A Relaxed Way of Life on Koh Phangan with Diver Matt.

12 Feb 2021

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Matt who is originally from Poland is a freelance divemaster, he guides or helps with courses here on Koh Phangan at the moment.

He tells us that it actually wasn’t the plan to come here,

‘I think my girlfriend was the catalyst for Thailand in general, we were going to do all of Southeast Asia, starting in Vietnam and do it on motorbikes but then we decided to visit the islands and that was four months ago!’

So like many others, the charm and magic has kept Matt and his girlfriend in the Gulf so far...

So Matt, you’re a freelance diver, where did you learn?

I come from an area where there’s lots of lakes, and as a kid I would spend all summer by the lakeside swimming or in a boat. It also comes from my love for wildlife, watching Jacques Cousteau movies with my father and wanting to see nature from another perspective.

I moved to Ireland and started my open water course in Dingle Bay. Years later I finally finished it whilst travelling in Panama. I had a break to travel Costa Rica and then went back and did my Advanced and Rescue diver certificates, and then started an internship as a divemaster at the same school in Bocas Del Toro. I spent four and half months working with them.

What do you like about being freelance?

Most of the guys also have to do the office work but I just dive with them.

Can you move and travel more?

Yeah but there’s a lot of work here right now so there’s no point in going to anyone else. It’s busy for diving season. This is actually my first day off, it’s been two weeks of diving, apart from the day after Full Moon. No one dives the day after, they’re all recovering.

What do you think about sail rock?

Definitely it’s one of the best sites I’ve seen so far in Thailand, but that’s just based on diving in the Gulf of Thailand, I haven’t dived in the Andaman sea yet.

Now this place is very busy so some people compare it to the Red Sea in Egypt, sometimes we get twelve to fourteen big boats there and it’s not a huge site to dive.

As a dive site it could use more forms of protection as it’s not national park or national heritage site.

What inspired you to make your film of Sail Rock?

I really wanted to do diving videos anyway and whilst diving in Koh Tao I had some ideas how to do it. In general I was experimenting with editing videos and synchronising it to the music.

In the past I have made videos using anime or manga and synchronised it with my own music. So video editing is something I’ve been doing for a couple of years.

Do you think it can help to do some good for sail rock?

Thinking about the future videos I would include information on how people can protect and preserve the dive site. Diving is a good way to learn how to protect the wildlife but lots of tourists still don't have an idea of how to do it.

One example is divers putting sunscreen on just before the dive, which is a cause of the coral bleaching, which you can see all around the island.

Whenever I will do the next video I will get in touch with the Green Fins and feature them in the video as they have good knowledge of how to protect this place.

All divers we meet seem to be kind of fun, tell us you thoughts about the diving community on Koh Phangan…

Most of the time we meet on the boats and it’s always good fun as it’s a mixture of people from all around the world. At the shop there are guys from France, Germany, Russia, Italy and Switzerland, so there’s a great mix of cultures and some good stories.

The other thing is that although there are lots of dive schools, everyone seems to be friends and there is no rivalry when we meet in the evening for a beer. Very often we share the boat with two or three different schools, and if you have technical issues we all help each other, but that’s the thing with diving, no one is bitching about anyone. Everyone is helping each other.

What do you like to do in your free time on the island?

Messing around making music, editing videos. At the moment and I’m trying to finish a video for my friend who is releasing an album so I want to do a couple of videos for him.

Myself and my girlfriend are also doing some volunteering for dogs on the island with Sabrina; my girlfriend is helping full time and I am looking after your Phanganist Linda’s dogs.

I’ve been a few times to Eden garden, it was alright, I would say it’s a good place that is alternative to the full moon on Koh Phangan. Crossing the beach to get a boat there whilst the Full Moon party is happening you see lots of weird shit going on!

Any plans for the rest of the year?

I’m staying until the end of the season, end of September and then I am going to do my instructor course, not sure if that will be here or Indonesia, Philippines or maybe even Poland, at the moment I’m considering my options. I want to try to take the video editing to another level as well.

Many people say this island is magic, what have you learnt from your time on Phangan?

Lots of people start families, buy houses, get loans from the bank etc but since being on Koh Phangan I have met lots of people who live their life a different way.

It’s shown me the relaxed way of life.

And your life philosophy?

Be a gentle humble person, don’t harm anyone.

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