Connect with us

Thai Life

Army stormed Phuket before coup, for diving

Legacy Phuket Gazette




PHUKET: Months before General Prayuth Chan-ocha stepped in with the Army’s coup to wrestle some semblance of order back to Thailand, a group of military officers from throughout the nation stormed Phuket.

But they didn’t come for the taxi mafia, tuk-tuk cartels, illegal workers or even the land encroachers – they came for the diving.

Standing pool-side amid an air of excitement, Vince Moy from Kiwidiver gave a few last instructions in Thai to the students. All but two of the 14 military and police officers were about to take their very first breath underwater – a moment that few divers ever forget.

It all started when 34-year-old Maj Dolruedee Tanma contacted Kevin Black of Kiwidiver about some diving photos.

“I offered her a free DSD [Discover Scuba Diving course] if she ever came to Phuket,” Kevin recalls. “She came – loved it – and immediately signed up for her Open Water course and started regular trips to Phuket to go scuba diving.

“When I offered Maj Jiib a chance to take all her Army friends scuba diving, to show them just what she had experienced, she organized a group to come down.”

PADI threw in its support, to help the development of the domestic Thai diving market, by giving the participants t-shirts, stickers and free certificates.

“The group breezed through their Open Water course, as it was all taught in Thai,” Kevin says, noting that PADI has a Thai-language Open Water manual and that the tests can be taken in Thai.

The financial costs, this time covered by Kiwidiver and PADI, are a major barrier for most Thais to become involved in diving, Maj Jiib explains before a pool session starts.

“Thai people have a lot of things to do, many festivals, many activities. With water activities like scuba diving, we have to know about the equipment… and it’s so expensive for Thai people. This is why Thai people don’t invest to try diving,” she says.

“For some people, scuba is just for sport or just for fun, but it can also be used to protect the environment. However, the government doesn’t promote this skill enough for Thai people. If they have the budget, they should support Thai people to become a diver, guide or environmentalist.”

As all divers know, however, once the financial leap is made, the payoff is extraordinary.

“Those that do discover what is under the ocean’s surface usually find a different sense of appreciation for it. We actively try to get people diving as a way of helping them understand the beauty and the need for conservation,” says Kevin.

“Many people from all cultures do not care about what is underwater simply because they don’t know or understand it. Once people see it, it becomes real for them and they start to understand the need to protect it.”

Though Phuket dive sites might no longer reflect the rosy tint that divers who explored its coral reefs, grass beds and walls more than a decade ago might recall, the wonders below the surface are still riveting – even to an experienced diver.

There are still many species of shy seahorses (story here), transformative mimic octopi (story here), acid-trip designed nudibranches (story here), cartoonish clown fish, drowsy leopard sharks (story here) and giant manta rays (story here)… the list goes on.

So, with the pool session complete, the Army officers, now comfortable in the equipment, buoyancy in control and no one holding their breath, are ready for the beauty of the underwater world and a lifetime of coming face to face with some of the most stunning flora and fauna of the world.imagepeared in the August 9 – 15 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.

Keep checking the Phuket Gazette, join our Facebook fan page or follow us on Twitter @PhuketGazette for the latest news updates.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism4 hours ago

Songkhla prepares for tourism across the Southern land border

Thailand5 hours ago

French expat being denied re-entry to Thailand over repeated criticism of the Thai monarchy

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

COVID-19 SATURDAY: 6,073 infections, 32 deaths, provincial data

Sponsored2 days ago

CBRE recommends top 5 luxury condominiums in Phuket with fantastic locations

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Omicron causing concern, Thai authorities ban travellers from 8 countries

Coronavirus (Covid-19)8 hours ago

Thailand’s nightlife venues and bars told to keep closed until January 16

Protests9 hours ago

Amnesty International under investigation for defending activists

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

New Covid-19 strain named “Omicron” and a variant of concern

Thailand13 hours ago

Entertainment venues will not open before January 16

World14 hours ago

“Omicron” – a new Covid variant triggers travel alarms as flights disrupted

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Vaccine passport soon to be made digital and issued for free

Bangkok1 day ago

Bang Sue Grand Station to use only Pfizer and Moderna vaccine

Thailand1 day ago

Thailand News Today | Thailand purchases Covid pills, Democracy summit snubbs Thailand | Nov 26

Phuket1 day ago

Phuket traffic police deny Facebook accusal of targeting tourists

Thailand1 day ago

CCSA hints that some bars and nightclubs could reopen before January 16

Thailand1 day ago

Easier entry for foreign tourists: CCSA approves ATK for on-arrival screening

Thailand2 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism9 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism9 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand11 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11