Monday, 21 January 2008


I learned to scuba dive back in 2000, in Ko Tao, Thailand. If you are a diver, or want to become one - this is an amazing place to learn. Excellent diving, almost no current, and a very laid back vibe! It's a tiny island with nothing to do but dive, snorkel or lie on the beach.

My then bloke Mountain Man and I spent 2 weeks on Ko Tao. In the first week we got our PADI Open Water certificates - during which time we didn't see a single shark. During the second week we were meant to head back to the mainland for sightseeing, but Mountain Man got an incredibly bad ear infection so we stayed put until he was well enough to travel. We ended up at the village doctor, who was totally grossed out at the amount of earwax she syringed out of Mountain Man's ears. "What that?!" she kept saying. "Ew, what that?!".

(Mountain Man had been telling me off for years for mumbling... he didn't have a problem with it afterwards!)

Then we had to wait a few days until the antibiotics worked. I spent most of a week sitting on our hut veranda reading secondhand books, eating crisps and drinking iced tea watching a steady warm rain fall while Mountain Man languished in bed. We then spent several weeks trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal, which is another story. The scuba was what I wanted to do, and the trekking was what he wanted to do, so we did both! I've not been trekking since we split, and I believe he hasn't been diving...

In October 2001 Mountain Man and I went to Egypt. This was right after 9/11 and the place was empty! It's supposed to be high season, but the world was so jumpy about travelling in that region that most people had cancelled their plans. It was great actually, we didn't have to queue for anything! We spent several days exploring Cairo, Luxor, the temple of Karnak and the Valley of Kings and of Queens. Then we headed to Hurghada on the Red Sea to do our Advanced PADI certification. The diving in the Red Sea is awesome! Clear warm water, enough current for some terrific drift diving, and the most amazing coral and fish.

And sharks. I saw my first shark off Hurghada. It was a black-tipped reef shark, probably about 5 feet long. I was so stunned that I went slack-jawed, and my regulator (breathing mouthpiece) slipped from between my lips and bubbled off merrily to behind my back!

Luckily the very first thing they teach you when diving is how to find your reg under water and I had it back within seconds! Then I looked around for Mountain Man and the instructor and saw them frantically finning away from me - chasing the shark for a closer look! To this day I have yet to see a group of divers NOT chase a shark. And I have yet to see a shark NOT run away. Good, that's the way I like it!

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