Published: December 14th 2006December 14th 2006
Mountain Top View
I dont think this picture actually captures the amazing view and atmosphere sitting up on that veranda on the top of a mountain...but here it is anyway.
We arrived in the very tiny but very beautiful island of Koh Tao after an overnight bus journey and an early morning High speed Catamaran. Aparantly the Catamaran is the best method of sea travel but still we both felt pretty sick. We had pre booked our accomodation with Michael's Scuba Diving course. On arriving we experienced our first terential rain, it rained here a lot but luckily we the weather was good for most of the time.
Michael started his diving the afternoon we got there and would be studying for the next four days. (two whole days in a class room watching videos and learning!) I will let him tell you all about diving.
Meanwhile.... In the tiny island which was heavily focussed on diving I would have to entertain myself. On one day I walked up a very steep hill to the top of the mountain and found a mountain top cafe where I quenched my thirst with a nice western Coca Cola and sat around on a little hand made veranda jutting out of the mountain side to take in the amazing view. Another day I walked the entire stretch of the West coast
Siaree Beach - Koh Tao
My day walking along the West coast of Koh Tao.
of the island...since it is a tiny island this only took me a couple of hours at a very slow meandering pace whilst regularly stopping to take pictures. The other days I just sat around in cafes drinking my new favourite drink...Banana Milkshakes. They sound really healthy but they are actually full of sugar and syrup! No wonder they taste so good!
In the evenings we ate good Thai curries to which I am becoming accustomed to the spicyness. We met some great people, a lot of whom Michael met through his diving course. We also played a lot of pool and seemed to make frinds with the islands dogs! We saw a really cute dog who had a dislocated thigh, a bleeding bum and who was the most skinny dog we had ever seen. Dispite all this he was still making the most of life! He won my heart over and we bought him some sausages. After this he followed us everywhere...our new faithful friend! Somehow we ended up with him and another dog sleeping on our porch! This would have been fine but we were kept awake with yelping, scratching and barking. Im sure our neighbours were
Siaree Beach sunset - Koh Tao
I stopped to watch the sun go down. How amazing. I am so lucky.
very happy we had two dogs living on our porch! Over the next two days of being followed by our now two faithful dogs we tried to show them that they couldnt follow us by pushing them away but our small pushes were nothing compared with the way a Thai would treat them. Unless the dog was a curly haired poodle or a lap dog it had no chance with a Thai! On our last day we were followed all the way to the Catamaran by one of the dogs. Me, Michael and our new friend Anna Gomez Perez waved goodbye to the island and the dogs as we began our next journey to Chiang Mai. The Diving experience:
Like going back to school for the first couple of days but when I finally overcame my fears it was an amazing experience. I took a four day PADI open water course at Crystal Dive resort, apparently a 5 star resort but it meant 5 star instructors and about two star rooms. The first two days were spent in the classroom, what fun; learning about equalising, pressure and our equipment, very complex.
It was like school as I kept
Me and Anna Gomez Perez
Anna Gomez Perez - Our new very cool and very funny Spanish friend who lives in China! She was Michael's scuba diving buddy and has come with us to Chiang Mai.
getting told off for talking and distracting our new friend Anna by making up super powers for our diver cartoon, mine had the power to have everyone's power! With the sun beating down everyday and the videos and demonstrations getting more and more same same the first couple of days were tame to say the least, still lots of cocktails in the evening and beautiful Thai food made up for it.
Come day three and it's action stations, by now you know in theory what to do and you've practised under water in the pool, the false air you breath in tastes dry and cold, hardly fills your lungs but it works. In the afternoon we set sail for the Japanese garden, an array of diverse and sophisticated coral only 12 metres below, on my first dive I was fine, descended a metre at a time and equalised all the time. Once down there it was amazing, like a huge tropical fish tank but one you could flip and turn in, take out your air and blow O rings to the top. The coral was fantastic, such a mega city for hundreds of species and the actual coral is
Dog Number 1
Michael with our crippled dog friend! We didn't name him to avoid becoming too attached so he is dog number 1.
so beautiful and alien looking I was more fascinated by this than the schools of fish that were all around.
We came up and I was buzzing, so delighted that we were finally in the water and the long classroom sessions had been worth it. We sat on the boat for another hour or so (to get our nitrogen levels back down) then went in for a second look. This time I was not so confident and when I reached the bottom I started to panic; it was irrational, it was stupid but it happened. I was at the bottom with everyone else and I felt I was short of breath, I kept breathing faster and deeper but still I was short of breath, I wanted out, out of this vast pressurised cage that was stopping me breathing - my instructor grabbed me, told me to breath slowly, relax, look at him and calm down, he was great and I did stop to shake. We went for a swim, it was fine the same kind of fish and coral and then we went to the top. I was relieved and still short of breath we headed back home.
Dog number 2
This dog was not so cute but more loyal than dog number 1. Dog number 2 followed us to the Port to say goodbye as we left on the Catamaran.
A sleepless night on the third night didn't help for a 7am dive to 18 metres at baracuder rock. Every other dive group was there too. We all started to descend down a rope into the blackness, about twenty people below and as many behind I could only see bubbles in front of me from the stream of people below, right that's it I'm out and up I came and this time the instructor couldn't turn me round and I went back on the boat and just sat there gutted. My group got back after about half an hour full of stories of amazing sights, Anna saw a black tip reef shark she was so chuffed. There was one more dive to do to pass the PADI course and I really didn't want to go back down.
Some intellegent and thoughtful words from a cool guy from Belguim pursuaded me to face my fear, if you don't do it now you will never do it again. I got kitted up again and with my feet on the edge of the boat I jumped. Down I went little by little and at the bottom I thought I can do this, I'm confident and the false air pushing in and out of my lungs was better than none. With my instructor Steve helping me all the way I started to relax and we were down there for about an hour, it was fabulous and well worth it, I felt so happy I had taken the plunge again and faced my irrational fear.
Overall it was a great few days and now Im a proper PADI person I can't wait to go elsewhere and do some fun dives!