Thursday 12 july – Koh Samui, Thailand
We’d both arranged to go on the same dive excursion today, me still in training and Chris with a group of other qualified recreational divers (he already being an Advanced PADI diver). We were collected at 7.00am on the dot and after some phaffing about with hotel pickups we arrived at the pier and MV Seaquest, the dive boat operated by Samui International Diving School. Dario, ever warning us about the crush on board crowded dive boats, had English Kevin Paddock (my ‘buddy’), New Yorker Julie and me (his thee students) prepare our gear and stake our space very early, before anyone else had boarded.
When the crowd of over 20 people plus staff, and the accumulated mess of gear, tanks, suits and fins, I was glad he had. During the 3 hour trip to our first dive site – South West Pinnacle off the island of Koh Tao – we completed the theory component of the course. Again, this was no problem except for some inconsiderate interruptions from other crew and divers. After a briefing we suited up and took our first dive. It was amazing; just like the David Attenborough TV documentaries. Lots of fish, although as it was my first dive I was more worried about controlling my buoyancy and keeping my breathing steady. Still, it was wonderful.
A couple of fishing praus were working nearby. I joked that they were bound to start crossing back and forth near our dive site trying to sell us sarongs and icecreams like the hawkers on Hat Chaweng. The second dive site – Sail Rock, between Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan – was about 1½ hours away. It was a wonderful site with Zebra fish, angel fish and heaps more besides to see. Amazing. The return to Samui took about 3 hours – a bit long, and the boat was very slow. (Later in the week I began to notice that various dive trips advertised their ‘fast boats’ and ‘reduced travel time’).
Didn’t get back to Silver Sands until after 7pm. Again, checked email then had dinner at another deserted restaurant. Chris had arranged to meet up with some other divers at ‘The Lazy Bar’ on the beach so I went and had a couple of mango juices until about 11.15. Chris later reported that he’d been out until 4.30am. Still, he did get up at 7am on Friday and wished me farewell for the time being (he was heading to Bangkok a day earlier than me).