For the next 4 nights and 4 days we lived on a boat with 24 people. First night the trip coordinator explained we would be doing three things for the next four days: dive, eat and sleep. And she wasn't kidding:
6:30am - wake up
7:30 first dive
9:00 - breakfast
11:00 - second dive
12:30 - lunch
3:00 - third dive
4:30 - snack
7:00 - night dive
9:30 - dinner
In between, we swam and snorkeled when the boat anchored. Or slept or read when it was moving. Tough life, I know.
We were in a group with a young Swedish couple and a German woman. We had a couple of instructors who dove with us, but the one who deserves a mention is Jenny. She was super cool, very patient and loved to find things we would probably nver see on our own and point them out underwater.
We saw too many fish to go into during the 14 dives. But we did see loads of Nemos in technicolor. (Apparently the clown fish family that was blocked off in Ko Tao was a different type of clown fish -- it was not that you couldn't see the color as we were told before...) They are so gorgeous and loved to play through the anemone when we ran our fingers through it.
We also saw moray eels, stingrays, lionfish, sea urchins, leopard sharks, etc. etc. etc. But the most memorable dive was the one where we saw 2 giant manta rays! These things were at least 3m long. At one point, one of them literally hovered right next to L and I for about 30 seconds and literally waved to us! I thought I'd be so scared -- but I was literally mesmorized by the gracefulness of this massive creature as it glided through the water. Had it not been for lack of air we would have stayed under all day!
All in all, one of the best experiences of our lives. Was also easy to understand why these islands are reputed to be the best diving in Thailand. We had a blast!
The meals were prepared by 2 Thai women in a kitchen smaller than a broom closet. Not sure how they did it, but they managed to kick out 4 gourmet Thai meals a day that were fantastic and tasted so good after a dive. I never knew diving could work up such an appetite. Yes there was beer on board as well - but we were banned from drinking and diving -- and believe it or not we were so tired by the end of the night we really had no desire to drink. Really!
The people on the boat deserve a mention as well:
Team Baywatch: 3 blonde California girls who came along just to snorel
Rumplestiltskin: our German bunkmate (did I mention, we shared a tiny room with 2 German men?) who literally slept whenever we weren't diving or eating. And he could snore as well!!
Stripper Girl - who is a dive master but apparently is a lapdancer on the side to make extra cash
Adonis - a young Israeli who literally thought he was a god and tried unsuccessfully to woo each of team Baywatch
The Dutchies - Rosa and Jordy - we ended up spending most of the trip talking to them and Peter, the English guy -- on the trip with his Thai girlfriend.
The Other German dude -- he was actaully really nice and completed his 1,000th dive on the trip.
And many more shapes and sizes.
So, now we're dive pros. Great Barrier Reef, here we come!!!