My first Snorkling experience at Ko phangan, Thailand

Sands were curled up on the sea floors. Pale yellow plants which do not see the sunlight for entire life were swaying under by the underwater currents. Sea cucumbers were lying nonchalantly. It was a completely different world.

An ocean has always been a source of fascination for me. A school of fishes moving together, sunrays filtering through the surface of the turquoise water, white sands shining bright under feets – the more you explore, the more you wonder.

I am a big fan of discovery and Natgeo channel. They show me my oceanic dreams. The screen turns blue when they show divers going deep inside the sea. The more I see it, the more I get fascinated.

I was on ko phangan island, Thailand. The sea is shallow here along the beaches with very low tides- a perfect place for scuba diving and snorkling.

ko phangan beach, shallow, thailand

You can see the distant coral reefs underwater from the beach itself. They make a dark and hazzy sea line. You can feel them from distance. I was with Christian, one of my close German friends. He is a sporty guy and I decided to go snokrling with him.

The rudimentaries behind the snorkling are not as easy as they seem. We need to know a few things before we rent or buy a snorkling gear. for example- fitting of the mask on the face, placement of the snorkles, visibility, swimming, material of the mask, how to breathe through snorkles using mouth etc. I was lucky to have Christian as my friend because he has done many such activities before and he knows a lot about these. So, renting a good quality of snorkle and mask was not a problem for me. After he taught me the basics of snorkling, we began swimming on the surface of the shallow sea to see the marine life- this is called snorkling.

snorkling

As we went further inside, the more of marine life we could see. It began with one inch small and sparse fishes. As we swam further, more of the marine life began showing up. The sea bed will start going down. More of those pale plants will start showing up like welcoming you to their world. As you go further, you can see corals on the sea beds like withered stones kept drowned inside the water for years. But the reality is they are lying there for centuries. Over those corals, you can see plants grown up. You will sea cucumber, like a real cucumber, on the sea bed as if those were thrown away casually. Some of them are brown; some are dark black in colour.

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A sea cucumber

Even in the still water, you can see the undercurrents nudging the sand under the water as if the sands have been puffed off a bit. Sometimes I stand on the sands and take a look outside. Have I swam too far? I ask myself. The beach looks little far almost 100 of feet. The water level has gone up to my chest. It’s easier to float and see the marine life now. I try to float and be still in the water. I want to observe the marine life. I know I dont even stand afloat for a few minutes but believe me, those moments make you feel like you have been watching those for a few minutes. A fish going behind a rock and another coming out. Then they chase each other. I try to follow them but they are too fast and they vanish soon. Those sea cucumbers look like velvety rolls. There are soft tentacles at the end but I am afraid of touching those. A school of small fishes are floating almost at the surface of the water. One changes the direction and every one else does the same. It was exactly the same what divers show in the Discovery channel. I try to take out my hand and touch one of those but they are too quick to respond. They sense it and they all move fast away from me.

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a school of fish

Looking through the mask makes me look everything bigger, my hand, my feet and even my longer floating hair. Sometimes the sea bed look much deeper but when I try to stand they are not so deep beneath me. I feel like topography of the ocean has changed. The sea bed that we see from the beach going down sometimes goes up and sometimes make me feel like I am standing on a horizon of the sea from where I can see the local minima curvature. As I swim there, the sea bed is deeper which appeared shallow. It’s a kind of mirage- the deep blue world.

I can feel the small waves falling over me. I can feel the cold wind flowing over my exposed back above the water. I can feel the warm ocean water beneath me. I can feel my feet making frog movement. Everything suddenly turns so amazing.

snorkling in kophangan

As I go further, the sea bed vanishes almost completely from my eyes. Everywhere there are corals and sea plants grown over them. From beneath those corals now appear the bigger fishes. Even if I want to stand, I cannot. Because I dont want to step on the living corals. If I do so, I will disturb the life there. So I have to take a look around to see where there is little sandy bed. The bed which was full of ripped and curled sand is now full of corals. I am also afraid to step on the sand because I might step over a flat sting ray. They  might bite me.

When I try to stand in the deeper water under the strong undercurrents, it feels like I am landing myself under stormy weather. There is just a square feet sandy area surrounded by stoned corals. I have to make sure that I just put my feet there. But strong undercurrents push me away. I again float a little bit and next time, I make it. I successfully landed. I take my face out of the water. But there is another water current above waiting and push me again. I know if I pass that, I can stand strong. Sometimes I do, sometimes not and so I again float like launching myself again in the sea.

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koh phangan beach and island

In place of small fishes, there are big fishes now. Everything looked replaced. I can see the burrows beneath a rock under which fishes leave. There is a big mussel with its shells open. As soon as I try to approach it, it closes its shells. With the closing a small puff of sand gets smoked out of it. It’s shy.

I can feel the pressure of the mask against my face. my nose is fuly clamped. inherently I try to breathe through my nose but its closed. Just like I had forgotten that. So I take a deep breath in panic through the mouth. I can hear my breath underwater. The same sound they make us hear in the movies. Just beneath me there is a boxfish. It looks like big Alphonso spotted mango. I look at her and she looks at me. She is not shying away. May be she is as astonished to see me as I to her. I stare at her for sometime and then take my way.

box fish

There are tens of small jellyfishes floating around. Under the daylight, they are not visible properly unless you try to put your attention to them. They really look like soft threads of jellies floating in the water. They are more like murky black cobwebs. Beneath me are the tiger fish, a lot of groupers and some very shiny like transparent fishes. I am simpy swayed by the majesty of the ocean and nature.

I look out. I try to take a look at the beach. How far have I come. I see no beach. Rather I see the island to the left. Then I come to know that I was being taken away by the waves in other direction. I feel aches in my belly and I was also feeling thirsty. So I decided to return to the beach, my mainland of memories.

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About trekkerp

Author of The Girl from the Woods and a Travel writer from India looking forward to collect quirky tales from around the world

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