When Mother Nature was serving up beautiful beaches to the planet, Thailand got a second helping. Wow. If you haven’t already, you should check these out sometime. The only problem you have is that you may never want to leave.
Sairee Beach on Ko Tao
I spent my first few days on an island called Ko Tao. This is a place with great beaches where you take your shoes off to enter shops and restaurants. Also, you don’t need a shirt to get in anywhere. No shoes, no shirt, no problem. My kind of place. Ko Tao is also the dive centre of Thailand. Last week I scuba dived for the first time. In the past, I have never really been interested in diving. But, in an effort to try everything on this world trip, I signed up for a dive. After about 5 minutes of “skills” (what happens if my mask fills up with water?!), I was swimming around with the dive master about 5 metres down. A few things occured to me:
– We humans really have no business being down there. Our bodies weren’t built for it all. We have no gills or other mechanism to get oxygen from the water (like everything else down there). So we bring oxygen down with us in a big container. Our eyes don’t work well underwater either, so we wear these plastic goggles to keep a pocket of air around our eyes. It’s cool simply being somewhere we are not supposed to go, ya know?
– There is some really weird stuff down there. Plants and animals that don’t have any equivalent on land. Fun to see. But, I think the most humorous creatues under the water are the humans. We cruise around with our funny tools (tanks, regulators, tubes, fins), exhaling bubbles to the surface.
– The feeling of being suspended is amazing. Think of gravity not applying to you. There is nothing pushing down, thus you don’t need to be standing on anything to support you. This weightlessness is fantastic. My dive instructor says there are only two kinds of people who get to experience this: divers and astronauts. Well said.
On my first dive the dive master and I came across a school of thousands of fish swimming very fast in a tight pack. They were shiny silver with an orange stripe and about 20cm long. It was a seemingly impenetrable wall that I could not even see through. Whoa! I approached it and watched in amazement. My dive master motioned to keep swimming. Craziness! But, I did as I was told. The school of fish parted and allowed me into the middle. Imagine yourself weightlessly suspended in the ocean with thousands of fish swimming a tight circle around you. It’s hard to explain, but it looks like this. That was what I was experiencing. My mind was blown. At that moment I understood why people dive. I finally get it.
I moved to Ko Phangan and spent a few days defining the art of chill. Sun-bathing and doing nothing else. Seriously, the biggest excitement I had was when I switched my usual beer (Beer Chang) at dinner for a new one (Singha Beer). During this time I was trying to figure out if I should complete my Open Water Dive certification. At first I was thinking I could leave it for “another time”. But, I hate that phrase. “Time waits for no one; and it won’t wait for me” (Rolling Stones).
*Yawn*, another beautiful beach. Mae Hadd Beach, Ko Phangan.
So, I’m back on Ko Tao. I’m 3 days into the 4 day certification course. The dive instructor says that the other student and I are doing very well (I’m not sure about that, but I take what compliments I can get), so we will be able to “do some hardcore stuff”. I’m not really sure what this means… As long as I don’t have to arm wrestle a shark, I think I’ll be OK.
PS: Ma — just kidding, there won’t be any shark problems :)