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Phuket Diving: Sidemounting a revolution

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Diving: Sidemounting a revolution | The Thaiger

PHUKET: “CLICK, click”… with both tanks unclipped and held in front of us it is possible to make our way through the small window of the little dive-boat wreck sitting at a depth of about 18 meters off the coast of Racha Yai, Phuket.

Tanks still stretched out in front of him, Kevin from Kiwidiver pushes through the small window on the other side, a spot that would be too tight if he had on a”standard” BCD vest with a tank strapped to his back, but this was sidemount – not a tech sidemount, PADI’s recreational sidemount.

“Tech diving, where one tank isn’t enough,” is a slogan that has been circulating in the dive community for years, and appears to be no longer applicable as recreational divers start to strap on two tanks themselves and continue to demand more out of their dive experiences. With every dive, we, as a community, push to explore beyond what thousands of divers before us have already seen, and we want more time to do so.

After a simple but thorough theory course and one day of feeling completely disoriented and lost in the pool, I was unsure if the fledgling PADI sidemount course was everything I was told it would be – thankfully, there is no harm in being wrong.

Sidemount consists of a “wing” BCD and in many cases two tanks, each with its own regulator and pressure gauge hanging down underneath a diver’s arms. Since there are two regulators, many of the drills in the pool are to help divers remember which tank they are breathing from. With a long hose going to the right tank and a short hose hanging around your neck going to your left it takes a little practice.

Checking the pressure on each gauge I look up to find Kevin giving the out-of-air sign, his hand calmly sliding back and forth across his throat. Slowly my mind starts to go through the process of remembering which tank I am breathing off and which regulator I need to give him… looking down I realize that my “out-of-air buddy” is still at the bottom of the pool, but I, completely distracted, have already floated to the surface – frustrated, I make my way back down to him and try again, this time paying a little more attention to my buoyancy.

After a good night of sleeping on it and dreaming of manta rays, there is a transformation.

On our third dive in open water, just outside the wreck, Kevin signals out of air. Without hesitation I pull the long hose regulator from its secure position on the tank under my right arm and stretch it out to him. I’m hit with a mouthful of bubbles as Kevin talks through his regulator, all smiles.

Nothing contributes to improvement more than patience and practice… and nothing is better than building the skill sets that bring you one step closer to being the first to pass into unexplored realms.

Tucking the regulator away I feel a warm rising sense of accomplishment somewhere inside, a feeling lost to many divers after they complete their open water course. I resist the temptation to spread my arms, close my eyes and imagine myself as a manta ray slowly gliding through the water.

Streamlined and positioned perfectly flat, the sidemount kit seems to give us the same effortlessness in the water that is so awe-inspiring to see in the denizens of the deep blue.

The effortlessness isn’t just from being streamlined. There is no need to make thousands upon thousands of the micro-adjustments necessary to keep a tank balanced on your back. These tiny adjustments are made without a thought by even the most inexperienced divers, nothing a diver notices until they’re not there. Now, however, I am aware of having shed the “keel” from my back.

Back at the surface, we unclip one tank and pass it up to a boat-boy before unclipping our second tanks, each tank sitting with 120 bar…the next dive will have to be a beach dive, so we can take full advantage of all that extra air, maybe using the additional time to follow up on the unconfirmed rumors of all the unusual, unique critters that are floating around Kata Reef.

Advantages to Diving Recreational Sidemount:
• Redundant air supply
• Streamlined
• More natural body position in the water
• Ability to pass through narrow passages
• Easy first step toward trying tech diving

Disadvantages:
• Buddy unfamiliarity with equipment
• Desire to never strap a single tank on your back again

This is the final part of a four-part series on PADI’s new specialty diving certifications.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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

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Business

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg

May Taylor

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Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | The Thaiger

Thai Residents reports that on Sunday, Bloomberg published an article on the world’s best pension systems, using information gathered from the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index.

The survey looked at the pension systems of 37 countries with metrics including employee rights, savings, the number of homeowners, growth of assets, and growth of the economy. The purpose of the analysis was to determine what was needed to improve state pension systems and to gauge the level of confidence citizens had in their state pension system.

The Netherlands and Denmark were found to have the world’s best state pensions, with Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile next. Out of all 37 countries, Thailand finished last, with what the report described as an extremely ineffective and ambiguous system.

“Thailand was in the bottom slot and should introduce a minimum level of mandatory retirement savings and increase support for the poorest.”

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | News by The Thaiger

Photo: WorkpointNews

Thai Residents states that only those employed within the government system in Thailand are eligible for a pension based on salary. For most Thai citizens, pension amounts vary from 600 baht to 1,000 baht a month, depending on the recipient’s age.

A report carried out by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advises Thai citizens to have at least 4 million baht saved by the time they retire, but Thai Residents reports that 60% of Thai retirees have less than 1 million baht in savings, with one in three citizens who have reached retirement age are forced to continue working in order to survive.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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Bangkok

Tax on salt content being considered

Greeley Pulitzer

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Tax on salt content being considered | The Thaiger

The Excise Department is considering imposing a tax on the salt content of food to encourage food producers to reduce the sodium content of snacks, instant noodles and seasoning cubes.

The director of the Office of Tax Planning said that the department is discussing a limit on the amount of sodium food can contain, in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 2,000 milligrams of salt per day.

In reality, Thai people consume an average of 1,000 milligrams per meal, making their daily intake well above WHO guidelines, according to the director.

He said any tax imposed would be at a level which would encourage food producers to reduce the sodium in their processed food without being punitive, adding that the proposal isn’t intended to generate more tax revenue, but to help protect the health of consumers. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fish sauce, soy sauce and salt would not be taxed.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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News

Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces

Greeley Pulitzer

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Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces | The Thaiger

People living in 22 Thai provinces are being warned to prepare for shortages of drinking water during the upcoming dry season, due to start on November 1st.

The warning was issued by the National Water Resources Office, citing low levels in reservoirs, which are the main sources for tap water production waterworks in 22 provinces.

Areas at risk identified by the office are in northern, north-eastern, eastern and southern provinces.

Measures have been adopted by agencies charged with dealing with water shortages. including dredging water channels to allow greater volumes of water to flow into reservoirs, drilling underground wells, enlarging storage ponds and the purchase of water to supply to those in urgent need.

The Royal Irrigation Department has announced that people should use water sparingly.

There are currently about 6 billion cubic metres of usable water in reservoirs in the affected provinces, with 5 billion cubic metres reserved for consumption and ecological preservation, leaving only 1 billion cubic metres for use in agriculture.

This means farmers in the Chao Phraya river basin may not be able to grow a second crop of rice this year.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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