Published: June 8th 2011April 7th 2011
In the morning we met Kev at the dive club. As we sat in the sun and Andy and Kev swapped stories of what they had been up to in the 10 years since Andy was last there. Simon, who taught Andy to dive turned up a while later and took us to find a hotel. We were expecting our time in Phuket to be quite expensive. We knew food and drink would cost more, there wasn’t much we could do about that. The whole reason we had come to Phuket was for diving so we weren’t going to miss out on that. The only thing we could save money on was the accommodation. We are always on the hunt for bargain accommodation - we hardly spend any time in our room so there is no point in having something flash. The average price we pay for our accommodation is $10 (£6.50) a night. Phuket is one of the top holiday destinations in the world so we thought the chances of finding something in our normal price range were none existent. When we pulled up outside P&T and were told a room would be 350bht (£7) a night we were not
expecting much. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We were shown to a large, clean room with a huge fridge, private bathroom and views of the jungle from the window. At that price we wouldn't have to rush our stay, it was great to finally be somewhere long enough to unpack our bags.
Being in Phuket was like having a holiday from travelling. Rather than spending each day visiting sights and planning our next sightseeing trip we spent our first few days getting up when we wanted, wandering down to the beach, sunbathing and snorkelling. There were so many fish to see just snorkelling off the beach that I couldn't imagine what it would be like when I started diving.
Our days were spent on the beach and our evenings we spent catching up with everyone from the dive club in the bounty bar next door – I hadn't even started diving yet and I already felt like one of the family.
Andy hadn't dived since his last time in Phuket 10 years ago, so it was time for a refresher. It didn't take long for him to remember it all, next it would be my turn
to give it a whirl......
After meeting my instructor Alexia and filling in some paperwork it was time to get into the water for the first time. All the gear felt very strange and heavy to start with, but I was sure I would get used to it. With everything on we had to walk to the sea – this may sound easy but believe me it wasn't. The sand was so hot that we had to run for the shadows just to get some temporary relief. We must have looked a funny sight darting from sun lounger to umbrella and finally making one last dash to the sea.
We swam to our start point and wasted no time in sinking under the water. I'll never forget that first time breathing underwater. It took a moment for my brain to realise that it was ok. We did a few skills then it was time to dive. I was hooked from the start. Gliding over the reef felt just like flying. I've been fascinated by the underwater world since I was a child, so being amongst it all without having to come up for air was fantastic. When we
finished the dive I couldn't wait to get back in again. I grabbed some snorkelling gear and went back in to continue exploring.
Learning to dive isn't all just getting in the water and having fun, there was also some theory work to do. It may sound dull but its essential to make sure you are safe. We had one whole day of theory before I was back in the water again.
On my third day of training Andy came out with us. He had purposely not dived with me so that I got used to it without him and so he wasn't a distraction. We had some more skills to complete such as filling our masks with water and clearing them and recovering our regulators, then we went for another great dive.
We had a short day as it was Songkran. This is the celebration of new year and a great excuse for a party. The celebration involves the throwing of water sometimes mixed with mentholated talk and no one gets off lightly. Water guns are sold from almost everywhere. We managed to pick ourselves up a couple of big ones!
For some people the
celebrations started early. On our way home from the bar the night before two people ran out from a pub with water guns and soaked us – well it was past midnight. The house next to our hotel also started early with music blaring out when we arrived home and when we woke up on Songkran morning they were still partying.
After our dive we walked back to the hotel to drop our rucksack off – if you don’t want something to get wet you have to leave it at home. On our way back we got drenched and I mean totally soaked and covered with white talk from head to toe.
On the walk back to the bar we got a further drenching, although not as bad as some others.... from a 4 story building a group of men had a container which must have been four foot round and three foot deep. When cars got stuck in traffic in front of their building, they dumped the whole lot on them. It really wasn’t the day to be driving around in an open topped Jeep. It was the biggest water fight I have ever seen, with open
back trucks roaming the streets throwing water over everyone, fire engines filling up empty water tubs and anyone that was dry became an instant target.
We had a fantastic day with everyone. Alexia and I chased dry people up the road and hid behind cars to surprise them. Phil won the silliest water gun competition with his backpack in the design of Winnie the Pooh and Andy, well Andy had a little bit if trouble with his water gun. After some heavy usage it found it difficult to hold pressure and water leaked out of the end no matter what he did, he looked a little like a child who had lost the top of his ice cream cone!
The beer was flowing and Alexia even tried filling up a water gun with local whiskey and coke – although the fizz did affect the delivery somewhat. Kev and Chantal cooked an amazing barbecue of chicken and South African boerewors sausage. We had a great day with great company and went to bed very wet and tired.
There are more photos below