It’s me again.
Over the last 4 days we have been stationed inside a little bungalow on Koh Phangan undergoing our scuba diving open water certifications. I had tried diving once before in Australia on what some call a “fun dive”. It was no deeper than 5 meters before I started freaking out. Breathing underwater was weird. At that moment, I thought that was going to be my last and only dive.
But now we are in Thailand… and since it is one of the cheapest places in the world to become a certified diver, I decided to give it another shot. It took some convincing, but Kevin finally decided to do it as well! Becoming a certified diver would allow us to dive anywhere in the world down to 18 meters.
Day one was probably the worst. Only because it consisted of many hours watching cheesy PADI videos, answering questionnaires, and taking a final exam! It brought lots of flashbacks to university.
On the second day we were in the water putting to practice what we had learnt on those long long long videos. Sadly, the pool which we used to complete our training probably hadn’t been cleaned in months and took a lot of the fun out of the experience. All I kept thinking about was the fact that we were in sitting water, full of people’s urine. The visibility was so bad that we couldn’t even see beyond a few feet. Our hands also became so wrinkly from all the chlorine that accumulated in the pool (refer to pics below). LOL. But on the plus side, after the horrific pool experience, we were so excited to get into the ocean!
Day three… we took a boat to Koh Ma and Haad Salad, two dive sites close to Koh Phangan. The visibility was better at Haad Salad than at Koh Ma and we got to see tons of red coral, long spiky sea urchins, a huge box fish, and a curious remora even swam in and out of our air bubbles.
Remora’s are the pilot fish you usually find swimming along Whale Sharks.. Incase you were wondering.
We woke up an hour earlier on the last day to make our journey to Sail Sock, one of Thailand’s most iconic dive sites. Unlike most of the other dive companies, we didn’t leave at 6am, instead we waited till 8am to head out. We arrived when there were already 11 boats, filled with scuba divers, stringed to one another and anchored to Sail Rock. Reefers is smart in coming late though, not only did we get to sleep for a few more hours, but after lunch most of the other boats had gone and we had the reef all to ourselves!
During the briefing of our last dive we hear one of the instructors in the water scream “shark!” OMG! We stopped mid brief, ran to our tanks, and put on our equipment as fast as humanly possible. Thank god for the safety checks or I would have forgotten my weight belt in all the excitement. Once everyone was all suited and in the water, we swam towards the other divers and descended quickly (but with caution). Thomas, our dive instructor, led us hastily around the bottom of Sail Rock in search of the whale shark but it was nowhere in sight. Sad we might have missed it, we slowed down to appreciate all the other marine life around us. While practicing our buoyancy and breathing, a big school of mackerel swam towards us and in the middle of them was a WHALE SHARK!!! Everyone froze and watched as this big beautiful fish swam towards us, around us, and above us. At one point he even headed straight at Kevin and myself with his mouth wide open, eating all the little plankton around.. It was AHMAZING. So amazing! I am very upset that we did not have a dive housing for the GoPro to share how truly amazing it was.
This is all the proof I have of seeing a Whale Shark.
Oh and.. Kevin and I are officially Open Water Certified Divers! Whoo hoo!