They say diving is a ‘transformational’ experience. I only heard this after I had decided to do my Dive Master training at Davy Jones’ Locker. It seems strange to me that more people don’t use that word to describe the experience of diving when they are explaining it to people that have never tried it. To say that something is ‘transformational’ or life changing is a strong assertion and one that can be difficult to explain to others.
I began traveling 6 years ago. Most of my journeys have been in and around SE Asia. Most recently I traveled for 7 months straight through most of the SE Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar/Burma, and Thailand). By the time I reached Thailand I was planning to head to India. I applied for my visa and headed to Koh Tao while I awaited processing. By now I had been feeling like there was something missing in my journey. I enjoyed the sights, people, food and adventures along the way but I was getting bored.
While heading to remote locations to visit ancient ruins, active volcanoes or seek out rare wildlife, you are almost undoubtedly going to be accompanied by a few additional ‘explorers’. The truth though is that you really never feel like you are exploring anything; You get there (usually with a certain degree of trepidation), you see the sight, and you leave. In between that you search out food, shelter and transportation, which in all honesty can sometimes be the most exciting aspect of traveling. You rarely see anything that has not already been seen by thousands if not hundreds of thousands of other people.
While I sat on my porch, beer in hand, watching the sun set from Koh Tao, I contemplated how one would pursue avenues of new exploration. The kind that didn’t involve tourist buses and package deals and hours of negotiation with people of questionable intentions. Meanwhile, a longtail boat in front of my bungalow was being loaded with tanks, dive gear and a few people dressed in wetsuits. They were heading out for a night dive.
I had already done my Open Water certification and fallen in love with diving. I had yet to do any diving on Koh Tao and was a little hesitant as my funds were beginning to run low (I still had my eyes on India, Nepal and Africa). Nevertheless, I headed to Davy Jones’ to do a couple of fun dives.
The first thing I noticed was the upbeat, fun atmosphere around the dive shop as well as the camaraderie amongst the dive staff. Once under the water I was in awe of the number and variety of fish. Back on my porch, watching another beautiful sunset I made the decision to make diving my life. With a Dive Master (or Instructor) certification, I would be able to continue my travels while making money, see things that few other people (if any) had seen, and maintain that sense of true exploration that I was craving so badly.
A month later I was a certified Dive Master and had been hired by DJL. I now get payed to explore the underwater world. I have swam with whale sharks and bull sharks, tracked down elusive blue-spotted stingrays, and seen some of the most beautiful (and sometimes strange) fish and coral growths. If that wasn’t enough to make me happy then I can always fall back on the looks of absolute glee that my customers have on their faces following a dive.
Diving has changed the way that I look at the world and all the possibilities that it holds for me. From exploring untouched WWII shipwrecks in the Phillipines to discovering new cave systems in the Yucatan and even swimming through the streets of sunken cities in Norway. The possibilities are endless. Indeed, ‘transformational’ just about explains the sport of diving. But if you don’t believe me just try it for yourself and tell me I am wrong.