I believe by day 3 of my diving experience I was well and truly adjusted to getting up early, choosing to get out of bed at half past seven. It’s nice getting up early on an island like Koh Rong (or anywhere for that matter) as you get to witness the world wake up. As I led in a hammock overlooking the beach I witnessed couples out jogging, fishing boats heading in and out, businesses opening up for the day, and noises gradually increasing in volume. It was all very tranquil, and there was something quite calming about it all. It was an hour later at 8:30am that Jamie chose to rise. We then went about packing our bags, ready to take to the dive centre, as if all went to plan we could catch the 4pm boat back to Sihanoukville. Should we get back from our final diving session in time that was. Sarah then stirred at 8:50am (ten minutes before we had to leave). Of course she would wake up then and ask me to unpack my bag so I could get the precious (her hair conditioner). She then claimed she didn’t have a shower because of me rushing her… The cheek. Jamie and I then lumbered the bags over to the dive office and went for breakfast.
It was a bit of a bother as we sat there, we hoped we could eat and get equipment sorted by 10am. We had to wait a while for breakfast to be cooked, during this time Tom came over to us and asked if we had our stuff ready, as the boat would be leaving at 10am on the dot. Quickly we fled to the equipment room, got our stuff ready, set it up to the tank and placed it on the boat ready to set off. This still left the issue of breakfast. Sneakily we returned to the canteen to see if we could get something to go. Luckily the lady put our food back and we ate faster than ever before (probably not a good idea before diving). I don’t know why we rushed because the boat didn’t end up leaving until 10:30am.
We were then taken to a deeper spot for day 3, where we would be practising similar objectives to the previous day. After kitting up and getting in the water the first move we had to do was descend below the boat. While holding onto the anchor’s rope we went down. We then had to come up slowly with Tom, yelling ahhhhhhhhhh all the way. The reason for this, should you run out of air at a depth of 9 metres while returning to the surface, as you yell, your lungs will slowly expand due to a change in pressure, giving you enough time to resurface on one breath. We took it in turns to perform that move. Our next surface task was to swim in a direction using our compasses to stay on course. We mastered that with only one error, next we headed under for a fun dive.
Jamie, god bless him, nearly sat on another dangerous sea creature. This time it was the infamous Box Jellyfish. One sting from their spikes could leave you paralysed in the affected area. The ever watchful Tom and his eagle eye spotted it early, he then waved at Jamie repeatedly until he was safely out of the way. We saw many more new aquatic creatures and remained underwater for a longer period of 45 minutes, Jamie must not have been so thirsty today. When we resurfaced, it was back to the boat for a quick tank change and lunch. It wasn’t a long lunch break and afterwards Jamie and I were back in the water for our deepest dive yet… 15.5 metres. At the bottom of the ocean (down where it’s better, according to Sebastian from the Little Mermaid) we had to do the mask removal for a third time. It had become second nature now. We also had to remove our regulators, manually inflate our jackets and return the regulator to our mouths. We were then done as far as our manoeuvres were concerned. Throwing in an underwater backflip for fun. Tom then took us on another underwater adventure, we passed many coral reefs filled with life, swam against an underwater current and after 53 minutes we returned to the surface.
While we were floating and waiting for the boat to come get us, a flying fish flew across the surface, narrowly missing Tom’s head. I had never seen one in real life before, but flying is a good name for them. They move at such speed that at first I thought someone was skimming stones. The boat did it’s rounds, collecting each group after their dives, before returning us to the peer at 3:30pm. This was great news as it allowed Jamie and I to wash our equipment down, hang it up, get our pictures taken for our licenses, and get Tom to stamp and sign our divers logs…. Oh, did I not mention, WE PASSED!!!! Yup, Jamie Bliss and Ben Norris on the 09/01/2013 officially became certified open water divers. We still had a long way to go if we wanted to become dive masters, but for the time being we were happy with what we had achieved. It was definitely $320 well spent. Jamie and I then shook Tom’s hand (promising to give them a good review on tripadvisor) and boarded the 4pm boat with Sarah, who came to meet us with the smaller, more lady sized backpacks.
By getting the boat back it meant that Jamie and I forwent the snorkel initiation. It was a tradition for any new diver to drink copious amounts of beer through a snorkel, but after being on that god forsaken spit of land for so long we wanted off. I was ready to cheat on her with the sea once again. That’s the thing with pictures of beautiful tropical islands, they look stunning and make you wish you were there. What they never show you is the self flush toilets, freezing cold showers, or the insect fested shacks you stay in. The boat took 2hours to reach Sihanoukville. We boarded a coach and 15 minutes later we were in town. Jamie and I paid for our dive course and were given back our passports. We then joined Sarah at the hotel a few buildings down the road. We booked two rooms, a double and a single. After showering, the thoughts of going out drinking that night dribbled down the drain with the water. We then got dressed and ready for the night ahead, feeling the cleanest we had in 5 days. It was then off to Jamie’s room to grab him and drag him out to dinner with us.
We chose to visit a place we had only been for dessert one time before. It went by the name Coolah Bar. They sold really nice western and Cambodian foods, with their burger meat being 100% imported beef. I ordered the steak and ale pie, which was a little slice of home. It was so good. We stayed there for a good couple hours, with Steve joining us near the end. When we settled the bill I made a quick stop to the local convenience store to buy some long missed treats. I felt something like a castaway trying to fit back into society.
I walked Sarah back to our hotel room, then joined Steve and Jamie at a local bar named Utopia. I stayed with them for a couple hours I think, and in that time I enjoyed some good guy talk. Some of the guys war stories were hilarious. I left them to carry on their night of debauchery and returned to the hotel around 12:40am. However, the nights sleep was disturbed by another one of Sarah’s doxycycline induced night terrors. She woke up, jumped out of bed and claimed there was a giant beetle terrorising our room! I simply rolled my eyes, turned over, and went back to sleep. Leaving Sarah to complete her all too common perimeter checks!!