Koh Tao…

When not scuba diving, our time in Koh Tao was spent being as carefree as possible. Our first night there we were able to reunite with the New Zealanders we had met in Koh Phangan and had a fun night out with them, as it was one of their last nights of vacation.  The following three days were spent becoming officially certified open-water scuba divers. Our original plan had been to only spend 5 nights in Koh Tao; the four we had to be there for our scuba course plus one extra free day to explore the tiny island but Koh Tao put a spell on us and we ended up spending an entire week there and were still very sad when we had to leave.

Our favourite place!

Our view during breakfast every day

After completing the scuba course the remainder of our days were spent lounging by the pool, lounging on bean bag chairs on the beach, watching fire dancers (one specific fire dancer in particular), and swimming in the ocean. One night we decided to check out the lady-boy cabaret show! It was entertaining to say the least with men dressed up very convincingly as women and dancing/lip syncing to a variety of songs from Britney Spears to ABBA to Lady Gaga. Many of these ‘women’ were gorgeous and you’d never know they were born men except for the lack of hips. In fact, we ran into a couple guys who had been thrown off by the authentic appearance of Thai lady-boys and had found either themselves or a “friend” in an awkward situation.

“Britney Spears”

“Lady Gaga”

We also met two English guys at our hostel who we ended up spending our last couple days with. They had found a restaurant that shows movies everynight so we went with them one night to watch The Hangover Part 2 which was much more entertaining to watch after having been in Thailand.

Our final night in Koh Tao we decided to get pedicures which ended up being kind of sketchy since the lady didn’t wash any of the tools between doing Kelsey’s feet and mine (Luckily we’ve both been vaccinated for Hepititis). We finally spoke to our favourite fire dancer! We had a couple goodbye drinks bought for us and then decided we should do one last dip in the ocean before leaving the next day. It was during this final little swim that I noticed what appeared to be someone rummaging through our bags on the shore. Since getting robbed on Koh Tao on our last night there was not part of our plan we quickly ran out of the water to investigate what was going on. Luckily another Thai man had also noticed what was happening and had already yelled at said rummager/ potential robber and scared him away. Apparently the guy said he was just looking for a lighter but we nervously checked, and thankfully confirmed, that all of our belongings were still present.

The best fire dancer…we stalked him a little

Pedicures on the beach

The next morning we woke up, checked out, and had a few hours to kill on a rainy day before our boat left to take us back to the mainland. Despite all of our random bruises, scrapes and blisters that we somehow acquired on Koh Tao we were both very sad when the time finally came to leave the island.  Now we’re back in Bangkok anticipating our very early 5:40am flight home.

Goodbye Thailand… 😦

Enjoying one last sunset on Koh Tao

Back in Winnipeg after a 32 hour journey

 

Scuba Diving!

We had never planned to go scuba diving in Koh Tao, but after meeting many people on our trip who said it was amazing, we decided to give it a shot. It is the cheapest place in the world to get certified, and the island is full of various schools to get trained. We were waiting for the ferry to Koh Tao, and as per usual, were approached by several scuba schools, wanting our business. There was a lady sitting next to us who lives in Bangkok and goes to Koh Tao often to dive… she told us that Coral Grand is her recommendation if we are first learning. We figured she seemed reliable enough, and were happy with our decision to get certified through Coral Grand.

The course takes 3.5 days to complete-the first half day is spent watching videos and filling out paperwork, the second day is spent doing theory in the morning and then practicing skills in the pool. We spent several hours, complete with all of our scuba gear, learning to become buoyant under water, practicing taking off our mask and putting it back on, blowing bubble rings, and getting used to the feeling of breathing under water. I ALWAYS plug my nose when I’m under water, so not being able to do that with no mask was the skill I found most stressful, but eventually I got used to it. The next day we did more theory in the morning then headed out to the ocean for 2 dives. We went to 12 meters and after doing one fun dive, practiced all of our skills on the second dive. It’s definitely a different experience when you are 12 meters deep because if you suddenly panic or inhale through your nose, you can’t just shoot up to the surface like you can do in the pool. We were both pretty proud of ourselves for not panicking and making it through our first dives. Our final day, we left at 6am sharp for 2 more dives-we went to 18 meters deep and other than being filmed by the videographer for our video, were able to complete 2 fun dives.

One of hundreds of dive boats in Koh Tao

It is a completely different world under the ocean, and in general, the fish just go on living as per usual as these big humans swim past them. We saw so many brightly colored fish, crabs, a stingray and even a giant turtle! (Our videographer said that in 5 years of diving he has only now seen 5 turtles, so we were pretty lucky). It was also very cool being under the water and being able to control whether we went up or down. I don’t even fully understand how we were able to do it, but somehow we figured it out and then it’s just second nature. Our instructor Dave, from Ireland, was awesome and constantly checked in to make sure we were all doing all right. Talking to him made it very tempting to want to go back out to Koh Tao and become a scuba instructor!

Wet Suits!

Unfortunately, Katie got water stuck in her one ear, and after failing to get it out by hopping on one foot and her head tilted sideways, we made our first visit to the pharmacy for ear drops. We both figured flying with a plugged up ear might not be the most pleasant experience.

Scuba diving was certainly a major highlight of both of our trips and we are now certified to scuba dive in open-water up to 18 meters for the rest of our lives! We also will receive discounts at Coral Grand for the rest of our lives so we may have to plan a trip back in the near future…

Our scuba diving group with our instructor Dave from Ireland