Meet the Team that Make the Difference
From start to finish you'll find a fun and friendly bunch of people here at 100 Degrees East, who are only too willing to share their knowledge and experience. It’s this talented team, who deliver upon our commitment to provide our guests with outstanding levels of service, safety and satisfaction. Every single one of us is here to back you up, offering the encouragement and support you need.
So lets’ give you Bobs’ full title – Lieutenant Commander Robert Henry Hawkins(RN) MBE, no less. Bob has traversed the seven seas serving queen and country for the last 32 years, so safe to say he has more than a little knowledge of all things nautical. Currently on a 3 year posting in Penang, Bob has found himself only a spit and a cough away from sunny Samui and a long overdue reunion with his old school buddy Ivan. Few are better qualified to have oversight of our operating standards, procedures and safety and ensure we are all ship shape. In exchange for his valuable free consultations when on his Samui shore leave, we provide a spot of recreational diving for him with lots of marine life, which he finds a little more relaxing than his usual diving with lots of explosives - they don’t really do ‘Fun Dives’ in the Royal Navy, and given the state of the navy issue Speedos’ provided, neither should they.
Ivan is a co-owner and General Manager of the company. In his former life, Ivan was a TV Comedy and Entertainment producer in London. In 2001, having helped launch a certain Peter Kay onto an unsuspecting British public, he decided to quit the hectic world of media while he was still ahead and go live the tropical life. The eldest member of the team, he’s not quite into Zimmer frame territory yet, but is certainly starting to come around to appreciating what the benefits might be of having one. Started diving in 1979 with BSAC in the UK but finds the warm, clear waters of Thailand far more compatible with aged frame.
Co-owner and de facto big boss of 100 Degrees East. In her former career back in London Caz worked in finance for Disney Europe and as happy as she was, there’s only so much you can take of working for Mickey Mouse. She decided to free herself once and for all from the grasp of the omnipresent rodent and disappear to a place that only The Little Mermaid and Nemo could possibly find her. She is still as passionate about our wonderful oceans as when she first washed up on these tropical shores 13 years ago, and the daily commute to work is somewhat improved from that number 9 bus from High Street Ken.
A lifelong Aberdeen FC supporter who, prior to coming to Samui spent life in High Wycombe, helps you understand why he has such a wicked sense of humour – with John on board our guests are always assured of an entertaining day out. Without a doubt the snappiest dresser in the house, Johns’ wardrobe is overflowing with designer stressed T shirts, Board shorts and hats that are the envy of the whole team, as is his one inch thick designer stubble which is an absolute marvel.
A very experienced instructor whom we have known for the past 8 years. After some gentle persuasion (try us on bended knee!) John agreed to head up our Resort Liason for us last year and is now a key member of our land based team, only too willing to answer any questions guests on island might have about our range of services and itineraries. John is from the beautiful island of Jersey and is of the age where not only does he remember the famous UK TV series ‘Bergerac’ – he actually watched them filming it and knows exactly where Charlie Hungerford’s house is. Wow - If that’s got you over excited, calm down and go make yourself a nice cup of tea.
Several years ago, Jorma left the big chill of his native Finland in search of warmer waters and found the Gulf of Thailand ticked all the right boxes. After 3 years in Koh Tao and a year over here on Samui, Jorma joined us last year to become a lead instructor. Apparently, now the only thing he still misses from home is a good Vodka followed by the opportunity to race farm tractors across frozen lakes, both of which he started to do from the age of 9 (a perfectly normal way to spend those long winter nights in Finland, Yeah right!).
The 100 Degrees East French Connection – well actually Laetitia is Swiss but from the French side of the mountain. Having tired of her 4 hours a day yodeling lessons she fled the Sound of Music to find the peace, warmth and tranquility of the underwater world and has never looked back. A very patient and caring instructor , do not be fooled by her Thai knick name ‘Nok Noi’, which means ‘Little Bird’, small she might be but anyone who can Yodel and blow that Alpine Horn has got to have a mighty set of pipes on her.
One day long ago and far away in a strange and ancient land they call Stoke, a young boy called Tom packed his little nap sack and left the enchanted city in search of a life of excitement and adventure which, he was told, could magically be found anywhere other than Stoke. The young man found his place to be was Koh Samui and that life under the ocean waves was his thing to do. 8 happy years on and with more dives and dive courses under his belt than you could shake an angry Sea Cucumber at, it’s proved to be a fairy tale come true.
Ben made Instructor last year having clocked up something in the region of 2000 dives as a Divemaster ,prior to finally getting round to taking his IDC. He is a TDI Decompression Tri Mix ( whatever that means – it’s safe to say he really likes his diving.). With out a doubt an in-house, walking, talking human fish slate -there really isn’t a fish in these waters that he can’t put a name to. Now loving his Samui life – completely unsurprising as home in the UK used to be Hull which, we are told, is not the end of the world but you can certainly see it from there.
Completing the ‘Team Finland’ line up is Milla, who joined us last year to become our lead Divemaster and accompanies and guides our more experienced certified diving guests. Another member of our dive team who has spent 3 years diving in Koh Tao, she has clocked up a huge amount of time under the waves and is hugely knowledgeable of all the dive sites in the region and our denizens of the deep. To save you asking at a later date, any similarity between Milla and Stig Larson’s famous character in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is completely coincidental - so don’t mention it or she’ll get annoyed and track you down on her motorbike, hack into all your accounts, clear them out and make you bankrupt.
Undoubtedly the fittest member of the team and also one of the friendliest people you could meet, which is just as well, as Nuwin was a professional Muay Thai boxer. He decided to hang up his gloves a few years ago, and fulfilled his dream last year of joining PADI’s professional ranks as a Divemaster. Nuwin is the longest serving member of our team, having been with us for 8 years, and continues to be one of our most experienced Snorkel and Tour guides always ensuring you get the most out of your day. Sometimes referred to by the team as ‘Mr Barnet’, on account of his occasionally radical haircuts, our Burmese Karen State legend is not someone you want to be accompanying to the hairdresser.
A friend of ours since arriving on Samui some 13 years ago when he happened to be the tour guide that took us out on a speedboat tour as paying customers to the Marine Park. So in a way it was Chai who started this whole adventure off. He was a wonderful guide then and has only got better since then. The most gentle, warm and friendly person you could meet – let alone have as your guide for the day. Now, graduated to the ranks of a Dive professional and so dedicated to PADI and the underwater world that he has a PADI logo tattoo on his back – hence his nick name is ‘Mr 007 PADI Chai’ – the 007 relates to the fact that James Bond is the only other person that anyone from his village back home in the remote mountains of Burma have ever seen diving.
In the 5 years that Bo has been with us he has graduated from boat boy to become an experienced Snorkel & Tour Guide’ particularly skilled at taking great care of any junior guests on tour, often earning him the nick name of ‘Uncle Bo’ – highly skilled at making sand castles, climbing coconut trees – you name it, Bo makes sure the younger ones have lots of fun. Bo also holds a Senior Boat Engineer’s licence and last year earned his Junior Captain’s licence.
One of the safest pairs of hands on Samui, Sombat is a highly experienced Captain who has been navigating the waters of the Gulf of Thailand for many years. Nicknamed Steady Eddy, Sombat always ensures you have a comfortable journey to/from your destination.
The arrival of our second speed boat last year saw the arrival of Lord as it’s captain. We actually have known him for many years as he is a hugely experienced dive speedboat captain having skippered boats both on Samui and Koh Tao. We are delighted to be able to include him in our permanent team line up and now be in the unique position of being able to genuinely reassure our guests that – The Lord is with you.
Our wonderful Mrs Oiy keeps the shop and office running like the well oiled machine it needs to be. A resident of Samui for most of her life, there is not a lot that is going on in Samui that she doesn’t know about, so is a natural font of all on island information for all of our guests. Things to do and places to go Oiy is your lady.
Yuso is our general maintenance man and gardener at the dive centre. The only member of our team that deosn’t dive, snorkel or to the best of our knowledge even swim! Our Mr Fix it does however something up his sleeve. He is an amateur (in the truest sense of the word) magician and on occasion has been known to entertain our guests with probably the worst magic show on the planet – you have been warned.
Cooking up a storm for us every day, Pom & Pun are always up before anyone else in the morning preparing all the yummy food for our tours of the day. We’ve known the girls for 10 years and if the food served on the boat is to your liking, you can visit them at their very popular restaurant ‘Shambala’, located at Big Buddha to sample more of their gastronomic creations.
Frankie is our oldest team member, in dog years he is just into his 70’s. Not quite retired yet but certainly slowing down a bit as most days he finds a quiet corner of the garden to sleep peacefully and dream of his misspent youth. Still remains the cheapest member of the crew to run, Frankie’s salary has always been a 20 kg bag of biscuits a month.
Winnie joined the team by wandering in off the beach and deciding that this looked like a good home. Her biggest hurdle was overcome when she launched herself at Frankie and rather than flattening her, he decided she was rather cute. The only dog that has ever got away with stealing one of his bones – after 4 years we think she is here to stay.