Goin down under...
8.9.10 90 °F
Today was the big day, time for our first scuba dive! We woke up early and met up with our dive group around 7:30 am. The Italian was nowhere to be found. After waiting a while and calling his room, we deducted that the embarrassment over his special Speedo package was too much to bear. We imagined him curled up in his bed, tears in his eyes, using his Speedo as a tissue. No big loss, our group dwindled down to three.
We grabbed our mask, fins, and BDC and headed out onto a small boat that would take us out to sea and transfer us to the big boat.
We sailed out to Mango Bay, our first dive sight.
We suited up, went through our buddy check, and flung ourselves overboard. Our first dive was a fairly shallow dive, 40 feet deep.
It was a truly incredible experience. The ocean was alive with life flourishing all around us. Vibrantly colored fish swam along unaffected by our presence as a gaped in awe. Schools of fish weaved between our legs as anemones waved with the current below us.
We saw angel fish, butterfly fish, clownfish, black dashels, which are all pretty typical of this region, but wowed us foreigners.
The lessons were far from over and after a while of swimming he took us away from the reefs to review our hand signals. He racked up a few more beers as we all shot him thumbs up, overexcited about our surroundings.
We headed back up to the surface for a short break before dive number 2. In order to avoid Nitrogen Narcosis, you have to make sure not to stay underwater for an extended period of time, so they always break up our dives. We took off our soaking wet gear, switched to a new tank for our next dive, and relaxed in the sun. We snacked on some tea and cookies while we dried off and before long we were back underwater.
We drove to the same depth but explored a whole different coral reef. We interacted with the ocean life as Dave passed around a sticky sea worm that he plucked off of a barrel sponge.
We spotted triggerfish, grouper, and baby barracudas as Dave showed us the underwater signs for each one. The highlight of the day was a giant moray eel we that was creeping out of a cavern right as we floated by.
Today’s underwater lesson was how to clear your mask of water, an activity that I was not looking forward to. In the pool Dave taught us that if you get water in your mask, you slightly tilt the bottom of the mask off your face while looking upwards and exhaling through your nose. My eyes are sensitive and in the pool it didn’t sting too bad but I did not want to find out what the salt water felt like. We all sat in a circle at the ocean floor as Dave rotated around and had us each demonstrate how to fill and clear our mask. He had a great time making fun of me when I tried to sneak by with only filling my mask a quarter full. He mimicked me crying like a little girl and I laughed so hard I started choking. I had not learned how to laugh underwater yet. As punishment, he made me remove my whole mask, exposing my face to the salty ocean, before I cleared it. This was not a fun experience. My eyes burned as left over salt water trickled down my eye lashes into my stinging eyes. It only took a few minutes to recover, I couldn’t be miserable swimming around this gorgeous scenery. I couldn’t wait to go again.
We got back to the hotel around noon and were a little tuckered out from the early rise and swimming around for hours. I decided to give myself a little pampering (as if swimming around a tropical island isn’t spoiling enough). I headed to a beach front spa and signed up for manicure/pedicure for an incredible 250baht, which is about $7. I sat in a row of leather chairs where I had a view of the ocean on one side and Thai massages being administered on the other.
Massages in Thailand are not executed like massages in the states. There is no private room with soft, soothing music and lavender smells wafting about, it is very public. There were rows of mattresses lining the walls and women who were stripped down to their bras laid next to perfect strangers. I watched the therapists contort their clients into origami and despite the lack of privacy, it looked pretty stimulating and made me want one.
I sat on the leather chair and propped my feet up on a covered stool. As the soundtrack changed from radio pop to old school Jay-Z , my manicurist sat down, dressed in free-flowing hippie pants and a white t-shirt adorned with sparkling marijuana leaves.
This was definitely unlike any other manicure I’ve ever had. I jammed along to the “Hard Knock Life” album as my cuticles were clipped and my toes were painted passion pink. After I was sufficiently spoiled, they brought me a cup of warm tea to sip and I watched the waves roll in as my nails dried in the sun.