- Koh Samui
- Koh Tao
Phanganist met Aksel from The Netherlands, a freelance diving instructor in love with Koh Phangan...
So, the obvious question first, what got you into diving?
I got into diving very late in life nine years ago as friends kept telling me for years to try but I kept ignoring this thinking this wasn't for me.
I went on a family vacation to Mauritius and decided to give it a try and I immediately loved it. I started diving at thirty six so was a late starter but from there I went to move on and do the PADI courses.
After Mauritius I did the courses in 2009 and the plan was to stay only for three months but it changed my life and and I decided to become an instructor.
Did you do your instructor courses on Koh Phangan?
No I travelled a little and did my dive instructor course in the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia - I stayed there for three weeks and it was on a very small tropical island and then I returned to Koh Phangan to continue with my new hobby.
So like most people you can't stay away from Koh Phangan?
I am always based on Koh Phangan and it's true, I cannot leave as the island is just too much of a paradise!
I have many friends here diving and have a great social life so I do not want leave. I also have a girlfriend here and we have been together almost three years now and we are very happy.
Outside of diving what do you get up to?
Apart from diving I like going to Thong Nai Pan to have a relaxing day on that gorgeous beach and enjoy having a few drinks and enjoying the beauty of it all.
I sometimes like going to Loi Lay club for a drink and a dance and go to the half moon party now and again.
I have stopped going to the Full Moon Party and the other major parties now as I like the small get togethers with friends and smaller venues.
As I live in Baan Tai it's easy to get around the island from here, I love it!
What's your favourite dive spot?
The dive at Sail Rock is the best dive spot in the Gulf of Thailand and it's always a pleasure every time.
When the visibility is great it's amazing and even when visibility is only ok it is still a fantastic dive.
When is the best time to dive?
During the winter (high season) the north east monsoon affects the visibility and the diving conditions are not the best but everybody still loves the dive but it can change from year to year and it is always full of surprises.
In general it can be good all year, but the best time is anywhere between April and November.
August is the busiest month of the year and then it gets busy again around Christmas which means there are lots of divers every day from beginners to experienced people. I love teaching people who have never dived before and seeing how happy they are when they come up from the water it's a pleasure to go to work every day. If someone told me that I would have been a teacher in the future I would have laughed at them but now I love every day.
Any advice for people who have never dived before?
My advice to people is just try it! It introduces you to a completely new world which has always been so close to you but you have never seen it. And it is really not that hard to learn.
Try to enjoy it with an open mind it will change your outlook on life completely.
It will change your travelling plans and will take you to places you are not planning to go as you will check if there are good diving sites before you go.
The atmosphere around the divers is always relaxed and fun and we all like to have a well earned beer or ice cold coke after a good days diving together.
It's a cool laid back crowd to hang around with and swap travelling and diving stories.
Any plans to continue up the PADI ladder?
I am fine just as a diving instructor and have no ideas to climb the PADI ladder further as I am happy with teaching new people and helping starters gain further experience to get their qualifications towards their goals, it makes me feel proud and happy every day I do it.
So Koh Phangan is in your future?
I never get tired of living on koh phangan, there are a few negative sides like anywhere and little stresses but it's easy to look past these very quickly Every day here there is a ‘WOW!!’ moment which could either be the diving, the girlfriend, or even something that the dog does that makes me laugh, this place keeps you happy every day.
Every morning I wake up and I see the sea, the sky, and all the colours of the island and it is not possible to be unhappy as soon as you wake up and this keeps you smiling for the rest of the day. As long as I can experience and appreciate that, then I know I am in the right place.
Finally, your life philosophy?
Every day have a moment and realise how happy you are and always remember why you are here.
It was a pleasure to meet Aksel and his girlfriend Fah who are both very happy and their happiness is infectious to people around them and we hope this encourages people to try the diving here on the island.