Getting Dive Certified in Tioman, Malaysia
March 10-12, 2017
Moving to Southeast Asia meant the world would open up in terms of travel accessibility–this is one of the main reasons why I decided Singapore would be an awesome place to live. It’s the entry point to endless blue water island vacations, including dive experiences that would normally not be easily accessible for weekend trips if I were still in the states. So, upon arriving in Singapore, I decided to make getting dive certified my number one priority outside of work. Of course getting settled delayed me by a month but taking that I got certified withing the first three months of moving to Singapore, I would say that’s an accomplishment!
First off, apparently you need a dive buddy–like every time you go, which I didn’t know so luckily my friend had a friend who also wanted to get certified so we immediately became dive buddies. Where? The Dive Company in Singapore. How? Well, it’s takes a written test, two pool lessons, then a weekend testing in open water.
The test. When you sign up, you’re given a book and you’re supposed to study it prior to coming in for the multiple choice test. I didn’t and thank god had enough common sense to answer most questions and had Nick to lean on for the rest.
Pools sessions. Within the same week of test, or in our case the week after since I had to split them up due to work, you spend Tuesday and Thursday in the pool learning different skills. First, they check to see how comfortable in the water–whether you can get from point A to point B, tread water, float, etc. Then, they’ll see if you can breathe out under water through your nose in case your mask comes off which I totally struggled with. Afterwards, they will teach you how to setup your gear and then pretty much throw you in the water. You’ll practice various skills like removing your mask underwater, losing your regulator, signaling to your dive buddy, how to purge, hover, etc. The next pool session focuses on refining those initial skills learned plus learning a few more including emergency and surface water skills.
Getting to Tioman. Well, leaving Singapore on a Friday night took quite some time crossing the border into Malaysia. After the 8-hour bus ride in traffic and then an ice box 1-hour ferry ride to the island, we finally made it to Tioman around 3am with a morning call time of 8am. Brutal but worth it.
My experience. Well, I hate being underwater and I am not the best swimmer–I was the last one in the pool test–so this was definitely difficult for me. However, it was a challenge I wanted to take on and a fear I pushed myself to overcome. The first dive was ok and I am so thankful I had a partner to hold my hand under water to help calm my nerves. The second dive was a little more rough and that’s because I decided to drink 100 plus before going down–horrible idea! I don’t drink soda or much carbonated drinks so that made it even worse. I felt as if my chest was about to explode and at one moment, I looked at Nick and almost gave him the “I’m outta here” signal. He looked at me, grabbed me hand, held me down, basically was like, “you are not bailing, you are going to pass this test and freaking get certified,” then got me to breath in and out slowly like Rafi did in the pool sessions. I’m so glad he did because I passed and Jin even let us go with Rainbow and Cedric along with the leisure divers the next round!
Dive buddies. Underwater, you are vulnerable. You basically have to trust that your dive buddy isn’t going to let you die. You’ve have to trust that they’ve got their eye on you and you have to watch out for them. You both need to stay close enough in case the other runs out of air and be mindful of their whereabouts. I was scared shitless so again, very thankful I had a true friend in the ocean vs. some random person. Choose your dive partner wisely.
The experience as a whole was awesome, I wouldn’t have changed anything about it…even the ferry ride back. The people were great and the timing was perfect.
Next dive trip–The Gili Islands!