Friday, 31 May 2013

Orientation for our SSI Open Water Diving Certification

Today was just spent monging and blogging, we resurfaced at 3pm, Chandler got back in just after lunch, which panicked Devyn at first but after I told her where she was it was all ok. We went for lunch at the restaurant near us and then it was time for me, Devyn and one of the Danish guys we’d met on the first day, to head to our diving orientation evening. We were ushered into a classroom where we were greeted by a really nice Scottish instructor, who told us how diving had changed his life.

We were then given the course structure/timetable. Tomorrow we would start at 8.30am, where the morning would be classroom lessons and videos, and the afternoon would be spent learning diving techniques, signals and how to use the breathing apparatus in the swimming pool. Then day 2 is the same start-time, with classroom and our theory test in the morning (of which in his 3 yrs of being an instructor, only 1 person has failed – she was a hairdresser from Essex. Enough said.) In the afternoon we head out onto the sea for our first 2 dives, a practise and one where we would go down 12 metres. The third day was a half-day, start at 6.30am and we’d complete our 3rd and 4th dives, one at 12 metres again and our final one at the maximum of 18 metres. We’d then have the afternoon off before coming back in the evening to view our videos and to celebrate passing our open water course/get our cards, certificates etc.

He then informed us that we have to settle our payment in full before starting tomorrow, which was 9000 baht (roughly £200) and began to inform us of the differences between PADI and SSI courses, so we could decide which one we wanted to do. Basically the PADI is more highly marketed and so it’s more well known, but the structure is very rigid – you have to complete a task there and then, you can’t come back to it later, one on one, or move on until you have. You also had to purchase their book for the course, so it’s slightly more expensive. The SSI has more freedom, if you don’t master something first time, you can carry on and come back to it later on when you’re less stressed. The books are loaned so you don’t have to carry a massive book around with you after, you get your dive cards straight away so you can dive elsewhere on your travels and it generally just sounded like the better one of the two. Plus the dive instructors all preferred it, so it’d mean we’d get taught well. So everyone in our group of 14 opted for the SSI course instead of PADI.

We then had to sign our lives away, fill out a medical (I’d have to go get a medical done at a clinic because of my persistent cough and feet), yay more time spent at a clinic. Then we were given our course textbooks, and given some ‘homework’ to complete by tomorrow. We had to read through sections 1,2 and 5 and fill in the blanks on our homework sheet so they know we’ve read it. Basically it would just make tomorrows tasks easier if we knew a little info about the gear, how to use it, what to do and not do etc, so it wasn’t strict. We then watched 3 sections on a video, which was an hour long, about the exact same things as the text book and our homework was on, so we could start filling it in now. It was quite an interesting video, with demonstrations and such and the last chapter was about the plant-life, corals and sea creatures we may encounter on our dives. We were then free to leave, just had to show up tomorrow with completed homework sheets and a good nights sleep!

So I headed to the clinic for my check-up, 200 baht later and a stamp saying I was fit and healthy, I was free to leave and ready to dive! Me and Devyn then headed to 7/11 for some food and drinks, Chandler and the other Danish guy were headed out on a bar crawl. Then we just headed back to the rooms where we did our homework together and then went to have early nights. Fingers crossed day 1 of diving goes well! 

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