Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Diving in Ko Tao, Thailand

Chelsie and I took a night bus and a connecting ferry to a small island, in the Gulf of Thailand, called Ko Tao. This tiny island is known for its diving resorts and companies who certify more PADI divers than anywhere in the world. We made arrangements with Simple Life Divers to get our open water certificates, as well as scheduled some white sandy beach time.

We see many other backpacks, like ourselves, traveling throughout Thailand. There aren't too many roll away luggage pullers in these parts.

The beach on Ko Tao was very beautiful. The long tail boats, the dive rigs rode the blue swells and tiny bungalows peeked from the palm trees on the shore.

Chels and I spent the first afternoon in the classroom leaning some of the technicalities, and jargon of diving. We got to the beach in time for dinner and the sunset. It was spectacular, I would say, the best we have seen in Thailand.

Below: sailboat, dive boat, kayak, and longtail boat

Chels and I hung out on the beach every night after diving. We thoroughly enjoyed all of the sights and sounds that surrounded us. There were a number of restaurants which would set out mats, tables, and candles and have music to set the mood. We would sort pictures, read, chat, blog, sip fresh fruit smoothies, have a beer, and munch on appetizers. That is what you are supposed to do, right?

A young lady would walk the beach at night selling these lanterns known as pi ting lanterns. I had heard of festivals where they are lit in Taiwan, but they are also very popular here in Thailand. We watched a number people lit them and release them into the sky. Chels and I bought one, signed our names to it, and after lighting the fuel pellet in the bottom, Chels let the paper hot air balloon go. They fly up and out of sight. Quite fantastic.

The next day was the first day we got to dive. It was rather exciting, and in the end a lot less scary than either of us imagined. We headed out off of the beach and began our training in some shallow water near a small island.

Here is a dive boat much like ours. We had a great instructor, Alex, who was very patient and professional. He took us on four dives, and helped us to become certified for 18 meters.

This next photo, courtesy of i-stock.com, was really what we got to experience. I unfortunately did not have the chance to take too many pictures while we were diving. I was either busy learning about the equipment, or didn't want to take the risk of getting the camera wet. Maybe someday I'll have to get an underwater case.

We were so privileged to swim with a sea turtle on one of our dives. We also got to see clown fish, stingrays, large crabs, tons of colorful coral, angelfish, barracudas, trigger fish, many many other fish I cannot remember the names of. It was a brilliant adventure. Chels and I will be sure to continue diving.

Another aspect of night life on the beach was the fire jugglers. They would come out every night to entertain customers at the restaurants. We spent one evening at the FIZZ lounge. We sat on bean bags and watched the fire jugglers.

The jugglers preformed a number of stunts incorporating, spins, tosses, and twirls. Some of them used a solid flaming staff and others had small cups of petrol on strings which they would spin.

Lighting the staff.

It looked as though it was a very toasty, but fun act.

We thoroughly loved our time in Ko Tao, but other beaches we calling us.


Jeff said...

Sorry you have to spend so much time at beaches. But then, the Earth is 3/4 covered with water, so they're hard to avoid. I will tell my brother about the diving to make him jealous. He and my sister-in-law have been diving for several years, gathering various certifications. They've been to various places along the east coast to Florida to the Caribbean -- wrecks, caves, etc. I think you have found a rather addictive hobby now. In Salida, we're have Spring, snow, Spring, snow ...

Jeff said...

FYI: the caption for the header photo says this:
Header Photo:
The above photo is of Val, making a break for the classroom as the recess-end bell rings.

However, it doesn't look like the kind of vessel one can make a break in. Looks like sampan drifting out to sea. I hope Val made it eventually.

Jesse and Chelsie said...

Ha Ha. It is tough to sneak things past a librarian. Ill have to remember to update my header comment box.

We are not in cambodia and really loving it. I have some catching up to do on here. It is really tough to handle all of the images and find time and internet to get them on here. Well see how well I can keep up. Anyway.. Thanks for following us.

Hope all is well in CO.

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