My underwater experience

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm a certified diver y'all! I always think that if some natural disaster were to happen on land and the only sanctuary is underwater, I'll get to live :')

Scuba diving has always been something I wanted to do at least once in my life. Now I can cross if off my bucket list!

Textbook, dive table and diver's log

I went scuba diving in Redang, with 7 other awesome people. We took the night bus there, and I suffered from motion sickness with 7-8 hours on the bus! Reached Kuala Terrenganu at 4AM+. It was definitely a whole new experience for me, I haven't been out and about at 4AM before. We were like hobos, carrying and dragging our luggage all around town. No where was opened and we had to just sit at the jetty, eat snacks and wait for dawn to come. We travelled by foot everywhere. Then we found an opened mamak and had very early breakfast there, with a few games of chor dai di and another game where we had to dare each other to do stuff. It was fun, I got a lot videos that would come in handy to bribe people with ;)

Then another 2-3 hours of the ferry ride which was SO unbelievably cold and had a little motion sickness as well.

After half a day of travelling on road, bus and sea... we finally reached Redang Island.

It was literally an island paradise. The sand was soft to touch and walk on, tall coconut trees were everywhere, the water had that emerald colour, obviously very different from the quality of the beaches like Port Dickson.

After a few hours of rest and lunch, we immediately started on our diving lessons. We were suppose to dive to a depth of 18m. We have a buddy system, where each of us would have a diving buddy and we have to look out for them. My diving buddy was Kevin. Everyone was paired up with a more experienced diver except us. Maybe it's because of my big built which gives off the false sense of security that I can dive and I'll be absolutely fine. Unfortunately after the first dive, we also realized not only were both of us newbies to diving, but we both had MOTION SICKNESS. Kevin's motion sickness was worse than me though, and he puked on the boat every time we came back from diving. Poor guy.

Diving/puking buddies
Now here's my honest opinion and advice about scuba diving:

Expectations: Scuba diving is going to be painless and easy! Sinus problems or motion sickness? Pffft small matter.


It wasn't the most pleasant experience for me to be honest. I knew I had mild sinus problems, cold and cough but I didn't know how much it would be affected underwater. And the boat rides coming back from the dive spots were torturous because I already have a bad headache, nose bleeding, pain between my eyes and motion sickness from the way there and diving, plus the feeling that I want to puke but can't. When we surface, the pulsating waves keep beating us and that makes it worse too. All that physical pain was a manifestation of sinus squeeze, which occurs when a diver cannot equalize sinus pressure due to nasal congestion. I took medication, but maybe it was too late? I don't know. I had a headache and felt pain between my eyes after 20-ish minutes of diving. After those 20 minutes I keep thinking to myself, when can we ascend??!

There was so much to consider while diving. How our lungs may rupture if we ascend too fast, how much oxygen we have to suck in and breathe out to maintain buoyancy, how we may get decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis or oxygen toxicity if we're not informed divers... it's a challenge.

I had trouble with the buoyancy part. Not sure if it's because I don't have enough weights on my weight belt or what. A few times, I tend to float to the top rapidly without control (which is very bad btw because your lungs might rupture) because I don't have control on buoyancy. We were suppose to release air from our buoyancy compensator suit, which I DID but yet I still float. We were suppose to exhale all the oxygen out to sink, which I ALSO DID but still float to the top. Maybe it's just me, I don't know. But in the end, I did it. I had control of my buoyancy. Still facing a little bit of difficulty, but generally improved and can sink and float on demand most of the time (that's what I think, I don't know what my instructor thinks lol).

That was the bad part of diving. The beauty of diving:

I saw lots of beautiful (but common) fishes like clown fishes and blue tang fishes (a.k.a Nemo and Dory).

I touched black sea cucumbers!

I saw lots of corals and anemones (might have accidentally kicked some due to buoyancy problems. Sorry corals! :( )

Diving is SO technical. It was naive of me to not expect to have to learn so much and know how to do so many things. We had to learn how to put heavy weights on the belt, carry 10kg tanks, wear the buoyancy compensator suits (a.k.a BC), walk to and fro the ocean with said 10kg tanks on our backs, board and leave the boat also with 10kg tanks on our backs. We also had to put the tanks back where they belonged and dry our heavy wet suits and BC. It was exhausting. We were so tired we didn't even want to take off our wet suits, so we just walked around wet all the time risking a cold.

Our instructor was Major Mike, he was once in the military/navy idk but yeah we do salute him sometimes. He's 70+ I think? But he looks like a 50+ year old. Really. He says diving makes him young. Which proves to be true through him. He's like a grandpa to us. He's our diving grandpa. We also had a few experienced divers helping us, some we have appointed as our diving fathers (simply because they're old enough to be our fathers). They're all awesome. They help us out underwater and out of water!

Diving (grand)fathers
Honestly, we barely had time to enjoy ourselves, chill and just soak in the sun. Our days mostly consisted of diving with 2-3 hours of rest intervals in between. So we dive 3 times a day. The last day, we didn't have to dive (thank God) but we had to study for our diving exam. We actually have a diving exam. And hell, it was difficult. I barely passed. But we weren't in the mood to study, so we semi-studied and chilled on hammocks/huts with Taylor Swift music (To clarify, XQ likes taylor swift. Pretty nice to listen to TS songs while chilling on a beach though).


The resort I stayed in Redang Bay Resort was not the best resort ever (it's only 2 stars btw), we had plumbing and air-conditioning problems the first day we stayed there (only our room). But the beach was infinite, and there were no barriers between resorts, so we kinda resort-hopped. We stayed at Redang Bay, but went to other resorts for their chilling places and bars. But the staff at RB were extremely friendly! It was a little surreal, there were people randomly playing guitar and you can join in with the singing, the staff played volleyball with and against us (and we lost shamelessly)... it's a nice place to stay :)

The sunrise was magnificent though. The gradient of the sky from blue to yellow was beautiful.

The company I went with are a bunch of alcoholics LOL. (I would be killed for even talking about this HAHAHAH) They bought cheap vodka and mixed it with ribena on the first night. They ordered 3 beer towers to celebrate our divers certification on the third night. I drank only one cup, because I know the ramifications and consequences of drinking, even if it's beer. And for me it's a headache, puking and immediate sleepiness. They drank beer using a snorkel, which was hilarious to watch. And then everyone was bottoms up-ing and dancing, while I snicker at and take pictures of how drunk everyone was. Another batch of pictures/videos I can bribe people with.

I drank the whole bottle of Ribena instead LOL

But overall, it was a fun trip, and the pain was worth it for getting my diver's license. I was so against going for another dive trip after that, but now that I think of it, I might give it another go if it were some place prettier! The company also made up for the trip itself. We had many laughs, many inside jokes and we've seen the worst of some of us (either drunk or motion sick lol). However I have a lot of pictures taken with a frown on my face, thanks to the pain (which I will not post here clearly)! Here have some pictures of happy (a facade probably), diving me!

Look at me holding on to the boat for dear life

Now, it's back to reality for me. Still unsure of my future and what to do. Have had so many doubts, and changed my mind a few times. That will be another post!

Pic creds to Pei Ru and Meris.

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