Sunday, 23 November 2008

Dive 2: PADI Advanced Open Water

Tao's not the best place to learn to dive. Well, it's cheap and there's lots of variety. But there's more divers than fish. And at Ban's it felt a little like being on a conveyor belt through a diver factory. Our Instructor, Tuff, was a good lad though. Bangkok born, islands bred. Likes his ganja, too...my kind of diver.

The visibility wasn't bad, and the dives passed without incident. As did the qualification over the next few days. We had 25m vis at one point...saw a large grouper fish the size of a toddler. And at 29 degrees centigrade, pretty pleasant conditions.

The highlight was the night dive we did as one of our specialities. This really was like something from The Abyss. I was a little apprehensive, but sinking down into pitch black was strangely reassuring. My shrink would say it was like returning to the womb. Wasn't that warm, pal. Did I just say that? Anyway...we hit bottom, around 28m below the surface. Tuff signalled to us to extinguish torches. Staggering. Without beams of light to illuminate narrow areas, the ocean came alive around us in the dark. You could see the moon in the sky through the waves above, shoals of fish skitting through, almost as if they were in the clouds themselves.

It was actually easier to see without the torches, and we switched off again later as another group of divers approached in the distance, beams of light arcing through the water. To anyone who dives but hasn't done so, I'd implore you to dive at night. Without the light, we could also rapidly disturb the water with our hands, and watch the luminescent plankton dance before our eyes...a bit like he spots you see when you stand up too quickly. Fantastic.

So...after spotting a sting ray on the sea bed when gas supply was up, it was time to return to our natural environment and a nice hot cup of tea...

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