Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Koh Tao Diving

Koh Tao Diving Course

Wednesday 04/06 - Saturday 07/06

After arriving on the night bus in Surat Thani we boarded the ferry to the island of Koh Tao. We booked our Open Water PADI diving course through Buddha View Divers who also provided accommodation at the diving school at the Buddha View Dive Resort. The course was four day and we decided to stay an extra two days in order to soak up the island.

DAY 1:

We started off with an introductory video which was extremely cheesy and as we were exhausted from our 17 hour journey, we not sure how much actually penetrated our brains.

DAY 2:

We met our Aussie instructor, James, who went through the basics of our diving equipment in the morning classroom session. We also met our fellow classmates: Ciaran (the fearless and crazy Irishman), August (the super cool and relaxed Dutch boy) and Jesse (the inquisitive English lad).

Once class was done, we finally hit the pool for the afternoon practical, beginner session. First on the agenda was to prove that we could swim at least five lengths of the pool (something the Irish apparently battle with), floating (with the Dutch are apparently useless at). We are not going to confirm or deny any of these stereotypes...
Next it was to learn to assemble our equipment and hit the pool to acquire various skills (breathing, taking off masks underwater, getting neutrally buoyant and just getting comfortable breathing underwater).

We spent about five hours in the pool and even though the water was a tropical 27 degrees Celsius, Roxy still managed to get 'semi-hyperthermia' and a serious case of granny fingers!!

DAY 3:

Once again we spent the morning in the classroom discussing some theory and preparing for our first sea dive that afternoon. Our first dive that afternoon at the White Rock dive site. The water was really choppy, as Rox was really nervous, this did not help her stomach! We went 12 m for 48 mins and practised our equalising skills.
The second dive that afternoon was at the Japanese gardens dive site where we went to a depth of 10 m for 42 mins and completed a number of mandatory skill requirements (taking our mask off underwater, running out of air simulation and retrieving a lost air supply)

DAY 4:

Our last day of the course consisted of two sea dives in the morning and our final written exam in the afternoon. 
The first dive was at South-West Pinnacle where we reached our maximum depth as Open Water divers of 18 m for a period of 40 mins. On this dive more advanced skill requirements were achieved (practising running out of air underwater and ascending to the surface in one breath) as well as lots of exploring of the beautiful reef.
Our final dive of the course was back at the White Rock, where we did the last few skills (using an underwater compass for navigation and fine tuning our buoyancy control). But mostly we just had a fun dive where we all tried crazy new things underwater - somersaults, handstands and underwater dancing.

Once back on dry land we completed our multiple choice final exam which involved the group sitting around a table eating and drinking with our open books and picking each other's brains - so chilled. Our group study method obviously worked as we all got close to 100% and could thus officially claim that we were certified Open Water Divers!  

This is what a typical dive routine would entail:

Assembling TEAM GROPER
From Left to Right: Santi (our Argentinian Master Diver in training), Jesse, Roxy, Joy, Ciaran (Moley), August (Guusjan) and James (our amazing Diving Instructor)

Boarding the boat

Assembling and checking our gear

Checking that the mask fits...looking snug!
Getting the pre-dive brief on what fish to expect and the accompanying hand signals thereof.

Ciaran was our signal for the clown fish

Putting on our gear


Diving hand signal that everything is A-okay


Doing the Buddy Check:

B - BCD (buoyancy control device)
W - weight belt
R - regulator
A - air
F - final okay

All sorted!

Taking the plunge into the water

And down we go...

Descending the anchor rope

Remember to equalise every one to two metres nibbling on the rope.

Once down under try not get too distracted by all the fish and stick in your buddy pair

We were lucky enough to be graced by a school of barracuda!

Try not to lose your precious belongings on the bottom of the ocean. Classically, Ciaran almost lost his room key but luckily our hero, James,  was there to retrieve it!

Mask clearing exercises...

Fun free time underwater...

James showing us (especially Jesse) how a perfect backwards somersault is done!

Dancing to the Macarena underwater 

August doing hand stands

Don't forget to take time to observe the beautiful marine life

Moorish Idol Fish

Sea Urchin

Back on the surface - appreciating that we made it out alive and enjoying the ride home

Roxy with her hero

Chilling with our instructors

 Our skillful photographer/videographer, Estelle from France

Enjoying refreshments after the dive and reminiscing about all the good times underwater

The two roses amongst the thorns 

And finally but most importantly - don't forget to go out and celebrate becoming certified!!!!!!

Watching the fire show at the Lotus Beach Bar

The Graduates from TEAM GROPER - buckets for everyone!!!!

Fireworks in the sea

Fire Poi by the locals

Part of the fire show is that the performers come and spin the fire above the tourists' heads!

Watch that beard
Certainly a fiery redhead tonight

Our Last Two Days in Koh Tao

Sunday 08/06 - Tuesday 10/06

Our last night out, we crashed the diving instructors' pool party

After that we headed to The Castle Party - "The Biggest party in Koh Tao"

We found another SA lad - Kobus from Cape Town

Ciaran making friends

End of the night, let's go home; But first...let's take a selfie! Haha! 

The next day we checked out of our budget room and had a few hours to kill before our ferry left for Koh Phangan.

Chilling in the diving reception
Exploring the nearby beach...

Crazy, weird circle around the sun!


Final farewell to Buddha View and our diving in Koh Tao!!!!

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