As my time in Zambia kept increasing, it gave me more options to travel around Africa and Asia and experience parts of the world I had never imagined. I had the thought to get my dive license as most of the places I visit for kitesurfing usually have dive shops in the vicinity, and it would be a great activity to do when there was no wind on a kite trip. In discussion of my upcoming travel with some of my coworkers, they indicated that one of the guys had a dive school in Thailand and if I was interested in diving I should chat with him. Next thing you know, I’ve arranged my open water padi course in two weeks’ time in Phuket, which again I had to check the map to find out where in the world I had just booked a flight …
I was lucky that Emirates has a direct flight from Dubai to Phuket, so off I went from Zambia to Dubai and onward to Phuket. I really wanted to avoid Bangkok, I did not want to risk transferring if I didn’t need to, and didn’t have time to explore the city anyways. I found an airport transfer company by hashtagging #phuket on Instagram and my ride was waiting for me on arrival. I had found a killer deal on a one bedroom suite in the south of the island near the dive shop through booking.com, and couldn’t have been happier with my choice to stay at Serenity Suites on Chalong beach. It also happened to be a few doors down from the kite center on the south of the island (I research well).
I arrived very late to my hotel, and was up early to begin my dive course at Local Dive Thailand. My morning consisted of in class training and in the afternoon my instructor took me to a pool for some water training. The place had a small deep pool specifically for dive training, and a little restaurant with great cheap Thai food.
The next morning the shuttle for LDT picked me up at my hotel along with others from hotels around us, and brought us to the pier where the boat was waiting. LDT has two large dive boats, multi-level equipped with food service and everything you could need for the day’s dive. The dive spots are about an hour from the pier at some of the other islands around Phuket. Diving is a full day excursion, doing two to three dives each trip. I spent two days doing my open water course on the boat, and enjoyed it so much I did two more days to get my open water advanced course. Now I was a certified diver to a 30m depth.
My last day of diving after my courses were finished took us all the way to Koh Phi Phi, famous for being the filming location for the movie The Beach. We dove two spots off the island, one spot specifically hoping for sharks (the movie was pretty accurate in that aspect) and stopped midway home for a third dive. Overall I spent 6 days diving with Local Dive Thailand and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the service they provided, their instructors and the overall dive experience. I can’t wait to go back!
My last day on the island was spent renting scooters and toured around the south part of the island. Oh yeah, and kiteboarding! I was lucky that it became windy the only day I wasn’t diving, so I got to experience kiteboarding on Chalong beach in front of our beach hotel. We went up to Big Buddha, saw elephants, ate at a local Thai place which again has awesome cheap Thai food, and toured around some of the beach areas that I didn’t get a chance to see in the evenings after diving. Most of our evenings we spend in Kata and Karon beach, which is a hotspot for tourism, lots of food and entertainment, but a lot quieter than Patong beach. We did go to Patong one night, saw the Ping pong show, and got to experience the intense Thai nightlife scene.
Between the friendly people, amazing food, diving, nightlife and overall atmosphere, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Phuket. It’s just a matter of when I have time to make another trip, hopefully in the near future. But now it’s off to the airport and back to Egypt, it’s windy and I need to meet some kite friends on the Red Sea!