Q:How would you know you are terrified of water?
A;You never know until you learn how to dive and get sea sick under water.
Had always found scuba diving a little pricey for my budget, after all why would I wanna spend the price of an airticket for something that only last me 30-45 minutes per session. I had forgotten what it was like underwater. Needless to say I found out that I was terrified of being under water.
going through my advance diving course. Remora fish following a diver
-Photo by Lars
Headed to Tenggol Island in Terengganu, Malaysia to complete my Advance open water PADI certification. The course was an introduction to all the various speciality dives: wreck diving, underwater navigation, drift diving, night diving. It would allow me to dive at max. 30meters below water instead of 20meters for your open water cert.
Tenggol is a tiny island in East Coast of Malaysia surrounded by South China sea. The island has only 3 resorts and was pretty exclusive having many diving spots and very little people. This was solely a dive spot with very basic comfortable lodging. All you do here is diving.
The First dive – the lost diver
Along with 4 other scuba divers, we proceeded with the first dive. Immediately with all the confusion, lost my buddy who happen to be my dive instructor whom along with a few others in my dive course had broke off from the larger dive group as they were waiting for the last diver to descend. With the confusion I had followed the rest of the group to find a wreck near the island. When I realise my dive buddy wasn’t around the wreck, site and with only me remaining in the area while the rest of the larger group had disappeared into the cloudy water.
The thermocline (a layer of cooler water between the warmer water) was getting little unbearable, added to the creepy feeling of being the only one alone at the wreck site, I ascended up to the surface. Finding no one in the surface, for that split seconds I did get a little worried but having the shore in sight, decided to make the best out of it. Made my way to shore while exploring the reefs which was only between 5 – 15 meters deep.
It proved to be one of the most enjoyable dives of the trip. Kinda a godsend that I was left on my own near the wreck site, I learned to be more comfortable underwater. Tested with my BCD (buoyancy compensation devices – scuba jacket) and had the awesome time looking at the various marine life in the reefs. The whole fear of being underwater was pretty much wiped out with that very first dive. I fell in love with the whole experience.
The island as we approached.
The view I saw when I surfaced from my lost dive
– Photo by Lars
Drifting Diving – hooked
The next few dives had taught me the basics of wreck and underwater navigation. Pretty boring stuff with very little marine life to entertain this easily jaded traveller. Then came drift diving and my opinion of the course changed.
Drift diving allows you to be carried along by the underwater currents. Tenggol island, according to my dive instructor was the prime location for drift diving, filled with strong unpredictable undercurrents.
Flying in water, riding on the currents, was an awesome feeling. There was not really much to see as I had moved too quickly to notice the life in the reef. At a reef bend, was nearly carried away by the current before being pulled by my dive buddy closer to the reefs. I was running out of air with only 60 bars in my air tank. (with 50 bars you should be ascending to the surface) The adrenalin had me a little whacky and when we came to the calmer waters, I had only 10 bars left. Somehow it didn’t click to me that I was running out of air, afterthought got me thinking that I was a little high after the short current drift of 15 minutes. We had lost two divers around the reef bend and got a little anxious as the currents were pretty strong, the high possibility that they could be swept out to sea . The group ascended to look for the divers at the surface, I got worried of what might happen. A few minutes later, I spotted lost divers in the boat safe and one of the divers in the group pulled out the dive sausage, a diving surface signal for the boat to pick us up. An adventure indeed for our advance open water course.
Until my next dive!
Large dive groups can be a little un-enjoyable. Anything more than four divers to a group is a crowd. I didn’t really appreciate the whole dive experience. My dive course had us following a dive leader who was quite poor with pre-dive briefings.
Your dive leader can make or break your whole diving experience, choose a dive leader who gives you some freedom and yet able to guide you to more interesting spots without rushing you through the experience of uninteresting dive spots.
Where did I dive?
Place : Tenggol Island, Terengganu, Malaysia
60 minutes by speed boat from Kuala Dungun town
Cost: sg$820 singapore dollars
Duration : 2 nights 3 day.
Dive Package consist of total of 6 dives (we skipped 1 dive due to decompression limit) included transport, full board in the island and the PADI advance water course. The price was on a high side, there are others who would provide your certification.
Booking through the dive center : Malaysian rm$780 (5 dives)
More info can be found here at Tenggol Island Resort
The resort is fairly basic but has air-conditioned rooms. Nothing much else to do on the island. Electricity is limited by a diesel generator from 7pm – 12am. Suggest you bring your own snacks as the food are basic and very limited.
This spot is voted one of the best diving spots in Malaysia by Asian diver magazine. The area is also known for unpredictable currents and enjoyed mostly by more experienced divers. Activities include whale shark spotting as well as for drift diving. There are a few merchant ship wrecks in the various dive spots.
It has more pristine reefs and clear waters compared to Tioman which is experiencing rapid coral bleaching at the moment. Pretty much an exclusive dive spot which has isn’t overcrowded by cattle divers.
With its rocky cliffs sheering down, it is also a place to cliff dive if you get bored from scuba diving. The drift dives and the chance to jump off the cliffs would probably be the only reason for me coming back again.