Tuesday would hold my first ever experience of scuba diving, albeit confined to a swimming pool.
There isn’t an awful lot to report about this day, as it mainly consisted of sitting in the Sunrise Divers school (currently the only place in Patong which enables Nick and I to access the Internet, hence the late blog entries), watching cheesy instructional videos and answering dozens of questions on a multitude of scuba safety procedures, which Adam, my instructor, admitted I would probably never need to use anyway.
After my introduction to Adam, his voice a rolling Scottish brogue, I slowly began to realise how many of the
The most memorable part of the day included the mentally and physically draining four hours during which I floundered about in a chlorinated water tank. Scuba diving was certainly an unusual ordeal. The first stage was to wear a wetsuit.
Now, I have made some dubious choices of clothing in my past, and yet nothing, nothing could have prepared me for a wetsuit. Stuffed into a miniscule changing room with a rag for a curtain, I stepped into the stretchy material and pulled it on. Or at least I tried to. Think of Homer Simpson squeezing into a pair of jeans. I must have spent at least 10 minutes straining, groaning, twisting, grunting, writhing, screaming, thrashing, wrestling, squirming and struggling my way into that vile, odious, detestable, loathsome and abhorrent rubbery fabric. Finally, I waddled into view, glowing with self-consciousness, swearing to myself that, after today, I would never wear a wetsuit again.
The embarrassment didn’t end there. I proceeded to strap myself into a vest with what seemed to be a huge chunk of metal strapped to my back, while tubes appeared to protrude from every seam. After snapping on a mask and sliding my feet into flippers (“fins”, Adam corrected repeatedly), I threw myself bodily into the water where Adam inculcated me into the mysterious customs of scuba diving. Nick, who is training to be a Dive Master (a title worthy of capital letters), demonstrated the techniques, and as he did so, became curiously robotic and professional, his face expressionless while he exhibited regulator replacement, buddy breathing, divegear disassembly, flipper flapping and snorkel snogging. The latter is made-up, but I doubt it makes a lot of difference.
I attempted every method at least twice before conquering them, almost sending Adam to tears of frustration.
With a horribly dry throat induced by sucking in compressed air for several hours (the regulator made me sound like Darth Vader), I flopped out of the pool at the end of the session and after rinsing the chlorine from my borrowed equipment (which I was already eyeing distastefully), Nick and I departed, heading back through the bustling streets of Patong, with me commending Nick on his excellent tutoring.
Tomorrow would hold an actual, genuine open-water sea diving event. As I retired to bed, my dreams became punctuated with fears of being attacked by giant seahorses, neighing and whinnying furiously, helplessly fending off sharks with shards of coral, or, worst of all, falling off the boat and being forced to desperately swim back, spluttering and waving as the other passengers rolled around laughing, clutching at their split sides.
I was no longer looking forward to the next day quite as much as I had initially thought.