Food glorious food – a vegetarian’s guide to Thai food on Koh Tao, Thailand.

I love to eat, especially when abroad in a foreign country. Saving money on food is never in my budget when I travel. 

In this month of January, I am in Thailand, sampling one of my favourite cuisines ever! And the great news is it’s all so cheap! 

During my stay on the island of Koh Tao, I found two places that became my local eating haunts. 

The first is a very simple food stall on the road heading left of the pier if you are facing it (follow the sign to Whitening).

 The woman who runs this place makes the best pad thai for £1.30 a plate! 

 My other favourite food haunt was a vegan vegetarian place called La Carotte Qui Rit on the one way road leading away from the pier and up the hill from the ferry port.

The food here is fresh, healthy and MSG free.  I ate here every day, sometimes twice! Here’s a run down of the different dishes I tried.

 I love papaya salad! And for the equivalent of £3.40 a dish including a coconut drink, this became a favourite of mine to order more than once!

 This fried glass noodle dish with shitake mushrooms and veggies is a great energy meal after a day in dive school. £1.90

 This mango salad with a mango drink was a good option for lunch one day. Light and fresh!

 One of the dive instructors at Master Divers told me to try their Massaman curry which is not spicy. I was not disappointed. It was so delicious, I could have eaten two portions, not one. £1.90 for the curry and rice.

 This green vegetable curry with rice and a lemon, mint and pineapple juice cost me £3.79 and filled the spot after a full day of diving. 

 My last meal here after another day of fun dives is a local favourite called Haw Mokk, a thick red curry with veggies for £1.90. 

I’m disappointed I didn’t work my way through the entire menu here at La Carotte. I highly recommend this vegetarian place if you’re on Koh Tao.  

Let the adventures begin – PADI Advanced Open Water Course

I had such a great time on my PADI Open Water Course with Master Divers, I extended my stay on the Thai island of Koh Tao and enrolled onto the Advanced Open Water course, continuing my training with my instructor David. The two day Advanced Open Water course involved five additional modules and five extra dives. The two mandatory modules are Deep Diving and Underwater Navigation. I also chose three additional specialisations including Wreck Diving, Night Diving and Peak Performance Buoyancy. Here’s a run down of each of my five additional dives;

Deep Water Diving

One of the main reasons I did the advanced open water is to be able to dive deeper than the 18 metres the PADI Open Water certifies me to. And given many fun dive sites lie below 18m, I wanted the additional training and flexibility. We headed out to Green Rock for this dive.

Most challenging aspect: the thought of having an additional 30 metres of water volume above you is quite daunting. Lucky the training includes additional safety techniques to account for deep water, safe ascent and emergency air if you need it.

Most memorable: viewing what depth does to certain objects that David brought down from the surface was interesting. And once I reached 30 metres, it really didn’t feel that deep. So the question now remains, how much deeper do I want to go?! 

Wreck Diving

This was a taster dive to a specialisation option in wreck diving that includes how to penetrate and enter a wreck. But for us, we just swam around and over part of the HTMS Sattakut, a 1942 World War II ship that’s been sunk for the purpose of wreck diving and training. 

Most challenging: be careful of hazards which we needed to identify as part of the dive, especially rusty chains. I managed to get my fin caught going under it and broke the buckle. Lucky I could hold onto David for the rest of the dive.

Most memorable: seeing the wreck under water was really awesome. I peered into the port holes, swam around it to view how water and marine life interact with the ship, and swam over the guns. I definitely want to add wreck diving as a specialist training module. Then I can go inside it and explore! 

Night Diving

I had no idea what to expect from night diving. But like David said, it was definitely an experience.We set off during sunset, with a superb view of the sun from the boat. Geared up with dive torches on and attached, we descended under water into the darkness of Pottery Pinnacle.

Most challenging: It’s dark, and the beam of your  dive torch is the only thing that lights up your environment and what you can see. That includes making sure you don’t lose your buddy or your instructor. Just follow the light beams.

Most memorable: Night diving was totally cool! The marine world at night is so different than day time. We saw several blue spotted ribbon tail Rays, a hermit crab, sleeping parrot fish and an albino white eyed moray eel. Waving your hand in front of your mask to view the bioluminescence was awesome, and then ascending back to the surface to view a starry night sky. I could have floated on my back looking at the stars for hours. Everyone should try a night dive!

Peak Performance Buoyancy

Every diver will tell you buoyancy is key to a great diving experience. And after my open water course, I still had trouble with controlling mine. So this taster option was a must and I’ll be keen to do this as a full module. A 7am departure to the Japanese Gardens, we entered very tranquil waters for some fun buoyancy training.

Most challenging: it took me two attempts to achieve a task during one game, and I couldn’t quite hover upside down and inverted. 

Most memorable: all the fun games we played to practice buoyancy control under water including being inverted upside down in a hover. The good news is my buoyancy is so much better than when I first started my advanced course and I can now achieve neutral buoyancy. 

Underwater Navigation

I’ve always had a good sense of direction, but would this transfer to being under water? Another skill that all divers really need, I’ll be keen to do this as a specialisation.

Most challenging: learning how to use and read a compass requires some practice, but the good news is now I can! Also, don’t forget to look in the direction of where you are swimming, not down at the compass, and keep the compass both flat and directly in front of your body.

Most memorable: we were given a navigation task using the compass  under water, and the good news is I managed to return back to where I started. 

After all my training was complete, I could finally take my Go Pro into the water on a fun dive

Thanks again to Master Divers and to David for another awesome course. And for those of you who are planning to get certified as a diver, I highly recommend you do the Open Water Advanced course immediately or soon after you complete the Open Water. The extra modules and dives have dramatically improved my skills and confidence in diving.