I was filled with anticipation for our two dives at Ko Phi Phi Ley because they were our first dives that were not part of our scuba training and also our first dives not in the waters around the Thai island of Ko Tao.
The atmosphere was completely different from Ban’s Diving School. It was relaxed and calm. None of the boat crew or our two dive masters did anything very fast. They were truly living life at island pace.
As I spat in my mask one last time before preparing to go down for our second dive, our dive master asked me, “So, what do you want to see?”
“Um……I’d love to see a giant moray.”
“And have you seen a string ray?” she asked.
“No, never. It’d be fantastic to see a Lion Fish also.” I replied, thinking to myself that I must be asking for the world wanting to see all three of those creatures in one dive.
“Ok. I’ll see what I can do,” she smiled and gave me the “Okay” signal before the “Let’s go down” signal.
Once we got down we had about 15 meters visibility. It was the best visibility Chris and I had ever had because unfortunately while we were learning in Ko Tao they were experiencing a bad month for visibility. I counted my breath, 3 seconds in and 5 out. I tried to relax all the muscles in my body. I tried to relax about all the things that can make you nervous under the water and have you constantly checking your gauges.
I looked at the fish swimming all around me, the school above who could only be seen as varying degrees and shades of grey silhouette’s.
“I am a fish. I belong here,” I thought to myself. I laughed a little at myself and smiled at how wonderful this dive was.
We slowly swam above a sandy patch and hiding in a lonely piece of coral was a box fish! If you’ve never seen one before or never heard of one they are definitely worth checking out. Their tiny fins are simply unable to control the direction of their body against even the slightest current. I suppose being shaped like a box doesn’t help their aerodynamic ability either.
Continuing above the sand I saw our dive master stop. I didn’t see a single thing but low and behold with her pointing stick she directed our attention to a stingray. Upon seeing it I took a deep breath to ensure my somewhat inconsistent buoyancy didn’t send me downward on top of it. After all they contain a poison in their tail that they will whip over their bodies to stab potential threats. Many of you may recall the “Crocodile Hunter” dieing when a Bull stingray stabbed him through the chest.
We swam on and spotted another ray. I looked at my air. 60 bar. I didn’t have much time and that meant Chris had even less. Our dive master was motioning to us again.
“Wow,” I thought. She sure is amazing at finding the animals.
And finally the fish I’ve liked since learning about it in Grade 6, the Lion Fish. I imagined it being around 5 inches in diameter but the ones we saw were only about 3 inches. What beauty.
I surfaced happy and content, eager to do diving again. Hopefully we’ll find a good deal in Vietnam. We’re heading there on August 15 via a 17 hour bus ride. I hope to dive at Nha Trang, but with such a tight schedule it might not be possible.