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Underneath Phuket

If you know me at all, you know I don’t like to rush, or be hurried in any way.

This does not translate into “I like to be late”, for the people in the back. I just don’t like the feeling of hurry. I’d rather start getting ready earlier. Otherwise I start to feel like I’ve forgotten things, and many times I actually do. My memory doesn’t serve me the best, especially when I’m hurried. Sometimes to the point of utter frustration. This morning was that.

After going back and forth about whether I wanted to do another fun dive or if I wanted to just go for the advanced diver certification, I was convinced at the last minute by the salesman at the dive shop to go for the certification (it never ends with me). So this morning would be the beginning of my journey. I woke up the latest I have since my trip here, after I ignored a call from my brother in the wee hours of 4 am. But I was still in time to get myself together for the dive, though I felt ill-prepared from the start. I grabbed my computer, wetsuit, and brand new GoPro that I got specifically to document these dives. When I pressed the button to turn it on, it flashed a warning that I had no SD card installed. I had forgotten to buy one. First fail.

After a few minutes of being upset with myself and wondering if I’d have enough time to run somewhere and buy one, I fell into acceptance. I thought maybe they’d have cameras and as punishment I’d have to pay for documentation of this trip. Anyway I needed to focus on the training skills right?

I packed my bag and headed to the car. There was another bag in there I’d packed for a spontaneous beach adventure and I wanted to swap them out. I did so and then went to sit and wait for a bit until they arrived to get me. During this time I was replying to messages and checking my email. It was a short wait and a short ride to the pier. When we got on the boat I noticed it was like a dive taxi. There were many different small groups with many different instructors convened on the one boat. Asian style, no doubt. But it was just me and a dive buddy with our instructor. No sooner did I sit and post my next blog (I can’t keep up with how behind I am anymore) that I realised the emails for new posts are still not being sent out. I didn’t have time for this.

I put the phone down and decided to check for my things. My GoPro was in my bag, nicely tucked away at the bottom. But my dive computer? MIA. I searched 3 times in utter frustration and realised soon that it probably didn’t get transferred from the other bag. It’s probably sitting in my car. My first official deep dive, and it won’t be logged.

Utter fail. Complete utter fail.

When it was time to get geared up and ready to go in, I also realised I didn’t bring my dive socks. Nothing to protect my heel from the fins rubbing. And they’re sitting comfortably in my suitcase being useless.

Fail number 3.

I won’t even talk about the flashlight, which is also in my suitcase because I didn’t manage to get batteries for it and which I could’ve used for dive number 3, which had a cave swim. I obviously was not prepared for this dive adventure today.

Thankfully, that didn’t stop it from being absolutely amazing. And I basically had my own personal cameraman following me around, so I didn’t miss the GoPro too much. The first dive was the least exciting, but I was still very impressed by the number of fish present. Dives 2 and 3 were insane. There were walls and walls of fish. I imagine the oceans must’ve been a hell of a sight 200 years ago before we caused all the damage. Because if they’re this full today in polluted ass overfished 2022, my gosh.

They weren’t large fish, but they were definitely large schools. There was life everywhere. Urchins. Endless seastars of varying colours. I saw my first sea snake, a black-and-white-striped krate, and 4 different kinds of eels. A small hiding reef shark. There were times I felt I was swimming inside of an aquarium. The coral was so colourful. I saw many types of Platyhelminthes, mostly the nudibranch, and various other cnidarian and echinoderm species. I saw what looked like a sea star merged with an urchin. There was a massive pod of cuttlefish. An endless school of barracuda (I’ve never seen barracuda in a school before) and the cutest pufferfish. I could follow them around all day.

I could’ve stayed under there all day. It was really spectacular, despite the factory style diving circumstances. At times I wasn’t sure if I was seeing something cool or just another of the million divers that were in the same area. It’s no wonder we didn’t get to see the leopard shark. Way too many people. I’ve never been on a dive site with so many divers before. If I could change anything, it would be this. I would much prefer to be on a smaller boat with less people at each site.

Still, I was pretty much in my own little world under there. Particularly when I saw the octopus tentacles wrapped around a small coral and stayed waiting and hoping it would come out. It didn’t. I also went into a cave for the first time underwater, which was both extremely cool and extremely ominous. If you think caves on land are scary and dark. This was both and borderline claustrophobic. It made me think maybe night diving isn’t for me. But it was still a really cool experience. And now, I am spent. Three dives in one day is a lot to handle, even on Nitrox. But I’m going for Acro at the beach when I get back.

No sleep for the weary. At least not during the daytime while we’re still working on getting in the right circadian rhythm.

Wish me luck!

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