|It turned out that the confined dive didn't really mean confined. The instructor, Chris, from Austria (with the governator accent), decided we'd just go into the real water — the ocean - for our first dive.
So, we went over all the basic stuff, such as taking off the mask and putting it back on, taking off the regulator and back on, etc., all in the ocean. I was a bit scared, but soon I got a bit more comfortable breathing in the water.
Soon after you swim away from the beach, you start seeing corals underneath and an amazing number of fishes and other sea creatures. The water is clear and you can see quite far. It's hard to explain in words how it feels to be underwater and experience the marine life.
The instructor kept asking us to kneel down at the bottom, so my classmate, Jessie (it's just she and I in the class) and I got a bunch of cuts from the corals on the knees. (I think it's actually worse for the corals as we are probably doing more damage to them than they are to us, environmentally speaking.) I was a bit worried since there were quite a few sea urchins at the bottom close to where we were kneeling, and I sure didn't want to be stung by them, too!
During lunch, I was talking to Jessie and I found out that she had just graduated from high school and was traveling around Thailand alone. I was quite shocked... I can't imagine being 18 and traveling all alone in such an exotic place. She asked me how old I was, and I hesitated a little bit, then said, twenty-eight. I explained to her that I hesitated because it's the first time telling someone that I was twenty-eight — because it's my birthday today.
She was surprised that I was traveling alone on my birthday and promised me that she would take me out to celebrate in the evening. That was really nice of her.
We went to a nearby restaurant in the evening and met up with two Swedes that she had met earlier in Chang Mai. They are also traveling, but also in other countries such as China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
It was nice to hang out with a group of people for a change, especially on my birthday. Jessie got me a coconut milk and banana desert, and even asked the restaurant staff to bring out a lit candle and a vase of flowers with it. That was really sweet. They even sang me a birthday song!