Koh Tao, Thailand

I signed up with Asia Divers in Sairee Beach and began classes two days ago. It’s a little strange to have to set an alarm (which I had to buy, I sure as hell didn’t pack one) and get up at 08:00 to go to class.

Fortunately, there are only two in my class counting myself and our instructor, Ciarne from Ireland, is a very cool guy. We even have homework…wtf! When I finish, I’ll be PADI Open Water certified…which means I can go hire scuba gear and a boat anywhere and dive with another Open Water certified person.

We don’t need a divemaster or instructor and theoretically can plan our own dives. I will definitely want to get more than the four requisite dives under my belt before I go jumping into the ocean with another newbie though. We did two dives today, the deepest was 12 meters. My first scuba experience. Absolutely awesome! I had some trouble equalizing the pressure in one of my ears which really hurts now afterwards…and a little sore throat from the dry air, but it was altogether unforgettable.

It’s a very strange sensation being able to breathe under water. Not very natural! We were down for 55 minutes — which is a very long time — because Romana (my Austrian classmate) and myself were doing very good at breath control. We practiced all kinds of safety crap like an emergency surface ascent, the instructor cutting off our air, hand signals, buddy drags, you name it. Ciarne is very thorough and wont let you skip anything that may put you in danger later. We didn’t see a whole lot, lots of coral, a puffer fish, the finale was a giant barracuda — about three feet long — that came right up to us hunting in a school of small fish. He stuck around for about five minutes and looked really pissed off…I would not want to be a small fish near him.

Two more dives tomorrow starting at 07:30.ARRRG! Then a final exam…ARRRG! And then I’m done. I will have to decide if I am going to do a couple fun dives just to get some entries in my log book beyond the newbie dives or bug out off the island. I really want to do a night dive which is the first towards becoming a certified “adventure diver,” however, the rocks are calling my name in Krabi. I must get my hands on them soon.

More later.