So I should probably fill you guys in on what we have been doing the last week or so.
Well from Chiang Mai we took the overnight train to Bangkok, had a 12 hour wait there with nothing to do, next up was an overnight bus that left at 6pm, we drove all the way south to Chumporn where we got dropped at the side of the road with no indication of what to do (it was now 3am). At 4am a minivan came and took us to some random office where we then waited another hour before getting another bus to a port where we waited another hour for the ferry. It was now 8ish and we were finally on a ferry. The ferry took about 4 hours of pretty rough waters to arrive in Koh Tao, by this point it was midday and we were shattered, basically we had been traveling 3 days with only a few hours sleep.. not so good.
We headed to the accommodation we had arranged and to be frank... it was a shithole, we thought it was going to be a bit of luxury so we went and kicked up a fuss and managed to get most of our money back, we stayed the first night there but arranged our open water scuba diving course that day, we went with Ban's dive resort, it's one of the biggest in the world and came with 4 nights free accommodation. There are about 50 dive resorts on Koh Tao, an island 2km long and with 300 native residents, the place is tiny which makes it feel so nice.
The room was pretty nice, there's very little air con on the island (electricity is a bit hit and miss too) so we just had a fan, we were right next to a lush pool. And Ban's is right in the middle of Sairee beach which is lovely, full of bars and restaurants, prices were a lot higher than Chiang Mai but still cheap compared to the western world.
Our dive course started in the evening of the 2nd day and it was orientation and 2 hours of dodgy videos you have to watch for the exam, we met our instructors and our group was pretty huge, nearly 20 people so that was good. Everyone was really nice and the 3 instructors were great fun.
2nd day of the course and we met up with Cav at breakfast, was crazy to see him, been 5 or 6 months so we had a good catch up over breakfast, he managed to get in on the same course as us which was awesome.
We started by setting up all our equipment, doing safety checks then getting in the pool, you start off by doing exercises like buoyancy control and taking off your mask underwater and putting it back on (Rachel proper freaked out anytime we had to do this).
You always dive with a buddy so I abandoned Rachel and buddied up with Cav, it worked out for the best as Rach buddied up with one of the dive masters (who she blatantly fancied the pants off) so she got some extra help..
The next day was our first at sea, we got taken out to the dive boat and went to the north of the island to Mango Bay where we did our first open water dive. W went down to about 12m and it was cool, we saw this huge cloud of 1000s of Barracuda, was just like you see on tv in a giant ball above your head.
We were all really nervous and concentrating so we probably missed half of the cool fish that day, we did one more dive over at Twin peaks, here we practiced our emergency procedures again (I saved Cavs life)
That night was Songkran (Thai new year) naturally there was a huge party and the entire country has a giant water fight, everyone gets soaked and nothing is off limits.
The last day we postponed til the afternoon (everyone was far too drunk the night before) we were taken back to Twin peaks where we did an 18m dive, it was cool, we saw Trigger fish, a Nemo fish, rainbow fish, angel fish and loads of other funky looking stuff too.
On our last dive we went down with compasses and did a little excercise where we had to swim away then get back, easy stuff but it's a prep for the advanced course.
Cav had a bit of an incident and his eye blew up to like half a tennis ball, it happens when you don't equalize your mask and all the air gets sucked from behind your eyeball, he had to be taken to the surface and is ok now, he put glasses on and milked it with the Canadian girls.
We had a camera lady with us all that day and we all met up in the bar that night to party and watch the footage back, they were made really well and funny to watch everyone messing about on the sea floor.
I was really considering doing the advanced course but we don't have long left and there's so much other stuff we want to do in Thailand, maybe I'll do it another time, but for now Rach and I are both qualified open water divers and can dive anywhere in the world down to 18m.
The day after the course we decided to stay one more night and explore some of the island on a moped (hmm) we hired one of these crappy 110cc things with road tyres only to find out as soon as you turned off the main road you were on a sandy dirt track, there were a few interesting moments!
We explored where we could and stopped in some nice places on top of mountains for drinks, for dinner we found this private beach with a restaurant built into the cliff over the sea, we watched the sun go down and the stars come out, we were far enough away from town that the sky was just a huge blanket of stars.
.. so now we have had to wave goodbye and we're on this high speed Catamaran over to the mainland, they're playing stupid high school musical arg! When we arrive we've got a bus taking us to Krabbi where we'll spend a few days exploring the surrounding islands before we have to head back to stinky Bangkok for the next stage of our journey.