After my Open Water diving course, I am already addicted to the spectacular experience I had under the deep blue sea! (See my Open Water diving course here) With an Open Water diving certificate, I can only dive up to 20m. I am very excited when I found out that for the Advance Open Water diving course, I could dive up to 30m after that. The adrenaline thoughts of what I can see down below got so high that I decided to go ahead and take the Advance Open Water diving course!
Pattaya is a beautiful town and houses the sweet Jomtien beach (See my Bangkok and Pattaya trip here). It is also one of the best wreck diving spots in Thailand. If you have not tried wreck diving, I would recommend it as it is really something different and adventurous apart from the routine dive. Another advantage is that Pattaya does not have monsoons season and whole year round is available for diving, however the best period with good visibility to dive in Pattaya is during December to April. These are the main reason why I chose Pattaya to take my Advance Open Water diving course.
After some research online, I decided to go with Jomtien Dive Center for the Advance Open Water course. The email correspondence with Jomtien Dive Center is fast and I am able to complete my theory lessons online before I fly to Pattaya to start the course. The course fees also include the rental of full scuba equipment, so I do not have to worry on that.
All arrangements were made beforehand and I only have to be at the Dive Center on Day 1 to start the course, so this took the worries off my busy schedule back home.
Day 1 - Koh Phi North, HTMS Khram
Arrangement was made to pick me up at my hotel at 8am and my instructor was already waiting outside my hotel when I reached the lobby. When we reached the Dive Center, my instructor briefed me on the 2 days requirement and ensured that I am comfortable before we start. As this is the Advance Open Water diving course, not much is touched on theory, so we quickly did a final equipment check and load up the car. We then proceeded to the jetty to board the boat, which brought us to the first island (Koh Phi North).
My first task is to learn navigation, which was one of the topic I was very interested in. Recalling the experiences I had in Open Water diving course (read my Open Water diving course here), I kept wondering how the instructor lead us from one location to another. Navigation under water is not like driving a car on land, it takes a lot of "gut feel" and experience, especially when the visibility is not good.
My second dive of the day (HTMS Khram) was my first trial going for 30m under water! The descend to the bottom was already very exciting! I felt like I was "sky diving" all the way down, also lucky that I do not have to equalize my ears to have this feeling. The surrounding at 30m down was abit darker as compared to 20m under water. As my instructor brought his diving torch, he shown me the little amazing creatures that can be found there. We also saw a few sea turtles along the dive too. Too bad my basic camera was not able to capture them, so my next target is to get a better camera once I completed my courses.
Day 2 - Hat Nulan, HTMS Mattapon, Koh Crok
On the second day, while on the way to our boat, we saw one of the Royal Thai Navy vessel berthed at the jetty and this majestic vessel is very beautiful. The activities on day 2 are fish identification (which was recommended by my instructor as this is something that makes the dive more interesting), boat diver and I requested for another wreck dive as I enjoyed the first one on day 1. Therefore my instructor brought me to another bigger wreckage site and it was really an eye opener! As a beginner, I tends to ask a lot of questions just to be sure I am doing the right thing and my instructor is very patient and shared his knowledge with me.
Basically the 2 days diving course is relaxing and it seems like I am on a diving expedition rather than taking lessons. As compared to the Open Water diving course, I felt I am more relaxed and accustomed to the dive routines and I can control my buoyancy better now (though still not perfect).