I’m gonna wrap this recent trip to Bali up with our scuba adventure. And, since I don’t have a GoPro or other waterproof camera, I’ll have to use story form. Those of you who subscribe should be used to that by now. 🙂
We went through Crystal Dive in Sanur. It was recommended, and I’m glad it was! Our instructor (I went with my mom) is named Liza. She’s from Sumatra, and was hardworking enough to get a scholarship sponsored by Indonesia for their citizens. She’s been diving for 4 years now, and has been on over 1500 dives.
She’s tiny, adorable, and a Muslim. Many people were quite surprised when I mentioned it, asking, “How?” People, you can get SPF long sleeve shirts and trousers, and she has a short head scarf! Not difficult. She dives like she was born to it.
On day 1, we learned a few skills in the pool at the back of the shop. Things like hand signals, what to do if you lose your regulator, and how to clear your mask. Oh, and breathing underwater. Yeah, that too. Putting the gear on is awkward. The Aqua Lung vest, weights around your waist and air tank are difficult to say the least, but they ain’t got nothing on the fins. After the lesson we swam around in the pool for a bit, just to get used to things. Practised clearing my mask a few more times, because that’s the one that gave me issues. You try not inhaling water after blowing out that hard!
Day two, Crystal Dive picked us up first thing in the morning in the bus. We were the last ones. We had the driver (who goes through gaps so small even a London bus driver would cringe), Liza, Ari (another dive instructor), Anita (she recently got her Dive Instructor’s certificate, and was volunteering to get some experience) Helena (just got her Dive Masters, also volunteering for experience) and Maloo (I don’t know if I spelled her name right. I doubt it. She’s another student, but much, much more advanced).
We headed out to Padang Bai. I did not take my phone on the boat, thus have no photos.
It was incredible. You know you’ve seen those videos of Thailand, Indonesia, basically any of those warm, green, near the equator places? This looks like that. Dark greenery covered steep-sided hills, leading down to a narrow strip of buildings fronting on tiny little beaches. The first spot we dived from was Blue Lagoon. We stayed shallow, 4-5 metres (13-16 feet for my Imperialist friends).
Putting on the AquaLung gear was fun. Trying not to fall overboard more so. After the tank is on, I got to wobble my way back down the boat to put on fins (I was helped. Let’s face it, if I’d been left to do it on my own, I’d have fallen overboard. That would make the fourth time it would’ve happened if left to my own devices.) and mask. Then Liza showed us how to properly fall backwards into the water. I’m won’t lie, sitting on the edge of the boat, preparing to go over, my imagination went “You don’t actually know how far it is. The distance could have magically grown. It might be 20 feet now. Why stop there? Maybe its 100.” At which point you have to tell yourself to shut up, and let it go.
Let it go!
Let it gooooo!
Can’t hold it back anymoooore!
Sorry! Sorry, that just slipped out! Right. *straightens shirt* Back to work!
Firstly, I do have to mention that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, “I’m gonna be like, 15 feet down. Can’t panic. You panic down there, you die. Cool.” and got to fall asleep to that comforting thought.
Secondly, this wasn’t no swimming pool! Clear, beautiful blue water, but deep, and ocean. It makes all the difference in your head (in a ‘try not to freak out’ kind of way). We held hands with our instructors the entire time. It meant we didn’t get lost, and they could monitor us easier. So Anita, my instructor, kept eye contact, and about 2 metres down, I couldn’t do it anymore. I was starting to freak out, and…yeah. So we surfaced, she checked to make sure that I was okay, and waited until I was ready again. Then we submerged. This time I made it a little farther, but my regulator got knocked a bit, and I started inhaling seawater.
Time to nearly panic.
Anita noticed my distress, and asked me what was wrong (remember those hand gestures we’d learned the day before? They were useful pretty damn quick.) and I pointed to my regulator. She had another ready in no time, but I’d remembered the purge button on the regulator, and was taking very cautious breaths by then.
So we hovered, keeping eye contact…and then I realised we were slowly sinking to the floor, and before I knew it, we’d touched sand. There were a few bits of coral in the lagoon, and many types of fish. I saw flowers that previously, I thought only existed on Avatar. We found Nemo. He was shacking up with a cute black and white number, so you can tell Dad not to worry. There were tiny little bright blue fishes that zipped in and out around the coral. I can’t even remember them all. I was on sensory overload.
You don’t hear much, underwater, just the sound of your breath, and the crackling in your ears as you adjust them to the depth. And you learn that Breath is All. Breath is Life. On the surface, breathing is just something that happens. You don’t think about it. Sometimes you may struggle to breathe, but there’s plenty of air, so you’re not too worried.
Underwater…ah, now that’s a different story. Your every breath affects you. Inhale deeply, you rise, exhale all the way, you sink. The key is finding that happy medium of shallow, effective breaths. As you learn, you find you inhale more to rise over that coral, exhale to sink back to the ocean floor. My primary focus was on breathing. Fish, ocean, sand…All that was noticed after oxygen.
Dive number 2 was in Jepun, just around a little spit of land from Blue Lagoon. The coral here was broken, much of it dead. The locals, 20-30 years ago, decided the most effective way to fish was to drop explosives. But there was new life down there. Metal frames had been placed to give the new coral something to grow on. Two stone Buddhas sat in quiet contemplation as coral slowly covered them. There were a multitude of fishes. Mom saw an octopus, and we saw a tiny stingray.
At the end, we were fortunate enough to get attacked by a trigger fish! (This is sarcasm, folks. It’s just really hard to write it.) Trigger fish are aggressive, territorial little bastards during their mating season. We had the misfortune to wander through one’s territory. By the way, you can see teeth. They’re known to bite your legs, and divers who’ve been attacked have surfaced to find out they were missing part of their fins. You can’t try to out swim them, they’ll only follow. Your best defence is to keep your fins in their face. Which means turning and watching the bugger and flapping your feet at it every time it comes near.
It attacked my fins first, then went after mom and Liza. They drifted up and away from us. Anita (my instructor), started getting out the inflatable flag to let the captain of our boat find us. I grabbed her vest and just kept an eye on the fish. I saw it leave off attacking the others, and then, before I even realised it, my head broke the surface.
It was a bit of a rush, and I’m extremely happy the fish didn’t bite me. Last thing I need is to have someone ask about some interesting scars only to say, “A fish bit me.” I mean, I already have some marks from a dog bite. Adding a fish to the mix gets a little embarrassing. Liza said in all the dives she’s done, she’s only been attacked by a trigger fish four times before.
After the dives, we went to a restaurant/dive shop for lunch. Delicious, pre-ordered, all part of the package!
That’s Anita in the white sarong and black shirt. Liza is the one waving.
This is definitely one experience I want to repeat!
What do you think? Inspired to try it, or are we crazy? Sound off in the comments below!
(No, seriously. I need proof that you guys are actually alive.)