Phuket, Thailand (11.20.11 – 11.24.11)

Something happened when I arrived in Phuket that I never thought I would see when traveling by bus in Southeast Asia. It was on time. They stated that the bus would take eleven and a half hours, and we showed up at 7:00AM, exactly. I took a local bus to Kata, which is where I’d booked a place to stay, and found my way to my hostel. It turned out that the hostel was also a dive shop, and they didn’t oen until 1PM on a Sunday, so I hung out in a restaurant across the street for a while, as I waited for a human to show up. I didn’t do much on my first day, as it was very overcast all day. I did however, decide to do some diving. It had been about two years since I last went diving in Egypt, so I decided that I would do a refresher dive to ease back into it. The woman who ran the hostel/dive shop offered that if I was interested in doing my Advanced Open Water Diving certification, we could make my refresher dive count as one of my dives for the certification so that if I loved it once I was back in the water, then I wouldn’t have to pay for an additional dive. I met Chris, my diving instructor, that night and we discussed our plan for the next day.

On Monday, we met at 10:30AM and prepared our gear, then headed down to the beach with Tim, a guy from Arizona who was working on his Dive Master certification at the time. We did a beach dive at the reef just off of Kata Beach, which meant that we just walked into the water to begin our dive. Our dive was 65 minutes, and I absolutely loved it. I had to perform some skills, as this was my Peak Performance Buoyancy dive, and then we explored some of the reef. We saw four bent stick pipefish, and two ornate ghost pipefish, which are both in the seahorse family, and some blue spotted rays. The ornate ghost pipefish were especially fantastic, as they don’t look like fish. Once we surfaced, I announced that I absolutely wanted to continue diving. We went back to where our gear was on the beach to rest for a few minutes and change my air tank, and then we did a second beach dive, which was my Navigation dive, which is a mandatory dive when pursuing the Advanced certification. After performing the navigation skills, we dove around the reef for a while longer; this dive was 44 minutes long. We got back to the hostel around 3PM, and had some pad thai, which was the first food I’d had all day. I was exhausted, but stayed up to talk to Michael anyway.

On Tuesday, Chris and I were picked up from the hostel at about 8AM and taken to a pier where we boarded a boat. Our first dive was a deep dive, and I got a bit nervous beforehand. The night before I’d been reading my PADI book about the Deep Dive, and it is rather portentous. There are a lot of dangers to deep diving, and the book, with reason, focuses on them a great deal. With all of that in mind though, my nerves were acting up before the dive, and I had to take a few minutes before we could descend. Once I was down at the bottom, I was fine, and enjoyed the dive enormously. The reef was beautiful, and we saw some lovely marine life. The second dive of the day was a wreck dive; we went to the King Cruiser Wreck, which is a large cruiser that sank in 1997. As it’s been down there for 14 years now, it teems with life, making a very interesting and beautiful dive. This was also a deep dive; we descended to 27 meters, but most of what there is to see lies between 18 and 24 meters. The third dive of the day was at Shark Point Marine Sanctuary, and was an Underwater Photography dive, though I’d been using a camera all day. This was beautiful, and there was so much to see here! The highlights of what we saw included two varieties of seahorse, and a leopard shark!! After the dive we headed back to shore, and once back at the hostel, I completed my coursework with Chris. That night, it was official: I was an Advanced Open Water diver!

On Wednesday, I took it easy. I was considering doing another beach dive with Chris and Tim, but I overslept. I spent some time lounging on the beach, and that was my day!

On Thursday, I got picked up from my hostel at 7:30AM, and caught a boat to Koh Phi Phi island, which was to be my next stop. I really enjoyed the time I spent in Phuket; I would definitely return.

I forgot to take my camera each time I went down to the beach, so I have no pictures of Kata Beach, only pictures from diving. I hope you enjoy them.

Some other divers on the first dive of our second day.

Chris, and a school of fish

πŸ™‚

A nudy branch

A lion fish!

King Cruiser Wreck

Me πŸ™‚

Me again

And again…

One more time…

Some cables on the King Cruiser Wreck

Me, as we did our 5m safety decompression stop before surfacing .

A clown fish! They are just adorable.

A brown seahorse

A leopard shark!

A scorpion fish

Chris

Another clown fish

So, Phuket was awesome, and I am so glad to have done my Advanced certification, it’s something that I hadn’t planned on crossing off the bucket list for a few more years. I may have to do a bit more diving before I return home!

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