Saturday, October 20, 2007

I am now a SCUBA diver!

After passing a about a week in the lovely town of Hue, with tours of the Vietnamese emperors' tombs and the former DMZ zone, and then the old town of Hoi An seeing some ancient ruins and also taking a Vietnamese cooking class, I found myself about two-thirds of the way down the coast of Vietnam in Nha Trang. This is a wonderful beach town of about 300,000 people and the diving capital of Vietnam. It has picturesque palm-lined beaches and the kind of laid back feeling you expect from a real beach town. Four islands beckoned from just a few kilometers offshore to be explored.

I have always wanted to SCUBA dive since I was a kid but I just never took the time to do it. So I decided to literally take the plunge! For $280, including all dive and equipment fees, I took the four day PADI-certified Open Water Diving Course from a 5 star rated outfit, roughly half the price as in the US. The level of instruction was nothing less than outstanding! Grant Martin at Rainbow Divers has done over 7000 dives and teaches other instructors how to teach and it shows! And there was actually one instructor per student for each dive. Now I have a PADI card that I can use to dive anywhere in the world down to 18 meters.

The PADI Open Water Course, which is standardized around the world, involved five pool dives the first two days and four open water ocean dives the last two days. There was also a lot of coursework the first couple of days including, gasp, some physics problems -- but I found that my physics wasn't too rusty after all . . .

I also had the pleasure of meeting fellow students Gary, Lorraine, Louise, and Daan. We had many get togethers during and after the course and we even met up a number of times in Saigon the following week.

Learning to SCUBA dive has definitely been the highlight of this trip so far. And, in fact, this has led me to change my itinerary and my next country destination . . . I also added a couple of underwater photos below that we took during our dives.

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