybe he was replacing our instructor. But how? We never trained with him! Everyone seemed a bit on edge and confused, and eventually the man swam to the surface. (Btw, we were about 10 meters – or roughly 30ft – underwater.)
Let’s back up two paces.
The confusing strange man appeared, meanwhile, another set of confusion covered me. Rodrigo, a fellow scuba trainee, motioned for me to stay put, as did the instructor. They were pointing to behind me, and with the water so murky, I assumed something scary was behind me. I was about to have a panic attack. I had no clue what was happening. Soon, Rodrigo and Nico surrounded my back, and I felt them tugging on my gear. Apparently my tank had completely disconnected from my back and was floating behind me. WHAT! Once I realized (or thought I realized) what had happened, I instantly thought “Oh my gosh, I lost my tank. I’m going to drown. Wait, how am I still breathing? What is happening??” Luckily the boys were able to reattach it and I’m still alive. Thanks guys 🙂
After that bit of hell and anxiety, we reached the surface and I was okay if I never went back down to the water again. But wait, there’s more!
The dive that changed everything
After a half hour wait, we went on another dive. This one, the complete opposite. We swam most of the time, with the exception of stopping for one drill, and I was able to find my perfect buoyancy. This means I was perfectly suspended in the water. Floating mid water, if you will. We saw eels, large fish, small fish, translucent fish, fish with teeth, all kinds of cool creatures. And at the very end, I kept doing front flips and back flips while we waited to go back up to the surface. I felt like I was in space. Everything was so completely 100% amazing. I didn’t want to ever leave the water.
The end of it all
The next morning we went on our last two open water dives. The water was super clear this time. After the dives, we got massages, grabbed a couple beers and went to take the written exam – yes, our dive instructor encouraged the beers. “It’s a celebration!” he said. Indeed it was.
However, bad news was also afoot. Today the US elected Donald Trump as our president. And while I’m not going to shove my political beliefs on you, I’ll just say that the rest of the world wasn’t too happy about the results. I’ve already gotten so much crap for it from other travelers. Thanks America.
Creating a drinking game
Our last night in Koh Tao and we were finally able to drink! The girls and I went to a bar called The Fishbowl where I made up a bar game. 10/10 I’d recommend it to a friend. Here are the rules.
- Go up to a group of strangers and strike conversation.
- Each sentence must start with a consecutive letter of the alphabet.
- Rotate turns until someone messes up.
- That person drinks and you move on to a new crowd.
Bri - All the bars in Thailand are so fun! Stranger - Yeah they are. Kaitlin - But not as fun as this one! Stranger - You're right, this one is the best. Skye - Can we stay here forever? Stranger - *laughs* Bri - Dang, I wish!
…and so forth. So fun! You should try it.