October 16, 2015 2:39PM
Ring. Alarm. 5AM. Very early, but I woke up with no problem. Too excited to go dive.
I pretty much got out of my room within 5 minutes. Absolutely dark outside. So surprised. Even Japan or even Canada would be sunrise during this time, as both Canada and Japan have daylight coming in starting 4:30AM or so. This was the time when I used to start bird banding. 5AM here in Koh Tao was complete darkness. It was not until 6AM when the sky finally turns blue.
And of course, I was the first one to arrive at the dive shop, as usual, at around 5:30AM, even though my hostel was only 10min walk away and Seven Eleven was less than 5 min away. If I did not arrive at the spot on time or even 15 min late, the taxi will start off without me and I will miss my dive. The next person arrived after me was by 5:40AM or so. She opened the doors of the dive shop and equipment room. The rest came, and of course, other students came last.
Katharina F., a fellow hostel traveller and a diving instructor from Stanford, California, also booked with Roctopus for the morning dive, which she told me the day before, also came to the dive shop. We talked a bit at the bench and she, too, was very excited for the dive.
We were greeted by our videographer, Charlie, and his wife. Both of them came on this day because of high number of interested students wanting to have videographed. It was agreed among our instructors that I should be taken videos as well; however, it was limited due to me having only one-on-one interaction, while others were 3-4 people per group, although the RAID couple was also 2. Nonetheless, they had higher priority than me when it comes to videographing. I was charged 1000 Baht (about $33 USD) per 20 min video so I have thought. It turned out to be only 12 min since my time was limited. I do not know how much others are charged but I believe they are also charged 1000 Baht.
The morning dive was located at Chumphon Pinnacle rated as advanced, best known as the location for whale shark sighting. Whale shark was seen the previous week. However, whale shark is extremely rare to see during this season and at Koh Tao in general. Even my instructor only saw whale shark during snorkeling but never saw whale shark while diving. Not sure where she saw the shark though – it might not have been at Koh Tao. Since it was a deeper dive, up to 18m, the limit for Open Water Diver certification, I was told that I would see different fish species and it would be quite different. And yes, they were right. Schools of fish, not just a pair of angelfish or butterflyfish, but a school of barracuda was seen, and they made an almost circle around me and other divers, as seen in the video later. As usual, barracuda is common in tropical waters, not just in Thailand, but they are also found in Costa Rica. Barracuda is common at the depth of deeper than 15m, at Chumphon Pinnacle and they can be found every morning dive.
The school of barracuda was the most interesting wildlife I have seen during this dive.
The second dive, which started at 9:30AM, was at White Rock (5-22m) with the rating of easy to intermediate. Same fish, but not barracuda. Maybe it was not deep enough for them, as Chumphon Pinnacle can go deeper than 30m.
We got back to the dive shop around 11:30AM. There were people waiting to go to dive, just like my first dive day. The White Rock dive was the last dive for Open Water course. The conclusion was I need more practice with buoyancy and trim. All the dives were logged into the log book and I was ready for Advanced Adventurer course the next day. Caritha said I should go watch video that night and maybe I was in one of the videos.
Since the morning dive started so early, I relaxed at the hostel lobby where one could watch TV by lying on the wooden floor. There were already two or three people watching TV by the time I got there. I was quite surprised by the fact that they were relaxing and I had no idea what they were doing in Koh Tao. Weren’t they travelling in SE Asia? Why weren’t they enjoying somewhere else by the beach and snorkeling? It was all mystery to me. I would not spend so much money and travel so far and just spend my time watching TV all day. Besides, most of the people at the hostel came from Germany, Netherlands, and UK. All were so far away and plane tickets were no doubt very expensive. They probably could not wait to get to Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan, which was planned on Aug 29, 2015, the day before I get back to Japan. Unfortunately, I could not go to the huge party because it would be risky to catch the ferry last minute. I would only have 2.5 hours to get to the airport if the planned schedule was on time, which was never on time, anyway. The schedule always delays 0.5-2 hours. So, I have decided to go to the Full Moon Party the next time I visit Thailand, since I do have a feeling I will visit there again while I am still in Japan and the fact that the Party occurs once every month.
We watched couple of movies during my relaxing time. Katharina woke up some time and joined us for movie time. The one movie that I watched all was called The Inbetweeners 2, which I have never heard of, neither Katharina and non-UK residents. Apparently, the movie was popular in UK. The movie was a comedy and it was quite funny. I am not a comedy fan and I don’t watch comedy movies and even I enjoyed the movie. After this movie, it was maybe around 3-4PM, I controlled the TV since no one knew how. We switched from here and there. Not all TV shows/movies clips worked. We eventually found a movie called Sushi Girl and we thought it sounded interesting. We decided to watch it. However, we later found that the beginning of movie was quite strange…a naked woman with sushi on it…and gang members (so we think) talking beside. It was indeed weird. We switched the movie to something else. I don’t remember the name of the movie but it was something about a woman suing the husband over scandal…they seemed to keen to watch the movie. I absolutely found it extremely boring. By this time, it was time for me to go to the bar and watch the video.
October 28, 2015 2:27PM JST
There were a couple of people there at first then more people came. At the end, the bar was full of students and staff from Roctopus. The video was great. It was about 20 min long. The first part was introduction of previous video content of Roctopus. After this part, the video was exclusively about the students who requested to be filmed.
I talked to some instructors. I did get any chance to talk to students however. I got some photos taken with instructors and overall view of the bar. That’s it. I was pretty tired and got bored rather quickly. I left the bar after an hour without drinking (well, I was out of money), and returned to hostel and spent the rest of day with my hostel travellers.