Bonding In Phi Phi

Grateful for the chance to revisit here. Some things never change. The boat, the people, the equipment perhaps, but the blazing sun, the salty smell of the sea, the welcomed cool sea breezes and the blueness of the warm waters remained untouched by time.

The last time I was in Phuket was 25 years ago, the highlight of which was James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay. My vague memory of it recalls some climbing up a limestone hill with less than a handful of people to admire the turquoise blue waters. Those were the days before Leonardo Dicaprio’s movie The Beach made famous the paradise islands of Phi Phi in the south-west coast of Thailand.

Last February I thought it was time to get acquainted with the Phuket diving scene, which I discovered involves spending a day out on a dive boat to the offshore islands. (Loved it so much I spent 3 days out in the end!)  If, like most, you opt to stay in Phuket rather than Phi Phi itself, expect to be whisked off from your hotel to a pier where the dive boat is docked for a full-day’s excursion. Make sure you book with a reputable dive company!

Excited that first morning, I headed out early to Koh Phi Phi from Chalong Pier. The first thing I told my newly-paired-up divemaster was to be patient with me underwater. I had just bought myself a GoPro Hero 5 and was going to give it a go with almost zero underwater photography experience. Sophie had an Olympus Tough with her, chuckled and agreed to be my back-up plan. We all need good snaps sometimes, don’t we? We did 3 dives together that very sunny day at Shark Point and Koh Bida, and had a ball.

Whilst I had heard a lot about the abundant marine life in Phi Phi, I had very few expectations not having dove these waters before. Everything big and small from a variety of anemone fish, crustaceans, nudibranchs and stingrays had come out to play, though we were dismissed by a devil scorpion fish crawling away. But it was the school of trevallies numbering hundreds and enveloping me that brought the biggest smile.

So – how successful was I with the GoPro that day you might ask? The photos speak for themselves.

Sophie’s:

Mine – Day One:

After taking in a few more tips over the next two days, my underwater photography skills did improve, I think! What do you think?

Also grateful for a backup plan. Question about equipment aside, Sophie’s photos were so much better captured than those I took that day. Using the wide-angle lensed Go Pro is not easy, and I hate shoving it in the face of the fish. Which goes to show one thing and this applies to all things – unless you’re experienced or extremely knowledgable or plain Charlie Brown, it helps to have a back-up plan.