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eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Oh hey this thread

Yeah I'm living on Koh Tao doing my DMT (I had planned on going back to the US and coming back in a few months but that fell through, so I'm staying here indefinitely), although by August I'll probably be DMing around. I just bought all my own equipment - makes a big difference! I'm always down for a drink or six, so definitely give us a holler if any of you come out.

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eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I did my Advanced Open Water right after my Open Water and I'm glad I did because I was traveling onward to places where I wanted to dive but training would've been expensive, but I think it's a bad idea to sign up for the AOW before you've even had your first dive. I agree that there's nothing special about the skills you learn in the AOW course, but there's a very slight chance you might be one of those people who freak the gently caress out underwater, or maybe you can't equalize worth poo poo, or whatever. It'd be a bummer to lose the AOW course money if it turns out that you aren't cut out to be a diver.

eviljelly fucked around with this message at 16:49 on Jun 26, 2012

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



TLG James posted:

The place I'm going though doesn't make you pay till you do your final dive. It's pretty drat nice.

lol then of course you should do it. Good decision!

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



TLG James posted:

We did the CESA ascent and our first "skill" and it was super choppy up top and when I went to breath in air into the BCD, I got about half a gallon of salt water into my lungs. Good times.

We always hear the best stories from military guys. One fun diver a few months back was a submariner in some navy and he told us that part of his training was doing a CESA. But it simulated a sinking submarine, so they had to all go out a ~75cm x ~75cm window, one by one, while the chamber filled with water. From 40 meters (131 feet). He said his lungs were burning for air... and he still had 10-15 meters to go. Be glad you don't have to do that!

While we're on military diving... we had another military dude, and part of his training was doing an entry from a helicopter from about 12 meters (39 feet) in the air. He said you had to make sure you enter feet first because if you land on your tank, you would break your back. Additional fun-ness: no matter how tight you hold onto your poo poo, ALL of it goes flying off you the instant you hit the water when you jump from that high.

God drat crazy sons of bitches.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Woot! Just finished the DM course! All I have left to do is to send off the paperwork and get the snorkel test done!

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Finch! posted:

The bull sharks are back at Koh Tao! They disappeared a year or so ago, but they're back, apparently. Great success.

The talk on the island is that there's actually at least one grey reef shark and one bull shark. I saw the bull shark a couple days ago at Sail Rock - at the same spot/depth where we saw him last week. He's got two massive cobias and a bunch of remoras in his entourage. Can't wait to get out there again on Wednesday.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Had a near spiritual experience today with yellowtail barracudas spiraling all around me. God drat.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



MA-Horus posted:

Just did a 2 tank dive on Koh Phi Phi, water temp 75 Fahrenheit. It's like warm bath water. SOOOOOOO nice.

Wait, are you sure it was only 75F (24C)? That seems freakishly cold for Thai water...

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



MA-Horus posted:

That's COLD? I'll double-check, my log is in my backpack getting loaded onto a ferry. Koh Phi Phi->Krabi->Surat Thani->Koh Tao. 20 hours of travelling yay.
If the water drops below 28C here on Koh Tao, it is a freakishly cold day. 28C to 31C is the normal range here.

I don't know if you've already made all your arrangements but if you can avoid doing Surat and go to Chumpon instead, I highly, highly recommend that. Especially if you're taking the night ferry.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



MA-Horus posted:

Hey eviljelly, I'm on Koh Tao. About to do my night dive for Iain's AOW course. Great so far!

Noice. Night dive is best dive, bro.

I don't mean to overplug 'my' shop, but if you have a few days, you really oughta come over to New Way and sign up for the Sail Rock dive on Friday. We've been seeing bull sharks galore and we're always the first ones there - there's a huuuuuuuuge difference between the first dive when we're alone vs. the second dive after everyone else gets there.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I've got a 3mm neoprene zip-up jacket which I'm in love with. I'd say about 70% of the reason I love it so is because I get to pee without worrying about marinating in my own pee all dive. I usually pee about 4-5 times a dive now.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Ziggy Piggy posted:

I have been thinking about doing my dive masters, preferably as a 3 month internship probably in SE Asia or Australia. I have done 30 dives and am padi advanced; I’ve dived in Egypt, Malaysia (not Borneo) and Indonesia (bali/gili t/komodo) and wouldn’t really want to go back to indo.

Do any of you dive pros have any recommendations for places and or shops?

Depends on a lot of factors. Do you want to work afterwards? If so, where? How much do you want to spend? How good do you want your diving, vs. other considerations such as quality of life, etc.?

I trained as a divemaster on Koh Tao, Thailand. Looking back, I think I got very good training and the program was a great experience - I'd definitely do it again.

The diving is not top notch, especially compared to places like Komodo, but there's enough good diving to keep it fun - if you go with a shop that goes to the good dive sites (many dive schools only go to the closest dive sites to keep the diving fast and fuel costs low). Standards are fairly high for SE Asia (I remember diving in the Philippines and in Vietnam as a new-ish diver and in retrospect they took a lot of shortcuts which I would now find unacceptable) and probably a lot higher than in Egypt, but lower than in Australia (although, a few of my worst fun divers - including rescue divers and DMs - had been trained in Australia). The real pluses for Koh Tao are lifestyle (good nightlife, decent food, great weather), low prices (under US$1000 for the DM course which includes all the free diving you want, plus cost of living is fairly low), lots of hands-on experience (high volume means that you get to help out a lot).

I hate over-plugging my own dive school but the more I see of what other dive schools do here, the more I feel fortunate that I went with New Way. We are almost always the first boat at the dive site, as we leave at 6am from the shop every morning. It makes a huge difference having 20 other divers around vs. 100. In fact, these days, we have DMs, DMTs and instructors from other dive schools joining us on fun dives two or three times a week, because they never get to go to the good sites with their own dive schools and/or because by the time their boats get to the dive sites, all the fish have scattered and the place is full of bubbles. Although at times it feels like we're getting too big, we are still a small shop - it's a busy morning for us if we have 30 divers on board. Especially as busy season winds down, this means that you'll get to know all the instructors pretty quickly.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I honestly have been generally unimpressed with the Aussie DMs and instructors I've seen, although that's a very small sample size. I think Koh Tao's bad reputation in Australia is a combination of 1) Aussie snobbery and jealousy that SE Asia takes so much Aussie diving business away, 2) that dive shops in Ausralia have unnecessary rules and regulations which dive shops in other countries (including Thailand) lack, such as requiring a snorkel or absolutely limiting dives to 50 bar or 50 minutes (PADI standards say 50 bar, and 50 minutes is a rather short dive time for experienced divers on a shallow dive), and 3) the fact that there are many terrible dive shops on Koh Tao. There are plenty of great shops here - DJL, Master Divers, New Way, etc. - but, with over 50 dive schools on the island, there are plenty of bad ones as well. Every once in a while we get customer-defectors from other shops and I gotta shake my head at the kind of stuff that DMs and instructors at some other shops do.

eviljelly fucked around with this message at 10:45 on Sep 2, 2012

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



MA-Horus posted:

Sail Rock's reputation is much deserved. First dive, a swarm of big null sharks.

Second dive, we swing around a pinnacle and BAM, WHALE SHARK! TWO OF THEM! 3m and 5m! Then third dive at least 8 bull sharks popping up and down through the thermocline.

Absolutely amazing.

And I did see the New Way boat out there first. My DMs give a lot of kudos to New Way for always being first out, thought I gotta say my experience with Big Blue has been nothing short of fantastic.

I heard about that poo poo! Super jealous of the whale shark sightings!

Although, I'm not jealous of you guys having to dive with 50-200 other divers every dive

We actually have fun diver DMs and instructors from other shops on a regular basis now on our Sail Rock trips because we get the first dive to ourselves and because at some shops you don't even get to go to fun places (one DMT asked one of our instructors why we call Chumpon Southwest - didn't realize those were two different dive sites).

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



The worst four divers I've ever taken out fun diving were all Israeli. Common to all of them: barely listened to the briefing ("yeah, yeah, we know. we know") which led to them not even knowing basic hand signals that I went over, couldn't achieve neutral buoyancy (one was a rescue diver, even), never paid attention underwater, and had no qualms about just shooting up as fast as they could kick. One Advanced Open Water girl didn't know how to clear her mask.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I just finishing watching Dark Tide. Jesus Christ, start to finish these people were the unsafest, most terrible dive operators imaginable. I was rooting for the sharks the whole goddamn time.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I would see if the shop where I'm working or doing my DM course could pay for me, and I would give them cash.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



nac posted:

I'm planning learning to dive this winter in South-East Asia (currently living in Taiwan) and I have a few questions.

1) Online courses: Is it worth it to do the book work online while I'm in rainy Taipei and do the dives in gorgeous locations? Am I vastly depriving myself of education or money by doing this?

2) Where to go: Any recommendations for places to start diving? I've heard Koh Tao talked about in this thread; any other recommendations? I'll have 5 weeks to travel so I'll definitely go to several countries. I don't think it's prudent to plan a month-long dive trip before ever trying it but it would be nice to know the options if I fall in love with it right away.

The level of diving instruction is going to be fairly low wherever you go in SE Asia. You will get 2.5 to 5 days of instruction for an open water course, which basically runs bootcamp style through the bare minimum requirements set by PADI or SSI with most places and instructors being fairly loose on what constitutes you having met performance requirements. That being said, if you pay a little attention, you will become a competent enough diver to do the kind of diving you typically find in SE Asia: diving with good vis, low chop in a small area, led by a divemaster or instructor.

Koh Tao is the cheapest place to get any kind of diving instruction and imo the instruction can be quite good if you avoid the huge dive shops. Try to find somewhere where you will be in groups of 4 or less. Its a tight squeeze for time to do all the requirements in 3 days. Its nearly impossible to do with 1instructor on 10 students.

imo online stuff is not worth bothering with. Just do an open water course and go from there. Im happy to recommend dive schools on koh tao if you want - did my dmt and worked a few months on that rock.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



nac posted:

Recommendations would be fantastic. Thank you for all the information.


Palau looks great but the flights are expensive. Those package deals sound great! An English open water course in Taiwan would cost $500 alone. I'm guessing January/February is not the off season though. Any recommended places to look for these deals? Usually I get my flights from skyscanner and do everything individually.

I worked at New Way Diving on Koh Tao this summer and I really like them for the small class sizes - max 4 students per class. They're also the first boat out on an island, so you will almost always get the first dive just to yourselves. Price is 9800 baht or about Us$300 for open water, including accommodation, pretty much everywhere on the island, including at New Way. If you book ahead, which just involves calling or emailing, any shop should come pick you up- I know New Way does for sure.

I think a decent diving itin for you, depending on budget, would be to start on Koh Tao and do your open water and advanced open water there, then do the Similan Islands ona liveaboard, then fly out of Phuket to Philippines to hit a few places there. Palawan, Malapascua, Coron, Apo, and Donsol are all pretty awesome for their own types of diving. If your budget allows, I would highly recommend Sipadan, which has a bit of a legendary status amongst divers in SE Asia as arguably the best diving in the region.

edit: if youre gonna go to palau, which i also hear is amazing, you could just do philippines and palau only and skip thailand. Diving in Philippines is generally way better than in Thailand anyway, although right now is whale shark season in koh tao and theyve had bull sharks parked out at sail rock for the past 6 months - whale sharks and bull sharks are easily my number 1 and 2 favorite creatures to dive with, respectively.

eviljelly fucked around with this message at 20:14 on Nov 13, 2012

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I knew an instructor who would wear her semidry if the water temperature dropped below 27C. True story.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I don't even wear a wetsuit. Boardshorts + rashguard 4 lyfe~

EDIT : In Thai waters, I mean. I would rather just not dive if the water was cooler than 23C or so.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



open water to advanced open water to rescue diver + efr sometime before divemaster to divemaster to open water instructor

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I just had a dive with less than a meter vis, which is very, very unusual here. Everyone else complained that it was a poo poo dive but I really enjoyed it. It was a goddamn adventure! It was awesome seeing cobia and barracuda with such poo poo vis... kinda gets your heart pounding when you're suddenly staring at a cobia less than a meter away from you.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



pfft, chumpons been fine, mate. it was southwest

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Some of the worst divers I've had were Divemasters, for sure. I've very rarely seen a bad Instructor diver, though.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



usually you get unlimited diving while you do your divemaster training.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



You can become a certified Open Water diver in SE Asia in 3 to 4 intensive training days. You will technically meet all performance requirements, but whether or not you become a competent diver after that is going to be hit and miss.

On the other hand, some of the worst divers I 've seen were trained in Australia, where they supposedly take their time to really train their divers.

I think a good compromise would be to do an Open Water course at a capable shop in Southeast Asia and stay a few more days to fun dive to get yourself some more experience. I work on Koh Tao so while I wont tout my own shop, I do know which shops here give the island a bad name. Feel free to PM me for Koh Tao talk.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



If you are working as a dive instructor or divemaster, it wouldnt be unusual to rack up dives in a hurry. I'd say a busy DM could easily do 800 dives in a year.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



DreadLlama posted:

After diving in Korea for a bit I've decided that I don't want to take the IDC here. The instructors are alright but the water is cold and the locals ate all the fish. So I have been shopping around for Cool Places for Attractive people to take the IDC. Specifically, I only want to take the course at a place I'd want to work right after completing the course. Diving in Korea kind of sucks. Aside from no fish, you also can't night dive because people coming out of the ocean at night = North Korean spies and then the police want to talk to you.

A friend told me there's lots of dive centres in Honduras and quite a few jobs available. There's a place called Utlia that looks especially good. At least one school is busy enough that they can guarantee 2 weeks of whoring you out for free labour if you want before the IDC (good for remembering what you're doing). Not only that, they offer Dive Boat Mate training courses. http://www.utiladivecenter.com/course.php?uuid=74&desp=10

I could get a full set of gear, take the IDC, and learn to become boat crew for less than $10,000. In a few years, with experience, I might go MSDT and take their boat captainship course. It's in the Caribbean, too. So I could probably talk like a pirate and they wouldn't mind. It could be the best thing ever.


Potential downside: Honduras has the highest murder rate on Earth. I don't like that. As a Canadian who's only ever lived in Asia, certain parts of the world are scary. I'm not too concerned with barracuda - they leave me alone. I can handle stonefish: just keep your eyes open. It's the human element that scares me. What's it like living in Honduras? Anyone gone diving there?

Koh Tao will get you very well experienced in a hurry. The IDC should cost under $2000, plus all equipment for about $2000. They use Burmese guys for boat crew here, so that's not training you can get, but otherwise everything else is pretty cheap. And it's safe here, crime-wise. And the lifestyle is cheap and easy.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Crunkjuice posted:

So koh tao, what are the chances of being able to Dm over there for a while without going through one of those factory programs to become an instructor?

You can expect to stay afloat if you're competent, but that's about it, unless you get in the good graces of a shop and become one of their permanent DMs.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



pupdive posted:

I love teaching divers how to use their flippers and goggles to make their oxygen tank last longer.

make sure they have their respirators in their mouths before the start of the dive and have them press the defibrillator button down as they descend.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Archer2338 posted:

Thanks for these. For Japan/SEA, is language a problem? I can speak Korean fine and Jeju won't be a problem, but I am wondering if I'll run into a language barrier in Okinawa/SEA.

English is the de facto official language for any area with diving in Southeast Asia.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



We've had people who have never dived come to us saying they want to sign up from open water all the way up to divemaster. You can guess what percentage of those end up being (partial) refunds.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Bishop posted:

Just ask rockcity, poor bastard drove down to Key Largo to dive with me and I thumbed it 15 minutes in because it was night and terrible vis and I was not going to take any more risks.

Can you explain how this wasnt a dick move? It couldnt have been a surprise that you were night diving, and on a night dive even with poor vis you should be able to maintain contact with your buddy since you both have flashlights. So basically you made your buddy drive down a long ways and then quit because you were bored of the dive?

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Bishop posted:

I hot dropped the northern light today and drifted almost 5 miles on deco. Max depth 195. And my bottom gas was air. I was expecting some poo poo but I honestly did not feel narced at all. No fish singing happy birthday or anything. Saved
$150 on helium too. I don't plan on making a habit out of taking air that deep but it was interesting to see that at least today, going deep on air was no big deal.

We had a Philippinees-trained DM diving with us for a few weeks who told us some crazy poo poo... We're used to fairly strictly following PADI standards on Koh Tao so we were pretty shocked to hear about his 90+ meter (295+ feet) dives on normal air. He told us it's refreshing to not get narced anymore when he dives - apparently it was quite normal for him to go 50+ meters (164+ feet) on normal air.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I ask my divers to let me know at 70 bar (1000psi) and prefer to be on the surface with no less than 50 bar (700 psi), although 40 (600) is okay.

I had a Russian AOW couple not say anything even at 60 bar and when I started taking us up, the dude shot back down to take pictures of a moray eel. I went down and told him again that we need to go up. On the boat he was a little miffed that I "hurried" him at the end of the dive. I explained why and reminded him of what I said during the predive briefing. He said during his AOW course, he always came up with 0 air and he would inflate orally on the surface.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Gindack posted:

This is kind of a broad question, but what does being a good buddy entail, beyond the simple stay in line of sight, help with gear, and the superficial stuff? WHen following your buddy at depth where do you guys swim in relation to them? As a new diver what can I do to make sure I don't get in my buddies way or make them think I am off trying to kill us both?

When I worked as a DM, I would still go fun diving with a DM, DMT or Instructor from time to time, even though superficially it may seem like it's basically the same thing whether I take out customers or whether I go with staff. The key difference was that I know that the DM/DMT/Instructor would be a good buddy. To me, this means: that they don't take unnecessary risks but are also not complete wusses about vis, current etc; that we know each others' hand signals (not just the 'official' ones but the ones we might make up on the fly); that they are good on buoyancy and air. The most important thing is that I don't have to worry about my buddy and he doesn't have to worry about me.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I used a Zoop even as a DM doing 50-100 dives a month. Cheap, reliable, conservative.

eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



I dive with no weights. Aluminium tanks.

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eviljelly
Aug 29, 2004



Trivia posted:

I am terrible at logging dives. At most I'll write the place, date, and total number of dives for the entire trip.

After my 150th dive or so, I started to only keep the stats that my computer kept. Mostly I forgot the dive site as well.

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