Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Scuba diving (PADI) in Phuket, Thailand

Back in December, whilst me and the Boy were in Sharm el Sheik, I went on a little discover dive. Just a 20 minute dive to five metres to see if I would like it as the Boy was really keen to go scuba diving on our next holiday.

After an initial freak out that I couldn’t breathe properly and smacking my head back on the oxygen tank, I found that I did actually like scuba diving and so we booked a trip to Thailand.


exploring a wreck 
getting kitted up! 

Thailand is one of my favourite countries and I’m luckily enough to have visited about six or so times before and I have been told before that the diving there is pretty decent. We decided that I would do my PADI open water course in Phuket as we saw that you could do a live aboard boat trip to the Similan islands.  Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges.


the sea was awash with beautiful fish

think this is a parrot fish


After booking flights to Phuket, booking accommodation, arranging for my parents to fly from Cambodia to meet me for a few days and roping my friend Steph in to do the PADI with me, we discovered that the Similar Islands trip doesn’t run in August, so we ended up just having the 4 nights in Phuket.


going down! 
getting up close and personal 

We booked our PADI courses (about £250) whilst in England as we wanted to get cracking right away but if you are travelling then you don’t really need to book to far in advance. We went with Thailand Divers who I must admit were brilliant. The staff were lovely and our instructor, Simon, was the most patient teacher in the world, as to be frank, me and Steph were mongs when it came to diving.

Diving fascinates me (I have always enjoyed tropical fish and aquariums) but at the same time, equally petrifies me – being that deep down, with countless of things that could go wrong and the reliance on a tank of air. My nerves clearly translated into me being utter useless and I totally underestimated how hard the exam was (especially doing it on day one of the course).

"oh shit...air!!!"

Like most things I do, I had a few classic blond moments, including forgetting the turn the air on, getting my fin stuck under a barrel of water on the boat and going to jump into the sea without my BCD (the jacket that fills with air) pumped of air. I also had a run in with some coral (the coral won, resulted in cut arms and legs) and being under water in the ship wreck disorientated me more than usual causing me to bounce off the walls of this coral and barnacle covered ship like a pinball, again cutting my arms and legs.  I also learnt that the lion fish is pretty dangerous and you shouldn’t get too close to it!!!


Mishaps aside though, once you are under water, it is the most calm, serene and beautiful experience. Everywhere you look there is something to see, be mesmerised by or be intrigued about.

Because of the early morning starts, our nights were pretty tame. One of my favourite meals was in the restaurants on the strip of road near the Novotel (the beach, not the one in the forest) where the food was fresh, tasty and authentic. The little plastic tables were set outside on the pavement with no pretence or hassle.


grilled tiger prawns 

restaurants like this everywhere - choose your fish,
weigh, eat 

If you are looking for some entertainment in the evenings then Phuket can offer you loud, brash, tacky fun. Head to Patong for your Thai classic “bucket” drinks (ie, copious amounts of local whisky, red bull and coke in a beach bucket), ping pong shows, lady boys and street performers. It’s a little snaggy, but that’s what people come from!!! Just get stuck in.

welcome to the madness of Patong beach
cheers!

Getting there
We flew with BA direct from Heathrow to Bangkok, and took another short flight from there to Phuket. We paid about £800 for the flight from England, but you can get cheaper if you’re willing to do a short stop over somewhere like Amsterdam or Doha, although I have to admit, BA were brilliant. We flew with Bangkok Airways for the 90 min flight from Bangkok to Phuket for about £40 (the flights are pretty regular). I love Bangkok Airways that are a “boutique” airline and offer free snacks and drinks at the gate before your flight!


mango and sticky rice - one of my favourite Thai dishes 


Accommodation
We stayed at the Royal Princess Hotel, for £14 a night per couple. Clean, quiet and close to Patong beach, this was suitable for our needs for the 4 nights. Breakfast wasn’t included but we were up and out the door early for diving every morning so it didn’t matter.


If you got any questions, leave a comment and I would be happy to answer them! 

X x X 


check out Thailand Divers website here

7 comments:

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