RSS

Tag Archives: Thailand

When It All Begins To Feel Normal!!

In the Beginning

Back in school I was the epitome of nerd, I loved school, was president of the Wildlife club, in choir, participated in the speech and drama festival and if that wasn’t enough was Head Library Prefect/Monitor. In fact, I actually won a trophy for service to the school in my final year. As a result I was bullied and suffered low self esteem. Thinking back most of my fellow classmates, and the teachers too in fact, would most likely have expected me to be married and settled fairly soon after graduating or completing college. After being accepted into the Horticulture program at Natal Technical College it seemed like that was a likely path. However, Fate had other ideas by giving us the opportunity to immigrate to the USA.

Alter Egos

Four years at Oregon State University ended with a 2 month trip to the UK. I believe this was around the time my alter ego began to emerge. For years I had had a plan, to find a good job in the environmental field and… well… save the world… But suddenly I was starting to explore the world… and so my organized responsible side now had a sister, the world wide traveler…. 3 years teaching English in South Korea fed that alter ego with numerous trips around Asia.

My alter ego allowed me to feel free and more confident while abroad and seemed to thrive among different cultures and fascinating history.

On the contrary, my responsible side followed society expectations and parents always feel more comfortable when their kids have a good job and are settled.

However, social situations still made me uncomfortable and my inability to come to terms with my dual personalities constantly made me feel guilty about traveling and yet stressed over not taking the opportunity to explore more.

Sanity

Lucky for me I have a great friend, mentor and fellow traveler. He always seems to be online in my darkest hours, when I feel like a stranger in my “responsible” job, and… when I decide to buy a ticket to somewhere new. (I can help anyone else buy a ticket but when it’s my turn I am completely indecisive). If I owed him a beer for every time he has calmed my fears over letting down my responsible side I would most likely owe him an entire brewery. It is his advice that has kept me sane year after year, and as others have got used to the idea that I don’t necessarily fit any mold and they can live vicariously through me, they too have begun to keep me sane.

When It All Begins To Feel Normal!!

This past year has really been a turning point for me. For years people looked at me as this confident world traveler but inside I remained that bullied library prefect, and my two egos were constantly at odds. But, at the encouragement of amazing friends and my parents, I completed my PADI Dive Instructor course in Thailand last July. The moment I was told I had passed I cried, became weak at the knees, and said “does this finally make me cool??”. I don’t think I had ever realized just how much I had been affected by those long ago bullies, how I still considered myself as always that “nerd who won a trophy for service to the school”… my confidence began to grow…

Then, while at a hostel in Bangkok, fellow travelers, many abroad for the first time, seemed to be drawn to me asking my advice of where to go and what to see, and surprised when they mentioned a destination I had not yet been to… and my confidence grew…

Returning home, I decided to return to the cruise ships for another contract, and instead of feeling embarrassed about working on a cruise ship, a job many would think a joke, I found myself confidently stating the fact, “I am a social hostess on a cruise ship in Europe”. Never once was I faced with a sneer, but rather genuine interest and envy… and my confidence grew…

I am not exactly certain when I came to terms with the fact that travel is who I am, at least for now, when it all just became normal for me and everyone around me… But for now it has… I feel at peace and most importantly confident… that is until I need to pack for this upcoming contract….. 😉

Dedicated to my amazingly patient parents, my phenomenal travel guru mentor and fantastic friends who have believed in me all this time …. I think I may finally have begun believing in myself!!!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: NapPark – Bangkok

Location : Well located just 2 streets away from Khao San Road, the infamous backapcker party and market street. Close enough to enjoy the party but far enough away to find some more chilled out options.

Staff : Phenomenal staff, all Thai. They try be very helpful and always there with a smile, as long as you show them the same courtesy of course. They also reply to emails within one day, and are very patient with multiple questions.

Dorms : They have smaller 4-6 bed and then the large mixed dorms. The set up is quite unique with each bed have it’s own light and power sockets. They also have “privacy” screens that can be lowered to give a sense of privacy. I say “privacy” because the screens are essentially see through, so great for the illusion of being alone, but possibly aids in the prevention of hanky panky….

Cleanliness : one of the cleanest hostels I have been in. The sheets are white and so have some stains and marks on them but they are clean. The Cleaning staff do a fantastic job every day.

Social : The common area near reception has a couple of large mats and reclining cushions where everyone migrates to. You will start with 2 and by the end of the evening you can have over 20 people from all over the world, it just seems natural to join the circle.

Cafe : They have a great little cafe at the front area outside, with a wonderful sitting/relaxing area. The lady who runs it is super sweet and was a great hoot when 10 of us decided to order at the same time, she received a round of applause at the end of it!!

They also allow you store your luggage for a couple of weeks… which was perfect when I spent a week in Laos with just my carry on.

All in all a great hostel, definitely book in advance as they sell out quickly.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 28, 2015 in RTW, Thailand, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

30+ is Never Too Old For Adventure!!!

Expectations of the Civilized World

There is a certain stigma to being over 30 in the Western “Civilized” world. You are expected to:
– Have a steady job
– Be Settled
– Be Married, preferably with children
– Have a dog and a cat
– Have a car or 2
– Have a nice house
– Be financially settled without debt

In truth most people who follow the stigma are:
– Hate their job
– Don’t feel settled, grass is always greener
– Have a rocky marriage
– Can’t stand the dog or cat
– Have a house mortgage threatening to bankrupt them
– Have student loans and car loans and fake financial security by having multiple credit cards

When People Ask Me How??

People often ask me “how I do it, how do I travel and live all over the world??”, I reply that I just “do”! 15 years ago I was still paying off $25 000 US in university fees, had a car payment, rent. I paid most of it off by working as an English Teacher in Seoul, Korea and getting to travel at the same time. Then in 2009 (6 years ago) I was working 3 part time jobs and on unemployment. But I found a way of saving, I gave up my car and used the bus, I shopped at the charity shops, I learnt to reuse things for other purposes, finally I moved back in with the folks and managed to find a great job as a vet nurse and then I saved! I didn’t buy name brands or expensive cars or felt embarrassed that I lived with the folks at 32. Heck, I paid a small rent and helped around the house. I paid off my school loans and without a car or a home loan I had no debt… which meant I could explore the world.

At Machu Pichu, Peru

At Machu Pichu, Peru

True I am not married or have kids, yes that does make things a little easier. But I have met people from all over who sell everything that society “requires” you to have and takes their kids on an amazing worldwide adventure. Experience is often the best education.

Bathing in Thermal Mud in Rotorua, New Zealand

Bathing in Thermal Mud in Rotorua, New Zealand

Creativity Makes the Difference

Another important note is that I travel creatively, I find ways to save money from couchsurfing, to work trade in hostels/ backpackers, volunteer work where accommodation is provided, eating locally, not drinking in excess and spending money that way. I spent less than $20 000 total on a year long adventure to 8 different countries from South America to Australia to Nepal.This adventure led me to to work on cruise ships for 2 years all over the world, and, ultimately, to my present job as a dive instructor with Scuba Futures in Thailand. It might look easy every time I try something new or move halfway across the world on another crazy adventure, but I promise you, if you had to watch me trying to decide to buy my air ticket you would see someone who is crazy nervous and on the verge of hyperventilating, and having an internal battle between my “responsible” side vs. my adventurous side. It is never easy to decide to change, but 9 times out of 10 it is worth it.

Working on a cruise ship - Zakynthos, Greece

Working on a cruise ship – Zakynthos, Greece

Doors are always open if you look and even if the path seems difficult and weaves away from the “required” path of 30+ year olds, it’s one hell of a fun path to follow, so give it a try and do something different.

Working as a dive instructor, Koh Phangan, Thailand

Working as a dive instructor, Koh Phangan, Thailand

Go ahead, follow Alice down the Rabbit Hole and see what LIFE has in store for you!

Kissed by a Dolphin in Jamaica

Kissed by a Dolphin in Jamaica

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Landing in Laos

Why Don’t You?

Laos has long been one of those mysterious countries I never thought I would get a chance to visit. Even though I hoped to during my stay on the island in Thailand for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me to leave the island early and visit this stunning country until a friend said “Well why don’t you??” (Thanks Monique). It had been quite a few years since I had gone off exploring alone to a completely foreign country and, although I was nervous, as soon as I found a guide book I was hooked and so the Laos plan developed.

Farewells

The bittersweet truth of leaving to explore is the farewells that need to be said. I have made amazing friends on our little island of Koh Phangan, but since it’s magic seems to draw us back I am sure I will be seeing you all soon…ish! For now it’s off to another adventure, LAOS!!

Getting There

Researching the best way to get there from Bangkok was a little intense, there were flights (quite expensive), busses (over 12hrs or more), trains (with a sleeper bed at least) and so on… I had planned to take the train to Nong Khai, just below the Laos border in Thailand, then take a shuttle to the border, go through immigration, take a shuttle to the capital Vientiane, spend the night and then take a 13hr bus journey to Luang Prabang, my planned destination. Total cost would run around $120 US, total time 2.5 to 3 days.

This would leave me a total of 3 days in Luang Prabang with 6 days ish of travel. The travel agent suggested flying and spending a full week in the town. I agreed and we found a ticket for $279 US, double the price but also double the time.

I am so happy I opted for flying!!!

Immigration

Arriving and getting through immigration was a lot easier than expected, for US citizens it is $35 or 1450baht. I had been told that I had to take new crisp US$ notes or they wouldn’t be accepted, but it turns out they take pretty much anything with a conversion rate. Just be sure you have a passport photo. If not they will charge an extra $1 to take a photo of the passport.

It’s Sunday of Course the Money Exchanges are CLOSED!!!

At Bangkok airport I stopped at 2 or 3 money exchanges to see if I could get Laos Kip, apparently none of them carry it, but no problem right? I can exchange at the International Airport of Luang Prabang, Laos…. right? WRONG!!!!

Once through I went out to exchange money and find a taxi. What do you know??? Arriving on Sunday meant all the exchange offices were closed, what are the odds! Luckily the taxi guy in charge of taxi payments exchanged some money for me, he seemed to be trying to do it quietly and gave me a rate of 8,000kip to $1, so I was pretty certain he was getting a good deal. As it turned out he gave me the same exchange rate as everywhere else, most country’s the guy would have been sure to give a terrible rate as we had no other choice. It cost 50,000kip ($6) to get into town per taxi, so find people and go in a group, I had met a French couple from the Comoros Islands on the plane and so we were able to split it 3 ways.

Finding a Guesthouse

For the first time ever I had not booked a hostel or a guesthouse or anything, I figured I would try practice what I preach, in the sense of “don’t worry, all will work itself out”, plus since I only had my day pack with me it meant I wasn’t lugging all my stuff through town with me….

The French couple had the name of a guesthouse and the taxi driver dropped us off and pointed in that general direction. We were a bit confused as we didn’t see it until I looked up at a building that was definitely not in use! Yup the guesthouse had been closed for 2 yrs… how funny is that.

We went to the one next door but the rooms were too expensive, they had one room for 120,000kip ($15) and the French couple were thinking of taking it. I sighed and said I would keep looking and the clerk said maybe he could give me a discount on the $25 rooms upstairs and make it the same price. It looked great so I agreed (more than I wanted to spend but it was the first night)… then the couple wanted to get the same kind of room at the cheaper price (they claimed the cheaper room smelled funny)… wow! there are 2 of them and 1 of me…. in the end the clerk called the boss and he said no to discounted rooms, so we moved on.

We found a place offering a room for 60,000kip ($6), but they only had 1, so the couple said they were going back to take the cheaper room at the first place (even if it smelled funny)… these people were starting to crack me up. The room I looked at was not all that good so I kept walking. Suddenly I cam across the French couple again talking to a guy on a scooter about a place down the road for 100,000kip ($12). The conversation went something like this:

Guy: We only have 1 room but we can add a bed
Me: I don’t want to impose I can keep looking
French: oh no that is ok, that sounds good
Guy: it is just 20,000 kip more so 120,000 total
French: no no give it to us at 100,000
Me: I don’t mind you are the couple you decide
French: 40,000 ($5) each is too much we take if 100,000kip total
Guy: not possible
French: talking in French look at me
Me: you decide!
French: no we do not want to pay more we think we just take the room for 100,000kip
Me: no problem I go look somewhere else cheers….

They were arguing about paying 40,000kip ($5) instead of 33,000kip ($4.50) and ended up paying 50,000kip…. I am sorry but sometimes the French are weird.

In the end I found this great little place just down the road, 80,000kip ($10), free tea and coffee, wifi (when it is working) and it is in a room with 2 beds so when my new friend from Bangkok arrives it will be perfect! What an adventure!

Pak Huay Guesthouse

Pak Huay Guesthouse

Night Market

I went to the night market to find something to eat and am pretty certain I squealed with delight at the sight. Everything was so well organized and beautiful and when I got to the food section there was so much to choose from I didn’t know what to take, I ended up eating a sausage on a stick and buying a fruit shake… just too much to take in!!

Night Market

Night Market

I was loving Laos already!!!!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Thailand, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ayuthaya or bust!!!!! An Adventure of the Terrific Ten

NapPark Hostel and The Meeting of the TEN!

I have always loved staying in hostels and backpackers, you never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to see….

For example sitting behind the rather see through privacy screen on my lower bunk, a new traveler arrived and obviously or hopefully assumed he was alone. He stripped off to his boxers, then instead of facing the wall to be sure of privacy, he turned towards his bunk (leaving his lower half visible to me) and proceeded to reach in, pull out and give things a good jiggle… I wasn’t sure if I should cough, state “welcome to the mixed dorm” or just sit there silently… instead I tried to type louder but only when I zipped up my computer did I notice pants were replaced rather quickly… ahh yes you have got to love hostel life!

I stayed at NapPark hostel when I first arrived. The pics on the webpage are a little misleading, but the staff are friendly and always answer emails the same day. It is small but clean and comfortable and the lobby area is great to meet new people. On this time round I ended up meeting people from all over and on the first night we all went out to dinner, 11 of us in total.

Dinner with new friends

Dinner with new friends

I had been debating whether or not to fly to Laos or take the 2 day journey of train and bus. A turning point came when I asked the group if anyone would be interested in visiting Ayuthaya, the old capital of Siam, with me, I got a few yes’s so decided to fly (which turned out to be a brilliant decision).

Wrong Information

All the information I had found, from the internet, to guide books, to the hostel staff was as follows: Take the train (it runs every 20min), 20baht for a normal ticket around 130baht for aircon, the trip takes about an hour, then you are there.

So at 8am in the morning I was surprised to see 9 others show up, we ended up grabbing breakfast at the hostel cafe, the single cafe lady received a round of applause when she finished the last dish as she was truly fantastic. Then we were off to find taxis to the train station. Our adventure unfolded thusly:

A lot of the taxis wanted to charge 200baht to go to the train station, but it is important to insist on meters, some even offered to take us for the whole day 1500baht for 4 people per taxi. But we decided to stick to our plan and go with the info given.

The ride to the train station cost 71baht, another reminder to always use meters in the taxis. Then we headed to the ticket counter. The station has information clerks who speak english to help you find the right option. As it turned out the train did not go every 20min, rather ever hour and a half, the trip did not take 1hour, but rather 2hours, and the price for the aircon was 300baht not 130baht…. Well that sucked! We would either have to take the standing only local train for 15baht in 20min, or wait almost 2hrs for the aircon train. Since some of us had night trains in the evenings this wasn’t an option. Also once you got there the temples weren’t all in the same place so you would either have to rent a bike or a taxi anyway…

Rethinking the Plan

We stared at each other for a few minutes, Gina and I went even asked at the counter to make sure these ladies were telling us the correct info, they were. Then we decided to do what we should have done in the beginning find a taxi or van. The info ladies saw our decision and took us upto a tour service. In the end we bargained down to 450baht per person for an air-conditioned minivan and guide. Once again a brilliant decision was made. By minivan it is only an hour and since the temples are not all in one place the guide would drive us round from temple to temple. Most of the temples are free but a few of the best ones are between 20baht and 50baht to enter.

The Terrific Ten go on an Adventure

The Terrific Ten go on an Adventure

Well Worth the Effort

It turned out the whole trip was well worth the effort and the temples were amazing and the aircon in the van was a godsend, as it was hot as hell.

I think HOTLY would have been more appropriate

I think HOTLY would have been more appropriate

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

gold leaf covered Buddha

gold leaf covered Buddha

Line of Buddhas

Line of Buddhas

The Terrific Ten

The Terrific Ten

The second Temple we went to had something I have seen in books and postcards all over the world, the Buddha head surrounded by the roots of the banyon tree, it was stunning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Thailand, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Koh Phangan: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!!!

Chaloklum

Welcome!!!

Welcome!!!

The village of Chaloklum is located in the north of the island, and is a sleepy, laid back fishing village. 4 of the scuba diving schools are based out of here and for most of the year the dive boats leave from this pier. There is really only the main island road and a short village road with shops and restaurants on either side. We have everything from delicious Thai food, great street food, delicious western food and even TWO Italian restaurants! While Srithanu is the yogi hang out, Thong Sala is the “city” and Haad Rin is the party, Chaloklum is that perfect in between with everything you need from quiet to party and an amazing group of locals and expats that make it feel like home!

we are a drinking village with a fishing problem…. so come over and join the fun

My Beautiful little village

My Beautiful little village

The World’s End International Cafe Bar and Restaurant

For the perfect morning coffee or a sumptuous sandwich for lunch… World’s End is the perfect spot. Situated in front of the pier you have an incredible view of the boats coming in and out and can watch the day to day life of a fishing village pass you by.
Run by Lotta for the last 6.5yrs it was originally opened in 2005 and is pretty much a landmark and meeting place for every expat in the village and indeed, the island. Lotte has lived on Koh Phangan for 13yrs, arriving here with her husband and working as a dive instructor. As it happens to so many of us, they came for a few months and never left, ultimately making the island their home.
Among all the incredible options on the menu such as huge baguettes with a wide range of fillings, to quiche, full English breakfast, oatmeal and fruit shakes to die for you will find the most popular item, the Eggs Benedict, truly something worth treating yourself with.
Another plus to the incredible little gem is the options for vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free, making sure there is something for everyone.

For those of you wanting to get married on the island, here is a little secret, Lotta makes the most delicious, stunning wedding cakes!!! So be sure to look her up!

If do one thing in Chaloklum be sure to visit The World’s End!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

AA Massage

This fantastic little gem is run by a wonderful Thai lady named “A”. She has had it for 3yrs and it is conveniently located behind the 7/11 on the curve of the “main” street of Chaloklum. She often has 1 or 2 helpers that are under her training and they all do a phenomenal job. 350baht (around $11 USD) for a 1 hour oil massage is my preference, I try go at least once a week. If you are looking for a great relaxing massage to help work out the kinks of travel, visit AA Massage!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Genny’s aka Cucina Italiano

Genny’s is the ultimate treat while you are on the island and a place I always remember when I leave. Located right on the beach on the “main” road of Chaloklum, means you get to sip red wine while dining on homemade pizza or pasta made by Genny, a local legend! Watch as the tide comes in and on quiet nights you might get serenaded by Genny when he brings out his guitar… The food is amazing and the atmosphere is one of a kind. If for some reason it is full on the terrace, no worries, you can sit next door at Lost Dog and enjoy a drink while still ordering your food at Genny’s, ’cause this is how we roll on the island, relaxed and laid back!

Lost Dog

Located right next to Genny’s is another great stop, they make delicious burgers and have cold beer. Also a pool table for some fun in the evenings. You will find a lot of the local expats gathering here each night and they are always happy to welcome a newby… also if Genny’s is full, you can still order pizza while enjoying drinks and the sunset at Lost Dog

Holy Grill

Meat eaters rejoice!!! This is the place for you, but fear not they have veggies too for those of a more discerning palate. Holy Grill is run by the phenomenal couple, Hinch and Francis, they will welcome you to the Grill and make you feel at home. With the all you can eat BBQ buffet for 220baht, it makes me drool just thinking about it. Hinch’s master BBQ skills produce varieties of chicken, beef, pork ribs (my favorite), fish, veggies (another favorite), add to that bread, salads of all varieties and an apple if you wish. It is well worth the price and definitely worth the atmostphere.

On top of that Hinch and Francis are amazing for other reasons, they provide many BBQ’s for fundraising, just recently it was for the Scuba Drivers bid to save Sail Rock (our prized diving site) and before that an awesome event to raise money for our local humane society, PAC.

A definite itinerary stop where ever you are on the island.

Indy Kitchen / Chaloklum Travel

Needing to book a bus ticket and a little peckish at the same time… well have no fear, Bea and Go have you covered at Indy Kitchen and Chaloklum Travel. Located near AA massage on the “Main” road of Chaloklum. This family run business right out of there home makes you feel welcome and part of the family, especially when the kids are around. Bea and Go have to be 2 of the most amazing people in the village, Bea’s cooking is outstanding (I recommend the crispy pork on fried rice) and both of them are experts on anything travel related within Thailand. I take all my friends and couchsurfers to see them. They are honest and clear and don’t try and make you buy the most expensive choice. Truly wonderful people, with the cutest kids!!! Oh and Bea bakes delicious yummies…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

North Beach

For the best sunset drink you need to follow the dirt beach road passed 7/11 to the end and there you will find North Beach, a great spot for an afternoon drink while watching the sunset.

Photo by Sarah Train

Photo by Sarah Train


For the best

Crow Bar

On the way out of Chaloklum on the road to Tong Sala you will see the sign for the Crow Bar, run by a wonderful couple Chris (Estonia) and A (Thailand), it is often the home away from home for many of us. Warning this is not a ONE DRINK bar!!! Most of us only leave in the wee hours of the morning and if you are too inebriated to drive you can always crash the chairs until you sober up. Thursday have phenomenal live music and if A is cooking you are assured of an incredible meal! Just be careful when someone convinces you to “squeeze the chicken” as there are consequences… It is the Thai version of the Cheers pub, where everyone knows your name.

Mae Haad

Just outside of Chaloklum is a beautiful beach with a little island attached by a sandy strip. Mae Haad beach is a stunning place and one of the best places to go snorkeling, they even saw a whale shark there once. White sand, lots of coral, and massages right on the beach.
Here is a little clip of something exciting I saw while snorkeling :

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Thailand, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Diving into Open Water

The PADI Open Water Course

For most people delving into the world of diving, doing the PADI Open Water course is the first step. For those with less time or more nerves there is also the Scuba Diver course, shorter and certifies to a shallower depth with more restrictions.

The Open Water course takes 3-4 days and will ultimately certify you to dive to 18m / 60ft with a buddy/fellow diver. It is a great course that introduces the students to all the basic skills in an easy succession to ensure the students comfort.

Playing Favorites

I must admit, so far I do have a couple of favorites and it just so happens they were 2 Open Water students. Shon and Mike are a pair of friends from completely different backgrounds and yet most likely brothers in a previous life. Shon, from Israel, met Mike, an engineer at a diamond mine in Arctic Canada, yup you heard right… while traveling in Japan and planned to meet up again in Thailand and do their dive course.

Shon contacted me through couchsurfing and asked many questions concerning class size, cost, where to stay etc.. he was considering Koh Tao as it was cheaper but ultimately liked the idea of having a small private class with me. So it was decided I would host and teach them, great fun would ensue. Shon arrived the day of the Full Moon party and was a hoot, ensuring he not only bought a couple of rolls of toilet paper (amazing how expensive that can get with couchsurfers) but also winning my heart with a reeses peanut butter cup! He headed off to the party and arrived back to pass out in the morning. Meanwhile Mike (who I had assumed was Japanese as all I knew was that they had met in Japan) was flying in from Arctic Canada, after numerous flights and a ferry to the island most people would be exhausted, Mike on the other hand walked from Tong Sala to Chaloklum!!! I repeat walked!!!! Probably a good hour or more with a number of hills. Shon met him and brought him over and let’s just say he wasn’t Japanese, too funny, what a pair.

Mike, Shon and me, please ignore laundry in background

Mike, Shon and me, please ignore laundry in background

Nerves

Probably the one thing that can ruin a course is when the student’s nerves get the better of them, when the “what ifs!!” emerge. While Mike was completely chilled (at least he appeared to be) and taking all the videos in stride with a few questions, Shon’s nerves began to show. Completely understandable considering he was learning in his second language and needed certain words translated. But the moment he said “I have one problem, I can’t breathe through my mouth”…. the headmistress in me came out, the only way to stop the nerves was to make it clear that he had nothing to fear and if he still had these fears after the pool session, then we could discuss them… especially since the whole premise of scuba is to breathe through your mouth. That calmed his nerves dramatically.

This is an important skill to learn as an instructor, some students will need hand holding and tender words, others need a good stern demeanor and an aura of confidence. You just have to know which one and how much to dial it up or down.

Pool Sessions

For the PADI Open Water course there is a required set of 5 sessions in the pool, these can be done all together or over two days. We started in the morning and ended up finishing 5 hours later, very prune like, but happy to have completed all of them.

Once I had them prepare their equipment enough times they could do it blindfolded, it was time to breathe underwater. I knew both of them were nervous so we first just breathed through the regulator above the water, then just the face in the water and finally down on our knees. For me being on my knees in the shallow end gave me a good 5 inches of water above, for them they had to bend over and hunch up… the joys of being tall. As soon as we went under I could see the light bulbs begin to glow and the excitement begin to grow. We whizzed through the skills and the boys were amazing!! A lot of laughs were had.

Wolverine??

Now while Shon was the charismatic, fun loving socialite, Mike was.. well from Arctic Canada with a certain Wolverine quality about him. During one session of diving Shon and I surfaced after completing a skill, to see Mike at the steps, chin on hand… I nearly passed both of them right there and then, they just looked like scuba divers!

At the pier

At the pier

Open Water

Finally completing copious videos and quizzes and finals, it came time to take them into the deep and so we headed off to Sail Rock. Once again they amazed me, even with their nerves they kept calm and completed all the skills with flying colors. All the time they called me Master Sensei, awesome guys to hang out with.

Ready to go!!

Ready to go!!

Dive 1 was the hardest, nerves and distracting fish proved hurdles they luckily got over.

Dive 2 was much better, they flowed through the skills and seemed more confident.

Dive buds!

Dive buds!

Dive 3 on the second day, proved a slight hitch with full mask removal, but once again they overcame their nerves and carried on, even with a bit of a current.

Dive 4 proved to be the one where the veil lifted, the nerves dropped away and much fun was had. Most of the other dive boats had left and it felt like it was just us at Sail Rock, the boys conserved their air well, we got down to 18m with no problems equalising like the first 3 dives. Truly spectacular.

.

.


Neil of Scuba Futures with Shon, Mike and 2 other students

So Proud!!

I felt very proud to announce that they had successfully passed their course and were now PADI divers. I hope to meet up with them again in the future and just head out for a fun dive, no skills or tests required!!

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0971.

Thanks boys for being such amazing students!

Great Students

Great Students

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Scuba Diving, Thailand, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: