Koh Tao Sunset
Just the usual evening display...
The start of 2016 landed Rochelle and I on the scuba-centric island of Koh Tao. This little chunk of land in the Gulf of Thailand is visited by millions of tourists every year with one common goal: diving. With over 70 different shops on the island competing for business, Koh Tao is a diver's playground. We originally came to visit friends from our live-aboard boat in Cairns and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Southern Thailand. Within three days Rochelle was working at Roctopus Dive as an instructor (again) and a week later I signed up for my Divemaster course.
I spent the next month smashing out academics, skill circuits, course assists, and stress tests while Rochelle became known as the DSD Queen. (DSD's, or try divers, are people who would like to try diving without doing the full course and, as I'm sure you can imagine, require extreme care and skill to manage). At the end of February my hard work was rewarded with a "snorkel test", a dive community tradition in which the instructors get the newly certified Divemasters blind drunk at a fraternity-initiation-esque ceremony consisting of a roast, several different drinking games and the legendary beer-bong snorkel. Except
The Rocto crew- March 2016
in Koh Tao, the beer is substituted with a bucket of Thai whiskey and coke. I got sloppy, to say the least.
Alcohol tolerance aside, I had proved myself a worthy trainee. As soon as the paperwork was filed, I was assigned my first group of fun divers to take on an underwater guided tour; I was officially a DM! Little did I know that just because the course was over my education was not complete. Over the next two months I took roughly 110 different customers on 120 guided dives; the growth and development of my skills as a diver were invaluable. I dealt with brand new Open Water certs on dive #5, know-it-all retired instructors, air guzzlers, hypochondriacs, lost weight belts, foggy masks, buoyancy problems, immobilizing currents, horrendous visibility and territorial triggerfish. I took every dive as a chance to learn, to find solutions to problems, and to show people some fascinating marine life.
A month after becoming a DM, our wonderful managers made me a full-time employee, promoting me to the back office
, aka the brain of Roctopus Dive. All logistics for each day are carefully planned and prepped by the Divemaster team and I
Sail Rock Sunday
One last fun dive with my baby <3
was now helping organize the chaos, assigning boats, ordering tanks, and counting gear, among other tasks. No matter how busy or stressful the day, the DM boys never ceased to bring a smile to my face with a pump-up jam, an inappropriate story, or an awesome under-the-leg-across-the-room shot to land the whiteboard marker in a bucket. We were obviously a super productive group.
Over the past two years I've found unique ways to be paid (or compensated) for diving without actually working as a dive professional. Several times I considered moving up to this level, but the timing was never right. Looking back now, after spending 5 months working on a tropical island in Thailand, diving every day, I am confused as to what took me so long! I commuted 3 minutes from my wooden bungalow to the dive shop, barefoot, via my rusty, old scooter to be greeted by my co-workers with smiles and hugs. After a hard day's "work" the crew reconvened at one of the local beach bars to share some Changs over spectacular west coast sunsets. For dinner we gorged on delicious Thai food from whichever cheap food stall appealed to us that night. Long
Sunset boat ride with a view of Koh Tao
days were rewarded with spectacular dives, great friends, and good times. We truly became islanders.
So if you hadn't heard from me in a while, now you know why! As wonderful as our time was in paradise, change was bound to happen. Rochelle and I said a sad goodbye to Koh Tao and our Roctopus family to make the unbearably long journey to the US! We plan to be stateside for the next 6 months to attend my sister's wedding and do a proper summer road trip (car permitting).
More travels = more blogs...stay tuned!
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