After spending so much time on the mainland and finally letting go of Bangkok, it was time to live a beach life, more specifically, live it for the next month, whilst we travel through the Thai peninsula, hitting the beautiful islands on the way to the Malaysia. Our first stop off was the island of Koh Tao, which is 7km long and has 1 ‘major’ road connecting it (you will see what i mean as you read through!)
We had already booked onto a SSI Open Water Course (OWC), which would take up the first few days of our time in Koh Tao and allow us to do something with structure and daily routine, something neither of us had done since we had left the UK and for me, since I left my job in October. The OWC began with slight anticipation as firstly Cheryl has or I should say had a slight phobia of having fish around her when she couldn’t get away from them. This quickly got thrown to the sideline, when a phobia of both of ours kicked in….claustrophobia! Now I don’t have it as bad as Cheryl when it comes to water, but one of my biggest fears is drowning, therefore it knocks the gauge up a little bit for me and filled the course with a little bit of optimism for both of us, as it was very (pardon the pun) uncharted waters for us.
The first day morning session was fine, theory based learning in a safe environment where air was plenty. On the afternoon session however it was time to hit the water and see how this would sit with us both. Although apprehensive, we both got off to a great start and managed to do mask removals and air removals whilst under shallow water. We then headed into a 10m dive, which wobbled us both slightly as its a very strange sensation to get used to and due to pressure, you can’t just ‘bob’ up when you don’t feel OK. Given that Cheryl was a lot more apprehensive than me, she powered through, even after i had to surface, thanks to inhaling far too much of my air and pretty much emptying my tank, therefore Cheryl and our other course friend Nikolai got a good 10minutes extra dive, perks of having mahoosive lungs i guess!!!
On day 2 when we hit the water, things didn’t settle too well with Cheryl and as it was a straight away (rather than warm up in the shallows first) deeper dive, it didn’t sit very well and unfortunately the claustrophobic feeling got the better of her. As we had already descended a fair bit and Cheryl had now gone back out, I had no clue why and how she was and was instructed to plod on descending, which when you have been spending such close proximity with your loved one, is not a nice feeling and i can certainly put my hand up and say it really freaked me out, not being in control. Once on the bottom we were going to do masks off and air out etc drills again, only this time at 12m. As my mindset was now in worry about how Cheryl was, it really showed me how clear your head needs to be when diving, as i nearly had a freak out myself and somehow managed to pull myself around and gather my cool. The rest of the day went fine, as did the rest of the course, unfortunately Cheryl called it a day after that dive and with her support I carried on to see the course through to the end.
The island itself (apart from diving), has so much to offer and its such a beautiful paradise. We hired a bike for the remainder of our stay, which comes equipped with very, very knobbly tires! Why i hear you ask…because once you come off anywhere from the 1 main road which stretched from Sairee beach to Chalok bay, the roads look like this:
This picture (not mine as unfortunately i was slightly preoccupied not dying) doesn’t give the ‘roads’ or tracks as they should be called, any justice. We had a 150cc engine and on a ascent of a hill, Cheryl had to jump off because the bike wouldn’t pull us both!!!! All in all great experience though, but please do not do this if you are only ‘OK’ on a bike, I like to thank the fact I am quite comfortable on bike and learned a lot from driving in Vietnam. Other than driving and diving, the beaches, snorkeling and views Koh Tao has to offer, are simply some of the best I have ever seen, in person and online.
There is also some great light hearted nightlife to be found, including beach bars with great live music, chilled out atmospheres and awesome fire displays. Then for more ‘Thai’ based entertainment, you can hit the cabaret show, which for me was very mind boggling, thanks to some very convincing lady boys, but great fun and good laugh all the same.
Koh Tao is definately somewhere we will both happily return and whilst we were there, really under appreciated how beautiful the island was, if only we had the money to stay in a nice Air Conditioned room, we may have stayed longer..
—ACastling—Stay Classy World—