Koh Tao, Thailand
I woke up today, showered, picked up my clean laundry, and paid for two additional nights at the resort I was staying with. I then walked over to the dive school to begin my Advanced Adventurer course. I made it there by 11:00, greeted my dive instructor, and then waited for another classmate to join us – a woman on vacation from Hong Kong. At 11:30, we were all ready to be briefed on today’s diving activities. We would be conducting three dives (two in the afternoon and one at night) and for each one we would practice different skills underwater. We then grabbed our equipment (wet suit, fins, and buoyancy compensator device), loaded up the truck, and drove down to the pier with other students (in different classes) and our instructors. We reached the pier and then brought ourselves and all the equipment on to the boat. Once everyone was on board, the boat then left the pier and headed north, to the west side of Nangyuan Island. The boat then stopped for a brief period above the No Name coral reef (a bit of a misnomer, huh?) where the Hong Kong woman, our instructor, and I jumped in to the water with our SCUBA gear (each one of us with a compass and dive computer on our right wrist as well); the boat would then continue on to Twins coral reef, where we would eventually meet back up with it. Then, once we were all ready, we descended into the water below (at 13:10) to complete our deep dive training and to practice using our compasses. We reached a maximum depth of 25.6 meters and then swam around No Name before heading east to Twins; our instructor had the Hong Kong woman and myself take the directional lead with our compasses as we made our way eastward to Twins. Upon reaching Twins, the air supply in our tanks had nearly reached 70 bar, so we then began our ascent – stopping for three minutes at five meters depth to help prevent any chance of decompression sickness. We then broke through the surface of the water (at 13:35) and then made our way to the boat. Upon boarding the boat, we removed our gear, got ready for our next dive for the day, and then rested for over an hour as other divers came back to the ship and as the ship moved to the next location. I sat at the stern of the boat, ate some pineapple, and drank some coffee; also, in between dives, our instructor discussed the last dive as well as the upcoming one. When the boat reached the next destination, we put all of our gear on and jumped back in to the water and began our descent (at 14:54). We descended to the HTMS Sattakut, a Thai Navy ship (that was originally a United States Navy ship which was gifted to Thailand) that was decommissioned and sunk on purpose in 2011 to give divers at Koh Tao an underwater wreck to observe and explore. We reached a maximum depth of 27.7 meters and swam around the ship, observing the guns at both ends, a White Eyed Moray Eel hiding in one spot, and many other fish swimming around the metal ruin; we also swam through an open passageway on the main deck, but could not enter the actual ship since that requires specialized training, which only our dive instructor had. After exploring the ship for some time, our dive instructor then led us underwater to White Rock coral reef, but shortly after passing Pee Wee coral reef, it was nearly time to begin our ascent, so we just missed being able to swim around White Rock. We then started our ascent, did our three minute safety stop at five meters, and then continued on up to the surface (breaking it at 15:22). We then swam to our boat (which was now at White Rock), boarded it, took our gear off, and attached our regulators and buoyancy compensator devices to new air canisters for the night dive this evening; we then stowed the rest of our gear in our bags, leaving them on the boat for the night dive as well. I then went to the sun deck and stayed up there talking to another instructor from San Diego as other divers came back on board and as the ship made its way back to the pier. Once at the pier, we loaded up in to the truck and drove back to the dive shop. We were then given an hour for dinner before having to meet back up at 17:45.
I walked back to my bungalow, bought some drinks and munchies at the store, and had a modest meal inside my room. When it was time to head back, I walked back to the dive shop, grabbed my bag, and we loaded back up on the truck (we were joined by another Advanced Adventurer class that had four students). We then drove to the pier, loaded up in to the boat, and – since our captain was in a good mood – we went to White Rock for our night dive. Once there, we geared up, and jumped in to the water with flashlights in hand. We then began our descent (at 18:41) just as the sun had nearly set – this would allow our eyes to adjust as darkness blanketed the sea. We reached a maximum depth of 17.1 meters on this dive and swam around for thirty-eight minutes, observing all the underwater nocturnal activities; we looked in to one alcove near the sea bed and saw a large Hawksbill Turtle sleeping; we also saw a Hermit Crab scuttling about on the floor and a Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray. Twice, during the dive, we put the flashlights to our chests to make it as dark as possible and with our free hands, we stirred up the water in front of our eyes to observe luminescent particles light up like fairy dust. It was also cool to see the other divers in the area moving around underwater with their flashlights. When our air supply had reached 70 bar, we then began our ascent, stopping at five meters for three minutes, and then broke the surface (at 19:19). Immediately we were greeted with a lovely view of Koh Tao at night; colorful lights were on throughout different resorts and dwellings on the island and a lightning storm was seen far to the southwest of the island – the view above the water was as beautiful as the view below. We then boarded our boat, took our gear off, and packed our bags. Shortly after we had resurfaced, so did the other class and soon the boat was heading back to the pier. As we neared the port, the lights nearby on the south side of the island looked as though they were flickering due to the boat passing by the trees in the foreground. We then docked at the pier, grabbed our bags, and loaded up in to the truck. We drove back to the dive shop and stored our bags in a room there (not bothering to clean the gear this time since we’d be using the same equipment tomorrow morning). I then walked west through the streets of Sairee until I found a place to eat dinner (I had a burger with fries and a shake). I then walked back to my bungalow and fell asleep shortly after 22:30.
Today marks the one-hundredth day I have been traveling.