|My last day in Ko Tao.
After completing four quizzes, a final exam, and four open water dives in two days, I finally got my Open Water Diving certificate today! It's quite an accomplishment for me knowing that I hate water and the thought of drowning.
Learning to dive is like learning to drive. You take a course, take a written exam, and do the actual practice with an instructor. It comes natural to some people, and to some, it's more stressful than anything else, until you actually become comfortable enough that it becomes second nature. I am definitely of the latter group, being uncomfortable and nervous under water. I know that it will take me a while but I eventually will get it. At least it's been much better for me than driving (I nearly failed my driving test when I was 16)!
Once I got a bit more comfortable, I was able to enjoy watching all the fishes swimming by me. We even saw a little shark about 3 feet long! We played with a sea urchin and sea cucumbers, and watched parrotfishes hiding in water anemones. I felt like I was in an aquarium, except it surrounded me in every direction.
November in Southern Thailand is monsoon season (I thought it had ended in October...!), which means the weather isn't that bad, but there are less tourists and things are much more affordable. We did go through a strong storm this morning between two dive sites, though, which was pretty interesting. It was warm and sunny, so we were sunbathing on the deck. Then, all of a sudden, we came right under the clouds and it poured on us for about 20 minutes before it cleared up again. The boat rocked quite a bit, and I still feel unstable, like I am on the boat, even though it's been at least four hours since I came ashore...!
Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Phuket. It will take me about 12 hours to get there, by boat and bus. Phuket is the Mecca of the Southern Thailand island and beach industry. It's known for its beautiful beaches, world-renowned dive sites, busy nightlife, and lots of European tourists. (In fact, nearly all the tourists here are from England or Germany. Even the American girl that I met, who has lived here for a year, had a semi-Queens accent. Wicked!) I am just crossing my fingers that the weather will be just as nice as it has been on Ko Tao, and that the beaches are not too crowded since it is still 'monsoon season.'