A Day in the Life of Big Blue

 

People often ask us about our personal lives, the daily life at Big Blue and how we manage to survive the stresses and terrors of living every day on a small tropical island, without a McDonalds. The best way to answer this question is, I believe, in my next cacky-arsed blog attempt. All of it is the honest-to-God truth as sponsored by OJ Simpson, the cops that beat Rodney Clark and the Grand Poobah of Honesty himself, everyone's hero Donald J Trump.

Without further ado, here is the day in the life of Koh Tao's best dive centre ever in the world today.

5.00am - Everyone is still sleeping, it appears. A rustle in the bushes around Big Blue reveals manager Steveo in his natural habitat, checking that no one built a McDonalds whilst he was sleeping. They haven't mate, wipe away those tears.

5.30am - Neil leaves his coffin, puts on clothes that even the binmen wouldn't wear, and rubs a mixture of cobwebs, cigarette ash and bogeys onto his bald dome, to encourage hair growth. Doesn't there have to be some hair to call it 'hair growth'?
In other parts of the island, our DMTs are probably just arriving home after another long night 'studying' Cheech and Chong movies.

6.00am - Big Bue's hardest working yet worst paid staff, the divemasters, arrive to pack everything needed for the morning's dives. Equipment expert and BB's sexiest man Moe is still asleep on top of the bags, still smoking, and still oblivious to what the hell is going on around him and how he's managed to stay employed with us since year dot. We also wonder.

6.15am - The fundivers and Open Water students arrive, wondering what the foook they're doing up in the middle of the night on their holidays. The instructors aren't far behind, immediately helping the DMs by eating bacon sanwiches in the restaurant 'checking the sea for anomalies'. You can see why they're paid so much, it's really a tough job.

7.01am - The videographer arrives, 1 minute after the boat has left, and has to sprint throught the shallows whilst simultaneously stuffing a 711 cheese toastie into their mouths and muttering something about a mystery alarm clock that 'didn't go off'- a common problem with the alarm clocks of alcoholics.

8.00am - The reception is officially open for the day, and the shopgirls are due to start their harrowing daily duties of checking instagram and moaning at instuctors.

8.20am - The shopgirls arrive.

8.21am - The shopgirls take a snack break, for an hour.

9.00am - Steveo appears, still with a bit of foliage nestled in his comb-over from his nights foraging. He declares to all and sundry that there's "still no friggin' McDonalds", and breaks down emotionally.

10.00am - Cured by a Kit Kat and three Club sandwiches, management snaps into action and does some stuff. Important stuff, which I believe has something to do with checking what everyone's had to eat that day, and where they got it from. Somewhere, chief shopgirl Jess cackles and gets onto her broomstick to come to work the late shift.

Midday - The morning divers are back, the afternoon divers are preparing to leave, and the instructors have moved on from bacon sandwiches and progressed onto some kind of chicken wrap, or whatever is fashionable these days. They continue to check the sea hasn't left, leaving the divemasters to do the fun jobs like doing everything else.

Now we enter that time of the day when nothing really happens for few hours. You can be assured that what people are eating will be checked, and that the eye of newt and owl's wing that Jess is throwing into her cauldron will soon be a delicious charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

3.00pm - The afternoon instructor arrives, fresh and full of beans. Immediately grilled on what they've eaten all day, the soon relax into a lovely shift of watching men wrestling with each other on Youtube, harassing the shopgirls and making hilarious jokes about penetration, 'going down' and releasing gases. It's usually this time of day that Simon and Iain, our instructor trainers, get out of bed and think about doing some 'work'. They won't.

4.00pm - Luke White, ex-fatty bum-bum and Big Blue's stupidest looking instructor, floats down from the heavens to bless us with his positive outlook, chit-chat and quirky observations. A big fan of Taylor Swift, he is likely to break into the latest dance routine he spent all last night learning.

5.00pm - In anticipation of the afternoon divers return all of the shopgirls go on a break together, leaving chaos behind them as everyone tries to pay their bills with P'Joy our chief housekeeper. P'Joy swaps their money for a few tins of 'Pledge' and a bottle of whiskey, essential housekeeping fuel apparently. 5 minutes later she's asleep on someones bed, much to their annoyance.

6.00pm - The shop divemaster, after working solidly since their arrival earlier on in the morning with little or no appreciation from anyone ever, goes home to listen to sad songs and cut themselves whilst crying about the plight of poor, stupid Dory.

7.00pm - Simon and Iain triumphantly leave work, after another hour of real man work, and three hours of watching funny cat videos. A rumour spreads that a Burger King may be coming to Koh Tao soon.
7.01pm - Steveo runs out like a kid chasing the ice cream truck, shouting 'Flippin' eck, ah'm reet gonna kill fora bleedin' Whopper', and immediately gets wedged between two palm trees, for the third time this week.

7.02 pm - The shopgirls finish their snackbreak, and go home with everyone's passports to sell to the Taliban or something.

7.30pm - Andreas is drunk at the bar, despite not actually living or working here anymore. His ghostly molesting presence will never leave us, RIP the mumbling one.

9.00pm - Bedtime for all, except for Scotty who needs no sleep, just bloody grog. Another day in paradise, another day with no McDonalds. Luckily for us we've all got tomorrow to look forward to, and hopefully another day of great diving too.

 Now did someone say something about a Burger King...?

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How to survive Bangkok Part 2 - Ping Pong!

Continuing on from the last woeful effort, something not to be missed whilst spending a day or two in Bangkok, is of course the cultural phenomenom that is the Ping Pong Show. Readers not interested in vaginal shenanigans should turn away now, and I apologise is anyone's offended by this section. I'll try not to swear too much, and to save the ears of the children i'll only use Jamaican English Patois when referring to the ladyfrontbum. If you've got Jamaican kids, they're f*cked.
For those not interested in seeing some poor soul pulling a Millenium Falcon out of their bumboclaat and an X-Wing from their flapping bobs, just go anyway and be happy in the knowledge that you're helping to support some of the poor, unfortunate souls (and all of their kids) who've somehow ended up in this business. To find one, it's all about Patpong Night Market. A rubbish market unless you want fake as f*** Rolex and Louis Vuitton stuff, it's best to start choosing your potential ping-pong venue as you walk around it, looking for the ones on ground level which tend to be a little more reputable, in the absolute loosest sense of the word. 

I recommend, of course, 'Super Pussy', named after the owners quite incredible cat, which I've been led to believe can pull an entire other cat out of its punaani.


Now, there are many ways to be scammed at these shows, which are all notorious for taking money from tourists. My expert tips (and if my wife asks, i've never been before) are:

- Try not to go alone, get a couple of other pervs to come with you.
- Tell them you've been before, and know how it works with the 'exit scam' surprise bill.
- Explicitly ask the tout as well as the owner of the show what the cover charge is, what the drink fee is, if there is any exit charge, if there is a show fee, etc.
- Make sure if they say it's 200 baht (usual price for one drink and entry) for the show, it's for all the shows and not just one performer!
- Prepay drinks as you go along so you aren’t hit with large fees when you try to settle up later.
- The chance of having a huge surprise of a bill that you are demanded to pay is very high, They know they’re lying; they do it to everyone who comes in. Just laugh at them for trying and leave!
- Take small change (20s, 50's) as the performers expect to be tipped, and get upset if you don't. 20 - 50 baht is fine per girl.
- Don't take the girl home with you, or anywhere else for that matter - she'll have a small otter in her bloodclaat still (probably).

All together, if you're good and stick to your guns you'll probably end up paying a few hundred baht per person, if not you're talking at least 1000 baht each and you'll have to marry the ugly one with the battered galamitty.
The shows are not at all sexy, so don't expect a monk-on boys. Having a few really bored looking girls (usually not that pretty) pulling razor blades, shooting darts, writing you letters (really) and blowing out candles with their pum-pum is something that you can never un-see, and very likely never ever ever want to see again. It's interesting to see once, like that Britney Spears getting out of a car photo,and that's usually more than enough for anyone.

Just don't try to join in without practising at home first, maybe start with a cherry and work your way up?

 

 

The views expressed here are the views of one, poor unfortunate who somehow still works for Big Blue. Big Blue take no responsibility for and in no way agree with anything here, now and in the future,

 

 

 

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So, as high season is now rapidly approaching us a lot of new divers will be heading our way down from Bangkok, the world's greatest//smelliest/most exciting capital city. It can often be a little intimidating for those who've never been to Thailand before, so here's a few tips for those looking to make the most out of its wonders!

Firstly, as most of our divers tend to stay in the Khao San Road area, it's well worth checking out the shopping this crazy street has to offer - great bargains can be had for absolutely everything that you could possibly need for your holidays, and the partying options there are quite staggering. This street is a hub of unwashed, dreadlocked, fishing-pant wearing humanity which means Khao San Road is the perfect place to do some people watching with a nice cold Singha in your hand - Khao San Centre bar is perfectly located right in the middle, so pull up a seat and watch the world (of ladyboys, prostitutes and tuk tuk drivers) go by!
Be aware that prices here on Koh Tao are usually a little more expensive as everything has to be ferried in to us, so try to pick up those last few items needed in Khao San before heading our way. Watch out for the conmen, in particular the fake Indian 'yogi's', who will use every trick in the book to 'Guess your mother's name kind sir!', what you ate for breakfast, your pets favourite toy...it's actually pretty impressive how easily they draw people in with their compliments, but then, before you know it they're trying to get money out of you by betting that they can tell you things that you're sure they'll never 'guess' -they will, and it'll end up expensive (or trouble) for you.

When the bustle and scammers of the Khao San becomes too much, there's a lovely little park just a ten minute walk away from the street called Santichaiprakarn Park - easy for you to say! Built around some of the old city fortifications, Santichaiprakan Park is popular with tourists and city dwellers, especially in the evening when the park fills up with families, young Thais and foreigners. It's a nice place to unwind, and let the noises of Bangkok melt away over a good book/yet another beer.

The next street along, Soi Rambuttri, is also well worth a look around. Despite being located so close by these two streets are different worlds! Rambuttri gives you a taste of how Bangkok used to look before all the development, with leafy banyan trees shading the pavements and the vibe sways more towards local than backpacker, despite a number of them now choosing to stay here rather than on the famous street itself. It's like the Khao San's more attractive, well behaved sibling! The u-shaped road takes around 30 minutes to walk along. and has a great mix of guesthouses, restaurants, bars and street food stalls, as well as the ubiquitous one million tailors that are everywhere around this area - do they make wetsuits? No, they don't.

To explore further around Bangkok i'd suggest walking ten minutes past the Democracy Monument ( a nice stroll down Ratchadamnoen Road, the other street next to Khao San) to the water taxi, which zips around on the Chao Praya river, flanked by old-style Thai houses,huge monitor lizards, the odd rat or three and all for the grand price of 12 baht to get you into the main shopping part of the city, Siam Square. These boats are a great way to get around the famous Riverside area with its many historical attractions, temples and architecture, and also to explore the 'klongs' (canals) for a glimpse of Bangkok from yesteryear. The closest stop to Khao San is called 'Paanfa', and the boats run every 20 minutes or so - a great, cheap way to explore and see how the locals live without being stuck in traffic for half of your life, as happens regularly in Bangkok, and also a good way to link up with the cities excellent Metro and Skytrain to avoid Bangkok's notorious traffic problems.

Next blog I'll be looking at the famous Sky Bars and a couple of other interesting places well worth checking out that don't involve ping pong balls.

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As Koh Tao is an island filled with fresh new scuba divers, most of whom are diving for the first time in their lives, we're constantly being quizzed about the oceans and the marine life that can be seen underwater.  As you can imagine, most questions are inevitably along the lines of "Where is Nemo? Can I find Nemo? Can I Kiss Nemo? Does Dory live here? and other stuff related to that legendary Disney documentary.. 

However, every so often we're asked something that surprises even the most experienced Koh Tao dive professionals, and here's a collection of my favourites from over the years:

 

- Where's the beach? Is the sea next to it?

- How long does an hour massage last?

- How does Koh Tao not float away, is it chained to the floor?

- How do I know when to breathe?

- If it's high tide on this side of the island, then it's low tide on the other side right?

- How many fish will I see?

- If it rains too much will the fish die?

- I have a phobia of boats, the open ocean and fish. Do you think diving's a good idea for me?

- How deep do you have to go to dive under the island?

- If I run out of air can I not just blow into the tank to refill it?

- Where's my Darth Vader thing? (looking for his regulator)

- Does it rain underwater?

- Is this waterproof? (after giving them a dive computer to use)

- What island is this? (after driving just 5 minutes from Koh Tao)

 

And my favourite, which I've actually been asked on more than one occasion...

- How come the freediving isn't free? You should change the name.

 

 

Big Blue Diving, giving idiots the chance to open their mouths without thinking for 26 years and counting. Never stop guys!

 

 

 

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Finally it seems monsoon season has finally passed, and the skies are blue again here on Koh Tao. There was a big yellow ball of fire in the sky today (the Sun, I believe, unknown to us English) and the puddles are retreating faster than Neil’s hairline – though I’m not actually sure there is any hair now, just dust and cobwebs.
Even without a whaleshark we’re always blessed with a large amount of incredible marine life, from the tiny nudibranch to the giant groupers that like to lurk on our deeper divesites. The corals are all looking pretty healthy right now, and our divers are coming back from their trips with smiles plastered all over their faces on a regular basis. We have been lucky enough to share our favourite local site “Chumphon Pinnacle’ with a barracuda the size of a surfboard for a few weeks now, with teeth pointing in all sorts of weird directions – it could eat an apple through a bloody letterbox! This ugly brute of a fish even makes Phil appear good looking, which is no mean feat as he looks rather like a gargoyle that got stung by some bees.

So, gearing up to what promises to be another busy Christmas and New Year here on Koh Tao, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks. There may not be snow, and I’m not sure Santa will make it to all the girls and boys (we’ve all been a bit naughty) but to see those blue skies and spectacular sunsets we seem to get every night now…well it’s an opportunity not to be missed on your travels around Thailand.

In case Santa is reading, a few of our team have been writing their wish-lists for the presents they’re hoping to receive in their stockings:

Steveo Taylor, manager extraordinaire and Big Blue’s most spherical man, is after new suspension for his bike (again) and a pint glass of sherry.

Simon ‘Simo’ Garrity says he wants peace to all men (or a piece of all men?) but being from Liverpool we know he really means a bag of crack and a jazz-mag.

P’Tia, our hardest working taxi driver, wants a day off. He won’t get it.

Moe, Burmese legend and our equipment specialist, refused to answer as he was asleep on a bag of regulators with a cat perched on his lip.

Stefano, the dreadlocked Italian, said something in such a ridiculous accent I immediately forgot it, and he sidled off to listen to his Bob Marley LPs. Please Lord bring him a haircut.

Angel, Catalan divemaster and Marlboro man’s apprentice just coughed, and muttered something about ‘bloody Madrid’.

So Santa, if you’re reading this, we promise we’ve all been good (compared to say, Hitler) and if you can bring us a few more months of great weather we’ll all be more than happy!

 

Big Blue

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uv300x225Not a bad accolade when it comes to the "in the world accolade" but this years top 10 in the world for best night dives, Koh Tao has come 8th according to a readers Poll in Scuba Diving Magazine the no 1 read for Scuba Divers in the know. The actual reason given for the award wasn't actually for the magnificence of Koh Taos underwater night life but actually for the uniqueness on offer in Koh Tao of the UV Night Dive, also called a Fluo Night Dive. We descend with specialized High Intensity Blue lights in combination with a special vizor this dive light allows us to see marine fluorescence. Not only do the corals around you radiate a spectrum of the brightest fluorescent colors but so too does the aquatic life. Moray eels, crabs and tiny shrimps display flashes of a bright fluorescent yellow and scorpion fish luminesce with pink.

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MV Manta Queen 3 liveaboard dive boat300x225The wonderful people at Khao Lak Scuba Adventures have given us two spots on board the luxury Liveaboard Manta Queen 3 for a holiday of a lifetime 4 days & 4 nights cruising the beautiful Similan Islands then over to the legendary Manta Ray cleaning station at Koh Bon, then its leopard sharks at Koh Tachai & then on to the best Divesite in Thailand Richeleieu Rock where an encounter with anything & everything is possible. This amazing trip departs from Khao Lak, on the west coast of Thailand on March 20th next month. In addition we also have one Rapid Dry Sharkskin Rashvest valued at 5000Bt available for the lucky winner as well. This is a trip valued at 47000Bt & we are raffling it off over the next couple of weeks. Tickets are available at 500Bt per ticket or 800 Bt for 2 tickets and are available for purchase at all good Dive Centers on Koh Tao and also available online thru our website by writing in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please note all proceeds of this raffle go to Isla, a 3 year old Koh Tao girl who is in her 2nd year of her battle against Cancer.

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anne300x225Anne Marie Morak, used to be a Disney Princess at Disneyland Florida before ditching the world of fairytales for the life of make believe as a Scuba Diving Instructor. Anne is a Dual Cert Instructor with both PADI & SSI & is also one of our team from Big Blue Pro responsible for training all our Divemaster & Instructor Candidates. Originally from Holland Anne speaks 3 languages Dutch, Deutsch & Dinglish of course & has worked at numerous Diveshops around Koh Tao as well as a stint in the world famous Similan Islands on the west coast of Thailand working on one of the more luxurious Liveaboards that cruises around those areas. Packed all of it in when she heard the Number One Dive Center in the world was looking for someone of enormous quality to join the and with a Bippedy Boppedy Boo here she is!

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Tshirts300x225Famous for our awesome dolphin logo we sell more T-shirts than most Dive shops put together. In fact the reason our Retail Center Drift exists is due to public demand. We had people from all over Koh Tao come buy a T-Shirt from our diveshop. Then we realised that people were buying our caps, Board shorts & bikinis too just because of the logo. So we opened a retail store in Sairee Village high street focused on beach wear featuring our dolphin logo. It was an instant success & is now Koh Tao's number One Retail store for beach wear & watersport accessories. So keep up with demand we produce a lot of different T-shirts every year. Here's our latest effort. What do you guys think of our new t-shirt designs? A lovely underwater number with a beautiful sea snake and a sunset view of our tech boat Big Blue. The guys at Drift by Big Blue never let us down. Let us know what you think of our latest offering.

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waynesws300x225Well we're getting pretty good at his now for predicting how long the whalesharks will hang around for. Dived with one for 2 days on the trot & my money s on a t least another 2-3 days more. Conditions are perfect. Great visibility, slight ocean currents & lots of plankton all make for a good pit stop for these huge ocean travelling beasts of the deep. And then of course when they do finally head off chances are we will bump into them again at one of Koh Tao's other awesome dive sites most predictably, Green Rock, then White Rock, round the corner to Shark Island, off to Sothwest Pinnacle & probably the last place we'll see them as they head off on their great adventure will be Sail Rock. Awesome creature, awesome divesites, awesome Dive center!

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