Living the life as a diving instructor on the tropical island of Koh Tao is as close to perfection as it gets (especially with the addition of air conditioning). Although, after a short time, you find you are stuck in a bit of a bubble, adrift from the outside world.
Therefore it is always a pleasant experience when family or friends come and visit with news of what lies outside. However there are a few expectations put upon a dive instructor as payment for the pleasure of their company. The main one being that no family member should be able to leave the island without having ventured into the sea. That put me in a slight predicament as this particular family member had in the last few years managed to scare herself out of an indoor swimming pool for fear of sharks. My apprehension was not abated with the news that with her first expedition to the beach she quickly left the water after seeing her own shadow below her body.
How then to tackle this problem? Well, after a couple of hours in the pool spent mastering the basics of diving she was persuaded to venture into open water. Along with three other Discover Scuba divers and under the supervision of two very capable Divemaster trainees – and myself, of course – we embarked to a dive site called Hin Won Bay. The sea was choppy and the visibility was far from ideal however my anxiety was almost immediately quashed when within minutes the same person who had managed to exit a 10m squared pool due to fear of sharks was now posing happily for photos, fascinated by Christmas Tree worms and chasing after Butterfly fish.
This one Discover Scuba Dive was followed by an additional dive and then one more the following day. Time constraints being the only factor restricting them completing an Open Water Course. They left the island with a smile, a new passion to explore the underwater world and planning a return trip to this beautiful island.
The moral of this story boys and girls is that people can surprise themselves. The age old philosophy of ‘you’ll never know unless you try’ is never more relevant when applied to diving. It is an activity so alien from day to day life – unless you’re already a diving instructor on Koh Tao – that there is no way of truly know how you will react to a journey into the blue unless you just give it a go.
Who knows how much you will surprise yourself?