Friday, March 10, 2006

Start your own adventure in Thailand: Scuba Diving

Adventure Island ThailandAdventure takes many forms: a new relationship or job, sushi for the first time, or even a walk through an L.A. slum at 2am on a Saturday night – all qualify. Webster’s dictionary defines adventure as “an exciting or remarkable experience.” It’s when we break out of our daily routine and dare to take on a new challenge, boldly going into territory that is unfamiliar to us. But most people, when they think of adventure, think of travel. And though pretty much the whole world has been explored before by other people (with Marco Polo setting the benchmark several hundred years ago), what matters is that it is your discovery. Adventure travel is a highly personal thing and what it teaches you about the vast world that surrounds you and its relationship to you is what makes it both worthwhile and essential. This is probably why adventure travel keeps growing in popularity. In a world gone wrong, cluttered with technology, self-interested politicians, bureaucracy, greed and numerous other complications, it is crucial to get back to the basics of life and to set personal challenges that bring out the noble savage in us. So remove yourself to another place, with strange people and customs, follow your nose, trust your instincts, and find a part of yourself you’d almost forgotten. Thailand is an ideal location to live out these dreams – or alternate realities. With more than 25,000 square kilometers of national park land, islands, mountains, and a welcoming people, new and enlivening experiences are waiting for you to live them out. Though there are endless adventures available here, two of the more popular possibilities involve going as high and as low as you can.

Scuba Diving: The Amphibian Within

There’s no getting around it. It’s programmed into our DNA that we are creatures of the sea, with a deep-seated desire to return to it. Meander aimlessly on thoughtful walk some lazy Sunday and your feet, of their own accord, will inevitably take you to the water – a lake, a pond, an ocean or a very large puddle – whatever is closest. We look out and yearn to return to our roots. Thanks to Jacques Cousteau, it is now possible, for a short time anyway, to return to the sea completely – for as long as the air in the tank lasts. Thailand, with its countless beaches, coral reefs and modern dive schools is a popular spot to learn to scuba dive. Thousands of proud new divers earn their PADI international dive certificates every year. It can be a bit scary at first – our instincts also tell us that we can’t breathe under water – but once you master the basic technicalities, there’s no experience like it. You have freedoms undreamed of by land dwellers. You are weightless, and can go left, right, forward backwards, up and down – and you are surrounded by colourful fish and plants. It’s another world down there. But like anything worthwhile, it does take a bit of work and discipline to make your first dive. Over the course of a week or so, you take a step by step open water course to ensure maximum safety. You’ll start out in a classroom, studying buoyancy and pressure – you even have homework and exams to do (What? Homework at the beach?!!) This is combined with practice, starting in shallow water, learning to use the equipment getting comfortable with the idea – and soon you’re heading off to the open water by boat, working your way up to dives as deep as 18 meters. In less than a week, you are granted your certificate and can dive anywhere in the world unaccompanied – the beginning of a beautiful new friendship with the other two-thirds of the planet.
Scuba Diving Whale Shark source: Thailand Grand Festival Website

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