Sunday, August 11, 2019

Everything Is Great In Theory.

"OK, lets do a buddy check". My Dive Instructor Sue suddenly jolted my consciousness into reality. "Weight belt, straps, chest clip, tank clip, air pressure, regulators, bcd inflated, check". "Grab your fins and wait for your signal. Remember right hand on your weight belt, left hand on your mask and regulator"  "Remember your hand signals". " Now step forward  to the edge and do not jump", just step out". Suddenly everything around me sounded like Charlie Browns teacher. I was now trained, fully geared up and seconds from jumping into the swells of the Gulf of Siam for my first dive. Standing on the back edge of the boat Sue was waving me in. There was no turning back now. "Ken what did you I get yourself into yet again?"

Everything is great in theory.  I have often found myself questioning my cognitive abilities with some of my choices. Planning, researching, preparing and day dreaming of new adventures are what makes me tick like the old rusty clock that I am. Ideas are great but it is possible that you don't fully comprehend what you are choosing to do but you steam ahead in a dream like trance of adventure and opportunity.  Apollo 11 or The Titanic, ultimately the choices you make and how you respond is up to you. At this precise moment the Iceberg was about to collide with the moon.

I had wanted to get my PADI Open water qualification for the better part of 30 years. It was always one of those things, much like learning to ride a motorcycle, that sounded good in theory but just never made it to my reality.  Oddly, I have been to so many incredible places that were considered a "divers paradise", but without inspiration I stuck to snorkeling.  I have had countless conversations with friends along the way that talked about the Diving World but again it just never fully resonated with me. That was finally about to change.

Second EID or "The Festival of the Sacrifice" was approaching and I had two weeks vacation. This second EID celebrates the prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah, but his son was then replaced with a lamb. All around Dhaka, and the Muslim world for that matter believers purchase cows and goats to perform a ritual sacrifice and let the blood flow into the streets. There are literally "Rivers of Blood" on the streets of Dhaka. Click here for some Google Images.  The entire city becomes one huge abattoir. I am all for new cultural experiences but it does not mean I need to experience each and every one. I was getting out of town.

Dhaka International Airport

Sanity prevailed, or so I thought. Bangkok, being a cheap and quick flight seemed like the right choice. I had been there before but stayed in the north. I wanted a bit of beach time and temple time but needed something else to do. The little voice deep down inside the turbulence that is my idea vault found its strength and pushed its way to my grey matter. Ken, now is the time to learn to dive. That little crazy ass voice quickly convinced me and it was so.

Not wanting to bounce all over Thailand looking for picture postcard beaches, I decided on Pattaya, a 90 minutes drive from Bangkok. I immediately sent inquiries to the three top dive shops I found on Googlelandia and waited. I also figured to take advantage of both time and motivation and get double certified with Open Water Certification and Advanced Open Water Certification. In for a penny in for being shark bait.

Gary from Jomtien Dive Center / No Limit Divers was the only person to respond with a human element, not just a robotic reply. We went back and forth and he eventually discounted me down to C$950 for both courses. I sent my deposit, picked my dates and was all set. Yes, there are cheaper places to learn to dive but he was with-in the margins of pricing globally. For anyone thinking about pricing, try this link.

I booked a flight on Thai Air, dove (pun intended) into and booked three rooms. Seven nights in Jomtien Beach at the Jomtien Beach Guesthouse, then Chill Inn Pattaya then back to Bangkok at the Lamphuhouse Bangkok. I arranged an airport pickup to take me from Bangkok to Jomtien Beach and Anise would give me a ride to the airport in Dhaka. I never take for granted my ability to take a two and a half hour flight to Thailand for a very inexpensive vacation. Mexico you are being seriously challenged as my future permanent home.

My first training day was at a hotel pool. All the photos from various dive shops showed huge deep training pools with PADI branding and this was not it. The pool did the trick and the instructors were thorough but they seemed a bit bored with the whole training process. Did I make the right choice for dive training? It turns out I did. The pool was fine and allowed all my training to be complete with the exception of the 100 metre swim, which I would do in the ocean. That thought made my stomach twist a bit, but I did not think about it...much.

Everything is great in theory. Excitement often overshadows the things you are planning which are actually going to take place. You can watch YouTube videos, read travel and adventure sites, scan feedback on anything and let your mind wander over what lays ahead. One day you decide you are going to learn to dive and breathe underwater like Mr. Limpet and then one day for find yourself standing on the back of the boat being waved into the ocean.


No comments: