While in Phuket I saw scuba diving schools everywhere. After seeing them so many times I gave in to temptation. I looked up the dive shops I saw online until I found a review of one I was comfortable with. I finally settled on Phuket Scuba Club (their blog).
I started out at their Karon Beach facility which was basically really just a tiny little hut on the beach. It makes for a nice classroom though. Normally you go through book work, videos, quizes and tests over three days while doing water work as well. Well I didn't get to do that thanks to a scheduling snafu. My first instructor, Rachel, apparently did not realize she needed to go on a visa run until after we started the class. Because of that we decided to do all the paper work, videos, quizes, and tests crammed into two days with no water work. Then I did all my water work with a different instructor. Normally you just get one instructor for the whole course. It worked out though. I passed my tests and for PADI open water.
It was on to water work at their other location at Karon Beach with Ashley (Ash), one of the other instructors there. What seemed to be a horrible mistaken on Phuket Scuba Club turned out to be pretty good. I thought Ash was a wonderful instructor. He was able to show me all the techniques I had to learn and was an absolute wealth of knowledge as he answered all my questions effortlessly. He also took me to a some yummy places to eat, and took me to a bar to catch the Ricky Hatton fight. All in all I owe my diving success to him and would highly recommend him to anyone. He's now running his own diving company teaching privately: Elite Scuba Europe.
Scuba Diving has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. What that says about my life I'll leave up to you. What you can take away from that statement though, is that if you've never done it I highly recommend you try.
I had never experienced anything quite like the act of diving. It's as close as you can get to the weightlessness of space without being in space. Floating along the ocean floor, moving up and down as you breath in and breath out; it's quite exhilarating your first time. In fact, you'll probably get a kick out of just being able to breath underwater.
I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau (inventor of scuba diving) videos as a child. I was always amazed with the sea life he was able to capture on film. Of course, as a first time diver, I didn't exactly do the dives or see the life of the famous Jacques Cousteau. Still diving off long boats from Kho Phoo Island in Phuket Thailand was still special as I was able to see an abundant amount of tropical sea life in the very warm and comfortable waters of Phuket.
I did five dives off Kho Poo Island / Phuket, where one of them part of my training and, three were my open water dives for my class, and one of them was just a fun dive after my training was completed. In these dives I saw a small school of barracuda, of course all the tropical fish from the movie Nemo, a puffer fish, a blue spotted manta ray, angel fish, many many different schools of fish that I cannot name, and of course sea anemone, and star fish (even saw a few moving... slowly).
The highlight had to be my last dive, the fun dive. I dove with Bank, and dive master from Europe of Thai decent I believe. We saw lion fish, cleaner shrimp, of course tons of schools of fish (Bank actually got a few fish and shrimps to play with him) and this beautiful rock formation home to so many little fish. We had to swim against the current to get there, and it was more taxing than any dive I had done before, but it was well worth it. Around this large rock (easily larger than two of me) were tons of different schools of little fish all swimming in different rings. Some around the rock, some through the holes in the rock. Think of those pictures of plants with rings around them only where there are many rings and the rings are made up of little tropical fish. I thought it was absolutely breath taking.
Now I'm making little dives and not in the more well known places in Phuket like Phi Phi Island, or the Similan Islands, so I didn't get the most amazing views of sea life. But despite that I had such a blast. I really enjoyed watching the marine life though. The warm and clear waters of Phuket probably spoiled me too. I'm really looking forward to future dive trips where I may be able to see sea turtles, sea lions, kelp forrests, and maybe if I'm lucky whale sharks. I do plan on getting my Advanced certificate so I can dive deeper and into wrecks.