Thursday 31st December 2009-
Happy New Year everyone or we say in Thailand- Sawadee Pi Mai! Its the last day of the year & the last day any of us have to be anywhere near that filthy smelling Frenchman! Today is Guillaume's last day at work. After slugging away for 5 years as an Instructor here G has finally decided to drop trousers & run!
He is leaving us to further his career in diving by becoming a PADI Course Director. & because we are a Triple certifying Centre meaning we teach PADI Courses, SSI Courses & BSAC Courses, G is not allowed to work for us anymore if he wants to be a Course Director. So after much deliberation, a few baguettes, a gob full of couscous, & a good nights sleep in a bed full of onions, G bit the bullet & resigned! Traitorous Mother Father! Only kidding! IF there's a good reason to leave us & work somewhere else I think this is about as good as it gets!
So G, mon ami, its been emotional. From all of us here I'd like to thank you for all the work you have done for the Save Koh Tao Group, for the work you did on the Bio Rock & the Buoyancy World. For your contribution into the Divemaster Training. For your efforts & expense spent on all the fancy dress parties & for all those G ism's & for the fabulous memories I have of your jiggling moobies as you run from the Diveshop to the Equipment room. & in the immortal final episode of Seinfeld- Good Riddance & thanks for the memories! Merci G! & Bon Chance!
Wednesday 30th December 2009-
So in many parts of the world right now its colder than a Penguins bollocks, so in the interests of servicing those of you that are feeling a little chilly in the swim wear region I thought you'd be pleased to know that it is hot hot hot, here in Koh Tao! Hotter than balls! Its bright & sunny, even the water temperature is warmer than most places in Europe. Well its a good job we're not in Europe right now cos that must really really suck! Oh good its almost 5pm. I'm off for a sunset beer down the beach! Happy New Year Europe!
Just another 24 hours working at Big Blue & the crazy frenchman has organised a beach clean up on his last day of work! Its so unfrenchmanly! Our last clean up of the year is to be held on Sairee Beach & as ever is being organised by G as he shows what needs to be done to his imminent successor Heather "The Green Queen" Keeler who will take over the Mantle G has been shouldering for so long. Cheers G for all the hard work you have put in to our eco efforts & good luck to our new Hero the Green Queen! Save the world & save the cheerleader!
Please don't feed the fish! In Hawaii several of the largest commercial merchandisers, including Walmart, have agreed to discontinue the sale of recreational snorkelling fish food, joining the Fish-Friendly Business Alliance through the "Take a Bite out of Fish Feeding" campaign, which discourages the practice of using food to attract fish for tourists to view. The use of fish food by tourists and tour operators can have negative consequences for both reefs and the tourism industry. By feeding the fish, we are affecting natural ecological relationships on the reef. More people are being bitten by aggressive fish. Algae is increasing in these area's too. Herbivorous grazing fish eat algae, helping to clean up the reefs. However, when they are fed food from other sources, they stop eating the algae and other things that they should be eating. The algae is left to flourish, and can potentially smother the reefs. The majority of people do not want to do harm to our oceans but are unaware that their behaviours have potentially dangerous impacts. Now that you are aware however... Please stop feeding the fish!
Monday 28th December 2009-
The last Full Day trip of the year & the first full day trip of the season are being organised for this Wednesday the 30th December to go to Sail Rock for 2 dives & then 1 more dive at Samran Pinnacle. Breakfast, lunch, 3 dives at rarely dived sites, but still top quality ones & the last time we'll have the garlic smelling, onion necklace, blue & white striped shirt, red crevate & beret wearing Frenchman on our boat! : )
Just in case you weren't aware... next years colors are... Navy blue shirt & light blue logo with writing. Our 2010 staff T-shirts were dolled out yesterday to all the dive staff to much rigmarole & fanfare. So our Navy Blue & gold Big Blue Dive Crew shirts are now just a distant memory. A collectors item no less! & a very much sought after piece of Big Blue paraphernalia. In years to come it might be worth something! But for now its the Navy Blue & light blue that is the talk of the town, & don't we look chic!
Once the team had picked themselves up off the floor after being told Jim was going to go diving again this afternoon, making that twice in a week, & 5 times in the year, they were able to sort out this afternoons double dive at Chumphon Pinnacle! And what is it that makes Chumphon so diveable right now & makes Jim don his neoprene yet again is the sharks. Absolutely 10's of them! Guaranteed at the moment if you dive below 20 meters there are at least 20-30 sharks cruising around. Just another reason to do your Advanced Course! & to dive with Big Blue. No one else going to Chumphon Pinnacle this afternoon!
Sunday 27th December 2009-
Ho Ho ho! Can't remember the last time I woke up on Christmas Day without a hangover. And didn't manage to do it again this year either! A lovely Christmas Dinner at Big Blue, then Secret Santa at the bar, then up the beach for Vibe, then down the beach for Fizz, & round off the evening with a couple down at Maya Bar. Nothing like celebrating Christmas on Koh Tao!
And as we celebrate this festive season let us not forget all the poor dolphins that are slaughtered in Taiji this winter. Every year a small community of Japanese fishermen slaughter in cold blood upto 29,000 dolphins. And sell off the dolphin meat under some other fish name like swordfish or whale meat. If you don't believe me you have to watch a movie which we mentioned here before & now this Christmas I finally got to see it. " The Cove" It is UNBELIEVABLE! A must see movie! Though not necessarily a Christmas Movie.You can watch the trailer for it right here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KRD8e20fBo Wow!
So hard to work out who is going to have to work over Christmas & New Year. Last year it was easy with Alain around who being the tee totaler always seemed quite chipper first thing in the morning after the night before so he was easy to schedule but this year... Well Heather, Soren, Pierre, Kelli & Paul all pulled the short straws over Christmas, who's going to be selling their short straws over New Year? I know one things for sure... it aint me ;) Sawadee Pi Mai!
Thursday 24th December 2009-
Another year another Staff Party & another very sore head! Congratulations to everyone who works at Big Blue, the Instructors, DM's, the shop girls, the boat boys, the Captains, the house keepers, the taxi drivers & the accountants for what has been another very successful & happy year for all of us at Big Blue. & what better way to celebrate than by getting everyone to do a shot of tequila & do a silly dance! Many thanks too to the team at ACE Marine Images who put together this years Christmas VDO. Lots of memories, lots of fun! & none of it would have been possible with out you, our divers! Thank you one & all for choosing to come & dive & stay with us. We hope you've enjoyed it here as much as we've enjoyed having you here! Merry Christmas & a very happy New Year!
Its the time of year when the beach literally disappears under the sea. At the highest tide the sea level has risen as far as the dive shop steps so you have to wade through the water to get to the restaurant. I guess its a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the world but for some reason you can really see the rise in the oceans sealevel is as high as I've ever seen in the last 10 years on Koh Tao. I blame that Global Norman!
Monday 21st December 2009-
"Well as I was waiting for my taxi to take me and my travel mate Eric to the dock I ran into one of your instructors Jodie Roberts and we spoke for a few minutes about diving and just the look on how excited she was to be teaching and what was to be had by taking up diving. I have wanted to for awhile but kept putting it off for some odd reason. Well to make it short we ended up staying and taking our open water with Jodie and Big Blue. All I have to say is 5 stars to Jodie and the staff at Big Blue. Jodie made it all fun and I just wanted more! This is a world class diving resort and a first rate teacher! I will be back asap and having Jodie work for your company is a huge asset! Well done! Anthony and team America!" Good on you for writing that email & nice one Jodie! Job's a good 'un! Cheers Team America! Phark Yeah!
Great to see how quickly the numbers are mounting up on our new Facebook group "I will or am doing or have done my DMT at Big Blue Diving". Its a bit of a mouthful I know but its fairly descriptive & its proving to be quite successful. In just 24 hours we've racked up almost 100 Past present & future DMT's, which as ex DMT/ present BBKLDM (Big Blue Khao Lak Divemaster) Amanda has pointed out would be a much better name for the group but well you know I think we'll keep the name the same. It sounds kind of silly but it grows on you after a while. Just like herpes!
Breaking all kinds of records this month, Jim is off for another dive tomorrow morning at Chumphon Pinnacle! That'll make 6 dives this year alone, 4 of which have been done in the last week! But hey when the diving is this good its worth it! There are soooo many sharks cruising around the Pinnacles at the moment & the visibility is opening right up now as well. And with such a dramatic reduction in sharks all around the world these days who knows how much longer these sort of sights will be witnessed. & remember- Only softcocks eat shark fin soup! Hard cocks dive with them... at least 6 times a year!
Saturday 19th December 2009-
Not being the fastest kid off the blocks I have finally opened our Big Blue Diving Fanpage which according to those who are speedier out the blocks than yours truely will place us higher up in the page rankings on Google & Yahoo etc therefore generating more enquiries, more sales & a bigger & better name. Not quite sure how it works exactly but I've been told I need as many people as we can get to join us on our fanpage in order to bump us up. So to all 1529 of you who are members of this group please can you join our fanpage by copying & pasting this link http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Big-Blue-Diving/203260648110 . I'll be your best friend! : )
In our unique way of keeping at the forefront of Scuba Diving in Koh Tao please allow me to introduce you to our new feather in our cap... Big Blue Sailing! As of last week Big Blue now has a beautiful 20 meter long Sail boat all kitted out with space for 10 divers, 2 sails & 10 beds! So after Christmas & New Year we will now be running Full Day Sailing & Diving trips around Koh Tao & overnight trips to the beautiful limestone cliffs in the Angthong Marine Park. Canada is over the moon as it now means he has a boat he can use to sail around the Marine Park in search of underwater caves. & when we're not using it for diving & sailing, we'll be combining with our friends from Fizz & use it for those ubiquitous Booze Cruises! Sailing, Diving, tanning, snorkelling, trekking, caving, boozing & sleeping. In that order! Sound like fun? You bet your ass!
Just in case you weren't aware there are Sharks all over Chumphon Pinnacle right now but please for heavens sake don't tell the Fisherman. Its an absolutely awesome sight. Diving off the north point of the Pinnacle at Chumphon you can quite literally find yourself completely ensconced with sharks. In an area no further than 20 meters circumference with yourself being at the centrepoint it's no exaggeration to say you can see 20 sharks, Bull sharks & Blacktips & grey reefs all within your field of vision. It has got to be one of the best divesites in Thailand right now! So what the bloody hell are you waiting for? Trips leave for Chumphon every morning at 7am. Sign up in the shop immediately for the dive of your life!
Thursday 17th December 2009-
Turtles on Turtle Island, whoever heard such a thing?! Despite the sad fact that we've had several turtles wash ashore Sairee Beach this year after choking to death on plastic bags, our Helen has now seen 2 (live!) turtles in 2 days! Happy days, indeed.
Luke and Sophie our 2 new SSI Instructors are off to a flying start, Luke has been one-on-one teaching open students who needed a little extra time and attention to complete their Open Water Course with 100% success rate. So successful in fact that his latest student has signed up for her Advanced Adventurer Course just 4 days after nervously taking her first breaths underwater, she's off to 30m to play with the Bull Sharks! Sophie is also teaching small groups of advanced students, as well as conducting Scuba Skills Updates with our fun divers. Candidates who complete their SSI Instructor Training Courses at Big Blue have ample opportunities to teach and earn back some of the course fees - so what are you waiting for?
Sunday 13th December 2009-
What a week its been! Its supposed to be quiet at this time of year but its been soo busy that we've hardly had time to even come up for air! The cheap bungalows are full all over Sairee beach & the more expensive ones are now fully booked from about the 23rd on so it seems accommodation could be a little tricky to sort out this festive Season. But if you are diving & if you book with me I'll bust my balls to find you a room & if I can't I'll give you your money back! Room booking guarantee or your money back! Got to be better than sleeping on the beach over Christmas wouldn't you say?
And despite all the billions of people rocking up on Koh Tao in recent days we still managed to squeeze in a couple of dives with a Whaleshark! There was one last week at South West & there's another one yesterday morning at Chumphon Pinnacle. How's that for an early Christmas present. We are of course hoping they'll stick around but if they don't I'll have Swapey inflate the one we have sitting in the store room just in case.
Got to hand it to one of our new members of staff Erik from Sweden, who speaks Norwegian & Danish, & Swedish & English as well of course, for his recent track record of students. He had a group of 7 Swedish ladies of which 5 went on to do their Advanced Course demanding they have the same Instructor & his recent 4 pack of Swedish beauties, (one of whom once modelled for Playboy!) on their Open Water Course all 4 of them demanded they do their Advanced Course with Erik as well. Erik, my friend. There are very many men who would kill to be in your shoes!
Tuesday 8th December 2009-
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way, the vis is great, the sun is out, the whalesharks come and play! At Southwest Pinnacle this morning, a load of happy fundivers were lucky to spend some time underwater with the king of the oceans. Always an amazing experience, especially when it’s the first time. Our DMts Karin and Mick could not agree more. To top that, they swam with a one meter large turtle at Shark Island on the second dive. Not bad, hey? Our other boat was at Chumphon Pinnacle this morning and the divers on board had a lovely experience with our famous group of bullsharks. Can’t really get any better than this. Christmas is coming early this year for us underwater explorers!
Our West Coast Dutchman Marcel was here for a couple of days with his lovely fiancée Kathy, to soak up the Koh Tao atmosphere, forget about the boring lifestyle in Khao Lak and of course hand out some wedding invitations. They were happy to see that we had much less Speedo bearers than what they were used to (although there seems to have been a convention of them a few days ago on the island) and did not look like they were missing McDonald’s at all. Greasy Spoon, Morava, Zanzibar… what more can you ask for?
If you haven’t booked your accommodation for the holidays, now’s the time. As we get closer to Christmas, the island is getting crowded and restaurants (Hippo!!!) and bars that were closed are reopening. More importantly, it’s that time of the year when the Scandis leave their cold and snowy lands for warmer climates where they can wear nothing but a bikini. Watch out Emily, you're going to have some serious competition in the sunbathing game!
Saturday 4th December 2009-
Dear Jim and the rest of the Big Blue Staff,
I would like to say that big blue was the highlight of my trip but that would, quite simply, be an enormous understatement!!! I was in Bangkok, getting ready to head to Phuket when I met a group of guys that insisted I head to Koh Toa with them instead (I didn't even know the name of the island they were taking me to until after I was on the bus). They had done some research and really wanted to do their Open Water Diving course and I thought I'd tag along. After e-mailing a few diving schools on Koh Toa, they were overly impressed with Big Blue, so that's where we headed. Upon arriving, after the taxi (which was a HUGE relief by the way), we were pleasantly greeted by Swappy. He was super helpful in getting us organized, and settled in a room AND with all the information that we needed for diving! Not only was the paperwork and finding a place to stay painless, but actually quite pleasant. I started with a DSD with Pierre, who was fantastic. Always smiling, he was patient, really nice... and saw that I LOVED diving and suggested I continue to do the OWD course, which I did. I signed up for the PADI Open Water Diving course and started, literally, an hour after my first dive! My instructor for my OWD course was Nick. I could not have asked for a better instructor! Nick truly was AMAZING! He was super friendly, knowledgeable, professional, and a lot of fun (even if I did end up owing him a beer fine!) He honestly helped make, not only my diving experience, but my entire trip. I was actually in a group with another couple from Canada but it was definitely more the husband's desire to dive, and not the wife's. As a good sport she came along and did the course and the dives but at one point (I believe after a couple dives) she worked herself up. She had got herself riled up and burst into tears and didn't want to dive anymore. Even her husband couldn't convince her not to quit. Nick, aside from being professional about it, you could tell he actually genuinely cared about this woman and her being happy and comfortable. He spoke to her for no more than two minutes, and whatever was said, worked. She came down, not only not wanting to quit, but ready to take on the world. She was no longer scared in the slightest, and so excited we had to practically hold her back from getting back in the water right then and there! I know Nick helped make this couple's trip but I was so impressed and it gave me just that much more confidence in him! While on the boat I met another instructor who was awesome (even if he is welsh) named Deano. I never ended up diving with him, but he was so friendly and helpful both on the boat and at the shop that I felt the need to mention him and send my thanks to him as well! He was always there to make me smile and have a beer with. It's partially because of him, I enjoyed Big Blue as much as I did. The staff and people are just SO friendly and welcoming! The group of people I was with, after doing our OWD course and some island hopping, left back home. I was supposed to go to Cambodia or Vietnam, but I couldn't... I HAD to get back to Koh Toa, actually Big Blue! I walked up to the shop almost 2 weeks later and was greeted with warm welcomes and smiles (and a couple hugs). The staff remembered me and made me feel more at home than ever. I did some fun diving with Andy and Swappy and they were great as well! I love how Andy is always smiling, happy to see me or not! I could go on forever (as if I haven't already) about the people from the DMT's (Karin, my buddy! You ROCK!) to the rest of the staff (even Jim) and special thanks to Nick (and Deano) and how great my experience was, but instead... I'll simply say that I will be back! Not only soon, but I actually am working towards moving there to do my DMT...soon! Big Blue has made a friend and customer for life. I will be telling everyone and anyone who'll listen to go visit you! Thank you guys soooooo much for everything! Nick you did so much for me by helping me realize my passion, desire, and potential for diving! I could not have done it without you!!! I will see you all very soon! Sorry for such a long email but it had to be said! Everyone deserves a raise, or at least a chang! Sincerely, Emily C,Vancouver, Canada.
Thursday 3rd December 2009-
This is sickening. Denmark is a big shame. The sea is stained in red and it’s not because of the climate effects of nature. It's because of the cruelty that the human beings (civilized humans) kill hundreds of the famous and intelligent Calderon dolphins. This happens every year in the Feroe island in Denmark . In this slaughter the main participants are young teens. WHY? To show that they are adults and mature.... BULLLLsh... In this big celebration, nothing is missing for the fun. Everyone is participating in one way or the other, killing or looking at the cruelty “supporting like a spectator” Is it necessary to mention that the dolphin calderon, like all the other species of dolphins, it’s near extinction and they get near men to play and interact, seeking PURE friendship. They don’t die instantly; they are cut 1, 2 or 3 times with thick hooks. And at that time the dolphins produce a grim extremely compatible with the cry of a new born child. But he suffers and there’s no compassion till this sweet being slowly dies in its own blood. Its enough! Defend the animals, & put a stop to this needless slaughter. Take care of the world, it is your home!
Welcome back, all but briefly DM Amanda who is back from her 2 week holiday in Dubai. Well I say 2 week holiday but its really been more like 4 or 5 weeks with a bit of time frolicking in Khao Lak. Or should I say flirting in Khao Lak! Now that the Japanese team are all over in Khao Lak for the season & not many of the team here in Koh Tao Amanda wants to go over to the west side now! I wonder why? Anything to do with the Ryo Carnival or the Yuta Saints? I think so! Genky deska!
The last Full Moon Party of the year was held last night in Koh Phangan. 10000 loud drunk dancing party goers all getting down to the jive dancing & the techno beats . & all 10000 of them on their way to Koh Tao over the next couple of days. Normally the thought of a busy spell excites me. But knowing that with the Full Moon crowd comes the demands for the world on a stick without having to pay anything for it, the quibbling about price, the requests for more of this & that, & the give me this for free or I'll go somewhere else, gives me the willies!
Tuesday 1st December 2009-
Well the troops are slowly returning from their adventures away. Canada and Yvonne have returned from a break up in the north of Thailand, elephant trekking, cooking courses and yoga courses, yes our tattooed ex-marine in now a non smoking, non (excessive) drinking, yogatastic super chef and Yvonne is still just German. Nice and refreshed to start in 3 new techie interns, Geordie Ash has now finished his DMT and has decided 2 tanks are better than 1. Our own Cav has returned now as a staff instructor to complete his full tech courses with the yoga guru and Mike also form the UK will be joining us for a while, welcome boys.
We ware also saying goodbye to Christos, who came to us back in April to do some diving with the tech crew and ended up working with us, sounds all to familiar of Koh Tao!! He is back of to the UK and then on to Greece for some olives and rehearse for a part in 300 part deux. SPARTA!!
Christmas is coming, Ugly has got the party started and has his antlers on, Panda and Momo are strapped the the sleigh (well it’s more like the trolley) and we are dusting off the decorations. Ho ho ho perfect time to go diving!!! Look with a smile like that who can refuse!!!