July 25, 2011

Diving in Tioman Island

One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do since my student days was taking the diving license. Each diving trip would usually cost around RM800-RM1000. Plus, I have to take the license before I could go underwater. So being a pokai student back then, I had to forgo that interest. 

After graduation and earning money on my own, I still think about taking the license. But the only problem was, I didn't know any of my friends who would be interested to take the license together. Until one day when my girlfriend told me about her wanting to take the license. That made me literally jumped with joy, let's take it together!!! 

So I started to research for the cheapest place to do the license. Perhentian, Redang, Kapas, Tioman, and a few other islands on the east coast. I’ve never been to all those islands on the east coast except for Tioman. And I was there 13 years ago, followed my school’s scout camping trip when I was in form 4. 

With the growing number of bus accidents cases recently, I was quite paranoid to travel by bus. Both my girlfriend and I didn't wanna drive, so that left us with only travel by air as a choice. 

In the end, we chose Eco-Divers in Tioman Island after we managed to get a cheap(er) flight ticket by Berjaya Air. Usually Berjaya Air’s return flight fare to Tioman from Subang Airport would be RM456 but we managed to get the promotional ticket at RM302. Well, it was still expensive compared to AirAsia’s flight fare to Kota Bharu or Kuala Terengganu but I still think it was a good buy. We reached the island straight away without having to ride the ferry, plus the journey took less than an hour. 

Berjaya Air departs from SkyPark Terminal or famously known as Subang Airport in Subang. My first time travelling on Berjaya Air, and my first time in SkyPark Terminal after its renovation. Hey, I thought that SkyPark terminal was better than LCCT. But maybe because there weren't so many people there so I felt more relaxed. 

The flight was almost the same as AirAsia. No entertainment on board, but then the journey was only 55 minutes so it was no big deal. I fell asleep as the plane took off. When I woke up, the guy sitting next to me handed me a bottled water and wet tissue. He said, the stewardess saw me sleeping, so she asked him to keep it for me. Ahha… sweet!

the propeller

As we were landing, I saw Tioman in its full glory. Down there, the crystal clear water and lush green trees awaited us. Subhanallah! This island is really a gem. 

The airport was small.  

That’s the terminal and those people were waiting for their check in luggage bag out from the plane. As soon as we passed the security gate, there’s a counter to pay the marine park fees. This fee is compulsory to all visitors to the island. 

The airport is located in Tekek. I didn't find many chalets or resorts in Tekek, so unless you stay at Berjaya Resort, you need to take water taxi to go to the other part of the island. As I already contacted Eco-Divers prior to my arrival, they arranged somebody to pick me up at the airport. 

I had a VIP boat ride to Kg. Air Batang jetty. VIP because I was the only passenger onboard. hehe...

Eco-Divers is located just off the jetty.  

So I went there straight away, met my dive instructor and filled in all the necessary forms.

My girlfriend boarded the next flight which would arrived in the afternoon, so I spent the morning walking around the village and went to the Marine Park, watching people snorkeling.  

tukun tiruan

The last time I was here, I only snorkeled near to the shore since I didn't know how to swim. 

After she arrived, we started our theory session in the classroom. We had to watch the open water video together with a manual. There are 5 chapters altogether in the course which covers every aspects of scuba diving. We were the only students that day so we took our own sweet time. At the end of every chapter, we needed to do a quiz to evaluate our understanding. I wanted to finish everything that day so that we could start hitting the water early. Talk about tak sabar-ness. hehehe... But it was almost time to close the centre, so we went back to our chalet. 

sunset in Tioman

The next morning, we continued the remaining chapter before being introduced to all the gears.

the classroom

Buoyancy Control Device, Regulator, Wetsuit, Mask, Snorkel, Fins, Weightbelt, Weights and the scuba tanks; those are the equipments that are necessary. We were taught on how to use it, to check for its condition and after use care. I was excited already, just one step closer to going underwater. Weee!!! 

Shortly after, we were already putting on our wetsuit, wearing all the gears and ready for our first confined water session. The tank was very heavy ok! Plus I had 4 kgs of weightbelt on. My body was bent to the front. My God, I swore I looked like I had a hunchback. Anyway, this session is usually done in a pool, but since our dive centre doesn't have a pool we did it in the shallow water in the sea.
My first time breathing underwater, the feeling was great. Ahh.. that was it. To be a fish for a day.

my cool dive instructor, Jennie Roach

Jennie, our dive instructor, taught us to perform necessary scuba skills such as clearing the mask from water underwater, what to do in case of emergency and the most important skills of a scuba diver, controlling our buoyancy. It was really hard at first, this buoyancy thingy. I kept on landing on the sand or surfaced like a snorkeler. It was frustrating. Apparently, you need to control your Buoyancy Control Device by releasing or pumping the air in, together with the right technique of breathing.

The next day, we continued our confined water session with more skills to be learned. For the Open Water course, we need to do 4 dives; 2 dives off the beach and another 2 dives will be off the boat. So after our lunch break, we started our first dive. I haven't mastered my buoyancy control yet so I surfaced a few times during the dive. Frustrating! Because everytime I surfaced, it was difficult to go down again. Actually it was easy but somehow it was very difficult for me since I couldn't control my buoyancy. Jennie must be very patient waiting for me down there. hahaha... 

We went down to a maximum of 10 metres. There were actually a lot of corals just off the beach. I was surprised! 

Open Water Dive 1 : ABC, 42 minutes, 6 max depth

Open Water Dive 2 : ABC, 55 minutes, 10m max depth 

In the afternoon, we did the final exam and water skills assessment. We had to swim 300 metres and also did a back float for 10 minutes! That 10 minutes felt very long because it was a sunny afternoon. We were literally sunbathing in the water. 

Finally, on our last day of the course, it was time for the boat dive. Boat dive would be to a maximum to 18 metres, so you'll get to see more of the underwater world. I was nervous because I wondered how it felt to be able to breathe underwater. I mean, I already did it in the previous beach dive and the confined water session but this boat dive would be the real dive since we were going deeper. I was scared too. Because I kept on imagining dangerous underwater creatures. 

There were other divers on our boat that day. Jennie asked us to watch how they did it. The somersault into the water. I taught it was cool.  

So, it was our turn. We did it nicely. hehehe... Surprisingly, I could control my buoyancy better during this boat dive. I only surfaced once. And that was because the current was so strong, it swayed me up.
It's a whole different world down there. The corals were amazingly beautiful! I was lost for words. To learn that they need thousands of years to grow, I was humbled by the experience. All the time, I prayed Subhanallah in my heart (since I couldn't say it out.. haha), I was so thankful to the Almighty for the opportunity. 

Jennie led us around, and then we saw a car wreck! Funny, how the car ended there I had no idea. We swam slowly, all the while amazed at what's before us. I couldn't hide my excitement when I saw Nemo swimming in front of me. So cute!!! We also saw a turtle and a black tip shark!! Oh my God... I wanted to scream because I was so happy! But I couldn't! hahaha...

When it was finally time to emerge, I couldn't help but felt so proud of myself. My girlfriend and I looked at each other, and couldn't hide our excitement. We did it!!! 

Open Water Dive 3 : Tumok Island, 53 minutes, 14m max depth

Open Water Dive 4 : Renggis Island, 53 minutes, 12m max depth 

Back at the dive centre, we filled in our log book. Then, Jennie presented us with our temporary open water card. 

we did it!

We passed the course! We thanked Jennie for her time and whatever she taught us, then chitchatted for a while about our future plans. I was already thinking of moving up the next level, doing the Advanced course. hehe... 

We are now a proud Open Water Diver. 

But one thing I regret, we didn't have any single photos of us underwater on our first dive. I didn't bring any underwater camera but I already asked Eco-Divers owners for the camera rental and disposable underwater camera. They have it. But we didn't get it. Because we were shy. I mean, we were beginners. Dive pun tak ok lagi ada hati nak take pictures sana sini. hahahaha... 

Nevermind, I sense abundance of underwater pictures in this blog soon! 

Since we were flying back, we needed to stay one more night on the island. You will learn this in the course, we aren't allowed to fly at least 18 hours after our last dive. So, I spent the extra day chillaxing on the beach.

Got to watch free show what! ;p

Can't wait for my next dive!


June Malik said...

Aha, now I know where to get MY diving licemce !! Congrats babe .. I am behind u hihi

rara said...

kak june nak ambik diving license jugak? cool!! jb-tioman tak jauh.. anytime u can go :D

Axiao said...

come let's go! i've been waiting for more kaki!!

rara said...

axiao: jomm!! if u have any plans in the future, lemme know :D

local people said...

saya ada menyediakan bilik penginapan sebelah dgn eco-diver. boleh sms@call izuan 019-7787144

Resort Resort Pulau Tioman said...

Come holiday to Tioman Island