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Sun, 02-Jul-2016: I arrived at what was to be my new home. I was given a PADI book to read, which I started during the afternoon, but because of my tiredness, the information wasn't registering.
Mon, 03-Jul-2016: After sleeping for 12 hours, my first full day at Utopia Residence was an induction day (including a very nice lunch at the Jungle Kitchen restaurant in Ao Nang (Pad Thai, washed down with a Mango Smoothie - yummy!)), during which we (the new volunteer arrivals) were given information about the area, what was expected of us during our stay and finally, our diving equipment.
Tue, 04-Jul-2016: From a diving point-of-view, my first dive day was a complete disaster. All volunteers were driven to the port in Ao Nang, from where we were taken out to the dive boat by long tail boats. About an hour later, once the stragglers were aboard, we set off for Koh Phi Phi (2 hours south from Ao Nang). As we approached Koh Phi Phi, the sea was littered with plastic bottles, expanded polystyrene, and anything else that could float. It looked disgusting; and this was just a small part of the world's oceans!
At the dive site, and with our diving equipment (air supply and BCD) checked and securely attached, we jumped into the water. I immediately lost my confidence; I couldn't control my breathing - and panicked. Ryan helped calm me down [Many thanks Ryan]. I continued the dive, with Ryan as my buddie, going down to about 7 metres. There was a lot of sediment on the sea floor.
After lunch, I tried again, thinking that I had totally calmed down and got over the morning's problem, but no, I hadn't. I had to return to the dive boat, where I spent the rest of the session!
Wed, 05-Jul-2016: The second day's diving was much better!; I found my mo-jo!
Thu, 06-Jul-2016: This was ...
Packing for the trip is complete, apart from a few last-minute items that need to be packed before closing the case.
To (re)familiarise myself with SCUBA diving, I've found a few useful diving video clips on YouTube, as follows:
At the time of writing, the SNSI link contained 16 video clips, depending on the level of diver required.
The aforementioned diving accessories have been bought, and packing for the trip has started, so that I have enough time to can see what might be missing plus I don't exceed the airline's weight allowance!
Soon after I lost my job in Apr-2016, I started doing outdoor volunteer work (for a few hours per week), along a local chalk river. I learned new skills and facts about river behaviour; all very interesting and enjoyable!
I also enjoy travelling. So I made an Internet search for “international volunteering”. One of the sites listed was Projects Abroad (PA). Well, what a Eureka! moment. There are so many possibilities! Wishing to concentrate on Conservation and Environment projects, I narrowed my choice down to spending two weeks in one of five locations: Mexico, Peru, Fiji, Thailand and Cambodia. Having been to Thailand a few times before, and gaining the PADI Open Water qualification in Australia some years previous, the diving projects had “a slight advantage”! Following a very useful visit to the PA offices in Goring-by-Sea (thank you Sarah and Richard for your time), Thailand came out as the eventual winner. If the truth be known, it had always been my favourite destination from the start! I just needed to justify eliminating the other destinations!
When going for a two-week period, the first week is used to learn how to dive and the second week is when the real work starts. Then it is time to leave! With that in mind (and logical comments from Sarah), I decided to go for four weeks, so that I am able to really get into the work.
With the support from family and friends, I submitted my application on 01-Jun-2016 for a period of four weeks in Thailand, starting 02-Jul-2016. Some might think it is quite a short ‘notice’ period, but hey, anything is possible!
Sarah suggested that as I intend going for four weeks, I will benefit from getting my own mask and fins; good idea! Therefore, I visited a local dive shop last week, purely ...
So I've now completely paid for and booked up my 4 weeks conservation project in Thailand; from the 22nd of July until the 17th of August! It's time to start getting excited!
I've always wanted to take part in a project or volunteering experience. Right now felt like the right time to actively search for something that I really wanted to do... which was difficult as I had no idea what I was looking for! I heard about Projects Abroad from my close friend after she spent 6 weeks in China. I went straight to the website! There was way too much to choose from, but I knew a few things wouldn't suit me. After a week or two of intense research and reading I narrowed it down to The Conservation projects. It probably took me a good few weeks to choose between Mexico, Thailand, Peru and Costa Rica! However, I picked Thailand, and I couldn't be happier with my choice.
This is going to be a completely new experience. I have never been to Asia. I've never been scuba diving and I've never eaten Thai food.....So this should be interesting. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really nervous but the excitement is slowly creeping up on me.
This trip has come at a great time for me. I work full time in a small independent business so 4 weeks away from it will be so strange, but a well deserved break. It'll be time away from my family, friends and boyfriend too. This will give me time completely to myself which will be odd. I'm hoping to come back with some new perspectives and (fingers crossed) some idea of my future plans. I'm very excited to meet new people and travel to explore the Thailand Culture. I better get my camera charged!
The countdown begins
See you soon Thailand,