Monday, 16 March 2009

February 25 2009 - a new diver is born

Hoorah, I'm now an aquanaut, having completed my PADI open water certificate. As usual for me, it didn't go without incident. On day three my life jacket didn't inflate when I jumped into the water, which really made me panic. I knew I wasn't going to drown, but I was pretty scared. I kept being dragged under water by my weight belt. I didn't let it drop as there would've been a hefty fine. Surely a near-drowning and a bit of water on the lungs was better than parting with the cash I needed to celebrate my new-found skill that evening. Fortunately Kristien was there to save me. All was fine, but it really shook me up. However as tears pricked my eyes, I fought them back. I knew that if I gave into to them they wouldn't stop. I was determined to get my certificate. I'm so proud of myself because I was petrified of diving, having tried it five years ago in Egypt. My good friend Hayley had to hold my hand the whole time. Now I can dive without clutching someone's hand as if my life depended on it.

The fear was worth it; diving in Koh Lanta is among some of the best in the world. We saw blacktip reef sharks (not as menacing as you'd think) and scary stonefish, probably the deadliest of all fish, for they are highly poisonous and are almost invisible. They cunningly look like harmless rocks, further camouflaged by sand. The highlight was being rewarded by a sighting of a majestic hawksbill turtle on the final dive. It was happily tootling around on the ocean floor, minding it's own business. An amazing sight for a diving novice.

A big thanks goes to Oh and Kristien who, without their patience and competent training, I would never have succeeded. They are in the photo above (if only I was as good at posing for photos as I am at diving). My next dive will be in Malaysia, where I am headed next week. I need to change the name of my blog, as I am no longer going to Vietnam. Best laid plans and all that........

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