Scuba Diving

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Adventure prone

Waking up at 4 am is a hellish experience I wouldn’t ever want to wish on anyone. But the Travel Companion and I did it, in my 4th iteration of what has so far been an annual pilgrimage to Bali, that has now gotten past just scuba diving off the east coast of Bali and off Nusa Penida. I had a great time on Christmas with Jan and Markus (just the 3 of us, it seemed), since tourist numbers are madly erratic for this period. But perhaps what made it worth it as always, was the accidental conversations I fall into during these journeys. Jan and I spoke at length...

A brief excuse for adventure

I never though I’d find myself in Krabi again, but I did. And did so for a few short days filled to the brim with diving and climbing…with some backbreaking, painfully agonising Thai traditional massages in between that left me more bruised than diving or climbing every did. Wanting to do something new each time I dive, I opted to try the PADI digital underwater course with The Dive Ao Nang. The course itself was a disappointment (apart from the bits that taught white balance in the water and the effect of colours at depth) and the dive sites (at Phi Phi) were abysmal with visibility that was no better than...

Route 58

If route 66 has become synonymous with the ultimate American road trip, Okinawa’s own version is found on route 58, a road that narrows in parts and widens in others and stretches from the south to the very far north of the main island. I spent a couple of days plying this route from Chatan northwards, loving every minute along this stretch of capes, winding curves and the constant, unchanging view of the aquamarine of the sea. The cars thinned out the further north I got, eschewing the rural part of Okinawa, but the distances aren’t as great as I thought they would be, unlike Hokkaido’s roads. The expressway makes...

Okinawa’s draw

When I first decided that I wanted to dive as well as see things, few places came to mind. Okinawa was one of these places, because it seemed ‘cultural’ enough with things to do apart from dive, yet small enough to cover in a short period of time. For about a week away, Okinawa seemed like a fantastic compromise and so different from what I know about Japan: subtropical region that showcases its mix of cultural influences so boldly (particularly in the cuisine) such that calling Okinawa an integral part of Japan sounds almost like a misnomer. But it is in any case; standard Japanese is spoken here, as are incomprehensible dialects...

Taking a load off

Day 3 of diving: Similar to day 2, with the same sort of fish, with more plankton in murky, soupy water that’s so deceptively blue under the sun’s rays. But every time there’s at least some kind of unusual sea creature to make up for it and there were some rays, turtles and large schools of fish that made me gawk. After paying tourist prices for a measly amount of snacks, I turned in desperation to Irish, a lovely Filipina lady running the spa next door for help. Perky, tiny and a social dynamo, Irish simply packs a punch. Having lived in the Maldives since she was 14, Irish has...

The dives so far

Day 2: Sort of jet-lagged and straight into the water A full day of diving after breakfast, to Manta Point and Hule Hule – sites that are about an hour away from Dhigurah. But I’ve learnt the hard way in diving, that the sea life you want to see never shows up as intended; instead, Manta Point was full of fish and coral, memorable only for the very reason that I got stung by a sea anemone when a particularly strong sweep of the current brushed me against its pretty but painful tentacles. I soldiered on and entertained the thought briefly of giving up, until the shouts from nearby boats...

A “true” resort

Day 1: Long and so tedious. But we endured, because at the end of the road is apparently clear aquamarine sea, white sand and paradise unnamed. The flight was uneventful. But the boarding procedure was filled with well-dressed (if not overly so) Koreans, Japanese and Chinese with tons of branded shopping bags and fur coats – someone was even eating a whole cheesecake like a hamburger – , soon to be sweltering under the humid heat of the Maldives. A guy from the Czech republic stood waiting for TC and me, ushered us to the domestic terminal a couple of steps away and said goodbye, presumably to do the same for...

What?

3 days in Krabi and that sentiment might just characterise the Travel Companion’s (TC) and my dive experience. The TC had too many questions (mostly unanswered) about buoyancy – an issue that sorted itself out by the second dive day. The poor thing somehow figured it out all on her own after the numerous explanations given by several dive instructors. That, and a rather ‘deaf’ Norwegian man who went ‘Haarh?’ loudly at everything people said to him, before answering in an unintelligible accent. Coupled with a Divemaster in training (from Sweden) who was made the errand boy for all things and still didn’t quite know what to do. We sailed on the...

Oh, such luck

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never always get what you wish for. Translated into diving terms: I didn’t see a damn Mola Sunfish in sight. But at least a manta ray or 2 graced us with its presence at Manta Point in Nusa Penida. Crystal Bay was supposed to be dive stop 2, but the extremely choppy sea meant that the captain of the speed boat took us to S.D Point instead where I actually had my first drift dive experience over a coral plateau. 7 kg heavier with a 5 mm wet suit in colder waters, I felt like a complete beginner struggling with buoyancy in the...

Bali Redux

“I’d sooner be eaten by a shark than be rescued by her.” So says a person who’s actually related to me when asked to volunteer as my unresponsive dive ‘victim’. As much as I’m able to ignore that particular lack of confidence in my rescuing skills, I’ve found the PADI rescue diver course with Joe’s Gone Diving to be the most challenging that I’ve ever done in my very…short diving experience these past few years. But everyone speaks highly of it (most shop owners/instructors I’ve met say the same thing) and someone had even gone so far as to say that it should be a necessity for all divers – at...