My heart was beating a little fast as I hastily checked my regulator for good air. I was going to need it in about three seconds after I took a giant stride off the back of the dive boat and plunged into the gorgeous blue water around Ko Haa. In my head, I was praying for safety (and a whale shark) 🙂
Ever since my diving mishaps in Egypt, I have lost my confidence and get nervous every time I take that first step back into the water. Luckily, the divemasters here in Thailand seem to be some of the most professional and pleasant people that I have ever dived with and they made sure that I was squared away…all the while doing it with a smile and not making me feel like a horse’s bottom. Once in the water, everything comes back to you so quickly that all the fear is replaced with awe at this universe you just dropped inside of.
We were diving Koh Haa, a little cluster of rocks and a tiny white sand beach that is 2 hours away from Lanta by boat. The rocks stand straight up and down in the deep water and look like they were dropped from the moon and landed perfectly upright. It is strangely alien and beautiful.
With the full moon being soon, it had the ocean stirred up, so visibility was only about an average 15 meters. Not bad, but not that good either. There was quite a strong current around the site as well, and at one point we were all basically swimming on a treadmill…kicking as hard as possible and going nowhere or slightly backwards. With air being so precious when you are under, that sucks!
We hit 24 meters deep, but only for a short while…most of the time was spent at a comfortable 15 – 20, which allows for a nice long dive. (You use more air the deeper you go). I was happy to finish my dives with 70BAR, most of the other people hit the 30BAR limit. I think that the Shaolin training in China actually helped me control my breathing, and I saw a difference with my diving.
For life, we saw only the “usual” things that the Andaman has to offer, like poisonous lionfish, scorpionfish, morray eels, etc…all the things that can hurt you if you are stupid enough to touch them. There is a direct ratio in diving between stupidity and injury.
The highlight of the dive was surfacing into a sea cave which was breathing, as if it were alive. A few seconds of silence would pass, then there would be a roar of air and sea spray that came in through the small entrance until you could not see around you. The noise alone sounded like a dragon breathing and made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Seconds later, the cave would “exhale” and you would hear the same sound as it blew the smoky mist out of its mouth. Very eerie in a Lord of the Rings type of way, and very cool!
Back on the boat, the food was fantastic, as well as the company. I met a very nice French guy named David that is on a quest like myself to prove to one person at a time that not all (French or Americans) are snobs/idiots. He definitely won me over. For me, the time on the boat is just as enjoyable as the time under the water, I always meet some great people from all around the world and everyone has the common interests of travel and diving (obviously).
The only thing I hate about diving is that it is over too soon. (not to mention that you have to get up too bloody early to get the boat!). Another downer is that it has become 25% more expensive for me now, thanks to the US Dollar deciding to do a little diving of its own in the crapper. A day of diving last year cost me $75, now it is an even $100. Thats $25, or 750 baht…or better yet, 3 Redbull buckets – woohoo! 🙂