My motto for this trip has been that the universe works in strange and mysterious ways, and it certainly hasn’t failed to let me down so far. This past month has been the most unexpected, and exciting, yet.
After my incredible two weeks in India, I flew to Thailand in the beginning of October. The idea was to head down to some of the islands, double back up to Northern Thailand, and continue on a circuit around the rest of Southeast Asia, visiting Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Needless to say, none of that ever happened.
I made it to Bangkok, Koh Phangan, and then Koh Tao. Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn to scuba dive. Not too far off, I decided to try free diving, which is when you swim down with just one breath of air.
When I signed up for the introductory course I didn’t have a set date to leave. The guy working behind the desk said jokingly, or not, that I’d probably end up staying here indefinitely because that’s what happened to him. I laughed it off. This was only my third stop in Thailand, I still had a heck of a lot left to see!
Well, three weeks and one missed flight later, he was right. I took the first course and was absolutely hooked. I missed my flight to take the second course and promised myself I would leave after that. Big mistake. It only reinforced how much I loved free diving. Instead, I decided to stay and become a dive instructor.
There were a few days where I teetered back and fourth about the decision. Did I make the right choice? What if I can’t dive deep enough for the requirements? Will people back at home think I’m crazy for staying to live in Thailand?
As soon as I get in the water, all of these thoughts dissolve away and I’m left with the warm, familiar feeling of being engulfed by the big blue. Some people are afraid of the water, but I think it’s where I belong. When I’m stressed or anxious or having a bad day, I know that it’ll all slip away once I get below the surface.
Free diving gives me an opportunity not only to do something I love, but to share it with and teach it to others. One of the most fundamental aspects of our lives is connection, to people and to the nature around us. Free diving allows me to interact seamlessly with both. I get the best of both worlds, literally: on land and the world beneath the waves.
Ending up in Koh Tao is the very last thing I ever expected to happen to me. This was just supposed to be a trip for a few months after graduation. Instead, I’ve decided to stay and do something I’m passionate about. Not everyone is so lucky to find something they love doing, and also be able to make a living from it. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. The people I’ve found here and the sport I’ve discovered have seemingly fallen into my lap at the perfect time. It’s serendipity at its finest. The universe certainly does work in strange and mysterious ways.