After a 3 hour ferry (where one of my sneakers flew off the boat) I was finally on the beach. I stayed at Big Blue Diving, which is in Lonely Planet but also highly recommended. The hostel is right on the beach in the center of everything, and the dorm beds are free every night you dive. Koh Tao is a small island with a few major beaches. I only stayed on and saw Sairee beach. The town was about 5 blocks by 2 blocks, lined with restaurants, bars and dive shops. The scene is all about diving, and then partying. However I found it hard to do both. My favorite day I did 5 dives, 2 tanks at 7am, 2 tanks at 1pm and 1 tank at 7pm. I didn’t think I’d enjoy diving that much but I absolutely loved it. Everyone at the hostel is there to dive and I almost felt like I was missing out if I didn’t do a dive. Everyone (including instructors) is in their 20s and 30s. Our hostel had a beach bar and restaurant, which was a scene everyday post the night dive. I met many people from all over the world but I found that it’s predominately German and British tourists.
My first day I relaxed but then it was time for diving. I started my Advanced Course my second day with Luke. The course was 2 days, 5 dives. Navigation dive (I learned how to use a compass and dive computer), Buoyancy dive (we practiced going through hoops in an underwater playground), Night dive, Deep dive (we cracked and played handball with egg yolks), and Wreck dive (a US ship donated from the war.) The night dive was really fun. I’ve always had a fear of night diving but it wasn’t bad at all. We each had our own flashlight, which allowed me to really see the colors of all the coral. Fish were sleeping everywhere and all the sealife seemed calm. We saw a massive turtle sleeping in a cave and after some banging we managed to wake it up. It came out and swam all around us and above us before returning to the cave.
It’s dirt cheap compared to the Caribbean. My Advanced course cost $250 total (5 dives, equipment, lodging.) I ususally pay almost that much for 1 dive back home. After finishing my Advanced course I decided to do my Rescue course for the hell of it. The course took 3 days- 1 day of First Aid (I’m now certified to do CPR), 1 day of practice and learning to rescue, and 1 day of real life sceniaros. I was the only one in my course and it was really hard but fun. The second we got on the boat each afternoon it was game time. I had an instructor (Scotty from Australia) and two volunteer dive masters who were all pretending to be in trouble. Drowning, dead, jelly fish sting, etc. I was constantly jumping off the boat and running around looking for floating devices. For my final dive I had to find my volunteers who were lost in the sea (my divemaster lost his buddy.) Asking him a million questions about their dive plan, and using my compass, I found the lost divers.
As entertaining as the course was I hope I never have to use any skills I learned. But the great thing is that I now feel a lot more comfortable to dive alone with one other diver, without a leader.
I took a yoga class in a large hut one morning. Serene. Before I went out on my last dive there were 4 tornados over the ocean. I had never seen a tornado before and it was incredible. All the locals even came out to watch.
Watermelon shake (watermelon blended with ice) Best Thing Ever
I am not doing well with Mosquitos over here. I am completely bitten alive all over my entire body. I have about 20 bites on my feet that got infected and I am now on antibiotics. All of my bites are blistering and don’t seem to want to go away. I’ve purchased the heavy duty bug spray, non-fragrant soap and eat garlic cloves everyday but nothing is working. I’ve never had this reaction before and I now know it’s a different type of mosquito here. Honestly I’m at a loss as to what else to do but I’m going nuts like this. I can’t even get massages because I can’t be touched.