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!


A Big Welcome from Pattaya 

Welcome to Pattaya, a resort town in Thailand, Pattaya is our next stop. We left bright and early this morning to go to the bus stop. Since our apartment, is within walking distance from the Ekamai Bus Terminal, it was a convinient choice for this weekends travels. We bought our tickets for the express bus to Pattaya, it only costs 3 USD. You can also take a taxi, we have taken taxis to Pattaya many times. The taxi fare costs around $30 USD. After we boarded the bus, the first thing I noticed was the tempature. It’s December, and even Thailand is getting a bit colder. So why is the AC turned down so cold? It felt like Antartica in there. I assumed that they’d want to save money instead of run the AC. But I assumed wrong. So lesson learned, next time I take the bus I’ll make sure to pack a warm sweatshirt. Once we arrived in Pattaya at 9:30, we encountered many taxi drivers and song thaew drivers(which is an open pickup truck that seats about 12 people). We chose to take the song thaew. The weather was perfect and the breeze was just right. The driver took us right to our hotel which is named Hard Rock. When we arrived, we were greeted by very friendly staff. Whenever, we go to Pattaya we always stay at the Hard Rock; we’ve just had really great experiences. The check in staff member’s name was Nastya, she is very kind and helpful. Since we are a Hard Rock member, our room was available then. We were able to change and start our day! One thing I absolutely love about Hard Rock is that at their pool they have activities. Their first activity that we participated in was rock climbing. It was so satisfying to ring the bell at the top of the rock wall and have everyone cheering for you. Also, in some of the activities you can win a free drink. For kids, a soft drink and for adults a beer. It is a great reward for all your hard work if you win. It was a great atmosphere. For lunch, we ate outside of the a Hard Rock Cafe. I got the Classic Club Sandwhich, which is super filling and so delicious. We participated in many more activities throughout the afternoon including golf, mini olympics, water polo, and bingo. In bingo, I wasn’t so lucky but my brother was. As the sun set, our group head out for church. We chose a Catholic Church named Saint Nikolas. We took a song thaew, it was very easy and efficient. The church was quite small but very welcoming. After church, we walked for a very long time trying to find some type of transportation to take us back to our hotel. After what seemed like 30 minutes we found a song thaew.  It seemed that the driver either forgot we were still in the back or got lost because we knew we weren’t in the right area. So, my mom pulled out google maps and helped the driver find the way to the hotel. We were so pooped at night, that we just treated ourselves to room service. The room service was so good, me and my brother shared the apple cobbler. BTW, birthday cake❌ apple cobbler✅. Overall, Pattaya is so far, so good. Although Pattay has a bad reputation with some people, personally I don’t see anything wrong with Pattaya.