At last… After more than 7 years staying in Sabah, I’ve got the opportunity to go SCUBA diving!!!
When I received the invitation by Roslan Mokhtar, one of my senior from STAR Ipoh for a SCUBA diving session here in Pulau Mamutik, I was really excited – but then, I just realize that I don’t know how to swim (there goes my secret)… Fear of drowning was there, as I have experienced it once before.
Roslan, Rahman, Nazul and Me…
Anyway, I overcame my fear and just followed Roslan’s words – you don’t have to know how to swim to SCUBA dive. But if you know how, it would be an advantage.
It cost me RM190 for a DSD (Discover SCUBA Diving) package by Borneo Divers. It was almost 25% discount from the original price of RM265 if you go by yourselves. The package includes almost everything – boat ride from Sutera Harbour Marina, Sabah Park fee, jetty fee, all the SCUBA diving and snorkelling equipment, diving fee, instructor fee and the MEAL!!!
It was a very nice and sunny Sunday, 30th of March 2008. I woke up early to buy some groceries from Putatan Tamu and had some nice banana leaf packed nasi lemak for my breakfast. At about 8.15am, Nazul arrived at my house and we went straight to Sutera Harbour Marina with his SLK (small little Kancil).
We were the first to arrived, followed by Rahman Din and Roslan (our STAROBA Sabah Presiden cum SCUBA diving introducer). Unlucky for Shukri, he had some family problem and could not join us that day.
After filling a PADI DSD form and paid Roslan for the trip, we started our journey by boat at around 9.30am. It took only less than 15 minutes for us to get to Mamutik Island from the marina. It was a smooth ride as the water was a bit calm that morning.
Upon arrival, we were guided (of course, by Roslan) to Borneo Divers diving camp, where we were introduced to our instructor for that day, Andreas. He prepared all our equipments and suits as we really don’t have a clue what was going on, and what it’s going to be that day.
A simple lesson of SCUBA dive was thought by Andreas, and it only took less than 10 minutes to finish at the camp. We were then was given wetsuits to wear, and at that time, I felt like a surfer (or Baywatch guy maybe?). It felt good, until we were given the weighing belt (with weight) and the tank. Damn… It was so heavy that I said to myself “How do I dive with all these this heavy thing?”. After some calculation, there were about 30 kilos of equipment attached on our body!
We then walked for about 100 meters to the starting point. For your info, it was a shore dive. So, there will be no back flipping from the edge of the boat which you can see from the television. And the first challenges that day were to put on my fins (on the foot) in the water. It looks easy, but you should try it yourself…
The first unforgettable experiences that I had inside the water was the sea water. You will surely get the sea water into all your orifices, especially your eyes, mouth, nose and etc…
Damn… My eyes were really painful as the sea water went into, and I felt it was even worse with my throat. Luckily, the burning sensation in my eyes faded less than a minute or so. Andreas told us that salt water will make your eyes uncomfortable for only 30 seconds.
We started at 1 meter depth, where Andreas taught us with the basic SCUBA diving techniques, and the 5 things to remember as you are under water (and I forgot all 5 already). It looked quite easy off the water, but when I was under, the feeling was totally different! He then asked us to do what he taught, one by one, so that we will do the right thing under the water. We even have to stand on our knee, submerged in the water and do all the things again, until he is satisfied with our technique.
The fear of drowning? I had it for only few minutes before Andreas asked us to empty the gas from our buoyancy compensator. As I went down, the feeling disappeared. And down we go!
It was quite difficult for me to adapt to the new underwater environment. After comforting myself and slowly breath through the mouthpiece and the regulator, I found it quite easy. It was quite boring at the beginning nearer to the shore, as I could only see sand and more sand.
So, Andreas brought us further away to the artificial reef area, where they artificially planted and put reef inside the area, to attract other creatures (like Nemo) to live there. This artificial reef was made for divers to see (especially for beginners like us), so that we don’t have to dive and look anywhere else to see the underwater living.
I did not realize the depth of the area until I glimpsed at the altimeter – 15 feet! And I totally loss the orientation of time also!
What I saw was amazing. The view of the environment was quite similar with the one that I saw in Discovery Channel and National Geographic – but it was slightly enthralling as I saw it live!
The star of the day was always Nemo, because it was the only creature that I recognized under the water. However, as I was trying to get really close to the reef where it stays, Nazul came from behind and kicked the nearby floor. All of a sudden, my view was blocked by the uprising sand!!! It took more than few minutes for the sand to clear up, and as I could not wait any longer for that Nemo, I swim away from that area.
There were a lot of things that I saw, which mostly consist of colourful fishes and reefs, which none of them that I recognized (except Nemo). I might have came across a group of anchovy fish but I don’t know whether I was correct. I have difficulties on propelling my body forward, as the fins that I rented was really on a bad shape. Anyway, after about 30-45 minutes underwater (I told you I lost the orientation of time), we wet out of the water. I don’t know why, but I felt the tank that I put on my back weight twice as much as before we went into the water!
We walked back to Borneo Divers camp area and I was a bit giddy. I could feel my semi-circular canal did not able to cope with my position. I just sat down and it took another 15 minutes for my body to stabilize. We had a very nice lunch, prepared by Borneo Divers.
We rested for another hour, before I decided to go for snorkelling. I have never done snorkelling before (yes, it’s true), but I think as I was there it’s good to do it anyway. I still afraid of drowning, but after all, it is sea water and I was wearing a wet suit. That should be able to keep me afloat while in the water.
Oh, if Nemo was the star of the diving, sea cucumber was the star of the snorkelling. This was also my first time seeing a live sea cucumber, and I also had a chance to hold it in my hand (eeeeewwww!). Roslan even make jokes out of the creature. (It feels kind of velvety…)
After another hour or so, we started to feel a bit tired, and decided to call it a day. A very nice experience for me and my two other brothers-in-arms which never did SCUBA diving before. As we finished cleaning and packing everything, my watch showed 2.30pm. Wow… Time flies too quickly when I was enjoying myself there!
Certificate giving ceremony was held at the Mamutik Island jetty, just before we head back to Kota Kinabalu. Although I was tired, a bit giddy and had some tan on my skin, it was surely a worthy experiences…
So, my next step would be:
- Shopping for my own SCUBA diving equipment.
- Get a PADI Open Water License.
- Sipadan… Wait for my visit!!!
Check out more photos in my flickr!