Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Last Days of Koh Tao

June 28, 2011, 23:12
Location: Koh Tao Thailand
Why: So long Koh Tao. You have a special place in my heart.

Tonight is my last night in Koh Tao before I pack up and wander some more.

My experience here, while short lived has been one filled with great moments, experiences and mostly, fantastic people I've met along the way.

My scuba diving experience is something I cannot really describe in words. I had been humming and hawwing about it since I got to the island. Finally, enough people convinced me to conquer my fear of deep water and just do it. Do one thing a day that scares you right?

On June 26th, I embarked on my first ever scuba dive called Discover Scuba Diving at Seashell Diving. You wanna know what sold me to this place? The swing set hanging off their giant tree branch.

A swing set!!

Yep, that was my deciding factor - the swings. Of course Jo, my British instructor was such a lovely lady, I couldn't say no. So after a briefing on the basics of scuba diving, my dive mates of three others: Mark from Wales, Amanda from New Mexico and Andrea from Norway packed our tummies full of lunch goodness before boating out to Mango Bay (Mango Bay! What a delicious name) to get comfortable in our diving gear. Beet (Swedish?) was also our other instructor who was super cute and encouraged me to go deeper into the water.

Once we understood how to breathe, use hand signals and use the gear, we headed out for our first dive at Mango Bay (Mango Bay! How yummy). We slowly descended to aproximately 8.9meters where the marine life was so amazing, I cannot even begin to explain the feeling. The closest way I can describe the experience of being under water is, this is going to sound crazy, but it's like being in a wet dream, literally.

It's almost like being born again. And everything just makes sense. The colours, all the different marine life, and just the tranquility of breathing under water is second to none. We all loved it so much that we did a 2nd dive and went down to 12meters. We literally swam into schools of fish which scattered all around us. Clown fish, angel fish, and a manta ray were just some of the marine life our instructors pointed out to us. The coral is so vibrant yet so delicate. Thousands of years of growth can be ruined if a diver is not careful and accidentally touches it so it was imperative that we dived mindfully.

On our way back to Sairee Beach, we were blessed with a rare siting of a pod of whales who swam leisurely alongside our boat. There must have been 12-20 of them just hanging out, breaking the surface in groups and in pairs. It was like a little show they put on just for us. Wonderful, just wonderful.

I am bonded to my dive mates for life who encouraged me to conquer my fears and just dive.

Here they are: L-R: Amanda, Mark, Me, Andrea

I have mentioned before the yoga classes have been one of the best parts of being on this island, also affectionately know as Turtle Island. The instructor, Kester has an amazing vibe. Practicing with him is sublime. He also reminds me of Coldplay's Chris Martin from the profile...

Here I am with Kester at my last class earlier tonight:

Here is the front of the yoga center:

And here is where you rinse your feet before entering the center:

One of the interesting things about traveling is where one lays their head each night. After my lovely digs at Asia Diver's Resort and especially after my 6000B motorbike mishap, I've been living dorm style.

Here is Koh Tao Backpacker's Hostel in all her messy glory:

 Oh and here is my dirtbag living quarters in all her hanging glory: 

My bunkmates, 5 from England and 2 from America are a jovial bunch with funny stories and quirks that can only be tolerated by other traveling dorm mates.

Tonight, I also met a wonderful man name Matthew from Australia. A furniture designer by trade, he sold most of his possesions and closed his business to volunteer at an NGO in Cambodia for a year. He also recently meditated in Koh Pha Ngan and provided some great insight for my next adventure. Having dinner with him was inspiring.

Next up is a long journey from Koh Tao to the northern capital of Chiang Mai for a meditation hideaway at the International Buddhist Center in Doi Suthep. I imagine I will be offline for a little while. Please wander back sometime in July.

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