Saturday, July 28, 2007

How to get more women into diving......

How to get more women into diving......

Any input?

Monday, July 23, 2007

PADI Risk Management Seminar Koh Samui 22nd July 2007

PADI's Risk Management Seminar Koh Samui 22nd July 2007

Was held at Centara Grand Beach Resort and presented by Richard Evans.

The seminar is about a dive related fatality and is filmed in a real Sydney court room where PADI Asia Pacific staff is role playing, being the accused dive instructor, plaintiff, lawyer for the defendant etc.

New in the seminar is a 10 minute part of the actual (simulated) dive, which makes the seminar a lot more interesting and visual.

In Koh Samui about 30 PADI members turned out for the seminar, the previous day in Koh Tao, 130 PADI members showed up in a far smaller room!

Here's a picture of Richard Evans and myself, just before the start of the seminar. Richard is a very well skilled and experienced presenter who has lots of interesting samples of real life stories that he sprinkles around during his presentation, especially in the questions and answers part. He's been working for PADI for 4 different regional offices for the last 17 years being involved with handling diving accidents.

Sitting in on one of his seminars is highly recommended and a very good learning experience that shows you how important Risk mgmt is in diving.

Richard during the introduction of the seminar, still using the Koh Tao slides!

A frontal view of the participants of the seminar. They seem to be very interested in what Richard has to say.

Upon closing the seminar, Richard asked everybody driving a motorbike, to drive home safely.

A point well made, since being on my own way home in my car, I witnessed the aftermath of a very messy accident involving two or three motorbikes with a very dead looking Thai person still lying on the ground with severe head wounds (not using a helmet, which unfortunately seems to be the accepted standard on Samui). One more sign that your daily life is a string of decision that can be directed by good risk mgmt.

On a different note, at the Centara Grand Beach hotel, next to the conference rooms, are three cabinets filled with shells from Thailand (or which used to be found in Thailand). A very interesting collection it truly is. This is a picture of one of the three cabinets.

One of the cabinets has this beautiful Nautilus shell in it, which is high on my list of things still to spot underwater.

If you have the chance to visit a PADI seminar, try to visit, especially Risk seminars for the dive professionals are well worth your time.

Stay wet and dive safely,


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Succesful PADI IE on Koh Tao, July 2007

The PADI IE is successfully completed!

During the last three days, my two IDC candidates have successfully completed their IE on Koh Tao.
37 candidates participated and all but one were successful.

In this picture, Rob Scammell, the PADI Examiner of my two candidates hands over their Certificates of Completion to Laura in the middle and Frank on the right.

Here's the official group picture, that will make it into the books, from left to right, myself, Rob Scammell, the PADI Examiner, Laura Hawkhead and Frank de Witte.

Congratulations on a job well done and good luck in your respective Instructor careers.


Monday, July 16, 2007

July IDC completed

Just a quick note to let you know that the July IDC is completed.

Tomorrow morning we all go over to Koh Tao so my candidates can participate in the PADI IE over the next 3 days.

Good luck to them,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Halfway through the July IDC

A quick update on my current IDC.

Today we finished the Open Water dive for the AI part of the IDC and that completed the AI part of this IDC. The only thing my candidates still have to do is to hand in their General Standards exam on Thursday morning.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, is a well earned day off, we've been busy for 6 days, 2 days prep course and 4 days AI.

It seems to be clear sailing so far and they all completed two Knowledge Development Presentations (aka classroom presentations), 2 Confined water presentations and an open Water dive with 2 skills each. We also practiced Rescue scenario's (PADI Rescue diver exercise # 7) and today they also completed their 5 Theory exams.
Each of them had passing grades, so I'm looking forward to Thursday when we continue with the OWSI program.


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thailand in a tourist turmoil?

Thailand in a tourist turmoil?

Having lived now for almost 8 years in Thailand, I can’t help but notice that it never has seem so quiet as it is right now in Thailand and consequently on Koh Samui. I’ve been pondering if I should write about this, since ideally I’d like to talk about positive and good news, things or events. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a real life reality and should be talked about as well. It’s not all gold that glitters, isn’t it? (as we say in Holland).

People who have businesses in Koh Samui, Phuket or Pattaya, just to name a few of the bigger tourist orientations within Thailand, all seem to complain about the lack of tourists and business they’re generating compared to earlier years.

There are a few reasons for this, first of all, the ‘low’ season is full on right now, on the Western coast, the Andaman side, they have the monsoon season and right now, due to this low season, a lot of hotels have great deals on, where you can find good hotels for just a third of the normal price. Last year I took advantage of this and I went with my family to Phuket and we stayed at the Kata Central Hotel. It’s a bit of a gamble with the weather but well worth it in my opinion. We had an enjoyable time in a nice hotel with a great swimming pool with a water slide. My 4 year old daughter still keeps asking me if we can go back to Phuket, since she enjoyed the pool so much.
On the Eastern coast, the Gulf of Thailand where I live, we have a bit of a rainy season, as each year, although this year it seems a bit harsher than average.

Secondly, and a very big reason I think; the Thai baht is not ‘cheap’ anymore. Compared to last year, when the US Dollar had 40 Baht, that same US Dollar now only has 32 baht. That’s a 20% difference in spending ability. That’s a lot everywhere. The Euro and other currencies aren’t hit that bad compared to the Baht, but they still suffered compared to a year ago.

A third reason unfortunately seems to be the current Thai government. I don’t want to slag them off, but it seems that they aren’t instilling a positive signal to the outside world.
The unrest in Thailand’s South is not getting any better, despite promises of the current military ruled Government. News does seep through to the outside world and the situation is not very good, to say the least.
In this context, I wonder how much impact the explosion of the New Year’s bombs in Bangkok had on tourist travel. It seems that Asian tourist numbers have dropped, according to statistics; I’m not too sure about Western numbers. Unfortunately the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s numbers (the TAT) aren’t that good, since they tend to give all numbers a positive spin.
In general, foreign investment in Thailand is on the decline, since the current government has installed a few new laws that make it very hard or rather uninteresting to invest in Thailand. In contrast to this, other countries in the region, like Malaysia and Vietnam are opening up their borders and are relaxing their laws on land owner ship (in Thailand, a foreigner can’t own land) and make it a lot easier for foreigners to obtain visa’s and work permits, compared to Thailand.

A couple of Western countries, like Australia and England, had on and off since the last year a negative travel advise to Thailand. That obviously doesn’t help tourism in Thailand.

In general, people who’ve been to Thailand know that it’s not more or less dangerous than previous years but people who may be thinking of visiting Thailand for the first time, may be put off by such an advice, since they don’t know what to expect.

It’s unfortunate, this apparent decline in tourists, since Thailand still has, just like before, a lot to offer. World class diving in the Similan islands, one of the top dive destinations, world wide, beautiful beaches, a very popular dive destination like Koh Tao, where there are great numbers of dive sites within a short distance of the island.
Phuket and Kao Lak, who both seem to be able to put themselves back on the map again after the terrible Tsunami 2 years ago.
The north of Thailand with Chiang Mai and it’s attractions (Doi Thep, the flower event they had earlier this year), Koh Samui, a popular destination and beautiful island, see my Samui weather blog for some stories about Samui and islands like Koh Chang, Koh Samed, cities like Pattaya, Hua Hin and many more.

It’s a topic that I talk about hat isn’t necessarily dive related although it touches the dive industry in Thailand (and many other tourist related businesses) since without tourists, we can’t survive.

For Koh Samui, the ‘high’ season is arriving, with the European summer holidays starting right now. August is normally one of our top months and the diving in the Gulf is near to perfect than with visibility of up to 30 – 40 meters and it’s also a good month for Whale shark spotting than.

So despite a lot of complaining and moaning in the tourist industry in Thailand, I hope that things will turn out for the better. Especially in Koh Samui, a lot of smaller businesses are looking forward to the high season since they’ve had a bit of a draught during the last couple of months.

I’m looking forward hearing your comments and views on this. Although I’m not citing any official statistics, this is merely a reflection of thoughts and discussions I had with lots of people who encounter some of the problems I mention and it’s something that’s alive right now and being talked in Thailand, by the people that live here and work in the tourist industry.

Despite the non diving article, I wish you all to stay wet and blow some more bubbles.