Thailand - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 245 (55)

Koh Tao

Monday 8th November

With today being another diving day, we once again had to force ourselves out of bed and into gear. Yet again we would have the luxury of our own dive master who not only would accompany us beneath the surface but would also personally take care of sorting out all our dive gear so that it was ready and waiting for us before we even arrived at the departure point.

Both of this morning’s dives were better than I had anticipated with the viz being quite reasonable. Even though I took around two hundred photos, only a handful of those will be worth keeping. Again, many of the shots would have made for some great keepers but for the debris in the water causing the intense beam from the strobe to reflect back into the camera’s lens. The second part of the second dive was very much shallower at around five to eight meters deep and the debris was much less of a problem at this depth. With the additional advantage of there being more overall natural light to begin with, this made for much better photography.

We rested around the pool after the morning dives and it struck us that we needed Sandy’s health certificate back now that we have finished all the diving we were going to be doing here. Unfortunately, even after an extensive search, nobody at the dive resort was able to locate it. This was more serious than just a mislaid piece of paper. It effectively means that Sandy will not be able to do any more diving unless she lies on her medical questionnaire that is completed whenever we commence diving at a new location. After a fair bit of deer in the headlight standing around on the part of the dive resort staff, I made a suggestion. One of their dive instructors just happens to be a GP and I asked if he would be happy to sign a new health certificate in lieu of the lost one. They still had a photocopy of the original from when it was faxed over from the Bangkok office and this was sufficient for them to allow Sandy to dive so there really shouldn’t be any problem with this. Together, we ultimately decided this was the best course of action and they had Sandy complete a PADI health declaration form, which the doctor was happy to sign. Indeed, this official PADI certificate will be much more readily accepted than the hand-written note from Sandy’s doctor anyway so it all worked out well in the end.

After much consideration, we’ve decided to make Koh Lanta our next destination and I spent some time at one of the many, slow, Internet cafés here on the island trying to find out more about our options there. By all accounts, even though it is probably one of the cheaper locations on the West coast, it is looking like it will be more expensive to dive there compared to here. Here, a two-tank trip out on the boat costs us 1,400B (€26,92) each and this includes the cost of the gear. On Ko Lanta, a two-tank trip on the boat will cost us 2,500B (€48) each. On the other hand, however, their boat trips are longer and include breakfast and lunch so it evens out just a little but is probably still a bit more expensive. Accommodation shouldn’t be too expensive although it will not be integrated into the dive resort grounds as it is here.

We showed the pick of the crop of our underwater photography to a few people here and everybody seems to be quite impressed – except me. I was hoping to have accumulated a lot more keepers than has been the case so far but it has to be said that the prime reason for this has not been our equipment of photography skills but the generally poor visibility and murkiness of the water here on the East coast. I’m expecting to be more impressed by the clearer waters over on the West coast.

Sandy was particularly looking forward to the English Sunday roast dinner that was being served tonight at the pub next door. We both signed up for this and the proprietor was good enough to accommodate Sandy’s preference for something other than the lamb that was being served. We were told not to tell anyone else than Sandy was getting chicken instead. As it turned out, the proprietor and owner of the restaurant was a very nice British woman that just happens to be an underwater photography instructor and we spent much of the evening exchanging tips and showing each other our photos. She was particularly impressed with out camera and strobe and seemed to think that we were already doing very well with regards to our underwater photography. She showed us the amazing difference in results from simply adding a red filter to the camera lens and this is something that I will have to look into further. Sarah was also keen to pass on quite a bit of useful information about the island of Koh Lanta and where we might best go to find a good dive operator that would be best suited to our underwater photography needs. Much of what she had to say married nicely with my own findings from reading the guidebook and browsing around on the Internet so we may follow her advice when we get to the West coasts sometime after tomorrow.

So exhausted was I from the activities of the day that I could do no more than to briefly write up the notes for the day. I will have to complete this log entry tomorrow (which is what I’ve just finished doing).