Sunday, 27 July 2014

Koh Tao - Live and Let Dive

We were keen to get back to the beach after visiting a lot of cities, we needed to dip our toes in the sea. We got an overnight train to the south and then a bus and boat to Koh Tao.
The train journey was pretty awful, as the infamous full moon party was in a few days everyone seemed to be getting a train south towards the islands so the only tickets available were non a/c seating tickets. It would of been fine if it wasn't for the bright lights on all night, or the loud rattling windows, or due to the windows being open and lights being on, the ridiculous amount of bugs flying around, or the drunk american teenagers that got in in the middle of the night. Compared to the sleeper trains we rode on India it was a pretty disappointing journey, alas, we can't complain we were about to go and do some scuba diving off a beautiful island!

We decided to do the advanced open water course which consisted of learning some navigation skills, diving at night, buoyancy practice, diving to 30 m and also time for a bit of independent exploration. The dives were great fun, it took a little while to get into the swing of it again and how to assemble all the equipment as it had been about 2 months since we last dived. Especially since the other people we were diving with had just completed the open water a few days before so everything was fresh in their minds. None the less we got back to it and had some awesome dives!  We chose Koh Tao as it was one of the cheapest places to do it and you are inundated with options of dive schools, there are over 70 on the island, it really is the certification machine of Asia, it's just a shame that even when the waters are relatively quiet (everyone was at the full moon) it wasn't impressive diving, there wasn't as much to see and the visibility wasn't brilliant, although we have to realise how spoilt we were before. As Tulamben was exceptional, it will be difficult to go a dive spot as good as that again.

The 30 m dive was very interesting, as you can come under the influence of this condition called 'Nitrogen Narcosis'. It's not serious, all it does is make you feel a little bit stoned or drunk, or as the divers call it, 'narked'. This happens because of how particular gases react when at a high pressure. I got it a little bit as I suddenly started giggling for no reason and the instructor did a little test to see if we were 'narked' by asking us to add up to 11. She showed me two fingers and I couldn't figure out how to add to 11! stupid eh?! The feeling disappears as soon as you go a bit shallower though.
We did an entry called a 'dead Mexican', time to show off your best acting skills as you fall dramatically in to the water after taking a shot to the chest. We really enjoyed our dives and felt a lot more confident in the water, so if you are in Koh Tao I would recommend Big Blue diving school!

Koh Tao is a really pretty island, unfortunately we didn't get to see much of it as most of our time there was spent diving. However we still managed to get well acquainted with the dive school bar and meet some cool people. There is a great vibe in the evening along the beach as the divers slope by to wind down and enjoy a drink, listen to some music and watch a man play with fire.

The white, sandy beach is quite narrow and the water is really shallow but is perfect for just wallowing in and relaxing after a dive.

Apparently Koh Tao is usually a lot busier but because we were there during the full moon party a lot of people were at the neighbouring island Koh Phangan. We decided not to go as it was a toss up between diving and the full moon and diving won. The horror stories we heard post party vindicated our decision. Of the people we met one was badly burnt by a fire skipping rope, someone had their foot in bandages from stepping on glass and someone else got their phone stolen... Those were just the three people we met.

Koh Tao was fun and it was a shame we didn't have time to explore the island further but duty called and with so many things to do in our last two months it was time to move on to the Andaman Coast and hippie heaven in Railay Bay on Krabi.

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