How a PADI Instructor changed his Lifestyle! – Part 1
I’ve never thought about writing a blog before my boss asked recently. What on earth can I write about I asked?
“How you came to work for me”, came the reply after some thought.
Then I was offered my dream job and the rest is history!
What can I write about, the past year has been a blur….
A blur of crystal clear waters, amazing colours, corals, tropical fish, and diving with Whalesharks!
A blur of new cultures, beautiful people, different perspectives, and unusual languages!
A blur of amazing food, sweet smelling aromas, and cold Singha beers!
A blur of island lifestyle, beach parties, chilling by the pool and swinging in my hammock!
Where do I start? The only thing I can think of is how a lad from cold and wet Stoke on Trent is now living on the beautiful paradise island of Koh Tao, doing one of the best jobs in the world, working as a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor.
It all started after a year backpacking around Australia with my mates. I always wanted to try scuba diving. After speaking to many people on my travels, I heard of a little island in Thailand called Koh Tao and the name of one PADI dive centre kept cropping up. Crystal Dive Resort.
When our time in Australia came to an end, we decided to stop off on the way home and visit this little island I had heard so much about.
Got My PADI..!!
I had never dived before, so I wasn’t even sure that I would like it. Me and the lads all signed up for the PADI Open Water course. On the first day we spent a few hours in a class room learning basic scuba dive theory. The second day was much more exciting. We spent several hours in the swimming pool learning and practicing the 20 basic scuba skills. This is basically everything you need to know for life in open water.
To begin with it was a surreal feeling to breath underwater. After the confined session I was buzzing with excitement. I could have stayed in that swimming pool all night! I hardly slept that night. I couldn’t wait to take the plunge on my first ever open water dive the following day.
We finished off the knowledge development and to our relief we all passed the final exam! In all seriousness it was all very straight forward.
Then after lunch we headed out on the dive boat….
To describe the first dive as one of the best experiences of my life would be an understatement. Yes, mybuoyancy was all over the place but I loved every second! I didn’t want to come up and I couldn’t wait to get back in for dive 2.
The following three dives were a blur….
A blur of excitement, a blur of weightlessness, a blur of total exhilaration!
I was hooked, I had become a scuba addict!
The Next Step – Keep Diving!
From this moment onwards all I wanted to do was dive! I’d got my PADI but it wasn’t enough to satisfy my addiction. I immediately took the next step and signed up for the PADI Advanced Open Water course.
“The Advanced” as it is referred to, is a different kettle of fish altogether. No sitting in the classroom. No taking your mask off in the swimming pool. No final exam. The advanced is basically fun dives each with an objective. PADI call them “Adventure Dives”, which is an accurate description. Each dive is like a mini Adventure.
If I thought I’d had fun on the Open Water course, then I was about to experience what fun really was on a totally different level. This was hardcore fun!
The first adventure was the Underwater Navigation dive and learning how to use a compass. It’s pretty straight forward (no pun intended!), but obviously being with a group of lads there was always going to be one that got lost! Fortunately, it wasn’t me, which was just as much as a surprise to me as it was to everyone else.
All the lads had taken bets on who would get lost first. I was definitely the odds on favorite, but it turned out I was a navigation genius. Mind you, compared to a group of lads from Stoke I was, which I guess probably doesn’t mean much outside of, er, well, Stoke on Trent!
Our next Adventure was the Peak Performance Buoyancy dive or ‘PPB’ as everyone calls it. When I chose this I didn’t give it much thought. I thought it was just playing a few games underwater using my breathing and airway control.
Looking back, and from the perspective of a PADI Instructor, it’s definitely one of the most useful dives to complete either as part of your PADI Advanced Open Water course, or if you are a certified diver that’s been out of the game for a while. It had a huge positive effect on my individual performance throughout the rest of the course.
The 3 remaining dives where more enjoyable and much more relaxed. I was more comfortable and had lots more control.
First up was the Deep dive. When I found out we were going to 30 meters I asked the same question everybody asks. ‘What does it feel like at 30m?’ The answer is it feels exactly the same as being at 10 meters or 18 meters. It feels absolutely amazing and the actual dive was good too! There is so much to see at a dive site like Chumphon Pinnacle. Lots of colour, great visibility on the day I first visited, large schools of Jacks and Barracuda and Giant Groupers.
Next up was the Wreck dive and a trip to the HTMS Sattakut. This was by far the best dive of the course. To be honest, the visibility on the wreck that day wasn’t the best, but it just added to the whole experience. It gave the wreck an eerie feeling, almost like I imagine Gotham City would feel. As we descended deeper, the ship slowly appeared from the darkness below.
A surreal experience first time round, and now as a PADI Instructor this dive is my favourite!
At one point we settled down in the sand and turned our torches in close to our chests so there was no light. It was a strange feeling, underwater in the pitch black.
Then as we moved our arms around, the bio-luminescent plankton then suddenly glowed. Another amazing, cool first for me!
What a fantastic experience to finish and be certified as a PADI Advanced Open water diver.
My Life’s a Wreck!
It was almost time for me to leave this little island I’d heard so much about and I had found all to be too true (and then some!)
I managed to scrape enough money together to complete the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty and PADI Enriched Air Nitrox Specialty offered as a multi-course promotion. Being able to safely penetrate the Wreck I had swum around a couple of days earlier was an incredible way to finish my Koh Tao scuba diving experience.
It was finally time for me to leave Koh Tao returning to ‘normal’ life back in Stoke. I got back to cold, wet days and long nights. Working in a dark, dingy warehouse in Stoke I had that Gotham City feeling again, but this one didn’t have a silver lining.
All I could think about was that beautiful tropical island, in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand, blowing bubbles underwater and swinging in a hammock above!
Author: Andy McEvoy (PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor)