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Big Blue Diving Resort - Koh Tao - Thailand

News 2015

Tips for First Time Travellers In Thailand

 

Saturday 30th May 2015backpacking

First time traveller? First time coming to Thailand? Going away travelling for the first time without the comfort of those package tours you do in Europe can be scary. It makes you grow a pair and learn to stand on your own two feet. Go with it, that's what travelling is all about, meeting people, and learning from mistakes, seeing new cultures and how other people live. Don't be a tourist who will only eat in western restaurants, KFC and McDonalds and won't try street meat because they are street vendors and there may be a few critters scampering around the floor. These are some of the best meals you may have and possibly the cheapest. Chicken on a stick with sticky rice, yum! Noodle soup, OMG! Instead be a traveller, who is open to the delights of what the world has to offer and experience it.

I have just come back from a visa run in Malaysia and it got me thinking about my very first time in Thailand. Here are a few useful tips to help you get started, and then once you get to Koh Tao and come to see us at Big Blue whether you are learning to dive or are already certified we can all share our stories with a nice cold beer on the beach watching the sun go down.

When you book the tickets for the bus or train sometimes paying for a slightly more expensive one pays off. If you scrimp on things chances are so will they. Make sure all your valuables are on your body on the seat with you and not in your backpack in the hold underneath. Just go with the flow, they do this every day, if they tell you to wait and that another bus will pick you up, it will. Don't get nervous.

Be cautious of the food by the road where you stop for a toilet break, while thai food is amazing and 9 times out of 10 you won't have any issues, just think about the items of food you are going to buy. Rice and noodles that have been left standing for a while won't do you any harm, but when picking meat use your brain. You are going to be sat on a bus for another couple of hours so maybe just pick the veggies to save the risk of getting a dodgy tummy in a confined space and no direct access to a toilet!

Speaking of toilets...Take some toilet paper with you just in case. (it goes in the bin over here not down the toilet as they don’t have the same sewerage system we have, only put in the toilet what comes out of you.) While the bum gun is a probably one of the best inventions of all times and all hotels and hostels have them. Be aware that the road side stops have squat toilets that they don't all have bum guns or paper just a bucket and scoop. If you are scared by this hose don't be, it will change your life, and you will want to install one when you get home. The very first time you step up on the porcelain squat thrown can be daunting but again go with the flow. And a word of advice ladies, if you are going for pee face the wall, that way your jet stream goes down the hole and doesn't just get splashed up all over your flip flops (it only took me 5 years to work that bit out, for years I was using those pelvic floor muscles to control the speed which just made things worse!) number 2s however face away from the wall and aim into the hole not the flat part, you don't to use the scoop to help with the log flume!!

Make sure you have the right currency or cash with you that you can change just in case your cards don't work in the ATMs. No matter how many times you have told your bank that you are travelling, the one time when you will desperately need the ATM is the time they won't give you money, having cash makes those first 24 hours so much easier and the worries of how you are going to pay for your room, water and food are gone.

Don't lose you departure card, keep it with your passport to avoid any headaches and borders or airports, also take some copies of your passport just in case.

Use some common sense and don't lose bus or ferry tickets! They will charge you again!

The stories you will have to share with just getting from one place to another make up the whole experience of going travelling. What seems like a nightmare situation at the time will turn out to be the funniest thing that ever happened when you are sat in a bar sharing your stories with fellow travellers. Just remember TIT! This Is Thailand! Enjoy and happy travels, now let's do some #REALDIVING

 

Koh Tao Rescue Team- Back From Nepal

 

Thursday 21st May 2015KT rescue

Many people who come to Koh Tao may have been involved in or have witnessed a bike accident which sadly is quite a common thing here. Koh Tao does not have a hospital but we do have small clinics that work super hard. In the last year or so we have been very lucky in gaining Koh Tao Rescue Team, a purely volunteer ran team that are on call 24 hours a day and is basically our closest thing to an ambulance and EMTs. The team consists of restaurant owners, cooks, hotel staff and an ex British Army Royal Engineer, who have all been trained in emergency trauma care. When the call comes in they literally drop everything including cooking your meals to get to the scene. 90% of the call outs are to motorbike accidents whether it is local Thais or farang (tourists). Other call outs are heart attacks, heat complaints such as dehydration or heat exhaustion among others. On the 2nd May members of the Rescue Team arrived in Nepal to be part of Thailand’s advanced Rescue Team to assist with the devastation after the earthquake. The mission of search and recovery soon changed to that of a humanitarian role, ensuring rural areas received food, water and other supplies as well as any medical attention. Koh Taos Rescue team members returned to Koh Tao a few days ago and we are very proud of every single one of them who risked their own lives to help the lives of others, many of them want to return to continue with the mission in Nepal. To do our bit Big Blue Diving will be hosting our monthly Full Moon Pub Quiz and the proceeds of which plus any extra donations will be given to the Koh Tao Rescue Team. They do a thankless job on Koh Tao for everyone and receive no government funding at all, relying solely on donations. This is an organisation very close to our hearts as some of our team have been at the receiving end of the treatment and care that these remarkable people give.

Congratulations to Big Blue Diving’s SSI Instructors Erin, Liam and Erik who breezed through their instructor exam to crossover become PADI instructors. Having been taught how to be SSI Instructors at Big Blue already with our SSI Instructor Trainers and having already taught heaps of SSI courses already, this cross over was a walk in the park. Well Done guys now stops faffing about pretending to learn something you already know and get back to work!

Big Blue Dive Clubs 3 day trip to Chumphon Marine Park will be leaving on the 23rd May. With dive sites similar to Chumphon Pinnacle but shallower and more spectacular and a wreck HTMS Prab which is identical to the HTMS Sattakut but again shallower and with heaps more marine life. This trip is going to be a good one as no other divers head out to the marine park from Koh Tao so Big Blue guests will have the sites to themselves! This trip is suitable for all levels of diving so Open water divers can enjoy this trip also. If you are on Koh Tao right now and you are interested pop into the shop and ask for more details. For more information on future trips the Big Blue Dive Club have on offer visit the group page on Facebook or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Change your Career, Come Play With The Fish

Sunday 17th May 2015best job in the world

Are you sick of your daily commute to work, stuck in traffic or on a cramped train or bus? Tired of grey spring/ autumn/ winter days and summer days that you get to enjoy through a window because you are trapped in the office, car or train? Are you bored of doing the same thing day in day out? Want to change your career? Why not think about starting a career in the diving industry? Here at Big Blue we offer the Zero to Hero package that will take you from Open Water Diver all the way up to being an Instructor. If you ask 90% of our staff they came to Koh Tao on a holiday, then fell in love with the laid back island lifestyle and the family feel that Big Blue has to offer. I for one can fall into that category, having come to Koh Tao in 2006 as a very new and quite nervous Open Water Diver, I proceeded in doing a refresher then my Advanced course. The nerves soon disappeared once I realised the standard of care, patience and professionalism mixed in with a huge dose of fun and great people was just perfect. It wasn’t long before I had made the phone call home informing the folks that I wouldn’t be returning as planned and that I am now a DMT (Divemaster Trainee). 3 months later I was lucky enough to be working as a Divemaster for Big Blue having worked at a few other dive centres first. Now an instructor for 8 years the rest they say is history. It is now 2015 and Koh Tao is home.

You may already have been diving for years but want to learn more about what actually goes on with the science of diving but not necessarily want to work in the industry, the Divemaster programme will teach you all about the physics, physiology, dive planning and environment as well as how to lead certified divers (if you ever change your mind about working). Check out our courses and packages and see which one is best for you, or send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. then once you get here we will sit down and enjoy a nice cold refreshing beer and watch the sun go down over the Gulf of Thailand- aahhhhh bisto!

Have you seen Tripadvisor lately? Koh Tao has been rated in the Top 10 islands to visit. Cant blame them really this place is bloody awesome!

Learn More About Sharks

Wednesday 14th May 2015

epaulettesharkwalking

If you love sharks then you must get watching the new documentary series from the BBC called Sharks. From watching the first episode, I now have a new favourite shark.

The Epaulette Shark. -The Great Barrier Reef is a tough place to live, even for a shark. Extreme tides and high temperatures leave the reef as a series of rock pools at low tide. Bigger sharks are forced into deeper water, leaving the Epaulette shark alone to exploit the riches of the reef undisturbed. Unlike any other shark, the Epaulette has an uncanny ability to walk. It uses its fins as prototype legs to crawl over the exposed reef between rock pools that contain its prey. But no shark can breathe out of water. This is not a problem for the epaulette shark though, as it can survive 60 times longer without oxygen than humans can! In order to do this the little shark slows its breathing and heart rate and powers down its brain. These incredible physiological changes mean the Epaulette shark has more time to hunt on the reef before the tide rises and the bigger sharks move back in. This shark is truly the master of the intertidal environment. The programme shows the hunting techniques of a variety of sharks including the great white and with of 2000 hours underwater filming not one diver was hurt, attacked or put in a threatening situation.  Just goes to show that sharks are not as scary as they have been made out to be.

Big Blue is now making preparations for the upcoming Save Koh Tao Festival on 18-19 June. We have produced some spectacular performances over the years, and this year we will be jumping back up on stage for another show. As well as the dive shop performances there are live bands, the Tour De Tao cycle race, turtle releases, beach and underwater clean ups, Mr and Mrs Koh Tao which is always rigged so one shop always wins. The kids of Koh Tao will be out in force too, showing projects from school. The festival is 2 days of awareness of looking after our beautiful paradise, from recycling to water usage.  The festival is always popular with the local community and also travellers who can’t beat a good party. Who needs the full moon party when we have the Save Koh Tao Festival!

 

Blacktips Around Koh Tao

Tuesday 12th May 2015blacktip

We saw another bunch of Divemasters celebrate their signing off with a DM challenge. The theme was Trashy Barbie (their choice) and the usual games, humiliation, abuse, buckets and shots we enjoyed by our latest divemasters. No stone is left unturned when it comes to finding out about the details of their time on Koh Tao, Mentor and Master of Ceremonies SSImon Garrity was on form on the mike as per usual Please note that these Challenges are completely voluntary and are not part of the training, they are strictly an adult theme though. Well Done Divemasters. I wonder how many of our past Divemaster still have the shirt that is signed at the end of the night. I know I still have mine and it still stinks of Ugly Dog 9 years on!

So what else is there to do on Koh Tao when you are not cruising around underwater?

Not Diving?  Well For those people who still want to be in the water but maybe can’t go diving or have no interest in diving there is Shark Bay; best place on Koh Tao to see baby black tip reef sharks and a resident huge turtle. The road to get there is straight forward and easily accessible. We also have Koh Nang Yuan which is the small island situated just north west of Sairee, you can rent a kayak or a longtail taxi boat and enjoy the views from the viewpoint. Just make sure you take plenty of water and sun protection.

Hungry?  Everyone needs to eat right and Koh Tao has some of the best restaurants around, from Su Chilli in Sairee for some of the best Thai food around to Fizz which has an amazing menu and is found on the beach near Lotus. Fizz is a great location for travellers with young children, with the European owners having 2 small children themselves this is a perfect spot to watch the sunset and feed the little ones before bedtime. Choppers plays live sport most nights and nearly all the big events will be shown regardless of the time difference, the owner is for Australia but that can’t be helped. Rugby World Cup 2015 will be a great time as this is when all the rugby supporters who live on Koh Tao get together for some friendly banter and bets in the bar.

Wanna sweat some more?  From Gladiator circuit training and cross fit  to Thai Boxing if you want to come and work off those buckets and red,yellow and green curries you have been scoffing there is a wide variety of classes and gyms available with a pay as you go price or monthly membership.

There is much much more to Koh Tao than just Scuba Diving, so when you have finished your Open Water course don’t leave straight away. Stick around and see what else Koh Tao has to offer.

Dive Responsibly

 

Thursday 7th May 2015WHALESHARK

The sun is bright, the weather is hot and the visibility is glorious. Whalesharks have been hanging around for a while and the resort is full of very happy divers. This is probably one of the best times of year to visit Koh Tao so instead of sitting behind your desk in your little cubicle in the job that you hate, just book that flight and get over here and share this magical island of treasures with us. Especially now, it’s not every day you get to see one of the biggest fish in the see while you are finishing off your open water course but that is what happened to some very lucky students this morning at Southwest Pinnacle.

With the sightings of whalesharks and a very bad youtube video being posted by a dive professional based in Vietnam, we at Big Blue and Koh Tao as a community would like to remind everyone that whilst diving or snorkelling you must never touch the marine life and corals. Coral may look like rocks and you may think they are strong enough for you to stand on while you are snorkelling or diving, but they are not, you are standing on a very fragile animal that has taken years to grow, they have enough to deal with having the hungry parrotfish munching on them all day. We can not ignore the pressing topic of climate change and global warming and for us as divers we sadly get to see this impact everyday. Over fishing, pollution, total disregard to an eco system that is vital to our survival. So what can you do to help, well here a just a few things..

 

$    1.  Be sparing with water, limit your usage in the shower, turn the water off while you lather yourself up and only turn it on to wash off the suds, even better share a shower with someone!

$    2.  Do you really need to flush EVERY time you use a toilet at home or in your hotel room? Ok I’m not telling you to leave a nasty stinking floater in the bowl for the next person to admire but remember the saying “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’.

$    3. Please put on your sun cream an HOUR BEFORE your go in the sea, the chemicals in sun cream that protect our skin actually damage to corals own sun defence system making it more susceptible  to bleaching and disease.

$    4. Say no to plastic, this no matter where you are will always eventually end up in the ocean, these end up being teeny tiny microscopic bits of plastic that the fish ingest which in turn we ingest by eating then.

$    5.  Do not touch marine life of any form. Do not touch artificial reef which include wrecks, coral nurseries and objects sunk to promote marine life.

$    6. Throw nothing into the seas except yourself. No cigarette butts, no trash, nothing!

 

 

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