Stop #3 Koh Lanta, an island in the south of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. This was the scuba part of our trip.  Scuba was never something that interested me.  Jerry had mentioned several times that he would like to try it and since I always plan the trips, I try to fit in things that he would like to do, so that it’s just not all about me.  So here we are to take on scuba!  We had taken the PADI open water online courses at home before we came.

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After doing that, I was second guessing if I even wanted to continue at all.  It’s kind of like drivers ed, where they showed you those horrible videos of car crashes and tell you that you could die!  In the PADI classes they tell you how your lungs could over inflate and burst if you don’t dive properly, not to mention you could get decompression sickness, get mauled by a shark, killed by a boat propeller, run out air and drown, etc, etc.  I guess they just want you to be safe.

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We took the scuba diver course with Sohime at Scubafish with pool instruction right in our hotel pool.

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Since we had done the e-learning courses at home and taken the quizzes online I thought we would get jump into the pool (literally) right away.  Unfortunately, he had us watch 2 more hours of videos and take several more written quizzes before we even got into the water.

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The second day was ‘Dive Day!’  We took an hour long cruise on a really nice dive boat to our site, six karsts that is Koh Haa.

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I wasn’t a big fan of the suiting up part.  The wet suit is tight and hard to get on, especially when wet.  Then I put the BCD on (buoyancy control device-like an inflatable vest) with a full tank of air, and now… I can’t hardly move.  It’s very confining/restricting!  And heavy!

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I felt like a sardine stuffed in a can.  I know – whine, whine, whine.

The scariest part of this entire thing for me was not taking those first breaths underwater, that really wasn’t difficult to do, it was taking that first giant stride off the boat.

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I thought for sure I was going to sink.  But I didn’t.  I popped right up to the surface after jumping in.

We still had to practice some skills underwater with our wonderful instructor Sohime before the fun stuff began.  The hardest for me was the buoyancy control with your breathing (fin pivot).  I had a hard time with it in the pool the day before. It was a little easier the second day.  I was also worried about being able to clear my ears, which really wasn’t much of a problem once you got the gist of it – plug your nose and try blowing through it.  I managed to pass all my underwater tests and pretty soon I looked around and noticed just how truly amazing the underwater world is!

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It really is like swimming in a giant sized aquarium!  There were blue starfish everywhere.  So many brightly colored fish swam up to us and all around us.  Thousands of fish.  The coral was alive and swaying with the current!  We saw a Moray Eel, lionfish, angelfish, little Nemo clown fish, and so many others that I couldn’t begin to tell you their names!  At one point, I tried to join in with a school of long nosed fish swimming by.  I thought they would let me join them but as I got really close, they swam faster than I could and got away.  It truly is another world under the sea.  So beautiful, so full of life! The walls and drop offs, the bottom, seeing boats go by above and other divers below.  Truly truly amazing!   I was hoping to see a turtle or a whale shark but that was not to be today.  We did two dives, each about 45 minutes and at 13 meters (39 feet) in two different areas at Koh Haa. The water was a beautiful

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In between, they fed us on the boat.

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For breakfast (on the way to the dive site) we had fruit, hard boiled eggs and croissants.  Lunch was several different crockpot Thai dishes plus fruit and fried chicken.  On the way back to the pier we had cinnamon rolls.  There must be a good bakery somewhere on this island because the rolls and croissants were fabulous!   And we found good coffee!!!  In a can – iced coffee.

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We also had time to chat.  I met a British woman who has been living in Chile for the last 30 years.  She didn’t dive on this trip – just snorkeled, but her husband dove and her son was one of the dive masters on the boat.  We were the only Americans on board.  There were probably about 12 divers and about 10 staff.  I felt very safe and comfortable the whole time. It was a great experience!

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On the way back to shore I couldn’t help but think how lucky I am to have had this experience.  It was so serene – dangling my legs off the side of the boat in the 86 degree sunshine, watching the karsts we just dove around get smaller as we sped away and the mountains of Koh Lanta get bigger as we returned to the island, no worries, no cares, no chores to do, bills to pay, work to do.  Just simply being there in the moment.  Complete freedom.  Now this is living!

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