So for those that don't know, I'm a self admitted water weenie. Sure I can throw down a cannonball or flip into a pool or lake every now and again with the best of them, but large open bodies of water, especially being under them, scares the snot out of me. I figured it was high time to confront this and in the best way possible, scuba diving in Koh Tao, Thailand. They say that the Ocean is most vast and undiscovered frontier left on the planet and the abundance of wildlife seen underwater in 10 minutes far exceeds what could be seen in 10 days in the forest (or something like that).
I signed up for a PADI Open Water course with New Way Diving in Sairee on Koh Tao. The bookwork was easy enough, the pool scary but confined, and the open water terrifying. After having a freak out and coming up just after going under in my first open water dive, I resolved to steel myself against my fears and try to get all zen like with my breathing. All with the help of my instructor Stefan, his heavily German accented instructions, and my dive buddy/assistant Anna. By dive number 3 I was nice and calm, by the time dive 8 rolled around I was doing the James Bond water entry and quick with the BCD trigger to get down and check out the dive site.
The views were amazing! Schools of yellowtail barracuda, christmas tree worms, giant anemones and their resident fish, butterfly fish, banner fish, baby harelquin lipped fish, giant groupers, morays, needle fish, angel fish, gobi's and their shrimp, corals, and the list goes on and on... While I didn't take any pictures under the sea you can check out the gallery at Ace Marine Images (http://www.acemarineimages.com/index.php/component/option,com_phocagallery/Itemid,4/id,2/view,category/) All the shots in the marine life gallery are from Koh Tao dive sites.
Above sea, Koh Tao was beautiful. Almost miserably hot sometimes, but nothing a little swim and a cold beer or water couldn't cure. The dogs on the island were hilarious. They'd follow folks around, lay next to you at the beach, and even walk right into the ocean and sit in the water with the rest of the beach goers. The Thai food was amazing and I ended up eating from the same spot almost every night. A walk out from the Sairee village took you to bungalows nestled in the palms, roadside clothes racks (Thai dryers), mopeds darting from place to place, and locals resting in cool spots along the shade.
The Thai dryer
Thanks to New Way Diving for a great first diving experience. If you're headed to Thailand and interested in diving I highly recommend them. http://www.newwaydiving.com/