Thailand is generally considered to be a safe country for travellers
to visit, but if you plan a trip to Thailand it would be wise to avoid the island of Ko Tao.
You wont find this in your Lonely Planet but many tourists who venture to Ko Tao never return.
The island, considered to be one of the best places in Asia to get scuba certified, is packed with over 40 dive companies
and the instructors and divers that go with it. All on an island small enough to walk across in an hour.
Nearly everyone on the island is here to dive, and to party, and everyone does alot of both.
If you're not familiar with the dive community, they are the most laid back, fun people you'll ever meet.
By diving or enrolling in a course you immediatley make friends and get plugged into the local scene.
The problem? The island drags you in. Countless many people have the same story; 'Yeah, I came here for a week long vacation and never left..'
Within 6 hours of arriving it was plain that our original 1 week target was totally unrealistic.
I have finished my Open Water Diver Certification and can now go diving with Jen.
However now we are looking at enrolling in the Advanced Diver Course which everyone insists is necessary.
This will allow us to dive to 30m, instead of the 18m floor we have now, and to go on night dives.
My Open Water Class consisted of two other guys from Holland, the instructor and his assistant.
We were able to fly through the skills tests, leaving us plenty of time for enjoying the underwater life.
Me, Jochem and Roland suited up ready to dive.
After class, was off to the next beach over for amazing Thai food (US$4) on the beach deck, then on to celebrate our acheivements.
The beach bungalow that was included with the class was much nicer than those we had been staying in to date, and we had to add on another day (US$3).
Lounging on the deck after amazing food
Ko Tao has some of the best diving in Asia which many here claim rivals the Great Barrier Reef.
So our 'classroom' offered many fantastic diversions not found in the swimming pools that would be common elsewhere for the course.
Nang Yuan Island, just off the tip of Ko Tao.
By the end of the course the teacher had us doing flips off of the boat on entry and swimming with huge schools of Barracuda.
Diving is an experience that is more addictive than sky diving, two days after my last dive I am beginning to get anxious, we need to start our advanced training ASAP.
Currently the plan is to leave in about a week...... if you don't hear from me again you know where to find me!