After spending a day or two in Bangkok, we shifted base to Pattaya. OK. So, what could be remotely scary in a scenic beach paradise? The inevitable adventure water sports. I’ve got a strong aversion to water. I’m not sure if it is because of my inability to swim or the power the sea commands. Either way, I’m best on the other side of water.
If we were on our own, I would have chosen a secluded spot and admired the vast patch of blue – in front of me. But, the flip-side of a tour group, is that, you’re herded into a bunch, and pushed into doing what’s planned for you.
So there we were, on a barge, in the middle of the sea. Everyone was excited to get strapped-up and sail the sky. I thought I’d sit this one out. Eventually, I mustered a modicum of courage and buckled-up.
The instructor shows me three fingers and yells, “Three deeps (dips)?”. I’m not thinking right now. Basil quickly answers, “No. Just one.” And am I glad he did. I can feel my heart pound as the motor powers up. Up I go and suddenly I hear the engine die. SPLASH! That’s what a ‘deep’ meant! After a moment of breathlessness – I’m up again. This time I hold onto my straps tightly and try to enjoy what’s below me.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of soaring in the sky. Is this what it is to be a bird? Any more philosophical thoughts – were interrupted – by the impending logistics of the situation. I could see the barge approach. Seriously, would these guys manage to get my feet to establish contact – at the right moment? I could see Basil film my grand landing. Fortunately, for me, these guys know what they’re doing. Basil went next and opted for two dips.
Next-up was the underwater sea-walk. Umm…I had, momentarily, conquered my fear of heights. But, walking underwater, was taking it too far. Our group, of 20 people, was ferried across the sea – closer to the shore. We were given basic safety instructions and each, a glass helmet(a sort of bell jar) strapped to an oxygen tank.
I was one of the last few to descend. Suddenly, a boy panicked, and came out of the water. His ears were ringing. Too late for me to turn back now. Basil went in and I was next. What followed next, was nothing short of a nightmare. As you might have guessed – I panicked. I breathed through my mouth, forgot my instructions, and couldn’t walk. Our instructor realised that I had panicked. He refused to let me go back. I’m glad he didn’t.
This trip dates way back. And I don’t have images to show. Perhaps, you could test your imagination. Schools of fish swam across, an occasional current brushed us, and vegetation swayed without a fight. It was eerily silent. Yet, hauntingly beautiful. Strangely, nothing mattered at that moment. We had left the world above us.
I truly admire scuba and deep-sea divers and the enormous grit they must have. I’m not sure, if I could explore the under (water) world – like they do. A shout-out to Indah, for offering, a glimpse into what lies beneath.