It was an 8am start and both Jamie and I were excited for what lay ahead today. We were both ready to dip our toes (quite literally) into the world of diving. When we finished packing our bags the three of us headed over to the dive centre to see where our accommodation would be for the following three days. We were told we’d be staying in the building behind the dive centre, a place called Koh Rong Backpackers. We swiftly walked over, checked in, and put our bags in the storage area, as it was too early to put them in the rooms. We then left Sarah to enjoy a day of solitude while Jamie and I went back to the dive centre for an all inclusive breakfast.
Each day there were two items to choose from. Seeing as it was Monday we had the choose of an omelette or a fruit salad. We both chose the omelette and half way through our meal our instructor introduced himself. Tom Mellor was his name. He was probably the best instructor we could have asked for. The thing that made him so great was his vast knowledge of diving due to being ex military trained. This meant Tom was able to dive as deep as he wanted without any restrictions. Tom was probably in his early to mid fifties, had grey shaven hair, and there was no denying he was from Ireland. He told us not to rush our breakfast and that when we were ready we should make our way to the office. There we would have the pleasure of theory work.
We had to watch a video and answer questions accordingly. The video was just like one of those old health and safety beauties you have to watch whenever starting a new job. It was clearly filmed in the eighties, with the fashion and the haircuts being the main giveaway, not to mention all the woman were sporting Madonna’s pyramid bra. It was quite a tedious labour to sit there for the five hours it went on for. Occasionally I found myself distracted by things going on outside instead. At one point I saw my little Sarah wandering out from the hostel, I couldn’t help but feel she looked a little lost. We stopped halfway through for a quick lunch, in the form of tuna sandwiches. When we finished it was straight back to the final half of the best of the eighties. We were then given a half hour break. I used this time to try and find Sarah, but unfortunately I couldn’t see her anywhere (it turned out she went somewhere other than Monkey Island for lunch, the cheat!).
After the half an hour was up, Jamie and I had to meet Tom in the equipment room (it was here that I saw little Sarah, from a window, walking all alone again). Here we were shown everything a diver needs/uses whenever he or she goes into the water. We were then given all our equipment and had to walk (with the tanks on our backs) to the shallow waters for some manoeuvre training. We swam out some way until we reached the end of a peer. We then took it in turns to practise moves on the surface. The hardest part was staying close to Tom, and not floating away with the current. The moves we performed varied greatly. Some were simple, such as changing from the snorkel to the regulator. Others were more complicated such as removing and refitting the bsd. When Tom felt as though we mastered the surface work it was then time to go below. We didn’t go too deep, around 2 and a half metres on our first dive, but it was enough to need to clear our air spaces (make our ears pop) as we went down. At the bottom we performed similar moves to the surface. When it came to changing between the two regulators we had to make sure we constantly breathed out, otherwise at deeper depths we could cause injury to our lungs.
The only two really scary moves we had to perform were the removal of our masks and what to do if the regulator malfunctioned. By removing the masks it was a no brainer that it would fill with water. The only way we could remove all the water underwater was by replacing it and blowing through the nose. By doing this we created a one way air release which dispersed all the water. It left me with stinging eyes from the salt, however this move would become second nature over the next couple days. The next manoeuvre was the scariest, we had to hold the regulator away from our mouths and press the pulse button. This fired all the air out of the tank in a gushing motion. By holding the regulator on an angle to the side of our mouths it allowed us to sip air when needed. I didn’t know this fully, on account of not hearing what Tom said before we went under. I thought I had to continuously breath out, so when I ran out of air in my lungs I feared I was about to drown. Safe to say, I was highly surprised/relieved when I was able to breath.
We were under the water for a good couple hours that afternoon. When we finished, the 3 of us swam back to shore using our snorkels to breath. We then returned to the equipment room and were shown how to wash everything down properly. This was done to avoid sea salt damage. Jamie and I had then completed our first day. I then went to find Sarah while Jamie returned to the hostel to shower down. I ran along the beach doing my best David Hasslehoff impression… #I’ll be ready#, a dog joined in on my running, surprisingly looking like Pamela Anderson does nowadays, #forever and always, I’ll always be there#. Pamela and I located Sarah sat on the beach, she was with our buddy Steve and his two friends from Australia. We all arranged to go for food at Monkey Island at 7:30pm. Sarah and I then returned to the hostel so I could shower.
We weren’t there long, but long enough for me to enjoy a refreshing can of Fanta, we then headed over to the restaurant/bar/stoner area for tea. When we arrived we struggled to find a table (like usual) it took around 10 minutes before we got one. We all ate tremendous meals, with me somehow ending up with a free one. We stayed there for an hour or so talking with Steve about what to expect on our second day of diving. The five of us then returned to our hostel. I did my best to stay up with everyone as they drank, but for some reason (that being today was the first real day of exercise for me in 84 days) I couldn’t stay up for very long. I retired to the dorm room around 10pm, Sarah also joined me, and we both fell asleep in the wobbliest bunk beds known to man.