Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet the Gang

Thailand is what I expected and not at all what I expected. This is hard for me to explain, since I'm not sure what I expected, but I do know that I like it here a lot.  I'm located in Khao Lak, the small city that acts as a gateway to some of the best diving in Thailand. It becomes a crazy whirlwind of tourism and diving when the Similian National Park opens on November 1st, but right now it feels like a calm beachfront town. Every day I see more tourist stands, restaurants, and tailoring shops open up in anticipation of the tourist season. The growing energy is almost palpable (never thought I'd use that word in a sentence...) and I'm so excited for things to get rolling!

The first portion of the course is primarily classroom learning. We have to be able to lead group dives, instruct Open Water courses, and work the dive shop, so we'll be honing those skills before we start teaching on the liveaboard trips. I do wish we could get in the water NOW, but I suppose it's important to make sure we have the soft skills before they toss us in the ocean with a group of tourists.

Who is this "we," you ask? Let's do some brief introductions to my fellow Divemasters-in-training:

John, the intrepid mid-30s Australian who left his banking job for a 15-month sabbatical traveling to 17 countries, starting with Thailand. He's a hoot and a half - very sharp and funny. He worked on cruise ships in the Caribbean and Alaska so he's had first-hand experience with the crazy things Americans do. Luckily, he is giving me lots of credit for being from the Bay Area. Yes he's holding a monkey in the photo.

Rhys (left), the youthful Canadian who has taken a break from his electrician studies to do his Divemaster and become more confident in diving without a guide. He's 19 and has gotten 4 tattoos since arriving, since bamboo tattoos heal almost instantly and can still go in the water... one is a tattoo of a mustache on his pointer finger. Actually.

George (right), the techie Canadian who left his IT job and is now traveling to dive and possibly transition to divemastering. He's the most experienced diver of our group and has been diving in Montreal rivers most recently, as well as in the Caribbean. He bought a bag of cornflakes that would make Costco patrons jealous, since we have little fridges for milk and fruit in our rooms.

The food has been tasty, spicy, and cheap, which is as expected. I don't think I'm going to get sick of Thai food anytime soon - I'm having a hard time picking which dish I want because they all sound so good. I'm glad I trained myself to eat curry and spicy food though, because they don't mess around with the chili powders and sauces.  Time to study the methods for teaching dive techniques!

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