Friday 29th April-
Just like the rest of the world here in Koh Tao the British among us are as excited as teenage boy in a girls changing room at the thought of "The Royal Wedding". The pubs are all showing every minute of this sporting extravaganza & there's a few street party's being held in the Retirement Village. Dan & Kymmie are taking notes so they can get there wedding in July to go just as theatrically! Personally though I just don't understand all the fuss this wedding has created. Why are the british getting that excited about a couple of germans getting married?
Hello Jim and Andrea and not forgetting Lulu! Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our time Koh Tao. Staying at your 3 bedroom Villas with swimming pool was perfect and we could not have asked for any more. Thank you Andrea for being so kind and helpful to us specially over my arm which I had x rayed this week and it is broken. Kevin Kirsty Jamie loved the Scuba Diving and want to come back next year to do the advanced. And just maybe I might even learn to scuba dive to if I don’t have more silly accidents. And hopefully Steve and Beth will come to, maybe they may even have that wedding there. We have bored all our friends with the DVD. Best wishes to you all and will be in touch in the new year to book again. Kevin, Jenny, Kirsty and Jamie XX
Its Golden Week this week. The Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays within seven days. In combination with well placed weekends, the Golden Week becomes one of Japan's three busiest holiday seasons, besides New Year and the Obon week. So this week we have dedicated Banzai boat to our Japanese staff. And after the terrible tragedy Japan has been dealing with over the last few weeks & months with regard to their earthquake & tsunami its great to see so many who have been able to make it out here for a week of solid diving. "Great to see you all," or in Japanese "moshi moshi, sushi matahari origami sudoku," ... I think!
Tuesday 26th April 2011-
Koh Tao has a bit of a strange tradition when it comes to the graduation of a persons divemaster course. Its called the snorkel test. After all requirements of the divemaster course have been met, the divemaster-to-be is put to one final test. He or she is made to sit in the bar, put a diving mask on, put a snorkel on which is attached to a funnel and then a bucket of alcohol is poured down this funnel. Usually a mixture of beer, whiskey, red bull, juice and Tabasco. The idea is that because you cant breathe through your nose with the mask on, you have to drink the whole bucket in one go without breathing. In 10 minutes you cant speak because you’re so drunk, then you puke on all your friends, and pass out about half an hour later while everyone celebrates without you. At Big Blue, we really thought there must be a better way. Why not have a challenge that you can truly enjoy. One that you’ll remember, one that will embarrass the hell out of you, and one that is actually a challenge. And so it was that 4 years ago we threw out the snorkel challenge forever and replaced it with the Divemaster Challenge.
The idea is simple. After you’ve spent 2 months here doing your Divemaster course, we know a bit about you. What you did as a job before coming here, what your worst fears are, what embarrassing things you’ve done on the island. And sometimes we’ve got photos to prove it. So we make up a program of games and challenges relating to your sordid and supposedly secret past. Each challenge involves usually between 5 and 10 tasks. Do well, and you get applause, do poorly, and you get a shot of something you’ve told your friends is the one type of alcohol you really don’t like. Sometimes 2 or more divemasters finish at the same time, so obviously you compete against each other. Most times you can expect to get covered in whipped cream, ice water, etc. Heres a selection of themes from some of our favorite Divemaster challenges from the past few years.
Pirates of the Gulf of Thailand. We had 4 girls who would sneak on to other companies’ dive boats and steal the cookies. They called themselves the dive pirates. We even had video footage of them stealing cookies off the Bans boat, showed it at Choppers Bar and Grill and dared Bans to retaliate. They never did. So their challenge was a pirates theme. The audience all got an eye patch. First a round of Pirates trivia, then the girls were all tied up with their right legs together. 3 of them had their eyes covered, the other one had her arms tied up. So we had a 2-eyed, 5 legged, 6 armed pirate monster who had to follow their pirates map to find treasure around the beach. The treasure was of course a bunch of alcohol, ice, mix and a bucket and the final task was for this monster to put it all together and finish it.
Night of Magic. Robert was our favorite magician divemaster. A professional card magician by trade, we made a series of card tricks for him to try to solve. He probably would have done better had he not been playing with a Big Blue Deck.
New York, New York. Oscar was headed off to the Big Apple after his DM course, so we dressed him up like the statue of liberty
Doctors and Naughty Nurses – magnus. Self explanatory, but magnus had finished his PHD before his DMT
School Daze- alex,tomas, birgit, flo- All were students, so games centered around student activites
KohTaopoly – archie, Julie, Becky, anna- This is one of our favorites. The bar was done up like a monopoly board, but with properties that represented koh tao, like “Big Blue, Farango, and “Bans” for the cheap property”.
Cable Guy - jeroen- He was a program director in his previous job so we made a big remote control and a whiteboard TV and made him chose channels and have to act out a program that we described on each channel. Based on audience applause if he did well he’d have to drink or not.
Secret Agent – From Russia with Cider - anna, kirsty- Dressed up like spies and played spy games
United Nations – panos, joost, Kristi, linus,-Everyone was from a different country so questions were about international events.
Sween vs Finland Hockey anu vs huympus- Apparently the two countries these DMTs were from are bitter hockey rivals so we made a big hockey match on the beach followed by trivia about the respective countries
Invade your way home – kelli- Kelli was from the USA and as the US likes to invade other countries, we made a map of the countries between here and the US and by answering questions about those countries, she could either successfully invade and attack the next country, or an incorrect question made her go around. Some countries were entirely made up by what we thought Americans would perceive as real world geography (countries like Iraqistan) and also, the trivia was also adapted for americans as the question for Austria was about kangaroos.
Pimp-off – rich and ian- Couple of guys who considered themselves real ladies men had to try being the bigger pimp. They had to rap and do drive-bys and try to get people in the audience to pay for their hoes.
The dating game – nate,bas,max,wolfgang, Brad,mark,oscar,simon,marlene- A constantly re-occuring theme where usually the boys dressed as girls and vice versa and the format was like any dating show, but BB style
Ladyboy cabaret – oscar, goodstuff.
Oh the good old days. Thank you Rick for that jaunt down memory lane!
Now anyone out there not fancy doing their DM Training?
How's this for a completely absurd waste of money! Dutch developers are giving a new meaning to the term "water hazard." Three corporations - Waterstudio.NL, Dutch Docklands and Troon Golf - will be building the world's first floating golf course in the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean, according to Business Insider. Underwater tunnels will connect the 18 holes and facilities together, while allowing golfers to experience the reef. Luxurious accommodations overlook the fairways and the surrounding reef. The course itself will be built on floating platforms, making it the world's first floating golf course. Its never going to work! After all who on earth would want to play golf when you could be diving!
Awesome visibility out there. Its got to be nearly 30 meters at a lot of our dive sites right now. Which means thats there's actually now almost twice the amount of marine life to see as there was last month when the viz was only 15 meters! But possibly not as good as some of those Similan Island dive sites where the viz often reaches 60 meters, which is obviously twice as good as what we have here right now & 4 times as many fish to see as last month or 4 times better than what we had here last month & only twice as many fish as what we have here right now! See for yourself. Its better than last month but not as good as the Similans!
Low season special on Fundiving right now! Get this. Book a 7 night stay with us & get free accommodation & unlimited diving for 14000 Bt including Full Day Trips & night dives! Book a 2 week stay with us & get free accommodation & get unlimited diving including night dives & Full Day Trips for 25000 Bt. Koh Tao's best prices for you Dive machines out there!
Well with the full moon Party in Koh Phangan comes the hordes of party people all looking for the cheapest place to stay & this year I think we hit the nail on the head! We're always being asked for free accommodation while they do their Open Water Course & we do offer 6 bed Air conditioned dormitories so that we can answer yes to this question but these dorms are always full after the Full Moon Party so this month we're offerring beds on the beach for free! How's that for innovative! We've made 4 walls, a bed a pillow & a sofa out of sand & we're offerring this for free while you do your Open Water Course. Very picturesque, very air conditioned, not at all private! But yours when you do your Open Water Course!
Our Divemaster & Dive Instructor Internship Programmes seem to be going great guns at the moment. Heaps of students signing up to become fully qualifed Diving professionals & looking for a change in lifestyle! & why not. We have some awesome price saving Internship programmes going on right now & for absolute bargain prices! Just ask Danny Chris & Jesse 3 of our new Interns who've started their DM Course, have a brand new set of equipment, a Nitrox specialty, a Deep specialty, a Videography specialty, 2 months accommodation, 2 months unlimited diving & a job in the scuba diving industry at the end of it all for the absolute bargain price of just 120000 Bt or 2500 British Pounds or 2750 Euros. A small price to pay to become a professional beach bum wouldn't you agree?
Last chance this month to get onboard a Similan Safari Liveaboard trip. Its coming to the end of the season over there in Khao Lak & those of our staff who haven't been for a trip yet are either there right now or are on their way there in the next few days! Sonia the lucky son of a beach wangled herself a trip to the Komodo islands in Indonesia! & Ros & Curtis are off to the Similans & Surin Islands on board the Manta Queen for 4 days & nights of unsolicited fornication! & some diving if they can squeeze it in! 20000 Bt per person for your 4 day/ 4 night trip. Includes 4 meals a day, softdrinks, & 14 dives. Fornication is extra!
One very large & attractive, extreme friendly, very photogenic Whaleshark at Sail Rock yesterday & every single one of our divers dived saw & got photographed with it! We really ought to start charging more for that kind of service! Congratulations you lot. Now, who fancies a wager? I bet you 1000 Bt the next place we see a whaleshark will be at Southwest Pinnacle & it will be within the next 5 days. Anyone fancy a flutter?
In this time of economic turmoil & financial crisis Big Blue Diving are happy to offer every single one of our customers and other Dive shops customers too, a free dive this afternoon & all we ask in return is if you see some rubbish to pick it up & stick it in your Divemasters mesh bag. How's that for a feel good afternoon. A free dive & the feeling of having done something good today & off loading a bunch of crap for your DM to carry around for you!
Don't want to scare you off but I did say I'd be giving you a detailed account of the weather every day & this morning despite the glorious start to the day but by 9.30 am it was absolutley prepissitating it down! However the good news is that its now lunch time & the rain has stopped & I can see the clouds bugging off so we should be in for another beautifully bright hot sunny day! Blimmin well better be or I'm going to be having a few harsh words with my travel agent!
Thursday 21st April 2011-
Fame at last! Keep your eyes out for this months copy of Sport Diving Magazine issue 145 as there is a 4 page article written by none other than our very own plumber turned Technical Dive Instructor & BSAC Instructor Ash Dunn. With photos of yours truely, my beautiful assistants Kate & Jess, a whaleshark, lots of resort shots a couple of student shots oh yeah & of course Ash himself. Here's a little taster..." It was August 2009. Summer was over & I was ready to embark on a new adventure. Time to put the plumbing career back home on hold for a while, or so I thought. My family came to see me off at the airport. My destination was Koh Tao, a small island north of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand with immaculate diving conditions white sandy beaches & ice cold beer." Keep a look out for it at your local newsagents Pages 64,5,6 & 67, in case you want to check it out without buying.
I am still quite shocked a tthe amount of mail I'm getting regarding the conditions in Koh Tao. Its been almost a month now since the storm. Big Blue never closed down despite the rumours. We got a beating but we are completely & utterly back to normal again now. THe boats are busy the resort is practically full. The restaurant is heaving & the bar is rammed. On top of this the weather is fantastic. Bright, hot, sunny, cloudless, calm seas, crystal clear waters, & teeming in marine life. In fact things are sooo good right now we managed to organise another Full Day Trip to Sail Rock less than 4 days after our last one. So people please.... stop sending me sympathy emails on the demise of Big Blue & questions asking what the weather is like! Its like it always is! Hot. Damn hot! Good if you're with a woman, or near the ocean! Not if you in the jungle!
Monday 18th April 2011-
Well its still a beautiful hot sunny day here in the Gulf of Thailand. Must be nearly 36 degrees out there. The water temperature is nearly 30 degrees. Its hot, sunny, gorgeous, cloudless, flat, calm, crystal clear, & completely & utterly & totally deserted! Not a topless sunbather to be seen for miles as illustrated in todays photo!
As divers, we are in the prime position to help our reefs remain the paradise they are today.To help educate and alert divers of the problems affecting the reefs, Big Blue Conservation has helped construct a new speciality supported by BSAC on Marine conservation. Also, as an observational sport, knowing a little more about what you see underwater and improving your buoyancy skills and air consumption will help make every dive count.
The BSAC Marine Conservation Speciality Diving Course
1. Buoyancy workshop - including two buoyancy skills dives
2. Ocean environment
3. Coral Reefs - including marine identification dives and night dive
4. State of the reefs
5. Conservation - including two ecological monitoring, reef restoration and practical conservation dives
Would just like to take this moment to congratulate 2 of our old staff who share a very special date today! Firstly lets all wish our old Hawaiian Instructor Rick & his newbie wife French Fanette who are getting married today in Khao Lak. Big congratulations to you both guys. & Secondly to our favourite Dutchman Marcel & his beautiful Municher Katti who are today the proud parents of their newborn daughter Dewi Antoinette. 2 of Big Blue's favourite Instructors sharing a very special day together. Congrats guys from all your pals at Big Blue.
Well despite my post yesterday saying that the weather is glorious the sea is crystal clear & flat calm, I still spent most of this morning explaining this fact to a few rather nervous disbelieving email inquirers. Its true people. Just have a look at todays photo. Sunny, flat, calm & deserted! What a great place for a holiday!
Whaleshark spotted at Chumphon Pinnacle yesterday morning & surprise surprise another one seen at Twins deeper Pinnacle more affectionately called 'No Name' yesterday afternoon. There's also a rumour going round that there was another whaleshark at Sail Rock as well, but we were actually at Sail Rock yesterday & none of us saw anything even closely resembling a whaleshark in that 30 Meter visibility but then it was hard to see past all those schools of fish that it might have been. Guess we'd better go back & find out! 3 whalesharks in 1 day! That's probably about the same amount of people arriving on Koh Tao today.
Well despite the miserable lack of tourists & holidaymakers & divers in Koh Tao right now there does seem to be a light at the end of this rather long dark tunnel & that is that Koh Phangan is absolutely chocabloc! Its due to the Full Moon Party tomorrow night of course but thats great news for us lonely poor bored souls here on Koh Tao as it means all those revellers in Koh Phangan right now are going to be making their way over to Koh Tao next week so if all goes according to plan we should be nice & busy again this time next week. Bloody hope so, we're running out of tumbleweed!
Blimey Crikey has it really been that long? So much has happened I don't even know where to begin. Yes its true we got a hammering in that recent storm that swept through the southern part of Thailand & yes we got quite heavily flooded here in Koh Tao as well but it hasn't taken too long & we're back up on our feet again! Haven't got quite as much shade as we had last month as a couple of our trees got swept out to sea but thats cool cos now we got heaps more space around the place for topless sunbathing! See every grey cloud has a silver lining!
Definitely want to thank everyone for helping us put the place back in shape. Especially all our Restaurant boys who've worked tirelessly over the last 10 days or so. We had to replace about 15 tonnes of sand back in the resort & put our beach bungalows back in place & had to re do the whole decking of the dive shop & most of the restaurant as well. And we've re varnished the bungalow interiors & re painted the Dive shop & the down stairs Air Con dormitories & everything actually looks better now than it did before we got flooded. Just in time for the Full Moon rush!
So for all those of you still writing to me asking how conditions on the island are now I'd very much like to tell you that its absolutely brilliant here right now! Its glorious sunshine, crystal clear waters & because of all the overblown stories & consistantly inaccurate weather forecasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation its pretty much dead here! In fact I did hear that the center of town has actually run out of tumbleweed now they've been that quiet over there! & it aint much better here in Sairee. So yes people its beautiful here right now & because there's hardly anyone here its actually better than its been in a long time! & just to prove it here is a photo I just took of Big Blue Diving Resort! Sun Sea & Sand & not a topless sunbather to be seen anywhere!
Saturday 2nd April-
WOW is all that can be said for the Save Koh Tao Festival, and I mean WOW with a capital WOW!!! 2years ago we performed Grease, last year we did Michael Jacksons Thriller, but this year Big Blue and Gemma and Keli from the Flying Trapeze Adventures blew everyone away with a stunningly choreographed Riverdance show. Our barman/ instructor Irish Greek adapted a version of a tradition Irish Ceili dance mixed with some fast steps from the Riverdance, while being joined with the two beautiful girls spinning the Spanish web rope. I have never heard a crowd like it we were bloody amazing if I do say so myself! Along with the dancers on stage Heather along with ACE Marine Images edited a beautiful movie showing all the best fishy clips from Koh Tao. We all cried the first time we watched it well done Heather.
HUGE thanks must go to Greek for Choreographing the whole thing and making us actually look like we knew what we were doing, Gemma and Keli for training so hard on the ropes after teaching trapeze all day, to Jen for organizing the thing from the start, to Heather for amazing video, Kelli and Lala for making the costumes and set, and a an even bigger well done to all of you dancers and for you all in the crowd for cheering so loud they could hear us in Bangkok. And sticking with the usual them of UK festivals we all partied into the morning dancing in the rain and the knee deep mud, you can’t beat mud fights and wrestling in the rain at a festival can you.
We knew something was up when our boat captain, P'Piak, started growing his beard long again, wearing robes, carrying a wooden staff and leading the animals off Koh Tao two by two up the gangplank to Banzai. We're used to periods of heavy, sustained, incessant, downpouring rain here on Koh Tao, but this was something else!
You'll all be happy to know that the damage has almost been completely repaired, we're back up and running, and there was 15m visibility at Green Rock this morning!
The sun is out, the sky is blue, now all's we need, is some of you!