Where do we start?!
Ko Tao is such a beautiful island!! When we got off the ferry we had no idea what to expect. As we walked along we found a man holding a 'bans diving school' sign, so we hopped into the back of his pick up truck (taxis here are basically Toyota pick ups with benches on either side, some have roofs and some don't) The road had so many hills! and we had no idea how far away the resort was or where were going. The taxi ride lasted about 10 minutes and all if sudden there it was! Bans diving resort. To us it seemed like it was no where near the beach or the sea.. But little did we know.
We placed our bags in a little building and was told to walk down a hill to the reception and check in.. Well.. As we walked down it felt like we were in a little village! Tall hotel blocks either side, trees, ponds, little footpaths that cut across and even a swimming pool. When we got down to the bottom we came across a boardwalk that stretched across the length of the beach. It had restaurants, shops, other diving schools and even a lady boy show!! (More on them later aha) It was beautiful and the beach was breathtaking. We wanted to explore this place as quick as possible so we marched into the reception and checked ourselves in. Upon arrival I don't think we realised how big bans resort was, as once we had taken the walk back up to the main road, we were then taken by golf buggy a good few minutes up the hill side, and even then we still had to walk up a few flight of stairs to our room. However, this was all well worth it, as our room was lovely and the views were amazing!! We had our diving orientation at 5pm that evening, so we spent the remainder of our day laying in the shallow part of the clearest (and hottest!) sea we'd ever seen, where we just sunbathed and talked for hours. We then took the hike back to our room to freshen up and went to our training on time. We realised we had to give ourselves at least 10 minutes to walk from our room down to the boardwalk! We were met in reception by our instructor Liz and the rest of the students, where we were then shown into a classroom to begin training. We remained there for three hours and it sunk in how much we had to learn, it was like being back at school! The next day we began early back in the classroom, going through books and doing exams. In the afternoon we entered the pool, where we learnt the basics of scuba diving! Mel had a slight panic but she was mainly angry at herself not being able to do something, (Jamie already knew all however, so this was just to refresh his mind). Once we had finished we were excited for the following day as this would be our first real dive!
So the next day we got up, had breakfast, spent a few hours in the classroom and then was lead out to the beach where a long tail boat waited to take us aboard the boat which would be our base for our dives. When we got on the boat we were talked through how to set our gear up quickly so we could get ready ASAP. While getting our BCDs ready and our air tanks the boat sailed to the area we would be diving. Once all our gear was on we had to check our 'buddies' (we all had a buddy each) so Mel and Jamie checked each others equipment. Before the dive Mel had butterflies in her tummy! But as we descended and took our first few breathes underwater we realised there was nothing to be scared of!!
It was amazing to see that there was another world under the sea! It felt like we could stay there forever.. It felt so natural!
After the first dive we went on to do another one in a different area of the sea. This time a few metres deeper. Each dive we had to complete a number of tasks. Some at the sea bed or some at the surface, for example, taking your goggles off at 12 metres and putting them back on. The next day we completed two more dives until we reached 18 metres.
We saw Nemo in his anemone and even blue spotted stingrays! On our third dive there was an 'underwater playground' which consisted of a stone octopus which you could swim under his tentacles, a stone shark and a stone dinosaur thing! Haha.
After long sessions in the classroom, a lesson in the pool, the 4 dives and a short exam we are happy to say..
WE ARE QUALIFIED PADI OPEN WATER SCUBA DIVERS!!!
(To a depth of 18 metres haha)
Before our adventure we were advised to go and see the lady boy show in Koh Tao. So we did. Not only did we see it (and it was amazing)... but Jamie was asked to join in!! At the end of the show they asked for 5 volunteers. They then walk into the audience and pick people out.. And Jamie was one of them! Jay disappeared behind the curtain and the next thing Mel knew he was on stage with a bikini top and wig, dancing around!
Our other evenings were spent either swatting up on our written work, sleeping or sat on our balcony watching the sunset over the sea... Paradise.
We had such a good time on Koh Tao and met some lovely people, so come friday we were sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful island, with its turquoise transparent sea and white sandy beach.. But we knew it was just another chapter finished in our adventure.....