Tropical Island (september 2011)

You could be lying on the beach all day or do something different

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We decided to go to Pulau Tioman in the Seribuat Archipelo because it is the area where the television program “Expeditie Robinson” is recorded*. Another reason was that it is a tropical island where we found a nice location to relax for a few days.

After we arrived at our accomodation we quickly decided that we would like to stay for a couple more days. This was especially because its quite a long way from anywhere (2 hours by boat and 4-5 hours by bus to KL). While we were walking around in Air Batang, locally called ABC, I saw that there were various dive centres. Also the guidebook stated that this was one of the most popular islands to learn diving.

After a quick chat with one of the dive centres the relaxing was over before it started… and I was enrolled in the “PADI Open Water Course” at B&J Dive Centre. I went back to our hut with a book containing the theory for the course… The next day I met my Austrian instructor Sandra and most of the day was spent on watching DVDs with cours materials, answering questions, reviewing the answers and doing a number of skills in the dive centre’s pool. For example how it feels when you run out of air, how to use someone elses alternative airsource, how to hover and how to clear your mask. It was quite a busy day… getting ready for the real thing.

The second day we went diving at the ABC housereef. Basically just a few minutes walk and swimming from the beach at the dive centre. During these two dives more skills were learned such as how to ascend in a controlled manner if you run our of air. 9-10 meters to the surface is quite a long way if you cannot breath… and have to exhale all the way to prevent issues due to the fact that the air in your longues doubles in volume every 10 meters. It took 3 attempts to do this correctly and hopefully this will never be needed as you should never run out of air at any time.

During these first 2 dives I was very busy with minor things such as keeping breathing under water and trying to remain close to my instructor… all this while my instructor was pointing out to all kinds of fish and other animals during the dive. There is a large amount of signs for these that at that time did not understand at all… and as there is no way to ask what the signs meant I just went along with it by signalling ok most of the time.

Sandra was quite impressed by my luck during the dives. No not because I am still alive to blog about this but because we saw many sea creatures that could take weeks to see. For example we saw a white eyed moray, some kind of ray, razorfish, a sea turtle and many other sea creatures… Luckily we saw the sea turtle towards the end of the second dive and by then I had somewhat mastered the staying alive part without too much thinking that I was able to really take in the turtle that stuck around for several minutes…

On the third and final day of the course we joined others to go diving at two other sites. For these dives we had to go by boat… unfortunately there were unusual big waves and the weather was not very nice, according to local standards… about 25 degrees with a breeze and no rain… fantastic weather according to my standards. The first dive site is called “Fan Canyon” which has fantastic fan corals. Here we saw a big marble ray. Unfortunately underwater everything looks bigger that it actually is but my guess would be it was about 1.5 to 2 meters in diameters!

The second dive site is called “Soyak” which is close to the village of Salang. Again here we saw a huge amount of variety of fish and different types of corals. Too many to remember and I also realised there is not much I know about the underwater world at the moment.

After this final dive my instructor congratulated me with passing both the theory and practical side of the course… Now I can dive in many places around the world!

*) In other countries this program is often called “Survivor”

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