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Published: February 3rd 2010
The scary boat
Well the boat trip went a lot better than expected. Far from the oil tanker tugboat hybrid we expected when we heard cargo boat it was a medium sized wooden boat with a huge space setup for sleeping in the middle and then supplies for the island strapped to every other part of the boat. One local even stuck his scooter on the front of the boat.
I managed to sleep with my eyes open and freak a few people out and Emma slept a little bit. I can't help thinking it would've been more if the Norwegian gentleman next to us hadn't told her that he got these all the time and they only sunk/capsized occasionally. He also managed to point out to her that the crew were obviously confident as they were tucking into a nice bottle of whiskey.....
The best thing was arriving in Ko Tao early in the morning so we had the whole day there. After a very weak sales pitch (but then again we are pushovers) we were convinced into going to Bans diving resort where they would give us 4 free nights so long as one of us was doing a diving
course. I was signing up for this open water PADI certificate anyway so this seemed to make sense. Emma also decided to freshen up on her diving and do a review course at some point.
After checking into our free room we finally caved and went to the Bans restaurant and ordered eggs on toast and a fry up - the shame. My lessons started that night with a classroom session. We had 10 people there in the group and me a bloke called Ben paired up as the odd ones out.
I met Emma after this and she poured over the book we had been given to see if it all her diving lessons from 5 years ago came flooding back to her. They did - her memories of the island however were not the same. It had become a lot more commercialized than the last time she was here and despite still having her favourites like Choppers - Aussie bar it was a far sight from what she remembered.
Whilst Emma spent time either dozing in the room or wandering the shops and beachfront I was having my air hose disconnected underwater and simulating running
out of air with the dive class first in a heavily chlorinated pool and then with the real thing out in open water. It soon became apparent in open water that I had a problem. When the Instructor signaled to check how much air we had left and I replied 20 there was a look of panic in her eyes. Turns out everybody else had well over 100. Emma has now decided that she won't be getting into any lifts with me as I will obviously suck up all the air.
I got back and Emma had completed her review course with flying colours and we went out with some of the guys I had been diving with for a celebratory meal. After this and a few beers we all headed back for an early night as I had my final dives the next day. Our beer of choice in Ko Tao was causing me a few headaches - it resembles stella but tastes a lot worse.
The last two dives in open water proved to be the best ones as by now i had more control over my breathing and had stopped flapping like a horse in
water. We went for a dive to 18m and saw things like Moray Eels, Clown fish, Angel fish and much much more. After we got back on the boat we discovered that the next dive spot we were going to had a Whale shark in the area.
As we pulled up we saw a bunch of divers with no gear on swimming on the surface in a large group. Seconds later our instructors were in the water chasing after them screaming Whale shark. We followed suit and managed to get into a position where it was about 2 metres away from us and swimming close to the surface so we could look down with our masks and have a clear view. It was about 3.5 metres long and apparently only a baby. As some of the people there had been diving for years and never seen one this was a fantastic thing to happen on our 2nd day diving.
We got back early that day and completed signing up for the official certification and agreed to meet in the bar later for some drinks. A lot of the guys were carrying on the next day for their Advanced
qualification but with Emma not too sure on some of the dives (you had to dive at night with barracuda) we decided to sleep on it. We went for a burger in the Aussie bar (i discovered beetroot on burgers) and met up with the gang to watch some video footage of our dive. We had a few Changs (too many in my case) and eventually staggered back up to bed.
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