Dive master highlights!!!
08.11.2011 - 08.02.2012 30 °C
The bucket list
When I set out on this year off I had a "bucket list" of things I wanted to do and dive master was right near the top of the list. I decided last Jan while on a live aboard looking at the stars one night in Cairns that getting my DM would be a good thing to do and now here I am!! As a dive master you can lead people under water and conduct scuba reviews. The course entails assisting instructors on all the PADI courses, stamina tests and guiding and lasts about 6-8 weeks.
My fellow DMT's
Lynne a beautiful lady from Florida, just quit her job in Cirque de Soleil, Kristine (aka Champu - pink in Thai) from Norway a fellow traveller and Kristina a lovely lady from Poland. I am dutifully informed on my first day that as last one in I am the "DMT bitch" which basically means the sh!t rolls down hill and as the newest member of the team I get all the rubbish jobs and everything is my fault!
Life on Lanta can only be described as a bubble, day to day is packed full of exciting things to do.. Mostly diving, running, sun bathing, chatting, drinking and partying.. Tough life but someone has to do it!! Your living on an island so the "real world" is a world away and feels it especially when you are so busy having FUN!
Lanta is a wonderful island, chilled and sprawling.. A party can always be found but you have to know where to look! The beaches are amazing, the beach I spent my time on mostly was Khlong Dao, family friendly, 3k,s in length - I ran up and down it often, fab bars to enjoy a sundowner and fantastic thai and western food! The beaches south of kd are also nice, long beach has some fab bars and the further south u go the more chilled and quieter u get...
So.. I ended up spending 100 amazing days in Lanta, I met some AMAZING people - you know who you are ;-) drank far too much, partied like a crazy women, got a ridiculous tan, got some guns (muscles) ate the most amazing thai food and became a DIVEMASTER eeek!! I have no idea how to even start summarising my time on Lanta but I will try!
As DMT bitch - last one in is always given this gracious title I had my work cut out for me as I am swiftly informed anything that goes wrong is my fault and I get the worst jobs - seriously! Bring it on I’m up for the challenge. I signed up for a partial intern course which meant I would pay for half my course and work for the rest of it.. Work involved selling dive packages at the shop in the south or boat master managing the boat.
All the DMT's lived in the same apartment block and quickly became friends.. We spent many an evening sharing our joys and frustrations about the day’s events! As a dive master you are responsible to guide customers under the water - sounds simple right?!? I was about to work out how much more involved it can be!!
The perfect assistant?!
My first day didn’t go too well.. It turns out I like to talk a lot?!? Hehehe the instructor I was assisting was not too impressed when me and his student talked most of the way to the dive site and we didn’t have time to complete the test the student needed to complete.. Oops!? I soon worked out that timing is very important on a dive boat!! It turns out I improved from that point on and I really enjoyed helping out on the courses especially the open water courses when the students do their first dive it’s so nice to see people discovering the underwater world :-D
My favourite course was one I sold making some sweet commission a lady from Canada that hadn't dove in 31 years!! The equipment was totally different than what she had learnt in.. I took her through everything again. Under the water I demonstrated all the skills she had to do a first for me and she did really really well :-)
Sat nav anyone?!!
Hmm so those of you that know me well know that my sense of direction is terrible.. So this was the biggest challenge for me actually working out where the hell I was and making sure we were going in the right direction and getting back to the boat!! Initially I was totally lost under the water and was really pleased I was just diving at the back.. You start at the back of a group until you feel confident to lead.
My first guiding experience was guiding an instructor we were at hin Daeng a very famous beautiful dive site 4 hours from koh lanta.. I was very proud of myself I made it back to the boat! and while my profile was not perfect I was pleased with my efforts! I did get lost a few times, hehe another dive master was thankfully there pointing me in the right direction phew!!
Do that one again
We all love doing and redoing the underwater skills right.. Hmmmm. My favourite skill is fin pivot why the f do I have the floattyest feet in the world and why can’t I seem to straighten my legs blah... I have no problem taking my mask off, hovering, recovering my mask but fin pivot is not my strongest point.. As part of dmt you must demonstrate all the skills to very high standard and if u can’t you must repeat until u can.. I had to redo my pivot a few times! On one occasion we did our skills at the local beach and the viz was so bad we could hardly see our hands in front of our faces let alone complete skills good training apparently!! On another I had a little fish from hell biting me while I was trying to complete a skill I was jumping up and down in the water like a jack in the box.. Less than professional apparently!!
Theory wasn't too bad.. Watching more padi videos cheesy but painless but then I heard about the physics that we had to do!? Science has never been more strong point and so this as going to be a challenge.. mellisa taught us and thankfully she was a good teacher and very patient! She explained it so it was easy to understand and we aced our test so we must have been listening!!
Another bikini ANYONE?!?
I was not too concerned about the stamina tests.. I’m fit and I can swim.. Easy right.. How wrong could I have been?!? The first test was just a 15 min float.. No issues there passed easily check! The next was the "Mickey mouse porno push" otherwise known as the tired diver tow! Involving pushing a victim back to the boat with their feet on your shoulders.. Hence the commonly termed mickey mouse name!! I ended up pushing James our lovely boat master.. Just happens to be over 6ft,! Initially I pulled rather than pushed oops wake up me.. I then realised and stared pushing back to the boat.. I made it although I’m sure the boat was slowly moving further and further away :-) the next was the swim... Omg I did not choose the right bikini for this one!! Much to the delight of everyone on the boat I spent the majority of my 7 laps round the boat yanking my bikini top up!! Eek! I did consider dumping the top and getting a better time but it would not have been worth the stick I would have got for it! The penultimate stamina test was the 800m swim with fins but no arms.. Sounds easy huh?? I found this one of the hardest to do.. Me and champu grabbed Carolina and headed to the beach to do this, the conditions were perfect and I was pretty confident of a good time until I found out you couldn’t use ur arms.. We made a start for it heads in the water and kick kick kick.. I popped my head out of the water after the first few mins to find out I was heading back to land argh!! Wasted effort.. I spent the next 800 m zig zagging my way to land and back out to sea.. Im sure I covered a massive distance in the end!! The stress test was the final icing on the cake.. Officially this is known as equipment exchange.. Hmmm the unofficial story is that u should be able to deal with stressful situations and so while exchanging equipment there is other staff hanging around throwing sand, grabbing your equipment, blowing bubbles from their reg in ur face and generally being a nightmare while you are exchanging your gear while sharing a regulator with your buddy.. Arg!! This ended up being one of the hardest things I have ever done.. But after a couple of un successful attempts I managed it with my most amazing buddy Krys!! :-) the only thing left now was the snorkel test!!
After 6 long weeks, some amazing diving, The last unofficial stamina test to complete was the snorkel test, downing a renowned bucket of alcohol and mixer through a snorkel!! The blue planet snorkel parties a renowned on the island and this one did not disappoint. The 4 of us did it together and the night was named ladies night, we were to come in our best dresses to complete some fun games and then take the snorkel. We arrived to a fluorescent cocktail and the night just went downhill from there! Lynne was up first and remarkably took the whole bucket trough the snorkel and then a full beer.. The rest of us did not do so well but I managed a respectable amount. I was the last one standing that night after plenty more drinks, fun and dancing the night away in celebration of surviving!
We all woke up the next day with stinking hangovers but pleased to now all have survived our training and initiation we were all now newly qualified dive masters!!
A big thank you to Melissa the owner of Blue Planet and all the instructors who helped me through the course! You all know who you are couldn’t have done it without you, I learnt so much!!
You’re coming diving with me and I get paid for this?!
I was quickly put to work as a dm as I was informed my first customers were a lovely family of 3 from Canada.. Melissa told me if I played my cards right and they liked me I would get to guide them for the 4 days they were diving with us. The first dive was pretty intense, the father of the family was a professional commercial diver and they had a child of 10 who had just learnt to dive.. But overall they really enjoyed it, I enjoyed showing them the best of the dive sites in Lanta and at the end I got some great feedback and my first tip :-)
Whale shark at Hin Daeng[/b]
After just 2 weeks on Lanta I got to head out to the famous hd I was not diving but was boat master, managing the boat and making sure everyone went into the water, got down safely and came up ok and got out ok.. After about 30 mins of the first dive I saw a head pop up and I immediately recognised it as one of our divers.. I was getting ready to tell the boat staff when I realised they had seen but it turned out the diver was signalling to us that there was something massive on the surface. After a few seconds we realised it was a whale shark!! I was initially concerned about leaving the boat to see it but the captain practically pushed me off the boat to go snorkelling with it :-) there was just 2 of us at the surface for 20 mins while this baby 5m whale shark inquisitively circled us AMAZING AMAZING site, one I will never forget :-)
So a roundup of my time on Koh Lanta would not be complete without a mention of the extremely yummy food and drink consumed so here goes...
My fav restaurants and drinking spots and why..
Breakfast is a close call between two western places either baans next to the dive shop in saladan serving fantastic coffee and sandwiches or the German bakery on the main rd near klong dao beach again great coffee, bread and eggs! Many many hours spent in both of these places catching up on the lanta gossip!
Dinner thai is san on the main road at klong dao does the most amazing red curry with shrimp it’s worth the very very long wait.. They have a juke box in a fridge.. Random but true which plays a lot of random tunes anything from ymca, thru john denver rhine stone cowboy hahah and some more later stuff. Tom yam salad papaya salad is served best at lap royet and was a great takeaway option for the nights I wanted a chilled one in or a catch up with lynn on the green rooms balcony. Western food is great at koala bar pizzas are amazing and they are also good at Ling uan. Bamboo restaurant on the KD beach is a great option for dinner on the beach and do great pad thai! I spent one very special night going to the nicest restaurant in town red snapper I would definitely recommend it the food is divine especially if you have been on the island for a while and are craving scrummy food the wine was great and the company wasn’t bad either :-)
Favourite drinking spots the balcony at green rooms where we live was a fav hangout for all us dmts :-) many a night spent catching up on gossip, putting the world to writes and talking about our days.
Indian on the beach a bar found by Lynn while googling something else served the great wine just by where we lived and perfect for sundowners.
The best moijitos on lanta are served at lin uans although warning if there is a free bar which there was once while I was there don’t consume your body weight in moijitos it makes for a rough hangover the next day!!
Partying has to be done at the Irish bar a great quiz on a Monday and great as a warm up place for going on somewhere else. The blue planet team spent many a night dancing to cheesy 80s music here way after all the other dive shops were tucked up in bed.:-)
Saturday nights is corner bar, a great bar on the beach. Don’t get persuaded into drinking buckets you never know where you night will end up!!
The rest of the stories and experiences will stay on Koh Lanta - to be revisited next season )