Published: December 5th 2011December 4th 2011
I have landed myself for a month (at least) on the tropical paradise of an island in Thailand called Koh Tao. I came to do some diving and as one thing quickly led to another I ended up doing my Advanced Open Water course, Emergency First Responder, became a certified Rescue Diver and am now in the middle of the Dive Master training (DMT) course. So it looks like I will be an actual certified Dive Master sometime in the near future! Crazy. A year ago I would have said that I would never even consider the idea of going scuba diving because the thought of being that far away from the surface air was just far too freaky for me. Now I will be a certified Dive Master...who would've thought.
The weeks since I arrived here in Koh Tao have gone by in a blur. I do about 10 dives per week and spend most of my other time doing homework or working on other objectives necessary for DMT certification. In the evenings I either go on a night dive or have dinner with my friends while we 'debrief' and share our dive stories and adventures from
the day. On the weekends I usually take a day or two off to catch up on rest, emails, laundry and all the other things that get neglected during my very busy week.
The days are pretty full on, however I am absolutely loving every single second of it. The transition to my new rank of 'DMT' feels comparable to when I temporarily went from backpacker to expat status in Phnom Penh. Being a DMT has instantly made me a part of an entire new group of people who sort of operate outside of and above the backpackers andother diving course students that pass through this area. We DMTs are a relatively tight crew and spend a lot of time together. It's been great for once to not have to make any effort at all to make friends. I could be with people 24/7 if I wanted to because all I have to do is head to the dive resort and it's pretty much guaranteed I'll run into someone who I know who I can chill with should I so choose.
A big part of the DMT program is assisting with the Open Water,
Advanced, Discover Scuba and Rescue Diver courses. Even though we are still only in training, we are introduced to the students as Dive Masters and I find that I am really enjoying being on the teaching and assisting side of the courses. It's an incredible feeling to now be the one teaching others how to do something that initially terrified and overwhelmed me quite a bit. My comfort level with diving has improved exponentially and watching the new and struggling divers is a daily reminder of how far I've actually come with my own skills. I still have a lot to learn, however I have difinitely also made a lot of progress. I'm even learning to navigate underwater, which is impressive for me considering I get lost on land (sometimes even in my own neighbourhood). I've lead 2 dives on my own and both were a success, getting those that I was leading to the appropriate underwater destinations and back to the assent line when they were at the safe limit for remaining air.
Doing the DMT program has already been by far one of the best experiences of my life. I love absolutely everything about it.
I love diving every day, getting to lead others, having a tightly knit community of amazing people around me that are from all over the world, living in a tropical paradise, soaking up the sun every day, getting in better shape from all the physical activity and being challenged each day to step outside of my comfort zone and learn new skills.
I'm living in a simple yet comfortable room in a resort called Prick Thai that is only a few minutes walk from Bans, which is where I'm doing my DMT course. There are about 20 or so other DMTs from Bans staying at Prick Thai which also helps to foster that sense of community that I so appreciate and love. We have BBQ gatherings here and sometimes hang out on the balconies of friends' rooms. The social element of this entire experience has been amazing. Despite a couple Saturday nights out for some drinks and dancing, for the most part I stick to water and head to bed early. Having busy days diving and interacting with friends I find keeps me from seeking out the social scene at night, which has been a nice change
from the usual backpacking scene which revolves almost entirely around the nightlife.
In short, I am loving life and happier than I've been in a long time. Although this entire trip has been incredible, I think this DMT experience takes the top spot for bringing non-stop fun and an overall feeling of being content with my life. I even have a really cool video of when I did my Rescue Diver course that I have watched over and over because it always makes me smile. On two of my dives I actually saw and swam with a whale shark which is also captured in the video. It was an experience that was so incredible that I think it is actually beyond description. The first whaleshark I saw was enormous and I got to swim around with it for about 20 minutes. It was so close that I could have touched it if I wanted to. It was amazing, surreal, and something that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.
Check out the video at www.vimeo.com/freedommediatv/thewhaleshark
-the pass word is 'whaleshark'.
Alright...back to DMT duties for me!
There are more photos below