Kavitha posted back in November about our Scuba certification coursework, going down to the Florida caverns for our checkout dives, all in preparation for our time here in Phuket. We were really excited to be going with Brad, who in his own right is a terrific underwater explorer, with many hundreds of dives under his belt. Unfortunately, early the morning that we were supposed to leave, Kavitha came down with some bad stomach issues. This left her destined for a day of resting in the bed, so Brad and I were on our own as we set off early in the morning towards Chalong Bay and our dive boat’s point of departure.
We rode on a minibus from our hotel down to the docking point for the boat, courtesy of our outfit, Seafun Divers (who while being extremely well reviewed, also had an outpost at our hotel).
The ride out to the dive site was about 2.5 hours, so there was plenty of time to sun and make friends (the best of which was Australian Dave, a 25 year vet in the Australian Navy, on holiday in Phuket with his wife). A fistful of Dramamine kept my breakfast in me despite the heavy winds and tossing seas. We set up our gear on the journey out and as soon as we arrived to the dive site, suited up and hopped right in.
Koh Bida Nok is a favored dive site in the Phi Phi islands. 2km south of Koh Phi Phi Ley, it’s got several shallow bays that make up its best spots. At a depth of about 15M (48 feet) we saw lots of rays (coaxed into moving by our dive leader), colorful coral, numerous schools of fish, and all kinds of other things (lion fish, sea urchins, etc.). It was really beautiful. I also got to try out Brad’s Christmas gift to me, an underwater notebook. Filled with special pages, all you have to do is take a regular pencil with you, and it writes really well underwater. I wrote Brad a message and drew Kavitha a fish picture to take back to her. When I turned around to show Brad, I found him floating behind me, upside down with his arms crossed and a big grin on his face. Showoff.
After the 45 minute dive, we got back on the boat for lunch (red curry chicken, great noodle dish, etc.) and motored slowly over to Bida Nok’s sister island, Koh Bida Nai. Bida Nai has a much different landscape than our first dive. After suiting back up and jumping in again, we followed our leader around the cliff-like island. We went through two awesome swimthroughs (underwater tunnels) of rock and coral, explored boulders and fallen rocks (and the sea plants growing around them) and finished drifting down a vertical wall of coral and beautiful colorful fish. It’s on this dive that I apparently picked up my friend, a small remora that Brad said followed me around, grazing, for about two minutes. I never saw him – but I did see eels, multilegged starfish, and a slew of lobsters, snapping at everything that swam past.
We’d brought a couple of refreshments along for after the dive was over – the guy at the dive shop had told us to – but apparently, no one else got that message. As the only two guys with beers… well, let’s just say that we’re thankful that everyone else was as tired as we were…
I took a restful nap on the ride home – Brad continued sunning himself.