The dive that ended tragically for Chow Shuk-yee was her first in Hong Kong waters. The school teacher had only recently taken up the sport, according to the principal of St Stephen's Primary School in Mid-Levels where she had worked for five years. A memorial service was held at the school yesterday for Chow, who was single and lived on the south side of Hong Kong Island. 'She was a very competent teacher, dedicated to her job and loved by students and colleagues,' said head Shirley Duthie. 'She came from a loving family with four brothers. They are all very shocked.' Chow did a basic training course of 10 hours over four days during her summer holidays in the Thai resort of Phuket. It is not known what course she did or at which school, but most of Phuket's 80 to 100 diving shops offer courses approved by PADI, the world's biggest dive training organisation. Competition for holiday resort diving courses is fierce amid what is openly acknowledged as a price war. 'Those holiday resort people are our bread and butter,' said the manager of one of the largest Phuket schools. Like several others nervous of bad publicity, he asked not to be named but admitted he knew of courses that cut corners. It is not that they are unregulated - most are affiliated to PADI, he stressed. PADI does quality checks on a third of all its students. Even so, the operator added, some Thai dive shops advertise PADI but were not affiliated. Corners are cut with time - squeezing the course into three days instead of four, and raising the student-to-instructor ratio. PADI recommends a maximum of one instructor to eight students but some exceed this. PADI does not stipulate course time, but recommends 31 hours. 'It depends on weather, the students' progress and how much preparation has been done,' said a PADI spokesman at its Asia Pacific Sydney office. One Phuket instructor was recently offered a job by a school that demanded he teach the basic PADI Open Water Diver certificate in just two days. 'I refused but the guy said he would find someone else to do it,' he said. Students fill in medical questionnaires, liability disclaimers and safety forms before training, but schools rely on their honesty. Costs vary widely, with one operator, Easy Divers, offering the basic PADI Open Sea Diver course with three nights' accommodation from 7,800 baht (HK$1,400). The rate at Phuket Scuba Club (five PADI stars) is 9,900 baht, while Sea Bees Diving, also five PADI stars, at Phuket and Ao Chalong, ranges from 6,500 to 10,900 baht for the same training. Sea Bees Diving's manager John Zagan said the first two days were the same. The difference was whether you dived from a boat or off the beach, which was cheaper. Ms Duthie said Chow was not someone to economise on something as important as dive training. 'She was an educationalist, she took education very seriously,' she said.