Andaman Sea, Thailand
22nd January By 8.30 am, we’d started our classroom training, learning about the equipment, underwater hand signals and what pressure can do to your body. We watched videos and spent a good four hours in the pool. By 6.30pm, we’d finished. Tired, but excited. 23rd January We met up with the dive instructor at 7.30am, got our gear together and headed for the 28 metre dive boat. I was really scared and nervous as we sailed to our first dive site, Bida Nok. In the water, Mike was gasping for air through his regulator until he calmed down and got used to being 12 metres under. I was too scared going below 2 metres. My ears couldn’t get used to the pressure. They felt the same as when you take off in a plane. Swallowing, pinching my nose and wiggling my jaw wasn’t helping. I knew that if I didn’t equalise the air pressure, my ear drum could burst. I had to abort the dive and got back onto the boat, disappointed. Meanwhile, Mike was watching morey eels, puffa fish and lots of other colourful tropical fish. A leopard shark swam towards them, and then swam past calmly. Mikes air only lasted him 32 minutes and they returned to the boat. The instructor said that my ears may be blocked and there was nothing that could be done, but he let me try again on the next dive. I was really gutted, hoping there was nothing wrong with my ears. I went over techniques to equalise my ears with the instructor. On the second dive, I managed slowly but surely to get down to 12 metres. We practiced several skills that were needed to qualify as an open water diver. This time, we saw two leopard sharks, resting on the sea bed. We went near them. When I got within a metre, they swam away. I got stung by jellyfish spores that were in the water. They burnt and were itchy but the sting didn’t last too long. This time we stayed under for 47 minutes. Mike was managing to breathe more efficiently. We took a multiple choice exam and passed, Mike with 96% and me with 90%. We dived once more by the bay where ‘The Beach’ was filmed. We also moored there for the night. I was getting really sea-sick and tired. I crashed out on the bed. Mike couldn’t sleep. He sat up with the crew and only had a few hours sleep. 24th January Anyone that knows me well, knows how much I hate waking up early. At 6.50am there was loud banging. We had to get ready in 10 minutes. We were doing our first dive at 7am. I was still half asleep as I climbed into my wet suit. We were doing our first wreck dive. The water was surprisingly warm and it was amazing to see so much life around a ferry that sunk five years ago. The next two dives were Anemone Reef and Shark Point. By now we were confident. We were going down to 18 metres and were doing underwater sumersaults. We were fully qualified divers and the only dissappointing thing was that we had finished our trip and heading for land. If anyone else is interested in learning to dive in Thailand, then we really recommend the company we used – Phra Nang Divers. They have an office in Krabi and Ao Nang. Peter, our instructor, was English, and very professional. The whole course was 10,500 Bahts (approx 179 quid). It included all training, equipment hire, 6 dives and the boat trip. On the boat, food and soft drinks were included. We got fresh fruit – pineapple, pappaya, watermelon – after every dive, a full English breakfast, a Thai lunch and western food for dinner. The crew were really nice and helpful too. We looked around in Phuket but the courses are more expensive and include less than what we got.