First Underwater Baby Steps

I did it, finally! 

After so many years of putting it on hold, procrastinating... I finally thought, what the hell, timing was right, there was a great opportunity to slot it in. Why wait any longer?

Took the chance to obtain my Open Water diving license during the long Raya break. I'd ppk-ed, postponed and God knows what else with taking up the course hehehe. Anyways, I got on the flight up to Penang (flight was delayed close to 40 minutes or so amidst the Raya rush) and met up with TY, Dugong, Popo, Wei Kiang and Ruo-Wen.

We departed at 1am and the poor drivers, TY and Dugong who had to drive throughout the night, from Penang island, up through Kedah, around Kelantan and Terengganu, until finally, Merang. I'm not going to lie to you, but the roads through were ridiculously dangerous, windy and scary! I just closed my eyes lah... if I don't die from a crash (touch wood!), at least I don't die from a heart attack.

Amazingly, we were an hour ahead of expected arrival (6am!! Which meant we were an hour early than estimated. Which also means we were on a devil speed. Damn u TY) and since it was still so early, we parked close to the Merang jetty and tried to nap for a bit, to kill time. But dunno why got so many bloody  blood-sucking mosquitoes! Collected a number of mozzie kiss marks (those Terengganu mosquitoes are quite toxic! Got a bite that hasn't healed completely till now) so we decided to hit back the road and find something to eat. But as it was still the puasa month, we drove around before finally spotted this Chinese restaurant that's already opened.

 All photos displayed here courtesy of Popo's camera :D I had my camera with me, but as soon as we got there, my camera was mostly stashed in the bag cos I didn't have an underwater housing. Boo hoo.

Ordered Singapore style fried beehoon and also char hor fun. Food (both visually and in taste) weren't too impressive so I forgo posting shots of them. Went to the jetty and just outside of the jetty there were various souvenir stalls lining the road. Got a straw hat for only RM7!

This is the only shot you'll see of my hat..... It was a short-lived purchase unfortunately :( When we took the boat ride towards Redang island, I dozed off and a sudden strong gust of wind claimed my hat :( *grumble grumble. BUT I'd like to think that I provided a sacrifice to the Gods of Redang and hence my stay here will be blessed. Some consolation...

 Soon as we reached our Redang Bay resort, average sort of place, we stayed in a dorm (well, not exactly, more on that unfortunate story later), dropped our things and started our course!

 Our instructor, Marina (in black, waving a copy of a certain blue-coloured book) is really nice. I was quite the chicken when we first started on the Open Water course. I have this unreasonable fear that I'd panic while at a depth x underwater and that I might shoot up to the surface out of panic which can cause decompression sickness and then to be sent to the decompression chamber will cost a whopping RM10k or so. Darn it I think too much.

But Marina, she just assures me and all that and I'm really glad we had her as our instructor. She makes us feel relaxed and not all pressured up like what I heard from the others about what their instructors were like.

First time breathing underwater! No words can describe the moment. On impulse, I held my breath and got all tensed up when my head went below the water. But as soon as I sucked in a breath from the regulator, your body just relaxes :D

We took a sort of crash course. Two levels of Open Water + Advance course in four days. Typically, an Open Water course is held in the span of 4-5 days! Mad, right? But it was really exhausting. We had briefings, classroom sessions, a video session, tests, discussions, and a final exam, in addition to the many dives and practicals we have to go through!

The shower area where we wash our equipments hehehe.

Putting our gears together. So many things to learn! And so many abbreviations! BCDs, LPIs, SPGs. Yikes! And it didn't help either when Marina told us that the smallest mistake like not drying your dust cap enough could cost you RM150 :S

Us three on the Open Water course (Wei Kiang, TY and I) going on a shore dive. We first started with shore dives for our practical sessions before later upgrading to boat dives ;) I remember going on my first shore dive and the surge was pretty strong that kept pushing me back and forth lol.

 How can you not love the beach?! The other four were frolicking taking pictures while us three were on a rigid schedule T_T
Didn't take much shots... This was the only meal I took a picture of. One good thing about this resort, we were never short of food supplies! Well, only applicable during meal times. Food was not bad la really, they even serve oriental boiled soup! But after a while, it gets kinda boring because the resort recycles the menu every 2 days. So we always have BBQ dinners every alternate night lol.

Marina briefing us before going on any dive spots.

Josh, another dive master at the resort. He accompanied us on almost every dive. At first we sort of thought him as a grumpy diver who had to assist Marina, but turns out to be a nice person lol. He knows all of the Redang island dive spots by heart. The top drawn image of a dive area (inclusive of coral area, line in, ascending point, basically the whole layout!) was drawn by him, without any references :S

 Seriously, as clichéd  as it may sound, the bottom of the sea is a whole new world just waiting to be explored. Top picture is a nudibranch, a type of sea slug. They're actually really small, slightly smaller than a thumb size, but they're really adorable! They have this sort of antennaes and a tuft of tail lol. Ok I  major fail in identifying its body parts, but heck. Right shot of an eerie landscape. Those protruding things of some form of marine life. They're really slimy lol.

We completed our Open Water course within 2 and a half days and barge on to Advance -.- There was a night when we endured more than two hours of video session, and continued on with our final exam for Open Water, only to finally finish all of the above at 1am, with the not-so-assuring thought of having to get  up and ready for an 8am dive the next day... Some more hor, during our video session, the others who already had their license sneaked into our classroom, complete with beer, drinking at the back while we were grilled by Marina. Sigh.

I think this was taken on the deepest dive I've made. One of the required dives for Advance course, which was aptly called Deep Dive lol. We scuba-dived all the way to a depth of 30m! Honestly, all those depth figures are just numbers, you  don't really feel any differently at 10m or through to 30m. Since we just equalize all the way while descending, the pressure didn't bother us much. I'm really thankful that I didn't have problems with equalizing (touch wood again :p) because I've heard plenty of horror stories of divers who couldn't equalize properly but forced themselves to descend anyways with horrible outcomes. One ended with blood pouring from both ears and nose while the other almost had his eardrums explode. *shudder!

One of the cool (and sometimes frustrating) part of diving is the inability to communicate as we normally would on land. In water, we could only use hand signals, and that also after you have successfully gotten your friend's attention lol. Which could take some time, depending on your friend's attentiveness or your desperateness hehehe. You can't just blurt out, "Hey, I found a box fish!". So yea.... kinda frustrating.

Pictures look like they are all jumbled up. Truth is we went on quite a number of dives, it's almost exhausting! Record was four dives in a day. Each dive took about 40-60 minutes to complete. Doesn't sound like a lot but for some unknown reason, every time we surfaced from a dive, you just feel kinda worn out lol. Though technically it's not exactly a highly strenuous sport.

All sorts of underwater plants. Fan-shaped, flat-ish. My favourite was this that looked like Christmas trees, except they are purplish in colour. Too bad there wasn't a shot on that (never mind, more excuse for me to purchase an underwater housing and go back there to dive again yeay).

This was another shot that I liked. Taken on a Southern Tip dive for our Fish Identification dive. The current was really strong here! Even with me kicking really hard was just enough to stay stationary against the current. But there was a lot of things to see here hehehe. Tried drift diving for the first time too, effortless!

Redang Bay resort is a pretty decent place. They have an area where you can rent mahjong/gimrummy tiles and tables set up for that too! Oh, the resort is a pretty decent place until they shifted us to the staff quarters! It all started this way... somehow the staff messed up our reservation or something liddat lah. So there were 7 of us in total, of which 5 of us were supposed to stay in 2 rooms with bunk beds. But the resort was fully booked and they couldn't find extra rooms for us to stay. And thus they went and gave us  (as in TY and I) a place in the staff quarters. The room was below par, though it has an attached bathroom, but it just gives you the icky vibe. Thank goodness we didn't spend a lot of time in the room sigh. I'd say that was the only hitch in our whole trip.

Hand signal for stingray lol.

Hawksbill turtle. Just one of the many amazing things we got to see underwater!

We were so conveniently ignorant of the world news while we were on that island that a bomb could have reduced the whole of a continent into rubble and we would still be sipping cool but overpriced coconut juice by the beach. So yea, I only realized it was Merdeka Day when one of the resort divers carried the national flag underwater too!

Awww.... so patriotic ;) But I love this shot.

Taken on my first night dive. That was the day when we have four dives in a day. But I love night dives! We were only armed with our torch lights and in the dark, plus being a few metres underwater is a little nerve-wrecking. But we spotted some really cool stuff...

One of the cutest species we spotted! This is called a porcupine fish because it has spikes growing out of it. It was darn cute though! Kuai kuai swimming round and round on the same spot and let us take pictures and shine lights on it kekeke.

I'll bore you with more dive-related shots...

And then some more cutesy shots-

Aw, sho kiut.

 Last shot was of us ridiculously lugging 14kg air tanks and attempting a jump shot. I used the word 'attempt' there because I doubt we ever made it an inch above ground lol! Kenneth cheated! He just had one leg up!

And that wraps up my half-assed report on my first baby steps in diving. With just a few days, I'm hooked! Perhentian next please :)


  1. syok nye Marina the dive instructor, name so appropriate hehehe
    Did you get refund back for staying at staff's quarters?

  2. Yea kakakaka. Very ngam her name.

    Nope we didn't get refund. But the room we were supposed to stay at were dorm-like with public toilets... so in a way got good and bad also loh.


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