Being a dive instructor on the tropical island of Koh Tao, while being as close to perfection as it gets especially with the addition of air conditioning, you can find that after a while 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 a visiting with news of what lies beyond. 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 under the sea. This put me in a slight predicament as this particular family member had in the last few years managed to scare themselves out of an indoor swimming pool for fear of sharks. My fear was not abated with the news that with her first expedition to the beach they quickly left the water after seeing their own shadow below them.
How then to tackle this problem. Well after a couple of hours in the pool spent mastering the basics they were persuaded to venture into open water. Along with three other discover scuba divers and under the supervision of two very capable Divemaster trainees, and of course myself, we embarked to Hin Won Bay. The sea was choppy and the visibility was far from ideal however my fear was almost immediately quashed when within minutes the same person who had managed to leave a 10m square pool due to fear of shark attacks was now posing happily for photos, being fascinated by Christmas tree worms and chasing after butterfly fish. This one discover scuba dive was followed by an additional dive and then another the following day. Time constraints being the only thing restricting them completing an open water course. They left the island with a smile, a new passion to explore and already planning a return trip.
The moral of this story boys and girls would seem to be that people can surprise themselves. The age old philosophy of ‘you never know unless you try’ is never more relevant when applied to diving. It is an activity so foreign from day to day living, unless you are a diving instructor on Koh Tao, that there is no way to truly know how you will react to an expedition under the sea unless you just give it a go, and who knows how much you will surprise yourself.