Open Water Course: Scuba Diving Part One

Today we awoke to the morning sun of Pattaya. We wen tot the lobby to eat Hard Rock’s delicious buffet breakfast. After eating, we headed out to go diving. We walked to the front entrance of the hotel and the security guards got us a song thaew(which is an open-back truck). The price was ฿160, close to $4.80 USD. We needed to go to the clock tower by the pier. The song thaew took us directly there. Our group met the dive instructor at the preplanned location, once everyone was accounted for we made our way over to the boat. On the boat, we received our equipment and started putting our gear together. The dive site for our first dive was about an hour away. The were only four of us in the open water dive course, all the others were certified. We inflated our BCDs (which kind of looks like a vest). 

Above is a picture of the Bouyancy Control Device thanks to Once we inflated it, we checked how much air we had in our air canister. 

 I put on my wetsuit which was a full body one because I usually get very cold. It was so tight! TIP: Always wet your wetsuit especially in the inside before putting it on; the water stretches the fabric which makes it easier to handle.

Next, we added weights to our weight belt. There is a photo below thanks to Spearfishing Blog. 

Our instructor (Alex) gave us our briefs. In the briefs, he explains to us what we will be doing, the water conditions (currents), how deep(meters) and so on.

At the dive site, we started to actually put our gear on. The dive gear is all in one row like the picture from TIP: to put the gear on just simply leaning back while putting on your gear. 

I leaned back, secured by BCD and tank to myself. Tada! I was ready to go! 

At the end of the boat, we sat down on the benches and washed our masks. TIP: washing your mask with either saliva or detergent is the best. I prefer using the detergent but it’s a personal preference. We also put on our fins.

TIP: If you have fins like the one on the left then you bend the flap down so it looks like a slipper. Then slide your foot through and you are ready to go. If you have the red fins (right one) then it is very easy to put on. Simply undo the strap and voila!

When I sat down put everything on, my tank was so heavy that I fell on my backside. I was in a state of shock!

Our instructor demonstrated how to enter the water with one giant stride. 

The giant stride is most popularly seen with boat divers. You have to hold your weight belt and mask when you stride in. 

For our first descent, we had to hold the descent rope. I thought I would just sink to the bottom causing me to get hurt because I descended uncontrollably. Instead, I remained neutrally bouyant descending in small chunks. It also gave me a chance to unplug my ears (equalize). TIP: you should always try equalize or unplug your ears even before you feel uncomfortable. You equalize by plugging your nose take a deep breath and pushing the air up to your ears. 

We went down to the floor which was 6 meters down. During the dive, the skill we practiced the most was buoyancy. Please refer to the image below from Scuba Diving Fan Club.

The goal is when you take a breath you should go slightly upwards and when you blow out you should go slightly downwards. It was really crazy that just by breathing in and out that it determines if you go up or down. It was so cool to be actually scuba diving in an actual ocean. Instead of at the pool where we first learned the basics. All to soon, our dive was over and we had to ascend (go up) to the surface. At the surface we had to tow our buddies on their backs towards the boat. Before climbing onboard to the boat, I took of my fins and climbed up the ladder.  

The next dive site was only about five minutes away from this one. So we were rushed changing our equipment to different tanks. I had to repeat the whole process over again. At first, the process of putting the gear together seemed to take forever. But after many tries I have finally mastered the art of putting my diving gear together. Just like that saying ‘Practice makes perfect’. This five site was nine meters deep three more meters than the last site. 

I did my giant stride into the water, I have to admit it is something that I need to work on. Once our group was in the water we ascended slowly without a rope this time. At the bottom, there was some plants here and there but no that many. The visibility was also poor.  It wasn’t that type of dive, we have to practice our skills. My mask started filling up, I started freaking out. I signaled the dive instructor that my mask was filling up. He showed me how to clear it, making me feel calm. I copied him looking up towards the surface and breathing through my nose. THE GOLDEN RULE IN SCUBA DIVING IS TO NEVER STOP BREATHING. If you stop breathing your lungs will explode like a balloon experiencing a lot of pressure. 

The main skill for this dive was having our partners use our alternate air sources. The alternate air source is called an octopus.

The octopus is the yellow one. The black one is our main air supply. When I was practicing use my mom’s octopus there was no air coming out. I tried to tell the instructor but he couldn’t comprehend that there was no air coming out of my mom’s alternate air source. I looked at her gauge and she had gone from 90 bar to 50 bar. TIP: When you have 50 bar that’s low so you should be heading up to the surface. We showed the instructor but he just flashed us the ‘ok’ sign. When we came up to the surface, mom looked bad. I saw her gauge was at 0 bar, that’s so bad. If you are at 0 bar then that means there is no air in your tank. When I talked to her she said she breathed water for most of our dive. The official scuba diving guy got our instructor in trouble because any person should not have 0 bar in their tank when they are in the water. Our instructor got frustrated with mom. The official diving guy came over to mom and told us that if you have 50 bar go to the surface. 

As you can see in the picture, green is good. When you have 200 that’s a full tank. Down to 50 it’s in the red zone meaning it’s bad. We have these with us when we dive so we don’t run out of air. 

At the water’s surface, our dive instructor made us take off our weight belt and put it back on. You do this by putting your face down in the water and leaning your body forwards. Next, we had to switch from our regulator (which is our main air source) t our snorkel. The last mini skill we had to do was take our BCD off. It was the hardest, you have to position yourself in the middle of the tank so you don’t lose your gear set and that you can easily put it on. Yay!!!! I passed those skills!! We ate lunch on the boat while the certified divers did one more dive. Our instructor gave us the debrief. A debrief basically summarized everything we did. 

We had to fill in our dive logs. Which is basically a dive journal. 

Some dive places check your dive logs to see how many dives you have done. To dive in a certain place sometimes you have to have a certain amount of dives. 

Today was so tiring but awesome and cool at the same time. I’ll end with a quote: Happiness is… feeling like I can fly when I’m scuba diving!


Swim Tournament: How I Did…

*Deep breath*. Okay so today was such a busy day. I had my swimming BISAC at Bangkok Pattana school.

Here are the events that I swam: ( The photos are to show you what the stroke looks like)

50 backstroke

50 breaststroke

I’m on lane number 3. I got first place in my heat!

100 freestyle — I got first place in my heat. ( A heat is a group of people in your age group that have about the same time as you)

I’m in the water, just finished off my leg of breaststroke. My friend Rei is diving in and doing the next leg.

Medley Relay (A medley is a combination of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and free style)  Our team got 5th place. We swam with the 15 and older girls because there was a problem with the registration.

50 free style
Free style Relay (We got fifth place, too)

I’ll update this article once I know my stats.

My least favorite stroke is butterfly and backstroke. Probably because I can’t go fast (haha). I think I’m very fast at freestyle but I love breaststroke.

Most of the schools train every day of every week of the year (sometimes even twice a day). Our coach was really proud that we did so well because we started in November.

Overall, it was so much fun! I am kind of addicted to swimming now. Competing is so much fun! What’s even more fun is doing it with your friends! I hope to continue in high school!

Here are some pics from the meet:

I was on lane 2 and got 3rd place.

I am on the farthest lane to the right in the picture above

The Beginning of a New Chapter

“The envelope is here, open it!” my brother and I screamed after getting the mail from our neighborhood mailbox. My mom left for Iowa for an international job fair earlier in May. She was told that she would receive an envelope in the mail telling her if she got the job or not. Today, was finally the day we had all been waiting for. When the envelope arrived my brother and I were so excited. This could be a once in a lifetime experience, it was something that my mom had wanted for a long time. Our family had been praying so hard hoping that she’d get the job. We each sat on the chairs in our living room. It was very suspenseful when she was opening the envelope. This moment had finally come, now we get to find out!

“Wow!” my mom shouts as she reads the envelope. “What does it say, what does it say?” my brother and I exclaimed at the same time. “Okay,” my mom said very excitedly, as she gave us the papers. “What do you think?” She asks us as we looked at the papers. “Yes,” I scream as I read the papers. Here’s what it says: Dear Mrs.Elizabeth, we are very pleased to say that you’ll be teaching 5th Grade at the American School of Bangkok in Thailand. My whole family hugged each other and congratulated my mom. My mom and dad left the room to get the forms filled out while my brother and I tried to recover from the surprise. 
My mom and dad told me to keep this a secret until school was almost over. It was very hard to keep it a secret because everyone was asking each other if they were coming back in August. My friends were also making plans to get together over the summer. I felt very guilty, at times I felt like I wanted to tell them. As it got closer to the last day of school, I finally told my friends. They were shocked and surprised. After they heard the news, I later found out that they stayed after school to work on a surprise for me, so when the day before the last day came, we cleaned out our lockers. That night students were busy picking out gifts and writing letters to each other. 
Finally, the last day of school has arrived! I felt so sad and happy at the same time. As I got to school I gave all my friends little treats and cards. After that, Mrs.William (my sixth grade teacher) announced the names of the people who hadn’t cleaned out their locker. My name was one of them, but wait I cleaned it out yesterday! I was so confused, so I decided to check it out! Walking to my locker, I was almost crying knowing that this is my last day at St.Simon and Jude! When I got to my locker it was all decorated with little notes and my favorite candy Smarties! My entire class were watching me as I looked at what they had done for me. I took a deep breath in and hugged all of my friends, they were all crying too. Wait, the story is not over, my friends told me to open my locker. As I twirled the combination on the lock, my palms felt wet from all my tears that I had wiped from my face. The locker popped open, I was in shocked,  inside was a box and a scrapbook. I first pulled out the scrapbook which had pictures of all the memories we had in sixth grade! Smiling, laughing, and many other emotions swept me up as I looked at the scrapbook. All my classmates were in there and all of them had signed it! After that I pulled out the box and unlocked it, inside were notes from each person telling me how much they would miss me and more! As I put everything back I thanked everyone and told them I would miss them all. We all exchanged contact information, so we would be able to stay in touch. Finally I said goodbye to my teachers and friends and headed to our house to start packing for the once and a life opportunity I was about to experience. 

Here we go I was thinking through all the tears and smiles.
 A couple weeks later I found myself saying goodbye to a special person in my life, I thought that I’d never have to experience this. Here I was crying as I hugged my dad goodbye. It would be such a long time till I saw him again. There I was letting go, saying goodbye. I found myself wondering if this was really happening to me. I knew that I’d be letting go and saying goodbye a lot in this trip and it was going to be very hard. “We are ready for take off,” said the flight attendant her voice loud and clear, this is now real I thought to myself, my journey has just began!

My Language Essay

Language is a very important part of my life. Languages have taught me a great deal. They have taught me about different cultures. But most importantly I have understood the beauty of communication. I’ve learned how valuable and how important communication is. The many kinds of languages may bring their differences, but at least we can communicate with each other.
One foundation for the importance of language in my life is it helps me learn my native language even better. In other words, when I was learning Spanish, I acquired more knowledge about the English sentence structure. I understood English in a different way than I used to. 
People say if you look at a country’s currency, then you can learn a lot about their culture. I tend to disagree, I believe that when you learn a country’s language you can learn a great deal about their culture. When languages are spoken, they are parts of culture in it. Once I learned the basics of Thai, I had a sense of the culture. For example, they say “ka” at the end of a sentence (sawadee ka). My teacher explained to me that they use this when they are talking to elders. This two-letter word shows that Thai people respect their elders. Whereas, in English we do not have ‘polite’ words and our culture respects people older than us but no where near what the Thai people do. 
Some skills only last a short time, but not languages; languages last a lifetime. Languages open career paths to those who know multiple ones. In our society and even in our world, communication is super important. Languages are used everyday for the sole purpose of communicating. Without languages, I do not know how the world would function. An abundance of people take languages for granted, and many do not realize how valuable they are. 
I’m going to share a personal experience with you. In the U.S., our foreign language curriculum consists of Spanish, since Arizona is located close to Mexico. I have been learning Spanish from when I was in kindergarten up to this point. It was just new words and new phrases I didn’t give it a second thought. Once I moved to a foreign country, only then did my eyes open to a whole new world. People I have met while I have been overseas know multiple languages. I admired those who know many languages. Learning a language is a skill that is invaluable and is a lifetime gift. 
Language in itself is a skill and an important part of culture. Only when you learn it do you realize how significant communication is and more about your own native language. Despite, languages taking some time and patience to learn, in the end it is all worth it. Only then did I realize the beauty of communication and how valuable languages are.

Henna Tattoo in Cambodia

My friends that have visited Cambodia, have raved about this tattoo. A week ago I was in Cambodia at the Old Market and I decided to get this tattoo. At the booth, they had albums of different designs that you could pick from. I was looking for a particular design so I searched photos of henna tattoos on Pinterest and picked out one of an elephant. As you can see below. 

I decide to get it on around my ankle because it was less likely to come off compared to my hand. We bargained back and forth and settled on a 3 USD price. Just get in mind, the price depends on the size of the design you want. 

It turned out amazing I have to say! They first drew the design with a pen and then with the henna ink. I had to let the ink dry  for an hour before I touched it. 

The next morning I woke up and the ink was peeling. I was like “that was such a waste of $3.”But when I was at school, my friend, Chiharu told me that it was supposed to be like that. She said that I could peel it off. So I did and it turned out like the picture below. The picture below is how the henna is supposed to look like. 

So far, it has stayed on for about a week and counting. I bet if I wasn’t in the pool or doing sports it would stay longer. 

Overall, it was a really cool experience to get the henna tattoo since I have never gotten it before. If you are interested, I recommend you get it. 

Thailand 🇹🇭 to Cambodia 🇰🇭 

Once our Air Asia plane touched down in Cambodia, I knew that this place was sure going to be an adventure. The first thing I inferred from Cambodia that it is rich in culture. When you first walk in the airport, you see a large bronze Buddha. This Buddha was spectacular, unique, none I have ever seen before. We planned to get visas on arrival, so we headed to the visa application line. It was a very fast-moving process, I was so surprised! The fee for the visa was 30 USD per person. The reward was far greater than the fee in my opinion. You got a sparkling visa stamp and a pass to an adventure. Once we stepped foot outside the airport, we were greeted by a friendly man from Golden Temple and my dad (which was a suprise). Golden Temple is the name of our hotel for the trip. Upon entering the van that was waiting for us, we were offered beverages. Along the way, the friendly man pointed out sights and even briefly explained Cambodia’s history. The ride lasted for about 20 minutes until we arrived at this nature looking entrance. It was beautiful!

There were steps leading across a small pond to the reception desk. One of the staff members stood there and gave us the Cambodian welcome. He directed us towards the seating area and checked us in efficiently. After we checked in, we were shown around the premises including the swimming pool

and the computer area.

Finally we were shown to our room (yay!). When we arrived in our room, it felt modern and homey (perfect!).

The bed even revealed bits and pieces of the Cambodian religious culture. The culture was displayed through the lotus flowers that were placed so carefully on the bed.

The lotus flower is Buddhist. Next the hotel staff explained to us how to do this, if this was free, if you need any help and so on and so on. We settled down for the night in our rooms and the staff brought up our luggage. But wait… they brought up delicious welcome drinks, sticky rice, fruit, and nuts. So delicious! I would give today a thumbs up. Goodnight!