Insight into one of our Divemasters- Millie
Saturday 24th September 2016
August 3rd 2016- the day I stepped onto the plane in Christchurch, New Zealand, and flew 10 hours to the land of Thai. My first solo adventure, to be quiet brief, I was absolutely shitting myself. I have travelled many times before, Europe for 4 months and South East Asia for 6 months. I moved to Australia when I was 18, but never have I made these journeys alone.
I have always wanted to dive; I swear I was supposed to be a mermaid, but instead of the tail I got given these two weird long things that enable me to walk around on land. I love the ocean, the serenity, the calmness and the peace it brings - almost a form of meditation so I knew diving would be for me. One day it dawned on me that I am doing absolutely nothing with my life so why not just pack up and hit the road. So that is exactly what I did.
I had a few friends tell me about Big Blue and that the dive centre itself was great and they had some unforgettable diving experiences there. So I did a bit of research (as in read one positive review on Tripadvisor) and that was enough to sell me. So I booked my Open Water course, straight through to Dive Masters. Which really, looking at it now was probably the dumbest idea I’ve ever had considering I have never dived before, I could’ve hated it but there was no backing out now because I paid the deposit and I wasn’t getting that back.
Within the first 30 minutes of arriving in Phuket, I met a girl standing in the queue waiting to get our passports stamped. Talking for a couple of minutes we realised we were both going to Koh Tao, to do our Dive Masters, at Big Blue. Coincidence? Or Fate? Who knows, maybe we were destined to meet. Anyway, after establishing a mutual bond, we both had one night in Phuket before heading to Koh Tao. So what do you do in Thailand apart from barter with locals and eat delicious 50 baht pad thai? BEERS!!!!
What seemed to be the longest day of my life, I finally arrived on Koh Tao. Waiting for me at the pier was the Big Blue Tuk Tuk waiting to take me to my new home. Still hung over as hell and looking like death, as well as wanting to vomit up all the bus Oreos I snacked on, I stepped foot onto Big Blue premises. My first initial idea was to go straight to bed, but as we approached the reception all I heard was thumping music and people cheering at a group of newly graduated Divemasters dressed as superheroes. WHAT THE HELL HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO!? I was absolutely terrified, mostly because I thought I had come to this island for peace and clarity, but from what I had just witnessed I was in the complete wrong place.
Avoiding the bar, I snuck up to my dorm room and flopped on the bed and reconsidered my options. I was so anxious about my decisions and what I had signed up for. But eventually I passed out and woke up in the morning; sun beaming down on my face and feeling a bit more refreshed than what I was the day before. Today was the day! My first day of the Open Water course. I waited down in the restaurant, not knowing what to expect, when a friendly face approached me, telling me he was my instructor for the next few days. Straight away I felt at ease, he was a friendly, caring dude that made me feel so welcome, and so at home. We hit it off straight away and from that moment I was so super excited as to what was about to come my way.
Eventually, the three day course for Open Water finished, so a celebration was much needed. And what was the best thing to celebrate with? BUCKETS! You would have thought I would have learnt my lesson by now with alcohol in Asia, but apparently not. The night was an eventful one to say the least, well, from what I can remember anyway. (On that note, I have made the pact to never drink a bucket... EVER again…) but this particular night I decided Koh Tao was now definitely my new home. I have never met so many people at once with open arms and so inviting into the Big Blue community. Every single person was so interested and so intrigued about life and adventure that it was such a relaxed place to base myself. I was super excited for the next part of my course!
The students, instructors and mentors always told me to take as much time as possible to finish my dive masters, just in case you get injured and you’re out of the water for a little while. Me being me thought “pffft what could possibly go wrong?” Well karma strikes back! Fast forward two weeks, I’ve moved out of the dorms into my own apartment I shared with 4 other legends. Two days into my Dive Masters Training, an unforeseen, VERY unfortunate situation struck. I snapped the bone in my foot. Yes, I broke my foot. Never before in my life have I broken a bone and for some odd reason I must have done some sort of bad deed that life decided to take a giant shit on me and give me my first ever broken bone! Now, I’m not a doctor, nor do I have a degree in anatomy/physiology and if you haven’t already figured this out for yourself, but the foot is a very crucial part of your body. It enables you to walk; run, jump and most importantly of all, it allows you to put a fin on to swim while diving. At first I laughed about it, along with practically everyone else at Big Blue, until about three days later I realised I couldn’t do anything for myself, I even had to pre-plan my route and timing to go to the bathroom. I packed a bag to go from the bedroom to the living because if I forgot something it would take me at least another 30 minutes to hopple back into my room to retrieve it. Now that I had no foot, I literally had no purpose to be on the island. “Koh Tao, The Island of Diving.” What the actual f*%# was I going to do? I needed to come up with a plan, chopping my foot off and getting a prosthetic leg and learning to walk again was out of the question. I weighed up my options of staying on this beautiful island but being immobile and not able to dive kind of sucked, but really, it was much better than going back to home, where the weather is cold and not ideally the place to try and recover because it’s depressing enough as it is without a broken foot.
About a week passed, and I can’t even begin to describe the absolute appreciation and love I have for everybody on this island. Not one day went by where I thought I would blow my brains out from the boredom of not being able to walk. My roommates took care of me like I was their own child. They brought me food, movies, entertainment. They carried me up and down the stairs of our apartment. Without any hesitation they would sacrifice an adventure to the beach or another island because i wouldn't be able to make it there even though i insisted they leave me and go and have their own fun. I am honestly so blessed that such beautiful souls came into my life. And at such a crucial time too.
About 10 days after my unfavourable accident, Andy the mentor of Tech Diving approached me and asked if I was busy. Looking down at my foot wrapped up in an angry looking boot and back at him I replied “I have all the time in the world!” classic. But that was the answer he wanted to hear. For some odd and unexplained reason he gave me the opportunity to run/manage the Facebook and Instagram page of Big Blue Tech (if you are reading this give us a cheeky like and follow because if I get 500+ followers I get a bunch of free beers and I like free things.) Why he had faith in leaving me with this responsibility baffles me. Although it isn’t too hard to upload and post photos on social media, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy that he thought of me, crippled with nothing to do. Andy then continued to step up my role, he’s giving me the opportunity to jump in the pool with him to take some photos of his class. And when my foot improves a little bit to be able to walk again, I’ll jump on the boat with him to take photos there also.
I felt so grateful that I was actually given a role in the Big Blue family, and given tasks and activities to fill in my time. Instead of just sitting around for six weeks feeling sorry for myself.
After about a week being all creative on instagram, I was asked by the legends of all legends, he goes by the name of King Phil, how would I feel about writing a blog. Now if I thought being in charge of Instagram and Facebook was already a crazy idea, imagine how I felt about writing a blog. I’m not much of a writer, and I laughed when he asked me thinking he was joking, but he was pretty serious. And here we are now, a hopefully half decent blog written by the biggest amateur author.
To sum things up, my main point of this blog is to describe to everybody that is considering up and leaving their plain, old boring life behind to start a new adventure some place beautiful and tropical, to just do it! Coming to Big Blue was literally one of the best decisions of my life. Never did I think I would come somewhere new and fit in and belong to a new community in a matter of weeks.
If you want to pursue your dream of becoming a Dive Master and/or a Dive Instructor, I highly recommend to do it here. Big Blue is not only a dive centre but a family (if I haven’t made that clear already). I wish there was some sort of way I could return my love and appreciation to them for all they have done to help me while I’m out of the water. I can’t wait for the day I return to the water and become a Dive Master and can make everybody proud.
But in the meantime, I will keep on writing my adventures of Big Blue, post many photos on the Instagram page and keep rocking the crutches. Watch this space…