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Monday, 30 April 2018

Thailand: The Travel Archives - Learning to dive in K'oh-Samui

I like to think I'm pretty adventurous on the whole and up for gaining new experiences, travelling to new countries and generally pushing myself out of my comfort zone...but I found learning to dive quite difficult and scary.


Don't get me wrong, it was an incredible experience. It's just that it was a lot harder than I thought it would be and I found it tricky to learn. I honestly thought that it would be a case of learning to use the kit and that would be it but there was so much more to it than I had expected, including exams.



Also how depressing that my roots are even visible underwater haha!



You'd think after wingwalking, skydiving, bungee jumping and shark-cage diving that diving would be a piece of cake but I actually found it really stressful experience. I don't think it helped that I had gone on a solo trip to K'oh Samui either because it was just a lot to deal with at once. I hadn't gone on a solo trip for ages before so I was really panicked and on the way over I had my first ever panic attack.

So as you can imagine, I was feeling a bit nervous!

They were asking me on the form if I'd ever had a panic attack and I didn't want to say because first off, I wasn't sure at the time having never had one before and second, I'd paid already and I'm from Yorkshire so no matter what - I was going to finish that bloody course haha.

In the end I did eventually get into the swing of it and get my license (so worth it) but I'm not exaggerating when I say it was one of the harder things I've done. I'm so made up that I passed the test now because once you have learned you only need to do 1/2 day recap on diving technique rather than the whole course again. Phew!


I loved the diving and enjoyed the scenery both on top of and under the water. It's an amazing thing to see all the coral and fish under the water but my issue was struggling with the mask. Specifically being able to clear it out after it gets filled with water. This probably sounds like no big deal but you have to be able to successfully clear the mask to get the license and it was the hardest thing.

You have to fill the mask with water, then clear it back out by breathing in through your mouth and out of your nose while the seal is slightly open. This pushes the water out so you can see again. 

It sounds so simple but I found that when my nose was wet I accidentally inhaled the sea water and started choking. Every single time. The first day it happened I started choking, panicked and headed to the surface which is a massive no-no for diving. I got told off by my instructor and told to try clearing the mask again and again...and again. I was actually under water for ages that day with my mask full of water because it took me so long to clear it without inhaling something. It's a really horrid feeling to have water in your nose when you are breathing in through your mouth - to me it felt so unnatural. It's weird because I can do it fine on land but under water it felt so so difficult.

Yes, I'm literally practising it now to prove it to myself haha.

In the final exam I had to be able to clear the mask properly or I wouldn't get my license and I was STRESSED just thinking about it.


This eel legit sums up how I was feeling about the mask test in the lead up to the final exam haha.


I was actually losing sleep thinking that I am not going to pass this test and that I am going to be stuck under the water and not be able to see. When the mask is full of water you actually can't see a thing - even though the water seems clear it is full of tiny bits of sand and shell etc. so you can't just open your eyes and carry on. You have to get the water completely out.

My whole group seemed to be finding it easy and I was the only one who day in day out struggled with the mask. I felt like such a failure.
My instructor tried to make me feel better and told me it is a problem a lot of people have and not to overthink it. Ha! I am the QUEEN of overthinking and I cannot switch off at all so that did not work for me one bit.

On the day of the test we did the whole dive and I was feeling okay. I enjoyed seeing all the sea creatures and was playing 'Spot the cast of finding Nemo' but in the back of my mind I was thinking '****! I was trying to make the most of it because I figured I would fail and would never dive again.



When we had to pass the mask portion my instructor had me do it first. On my first attempt I failed to get the water out but I didn't go the surface. I stayed under water and fought my instincts to breathe in through my nose and then tried again. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when the water went out out of my mask. I was so happy I had done it that I didn't even believe it at first. I just sat there with my eyes shut not understanding it was done until I got tapped on the shoulder. I was so proud of myself because it was such a challenge and SO glad it was over. 

I would definitely recommend learning to dive to anyone because even though I found learning challenging, the views more than make up for it. It's genuinely another world down there - there are mountains made of coral and all types of sea creatures you've only ever seen in an aquarium before. I was really shocked at how many fish we could sea and it just felt amazing to be swimming around so close to all these species.



  

So if you haven't learnt to dive yet I would absolutely recommend it, and don't worry - I'm sure you will be better than I was haha. I will have to do a post on my trip above land next.

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