I signed up to complete my Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diving qualification with Kon-Tiki Divers in Ao Nang, Krabi.
An early start to diving with a 07:40 pick up and transfer to the boat where I met my instructor, Magnus. He was a really cool guy and a very good instructor. Alongside him was the Divemaster, Ike. Ike was a young guy from Germany who I really got along with.
Our first dive would be a wreck dive which didn't get off to a good start. Once in the water I quickly rea;ised I was under-weighted. When I tried to descend I couldn't. Ike was carrying some spare weights just in case and he came to help me, however in trying to pass weghts onto my belt he dropped the weights and we both watched them drop to the ocean floor. Thus my dive was ended. I couldn't apologise enough and felt it was his fault. I told him not to worry about it and that it was my fault for not weighting myself properly. Stupid really!
Fortunetly, before I even had time to dry, the rest of the group surfaced and we both suited up and joined them as quick as possible. I later thanked him for coming back - I owe him a beer!
We descended by a controlled line and at first I could barely see beyond 5m. The morning weather was poor which effected the visibility. However, as we got lower the wreck began to materialise out of the gloom. It was a haunting, hulking mass but as soon as we began to move around it the colours began to appear. The site was swarming with Bannerfish and an amazing amount of Lionfish. Some of the open access swim throughs were awesome and as we rose up over the ships toilets I was impressed by the full length of the wreck.
My next two dives went without a hitch. These were my Naturalist Dive and Peak Performance Bouyancy dives. The highlights included a large swarm of Squid above me and an incredible Stingray that fearlessly swam toward me and underneath me. A few familiar friends were also around such as the Titan Trigger Fish. These were alot more placcid than their Gulf counterparts which are notoriously aggressiveand territorial. The whole day was fantastic and I looked forward to my next two dives on the 9th July.
These dives were more amazing than I ever could have hoped. I awoke to a misty morning that didn't bode well for the weather or the visibility. However as the boat departed, the sun was shining bright as the last of the fog rolled off the Karsts and into the sea - truely beautiful! The dive sites would be around the coast of Koh Phi Phi which is highly regarded for the quality of its dive sites.
My dive instructor for the day was a Danish woman called Marlene with whom I had booked my course in the dive centre. I had also bought a new mask from her. She told me that the other diver had been forced to pull out through illness and it would just be her and I diving. This was fantastic because it meant I would have a personal instructor, completeing my skill tests quickly and allowing more time for "fun diving".
We arrived at the site called Koh Bida Nok and after a briefing of what we would be doing, Marlene handed me my compass and dive computer for the two dives. The first dive would be a Deep dive to a depth of 30m. Our luck could not have been better: almost immedietly on our descent, a small Hawksbill Turtle came ambling past us, near the surface. This was swiftly followed by a placcid and playful Leopard Shark [a.k.a Zebra Shark], about 1.5m in length which swam very close to us and wasn't intimidated by us at all. Later in the dive I saw another sleeping in the sand and again, a larger Leopard shark swimming beneath us as we ascended. Also, another Large Hawksbill Turtle swam around us feeding on the Bubble Coral. Again, non-plussed by our being there it went about its business.
After this dive we had lunch of Rice and curried Chicken and to my despair - Squeeky Beans. Green beans that aren't cooked very much and so retain a horrible squeeky texture in the mouth.
The second dive was equally spectacular, maintaining that amazing 25m visibility. More large Turtles came to see us at this site called Maya Corner. I also saw an amazing Octopus that hid and moved around a number of rocks. I watched as it changed colours before my eyes. These two dives were easily the best dives I've done so far. Incredible! To make it better, a camera man had caught it all so I bought a copy on DVD.
The boat headed back to Ao Nang and I sat at the rear of the boat on the top deck in the late afternoon sun eating pancakes and drinking ice coffee, made by the incredible boat staff. I also had a good chat with Marlene about diving and what it's like to be a dive instructor in Thailand. I came away wishing I could dive every day.