I can’t remember exactly since when I started to think and search for more information about the dive school. That time, I only had two places in my mind for that – Jakarta or Bali. The first one is because it is closer to where I stay. The latter because I think it might offer much better underwater condition compared to the first one. So, If I were to choose, Bali sounds a better place to go for. I asked my Bali local guide and also my driver whether they have any recommendation for a dive school. Perhaps it’s not something they usually get in touch with, so they can only give a suggestion in general.
There are many diving schools in Bali. I tried to google, it even gave me more options. I tried to check their reviews, all are pretty much the same. The last time I get in touch with the diving school that my friend recommended was around early of last year as I planned to go in May. Eventually, I didn’t go for that neither going to others as well. I didn’t, probably because I didn’t get the “connection” yet. You know, the feeling that tells you that’s the right one that you should go for. Yeah, feeling. Most of the time women make decisions based on that and I am not exceptional. Since I couldn’t make up my mind and with the numbers of activities that I needed to focus on, I have forgotten this idea.
• • •
Last week, I was sitting on the boat with other students and divers, heading to Thousand Islands, a destination near to Jakarta, for my last day of the diving course with Livingseas. After two days equipped with theory and training in the pool session, it was time for us to go for our real dive session. If you asked me why I ended up doing my Open Water Course with Livingseas in Jakarta, basically, it is only because of one reason, the strong value they have about conservation.
” To form a community that cares for each other and the ocean, where conservation is a default setting.- Livingseas. “
One evening, I visited Livingseas Jakarta diving centre and storefront that coincidently located very near to my place. I had a conversation with Leon, the dive instructor that guided us through since the day one to the end of the course, he shared his thoughts about diving and also conservation.
As the conversation goes on, I recall some of the trips that I joined before where either the organizers don’t understand or they don’t care, they actually help to destroy than to preserve the environment. I still remember vividly, there was one time we were told to get off from the boat and walk to the island in front of us. It was low tide, the boat couldn’t get close. There were more than ten of us in a group. The distance was about 200 m away to the shore.
At first, I was okay until I saw a stretch of corals in front of me. Some of them are avoidable but some of them grow densely in a big patch which can’t be avoided at all and we had no choice but to step on it. I slowed down my steps as I didn’t feel good and I thought we shouldn’t continue. But it seemed that no one bothered about that. I saw my friends have gone far ahead of me while I was still trying to find my way.
Fortunately, the high tide came before we reached. Few of us boarded back to the boat to get to the island, including me. If we had just waited for a little while more, perhaps this wouldn’t need to happen at all. Not just that the corals destroyed, it is also dangerous to step on the corals with barefoot that way. Since then, I never join any trips organized by them anymore. I also start filtering out guides with the same behaviour.
I shared to Leon a little about this and also about times when I have difficulty to point out things we should and shouldn’t do when we snorkel to participants that joined the trips I organize. Leon encouraged me to take up the course to have a better understanding of it and also because of the fear that I had about water. The conversation we had wasn’t really long but I was convinced. Besides that, I found the “connection” with Livingseas. Yeah, that missing connection.
My First Open Water Session in Jakarta
It was around 7 in the morning when I reached the meeting point at Jetski Cafe, Pantai Mutiara. With all the necessary stuff in my small backpack, I walked over to the boarding point next to the cafe to look for my classmates cum my buddies during this course. “You are lucky, the weather is good today. Clear sky,” said one of the guys who helped out preparing the boat to me.
The sky was clear and blue as he said but I had felt the strong wind since the day before. I saw leaflets on the table from the food stall nearby my place was blown away, the plastic chairs flipped, the serviette was everywhere because of the wind blow. Blue and clear sky are good but not with the wind, I think. But at least it wasn’t raining that morning and we could still smile as bright as the sun in the sky. *happy*
Even so, it didn’t change the fact that I was still the slowest in setting up my gears. Good weather or not good weather didn’t contribute any good to my speed and nervous level. One of the procedures we need to do before going to dive is to check our own and also our buddy’s equipment after it’s been set; to make sure that everything is in working condition.
” Everything set and checked? Including the weights? “
“Oopss..” I forgot about the weight that I needed to add on the strap. I thought I made a silence answer, I mean not really obvious one. But, I think I didn’t or their ears were just too sharp. Haha..”Youuu….,” one of my classmates gave me an immediate response. My other classmate just smiled. Our instructor seemed to be in between – not sure how to give the right response, I think. I didn’t dare to see his face. Before anything started, I already did a mistake. Luckily, I only have two classmates, else, I would have gotten a lot of cheers, “Traaaacyyyy…..”
Our gears were placed at the back of the boat and the rest of our stuff in front. About halfway to our first dive spot, everyone started to get changed to their wetsuit. I did the same but when I was about to zip my wetsuit then I realized I wore it inside out. But since it doesn’t really matter and quite hassling to take off and wear back again, I just left it as it is. So, moral of the story, check your wetsuit before wearing it unless you want to set a new trend of wearing dive suit inside out.
The Rule of ABCD
About an hour later, our boat slowing down and finally stopped to our first dive spot. I looked at the water, it’s deep blue and not calm as already predicted. Leon gave us a little briefing and asked us again of what we need to take note of when we dive. I was listening and waiting for my two classmates to answer but then I realized that everyone seemed to look at me and kind of expecting me to answer instead.
” A, B, C, D. “
“A, B, C, D? Umm….” I couldn’t recall anything about this. “A..Awareness..” he’s trying to give some hint. “Ooo…” suddenly everyone regained their lost memory. “Awareness, buoyancy, communication, and direction.” Obviously, I wasn’t the one giving that full answer. Haha..Aware of our surrounding and buddies, stay in control of our buoyancy, communicate with our buddies and lastly, see which direction we are going because sometimes we may be drifted away from the actual direction we want to go.
The Forgotten Rule of E
With all our gears up, we sat on the side of the boat, facing inwards with our tank facing the water, prepared to execute the back roll to enter the water. One of our hands holding our mask and regulator in place then we dropped ourselves into the water that way. There are few ways to enter the water, to me, no matter what method, I always hesitate at the first try. Imagine, you are throwing yourself freely into the water, I was not sure but I still have to do it. Else, I will never know how.
During the first dive, I found myself in a chaos. I couldn’t really equalize properly neither able to handle myself in the water. I felt the pain in my ears – the same pain we suffer from taking flight because of the changing pressure in the cabin air.
Meanwhile, I saw others were below me kept asking me to dive in following them. I couldn’t handle myself. I did it when I was in the training pool but I didn’t know why I was totally screwed up when I was in there. The horrific feeling came up again, I couldn’t do it. The equalizing and buoyancy problem had made me uncomfortable enough. I was scared I would become panic and couldn’t breathe properly.
Rather than I forced myself and dragged others into troubles, I decided to went up to the surface to calm myself down. Without I realized that in fact, I had caused trouble by doing so. I didn’t know the lady assistant was following me and she had a hard time watching over me. From there, I had broken the first three rule. Easily.
Lesson learned. For myself, I added another letter ‘E’ to the rule. Equalizing and enjoying. Those are also important. To remember to equalize as I descend. And after two days of struggles catching up with everything, I should let myself to enjoy it a little for now. It did help. I enjoyed the dive session more after I calm myself down and set aside anything that ruins my focus.
Although the visibility wasn’t good that day, I still saw many beautiful corals, big and small, the fish and also the soft corals that seem to be waving as we passed by. Leon showed interesting things that he found underwater to us. We also tested out the skills that we practised in the pool the day before and we did it pretty well. I enjoyed how we glide in the water, it just felt so good. Am I right to say that’s how diving supposed to be? Something that is enjoyable and not intimidating.
• • •
I remember one of my travel mates that I went to few trips together with, there was once when we were having our lunch at the local restaurant in Alor with the rest of the group, the television in the restaurant was showing an underwater world documentary show. We both were watching it attentively then suddenly my friend started commenting. “This fish habit is …that fish habit is ..these two creatures usually live near to each other for mutual benefits…” He knows the habit of almost all the fish shown on the show. I was amazed. I only knew he loves birding, I didn’t know he’s into fish as well.Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles, kill nothing but time. Click To Tweet
When we went to Komodo Islands for snorkelling, he showed me which spot with more corals, fish and told me to be aware of certain creatures when I snorkel at a certain area. “But many corals are broken and dead, too. It is sad. People might not know they can’t touch the corals or step on it,” he said. Then, I found out that he used to dive a lot and he loved to take underwater photos, especially taking photos of fish. That was two years ago and this could be the beginning of my curiosity about diving.
When we have reached the stage of making diving as part of our interest, we should know that to preserve corals is also our duty. With better diving skills and education, we help to preserve corals. By attending a proper diving course or training is one of the ways to gain more understanding of what we should and should not do when we dive.
Some people may think that since everyone is doing it then why should I care? Some people don’t care because they don’t know while some people are just simply ignorant.
As much as I love forest on the land, I also hope that we don’t take the richness of the marine life we still get to see today for granted. At least, if we don’t know how to conserve them, we should try not to damage them. By doing so, not only nature but our next generations will also be thankful to us. And oh, all of us passed the test and we have got our certification. *happy* 🙂
[Featured photo by Livingseas]
Livingseas Diving Center is generous enough to willing to give away their retail shop vouchers with a value of IDR200.000,- each to 5 lucky people like you! 🙂
To enter this giveaway contest, please follow the following steps:
1. Follow Livingseas on Instagram
2. Leave your Instagram ID and your answer to the following question in the comment box below either in Indonesia or English. 🙂
“Do you dive or snorkel? Where is your most favorite diving or snorkeling spot that you have ever been? Why? “
I snorkel and my most favorite snorkeling spot is Kanawa Island in Komodo Islands. Because the beach is not busy and I can see many corals there.
This giveaways contest will be closed on Sunday, September 17, 2017.
I will use randompicker to pick the 5 winners on Monday, September 18, 2017!
Good luck! 😉