4 June 2008

My Dive Trip - Pulau Dayang Day 1

Date: 1 May 2008

Diving has always been something I wanted to do. The idea of experiencing the underwater world first hand has always been appealing. blame Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and National Geographic for all their stunning footage and photography of marine life.

Some of my friends have already gotten their PADI certification and have gone for a number of dive trips already. So finally I am catching up with them.

After a scorching weekend of confined dive practice, we are finally at Pulau Dayang for our actual dives.

But before that, we had the causeway jam to contend with. We started out in a rather hyperactive state in the van but predictably ran out of steam with all our nonsense. Hours later, we were woken up at Mersing Ferry Terminal. Groggily we hauled our equipment onto the boat that would ferry us to our dive destination. To our surprise, other passengers were already sprawled all over the seats and floor, leaving little room for us. The cold from the rain didn' help either as some of us ended up on the poorly sheltered deck. Still we managed to dose off in the cold and wet condition.

4 hours later, we arrived at the island well before dawn on 1 May and knocked out in our bunk.

By the time I got up, the beach kitchen was almost done with the breakfast. So went about the area for some photos. The water was inviting and I stepped in. Clear to the bottom where the seabed was teeming with life.

Once the rest got up, we proceeded to the breakfast buffet waiting for us. I was pretty impressed. They had plenty of good stuff for breakfast, not to mention the charcoal grill for making the perfect toast.

Once we were done with breakfast, it was a pre-dive brief conducted by Desmond, one of the dive instructors from Scuba-Oasis. We would be tested on a set of fundamental diving skills that would ensure our safety while having good fun underwater. We then proceeded to board our dive boat.

I have to say that I was as excited as I was anxious. There was definitely a possibility that I panic underwater which would lead to plenty of problems. I reminded myself to stay alert and pay attention to the instructors on land and underwater.

We rigged our equipment as soon as we boarded the boat. First stop, Pulau Lang. Again, the clear waters beckon. 8 metres down was the seabed and we could see abundant marine life. Following the instructions closely, we descended with the instructors' supervision.

The first dive is always an experience to remember. For the first time, we have fish swimming around us. They seemed as fascinated by our presence as we are by theirs.

With the first test of skills tested, we were led around the area for a look at the marine life. First, Desmond brought us a sea cucumber and it impressed us mightily. We had seen the those served up as food, but not alive. Then he brought us a starfish and got the same response from us.

So we continued our tour of the underwater world at Pulau Lang to see more fascinating stuff. We went around majestic coral formations to be greeted by schools of fish and were constantly attracted to the colourful lifeforms that thrived on the seabed.

The dive lasted 45 minutes, and we ascended to get on the boat and return for lunch.

After lunch, briefing for the next dive. The second dive would be another round of skills test. Thereafter, another underwater tour. So we promptly proceeded to the boat again to prepare for the next dive.

The second dive of the day would be at Kador. All rigged up, we jumped into the water and descended for our second skills test. After that we proceeded with our tour once again. This time, we spotted a string ray lying on the seabed. It definitely got us excited, especially since barbecued string ray is a popular favorite among us Singaporeans.

This dive seemed significantly strenuous compared to the first one. By the time we finished, we were so zoned out thanks to the combination of a heavy lunch and nitrogen in our system. I kind of regretted gorging during lunch especially as I almost thought I would throw up underwater.

Once we returned to land for our tea break, most of us met up with the Z-monster.

Right after our nap, briefing for dive 3 and then to the boat. We headed to Crocodile Bay for our last dive of the day. No more skills tests. Now it is just diving for recreation for PADI Open Water certification.

This time round, we managed to spot plenty of nudibranches, clownfish and carpet anemone, bumphead parrotfish and a moray eel.

It really seems that the more I dived, the more excited I was for the next dive. I was beginning to enjoy it. One more dive for the Open Water certification!

We returned to land for our dinner and for a debrief for the day. Jamie brought out our dive log which was adorned with an anime girl with scuba gear and had "scuba-babe" emblazoned across. No there wasn't a "suba-dude" for the guys.

It seems that the other group that we were sharing our boat trip over had a full itinerary for themselves. By night fall, they started a bonfire and gathered around it to sing songs.

As I walked back to the accommodations, the stretch of darkness along the beach beckoned me to look towards the sky. Stars filled the night sky. It was a sight that we hardly see in Singapore, one that can only be seen if there is little pollution.

We were definitely looking forward to the next day's dive-eat-sleep routine.

Check out more photos here

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