Thursday, 29 May 2014

Open Water Scuba Diving Course - May 13 to 19

My 2nd trip was not really a holiday but a serious course :) 

It was a long way to reach there too... from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Tawau, Sabah to Semporna and finally to Mabul Island :)   I felt weird when I was travelling from Singapore to KL as someone was acting like an acquaintance to me :(    well, seriously, I'm not used to these kind of treatment.  However I try to adapt and be quiet and read my book.  At times, I really wonder why......

I always like to dream of angels on the sea of clouds watching over us whenever I was on the plane.. but night view is different.  It was stunning with lots of colorful colors of the night. We reached the newly open airport KLIA2 at about 11pm. It's quite a long distance walk to the immigration counter, but after that, we got excited as it's a big shopping mall in the airport!!  We then headed to Starbucks and offloaded our bags on the comfy sofa.  I'm not a pig but I do need to sleep early and so for the first time, am doing this!  Sleeping there! :P  I can't imagine that I did that LOL  (that's not me!)

Little girl, Elaine reached on time to wake me up!  Elaine was someone that Kevin met online in a forum and who wanted to go for Open Water Diving too.  She's a young girl and brave enough to go for such adventure alone if we are not tagged along. She seems to be quiet and look cool without any smiles then.  KFC was our breakfast for the day.. yeahh! Someone couldn't wait to eat the yummy finger licking KFC! 

After arriving at Tawau, another 2 person joined in the private bus journey to Semporna.  It took us an hour to reach Semporna and to Big John Scuba Diving office. The rain was pouring half way of our journey and was still drizzling when we reached the office. Once we settled everything, we departed from the jetty to Mabul Island.  When we were cruising, I can see the crystal clear blue sea ... it's so beautiful.  Suddenly, we saw a big patch of rubbish floating at the sea! OMG what an eyesore... the sea was polluted!  It's sad to see such a scene.  I wish I can do something bout this... 

Throughout the one hour journey, I enjoyed very much the feeling of the breeze of wind blowing towards me.  I feel mesmerized to see the sea of clouds...some clouds resembles into an elephant opening his mouth, a bear who is sleeping with a big tummy and a little pig.. nothing can explained how I feel then.  Peace of mind.

Once we almost reached to the home stay, the view of the clouds and sea were indescribable.. it's awesomely breathtakingly beautiful!  Everyone was so eager to captured that scenery.. that most wonderful beautiful creations of God.  It's hard to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins.... stunning!  they are merged into one.  We can see a lot of star fish and seaweeds in the crystal clear blue water too.

(Suddenly I feel like going to the Heaven on Earth:  Bolivia's Uyuni salt flats at South America. Another spectacular place to see the sky and the ground emerged to one)

That evening assignment was none except at night, to watch the OWC video.  We decided to explore the kampung (village) together before night comes.  We can see the kids playing happily with the sand, playing kites, jumping here and there with the rubber idea what you called that? but I've played that before!  When night falls, you'll have free entertainment!  The locals will sit at the bridge, sang and played the guitar.

Actually am anxious about what we have to do the next day....scared, uncertainty, excited!  I sat down quietly on the wooden floor where the staircase down to the sea are.. looking up, admiring the starry sky,  feeling blessed ....such a romantic feeling then!  

First day of our challenge came!  After breakfast, we were briefed on the dive equipment and introduced to the BCDs (Buoyancy Control Device), cylinders, valves, Regulators  (first stage, second stage, Submersible Pressure Gauge-SPG, alternate air source), masks, snorkels, fins, weight systems.  Yeah we learn about common hand signals too!! so that we were able to communicate under the water :) It's fun LOL

Before each dive, we have to check this BWRAF - BCD, Weight, Releases, Air and Final Okay! before we jump!   I was so nervous as I'm afraid I can't remember everything.  I took a long time to even attached the low pressure inflator.. My right thumb was totally exhausted and everyone was already doing the rest. I told myself, NO! I have to be able to do that.. and I use my left thumb and pointer to push the low pressure inflator and yessss, I did it! 

There we go to our very first confined water dive at 5m deep.  Well, my heart was pumping fast but I told myself, breath in and out.  Remember, the most important thing is to breath and not hold your breath!  Ensure nobody was at the back of you before you jump backwards to the sea!  I was a bit panic to be pushed backwards to the sea. My very first time in the sea!!!!  I can't believe that am doing this! and at this age! LOL   yes, it needs a lot of courage, braveness, determination to do what you wanted. 

We did a few stunts in the water.  Breathing in and out through our second stage, clear a partially and fully flooded mask, the scariest part - took out our mask and wear it back and clear the water too!  I was like OMG?? what? so fast? I try to calm myself by breathing in and out slowly and steadily.  After all it's not that bad.  Another extreme stunt, was to remove the mask and swim for a distance and wear it back.  Wowwwwwww, can't imagine that.. we made it too!!! It's totally blurrrrr without the mask.. I can only see some colors of their dive suits.

We went to Paradise 1 again after the noon break and dive till 8m deep.  I was a bit surprised that we have to do that 'taking out mask' again! I've forgotten how to clear the water inside the mask :P  I was super panic then!  It took me quite some time and finally done!  Then we also did a few other stunts like recover our regulator hose from behind our shoulder, trying our hand signal to tell our buddy - out of air and need to breath using their alternate air source supply, etc.  Frankly, I do not really have the mood to see any thing then ... as I'm trying to be neutral in the sea, but I was almost always down to negative buoyancy.  We do saw some corals, sea turtles, fishes swimming around.. but I was not relaxed at all. 

I was relieved when we were back for dinner.. super relief, that I've gone through the most challenging part of the course, I thought.   The best moment of the day is getting to see the sky in the apps that someone was watching....  I feel extremely sweet and romantic at that moment... I melted!

Night came and we have to watch the video .. yes, feeling sleepy and exhausted for the day!  Once the music was played and songs were sang by the locals, I get into it again.. enjoying every moment of it.

Second day of our OWC!
Still feeling scared!  Extreme intense feeling.. my heart rate jump up! Trying to cool myself by singing in the boat.. "Let it go!... let it go!.. don't hold it back anymore!" to calm my heart beats, to sing my strength out! to comfort everyone on board who are feeling the same as me, especially Melody. She was with her boyfriend, Scott and she doesn't even know how to swim.  Don't you think that she's very very brave?

We went to Smart House Reef to dive till 12m deep, to Kapalai House Reef at Kapalai Island to dive till 16m deep and finally at Eel Garden to dive till 17.7m deep.  We did some training at the surface of the sea, eg. BCD removal, clear a snorkel of water without lifting our face from the water, exchange snorkel for regulator and vise versa, remove our weight belts, cramp removal on your buddy and yourself, tow a tired diver, etc.   Under the sea, we also did buoyancy control, disconnect low pressure hose, assume there's no air and take deep breath and 'Aaaaa' till you reach the top surface and orally inflate BCD, etc... The funny thing was, I always feel like swimming with my hands as if I'm in the pool...I have to remind myself, hands must not moved!  Fold your arms!  I was like racing under the water too.. flag my fin fast LOL!  It should be slow and steady... am so used to my weekly swimming challenge :P

At the end of this trip, the boat stopped about 300m away from our home stay and we have to swim with our snorkel and fin back home!  I feel nice swimming this way!  I can see hermit crab and star fish on my way home :)   Oh yeah, last thing was to float for 10mins on the surface of the sea.. I cant really float that long.  I was not relax.

Third day OWC
It's just exam day!!  However we did the 'you jump, I jump' stunt with the locals in the morning.  It's so fun..I've never done that before!  I did jump from this high, and also did many rounds at the lower stage.  I admired the way they jump and swim.. just like a fish! Very smooth and nice flow into the sea water.  To them, the sea was their land... as if they were just bracing walking through it. Life is just so simple yet happy.

Photographed by Kevin Su

Photographed by Kevin Su

After the exam, it's leisure time. Again we venture into the kampung! Walking longer distance to the Mabul Bungalow house and then to the other far end, Borneo Diver Resort. Snapping more photos around with the local kids.... and with the handsome locals (that we know) there too!  :)
Life is an adventure.. follow where your heart goes
 Kevin did a night dive that night with our diving instructor, John.  Elaine, as usual, like to whatsapp her friends.  I was sitting down at the 'jumping stage' enjoying my chat with a new friend, Lau that was there alone.  Listening to Lau's story was interesting.  We chatted for quite some time till the locals start to sing songs again.  I joined them in their singing and Elaine recorded the enjoyable event.  I really like to sing.. missing that very much! 

Night time we venture again into the kampung.. it's dark!  but that's where you can spot more stars!  Love to see the starry sky... and in the apps too.  Romantic night!

Photographed by Kevin Su