Thinking of going away to find some peace in a hectic world? Before you write off diving as too dangerous or ‘not for you’, hear me out first and you might be tempted to give it a chance.
The world under water has always been a mystical place. Immersed fully under the depths of the sea, one can hear your every heartbeat, every breath and most importantly, one’s own mind.
Chia Sheeliang is just one of the many who had experienced the wonders of diving; you can tell just by how he described a whale-shark sighting as an experience that caused him to feel “all the things that mattered cease being so”.
His girlfriend Jessie Chan, 29, dives as well. She defines diving as “a way to challenge myself and to see how open I am to new methods of doing things I’m already too familiar with.”
Sheeliang has been diving for about 5 years, and Jessie has been doing so for slightly over a year. Both of them enjoy diving, and do so around 5 to 10 times a year.
Places they recommend include the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“Southeast Asia offers lots of possibilities for diving,” insists Sheeliang, “including Thailand and The Philippines.”
Jessie recommends not to dismiss local or cheap dive sites, as “there are still lots of untold treasures around,” and that “you can pay loads to go to exotic dive sites but if you are not confident of your diving skills, or not observant enough, you still may end up seeing nothing much.”
Before planning for a diving trip though, it is highly suggested that you prepare yourself by ensuring you meet the minimum requirements to learn how to dive:
- Able to swim 200m in any stroke without timing.
- Able to float or tread water for 10 minutes without aid.
- Able to swim underwater for 15m in 1 breath.
If you are aged 10 to 14, you need to acquire a Junior certification. Those aged 15 and above need, at very least, the normal Scuba diving certification.
Sheeliang said, first timers might want to check out some diving courses and schools. It is advisable to pick a reputable school where you feel comfortable, do not pick a school based solely on price.
SG Club brings to you a few hidden diving sites which might interest you for your next holiday.
Koh Losin – Off the coast of Pattani province, in the far south of Thailand, is a bombora called Koh Losin. This is a site not known to many divers, and is known to have frequent sightings of manta rays and whale-sharks. It probably has one of the best visibility conditions of all dive sites. Problem is, it is only available to dive at a couple of months a year, between June and September. Nonetheless, it is probably worth checking out.
Hunters Rock – This is a reef located 20 km off the west coast of Apo reef (Philippines). It has a reputation for the numbers of sea snakes which can be found there, and is generally meant for advanced divers. There are also large numbers of corals, sponges, tropical fish and predatory fish in residence. Even so, there is nothing to fear if you stay a safe distance and listen, or rather, look out for the hand signals your guide gives you.
Tokong Timur – The name literally means ‘eastern seamount’, but do not be misled. The actual dive site is located to the south of Pulau Tenggol (Malaysia). This is a dive site home to bump-head parrotfish and hawksbill turtles. Rather diver-friendly, it is decorated by soft and hard corals of different calming shades, creating a sense of peace and serenity. The bluish toned surroundings are punctuated occasionally by schools of yellow snappers and false clown anemone fish. Recommended for leisure divers.
Writer: David Sun