24 February 2011
Thai dive resort, Koh Tao
The view from my cabin on Koh Tao

On my career break, I decided to do a diving course, for no other reason than I like fish. I went to a lovely dive resort on Koh Tao in Thailand - this picture shows the view from my cabin.

I've never been good at any sport - I was always the last to be picked for teams at school. And I don't look good in a wetsuit - sort of a cross between a penguin and an mutant space hopper. But when you travel, you often find you're more up for things than you are at home, so I figured I'd give diving a go.

On a PADI course (that's the organisation which regulates scuba diving courses), you spend 4 days getting a qualification which allows you to go diving without an instructor. The first couple of days were good - we had lessons in a classroom and then in the swimming pool while we got to grips with everything. Day 3 was when we went out on the boat and that's where things started to go horribly wrong.

The sea was extremely rough and our little boat got tossed about no end. I put on all my scuba equipment, then was violently sick over the side of the boat. It would have been embarrassing had I been able to think about anything else. I got into the water as soon as I could, just to be off the boat. I actually felt seasick underwater, which was awful. I didn't even know it was possible! You can be sick underwater if you need to, through your regulator - it just comes out with the air (yes, I know that is disgusting). But I couldn't bear the thought of doing that.

Anyway, we resurfaced, I clambered back on the boat and was promptly sick again. It was really awful. Worse than all the bad Asian toilet experiences combined. I went to lie down on a platform in the cabin, and as long as I didn't move or speak, I felt a bit better. However, it meant I couldn't do the second dive, as I couldn't even sit up.

The dive centre people were really nice about it and said I could try again the next day. This time, I necked some seasickness pills before setting sail, and I could swim about without worrying about anything (except the fact the underwater videographer had filmed my poorly-executed backwards somersault).

You might think 'Woman chunders over the side of a boat' isn't much of a story, and you'd be right. But that's sort of the point. I worried about plane crashes, malaria, pickpockets, becoming an unwitting drugs mule and ending up in a Cambodian prison, etc, and all I ended up with was couple of hours of seasickness.

Here is a picture of me with my dive group - I'm the impressively shiny one on the left. This was taken only a few hours after the worse thing that happened on my career break, and, as you can see, I'm already all smiles again.

My first dive group


This post was written by Rachel Morgan-Trimmer, founder of The Career Break Site. She still looks terrible in a wetsuit.