Scuba diving off Richelou Rock

I just spent 5 days scuba diving on a live aboard boat off the west coast of Thailand. We took in the Similan Islands and the famous dive spot off Richelou Rock, among the top ten places to dive in the world. It was a truly fantastic trip on so many different levels – amazing diving, fantastic people, and out of this world scenery from the boat.

There were so many good things, it’s difficult to know where to start and I wouldn’t come close to doing the trip justice. But here are some of the highlights: gaining my PADI advanced qualification under the careful supervision of the lovely Billy; seeing so many new sea creatures I haven’t seen before, including a couple of turtles and some cuttle fish; doing my first night dive, seeing the plankton that glow when you move the water, and gazing up at the stars afterwards as we waited for the boat to pick us up (thinking to myself, ” life is good”); mountains of amazing Thai food prepared by the lovely Burmese chef; the fun loving Burmese crew who always noticed when I needed help hauling my gear onto my back, and help me get my fins on every time; Vernon’s brief briefings (we will go out, we will explore, we will see fish – enjoy!); the funny French guy in our dive group who taught me to swim with my arms crossed in front of me and to slow down my kicking to conserve more air and generally make life a lot easier for me; the soft coral at Richelou Rock that looked like purple sprouting broccoli; swarms of thousands of fish, flitting from synchronised dance routine to standing army pose; sleeping on the roof of the ship on my final night, first time I have slept under the stars; drinking very strong shots with the lovely Czech family on my first night and again to celebrate me qualifying on the last night; managing to swim against a really strong current off Koh Tachai Pinnacle; nightime chats with my room mate; playing the guitar on deck at night to an appreciative audience; sitting on the front deck drying off in the sun after each dive; and the beautiful greens and blues of the sea around Shark Reef on day one.

I have an underwater photo of me coming from one of my fellow divers soon, but in the meantime a few shots from the boat:

In Ranong harbour before we set off:

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Out on the high seas:

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In the Cactus bar back in Ranong, celebrating me joining the illustrious ranks of PADI advanced divers (lowest depth of the trip – 35 metres!!):

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Needless to say, I didn’t see a.m. the next day…

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