When I travel to a place, I deliberately don’t do much research. Realistically, there is so much going on in the world I’m not going to see all of it. Doing research gives you loads of options but because I like to experience everything, I’d end up having to choose and missing out on other things because of the limited time I have. Personally I’d rather not know about the things I’m missing, but focus my energy on the things I’m doing. And if, when I get home, someone says, “did you see…” and I didn’t, I start a list of what to see when I go back one day.
I like to get recommendations of what to, it’s a great way of picking the best things to do and avoiding the crap. It makes my life easier, and so far I’ve only had good experiences because of it.
Today was no exception. Our friends at Mojo recommended Profun Divers on Phi Phi so when we stumbled across their shop, Dan and I signed up immediately. But, I made sure to ask to see their kit before paying any money after the horror story Ted and Kari had experienced.
We were up early and grabbed a quick breakfast at a bakery before getting on the boat. All the kit looked familiar and Im pretty sure I remembered all my checks. This centre was Padi affiliated whereas I learned at an SSI center. The differences were minimal, but here they had set up all the equipment for us. There was also a lot less emphasis on buddy checks, but maybe now I’m qualified this is left up to me to enforce? The guy I was diving with was a bit rusty so I made sure of the corner of my eye he was ok with everything. A guilty pang registered as I realised I was doing this as much for my safety as his.
Bida Nok was our first dive site, about 20 mins away. It’s about twice as expensive to dive here as Koh Tao, probably because it’s a major tourist destination. But the visibility in the water is about twice as good, so I guess it’s worth paying for. This was a fundive so i was on a boat along with a load of noobs who could only go down to 18m. Luckily, excepting his rustyness, i had been paired with another advance adventurer diver so we broke away from the pack and didn’t see many others for the whole dive.
The sea life here was exceptional. So much coral and huge schools of fish. I’m hoping I can upload some videos at some point to share this all with you. If a picture tells a thousand words, a video will summise an anthology.
The first dive went well and we moved onto the next site. Close by but we still took an hour to get ready. This allows for the built up nitrogen in your blood and tissues to slowly release. This build up of nitrogen is what limits your time underwater so to enjoy time at depth you need to give yourself time to process this above water. There are some scary tables, written by the US navy to help avoid decompression sickness. These were made impirically, by subjecting navy divers to different rates of decompression and seeing if they experienced any side effects. Side effects such as burst lungs, air in the blood, bubbling of skin, brain damage and heart attacks… Needless to say, I’m glad we have the information, but it sounds horrendous how it was collected.
The second dive was on an artificial reef constructed of concrete cubes stacked high, reminiscent of the myan pyramids. These blocks were about 1.5m square frames, not solid. This gives loads of space for marine life to attach themselves and hide from predators. It was tempting to swim through them, but the occupancy of most of the blocks by poisonous lionfish dissuaded me.
Towards the end of the dive we ascended to the natural reef on the fringe of the island. Here the water was only 4-6m deep so there was loads of light and loads of fish. I found Nemo! Wonderfully typically hiding in an anemone. Soon after we had a fleeting glimpse of a black tipped reef shark. It flitted out of sight as we saw it see us, clearly more afraid of us than us of it.
We had started early and were back on land after 1pm so were hungry. An immediate lunch solved that problem, after which I stayed in the bar to read and relax. One or two beers later i was feeling pretty crap and remembered that drinking after diving was a bad idea. This pretty much floored me so I went back to the room to recover with lots of water and air conditioning. I tried to venture out for a walk but had to make a speedy return to the bungalow when my bowels insisted upon it. That was a close call, that I didn’t test again. I went to bed early with my book.