So after our sleeper train and catamaran, we arrived in Koh Tao and were greeted at the port by a huge crowd of people. Each person was making some kind of offer: hotel, hostel, tuk tuk, taxi or dive course. It was absolutely mad! We just wanted to get out of there, and fast. We quite by accident jumped into a taxi with some other travellers and turned up at Ban’s Diving Resort, where we negotiated my PADI Open Water Scuba Diving Certification and 4 nights accommodation for less than 200 squids. Pretty damn cheap, especially since the same course in England would be over 400 pounds (using Kyle’s computer and I can’t find the pound sign!!!).
The course would take four days. The first evening was orientation, where we met our instructor, filled out the necessary paperwork and watched the corniest DVD on scuba diving theory for a couple of hours. The DVD was so American and cringey. It said things like:
Did you know scuba divers have the most fun in the world?
Scuba divers make friends from all different cultures!
Granted the DVD is made to be suitable for all ages, but this DVD was embarrassing. It seriously looked like it’d had been made in the 80s!
Day 2 of the course consisted of a very early morning start (7am!) in the swimming pool, where we learnt various skills such as clearing water from our masks and what to do if you run out of air under water. It was all pretty good fun but very tiring – we were in the pool for 5 hours! After that we returned to the classroom for more cringey DVD and a quiz on everything we’d learnt so far. We were going to be doing 2 out of the required 4 open water dives the next day – talk about jumping in at the deep end!
Day 3 – We met early again at 7.30 and got onto the dive boat ready for our first 2 dives. We had to get our tank ready and check that everything was in working order. Our instructor liked to use the acronym ‘Bruce Willis Rules All Films’ to help us remember everything we had to check for.
Bruce (BCD), Willis (Weight Belt), Rules (Releases), All (Air), Films (Final Check.
We each had a buddy and we’d make sure that their vest was inflating/deflating properly, that they were wearing a weight belt (otherwise you just float to the surface), make sure everything was connected properly, check their air was on and that we could both breathe out of the air pieces at the same time. Once we were all ready, we jumped one by one off the boat and into the crystal blue water.
Water pressure increases as you descend deeper so you have to ‘equalise’ to stop your ear rupturing. On the first dive I got to about 7 metres deep and I couldn’t equalise anymore. I was getting a bit panicked and I motioned to my instructor that I had problem with my ears. My instructor tried to help me but it was no use. I had to ascend and return to the boat whilst the others in my class continued with their dive. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to do the first dive, but I was feeling quite congested that day. I decided I’d try and do the second dive of the dive and this time I managed to descend to the sea floor with no problems (maybe nerves got the better of me on the first dive?). Once we got to the sea floor, we had to do put the skills we’d learnt in the pool into action. The instructor came to each person and we had to take our mask off and then clear it of water when we put it back on. We also had to simulate being out of air and having to use a buddy’s spare regulator. We were under water for about 47 minutes and then we ascended to the boat. As I hadn’t done the first dive, the instructor took me on a one to one shore dive, where we dove from the dive boat straight to the beach. It was so much fun!
Day 4 – Last day of the course and the final dives! We met at 7.30 am (again!!) and we went to two dive sites called White Rock and Twin Peaks. We had a cameraman recording us today so we had a little fun under water doing somersaults and pretending we were surfing on our flippers. We swam through little arches and saw barracudas, clown fish, trigger fish and a blue spotted stingray. By the fourth dive I was really enjoying scuba diving, but my ear was hurting a little from all the water pressure.
After completing four open water dives and an exam, I am officially an open water diver! I’d really recommend Ban’s Diving Resort. They were really professional and the course/accommodation were great. Koh Tao is a beautiful island (or ‘iceland’ as I heard some Frenchies saying it).