Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Confessions of an Adrenaline Junkie - The Diving Diary (:

There's something about backpacking and venturing on off-beat transportation
that satisfy the rugged wanderlust in me (:

I've backpacked around europe with my girlfriends for 1.5 months,
we slept overnight at train stations and laughed at our wretched selves. 
I once spent 4 months studying in the states and
remember sitting on the floor of the car for hours on end during road trips 
because there were too many people in the car and we didn't want to get caught.

I know i complain, but i secretly like roughing it out, 
and i'm definitely all for adventurous activities (except bungee jumping, i rest my case on that). 

On Land, 
I've trekked up mount versuvius, alongside vocalnic craters & clouds..

snow-shoed & skied through Yosemite forest,

snow-boarded down the glittery whites of Big Bear mountain, 

braved through a 2 hours hike across cinque terre (in haviannas no less),
& had multiple near death experiences, 

In the sea, 
surfed the tiny waves of Pacific Beach in San Diego,

snorkelled in the pristine waters of Santorini (for a while until i started to puke from seasickness), 

wakeboarded (still doing this) in murky bliss of punggol river,  

and i knew there was something missing... DIVING.

It was a calling, i knew it was time i do something about it, 
so i responded to its sweet beckons with intensive research,
and before i knew it, i was on my way to the far-flung beaches of...


Let's just say i left my heart in perhentian and i'm suffering from immense diving withdrawals. :(

Perhentian is definitely not for the cosmopolitan city-dwellers,
limited wifi & internet, there was no TV (at least not for my resort),
but then again my "resort" had holes in the door -_-", 
no gourmet seafood nor michellin 5 star restaurants to indulge in,

Simplicity can be sweet too (:
Banana pancakes & teh-o for breakfast..

everyday we would go to the same eatery, 
"B First Cafe" for dinner..

it tasted like homecooked goodness,
and most of all, it has the best view ever (: 
Teh-peng with a sunset view.. that's the life!

definitely no nightlife (unless you're talking about the bunch of locals dancing around on the beach with their illuminated subwoofers blasting club mixes),
nowhere to go but into the jungles and across the sea by water taxis

because the entire island is made up of only a stretch of beach,

A panoramic view of the beach,
it's in fact longer than this seems.

but what it does offer is
a liberating breakaway from technology, 
fine-sand-in-your-feet feeling , 
moonlit walks on the glistening beach for nightlife, 
lazy days & nights on the hammock,

Seeking shade from the afternoon rays under the trees..

Chillin' beneath the moonlight..

waking up to the sounds of the waves wash up and down the shores, 
seaview sunset with the vast ocean melting into the skies, so much that there was no dividing line,
and an ocean of hidden wonders waiting to be discovered (: 

I saw so many underwater creatures, 
with my Open Water Dive, we went 18m deep and saw
lionfish, sharks, stingrays, turtles, nemo!
i just wish i was good enough to take pictures!

I'm not sure whether i had convinced you enough to go diving, 
but here are some tips i can offer for your consideration when making your plans (: 

My Open Water Dive Course
... rocks! I took it with Flora Bay Diver (it was recommended by a friend) and it was awesome-doodles! The whole course excluding online theory lessons was 900RM. 
  • My instructor was a dude called Zam. He's highly professional, very well-versed in English, even spouts the occasional american joke when he sensed that my mind was drifting. 
  • Best part about the course is that it was one instructor to 2 of us learning. Some others i've heard took their diving with a 1:8 teacher to student ratio. Having his attention made me feel confident and less afraid of freak accidents. 
  • The Open Water dive consisted of 3 confined waters, and 4 Open Waters. All lessons were conducted in the sea. Some dive companies conduct confined water lessons in the pool while this was done in shallow waters. 
  • Online theory course was offered at SGD160. A tad pricey but definitely worth it for the busy people who wants to save time on taking theory lessons on the island.  
  • Of course, having it in perhentian was amazing! I saw so many creatures, including lionfish, sharks, turtles etc. 
Here's our instructor Zam, 
i'll recommend him to anyone who wants to take Open Water! 

Getting There 
... is a bitch if you did it my way. 
But then again i don't think there are many other alternative ways to go about it. 
There are several legs to the journey 
  1. Bus to JB (there used to be a direct coach that goes from Sg to Jerteh but it has ceased operations and i had to take the bus from JB Larkin Terminal).                                                                                                 Cost: Normal bus ticket prices applies.
  2. Take NICE Transnasional Coach from Larkin Terminal to Jerteh - you have to buy the ticket in advance from NICE's office in singapore (33 MacKenzie Road, call (65) 6256 5755 to check about timings). No online nor phone booking. The coach terminates at Kota Bahru so you may want to alight at Kota Bahru, but i suggest dropping earlier at Jerteh as it's nearer to the jetty.                  Cost: $78 for 2 way 
  3. Take taxi from Jerteh to Kuala Bersut Jetty - it's only a short distance 20min distance away.   Cost: 6RM 
  4. Speedboat from Bersut Jetty to Perhentian Island - 30min water-splashing speedboat ride             Cost: 70RM for 2 way
... sucks if you're looking expecting even average quality resort.
I stayed in Flora Bay Resort (along with Flora Bay Dive Company) and i thought it was wrong move!
Cost: 210RM per night
  • Booked the seaview resort, but was given a garden view. In the end we changed to a new seaview resort with holes in the door. Win. 
  • The bathroom was old & peeling. horrible. 
  • The bed was so uncomfortable i had nightmares all 3 nights (I'm not exaggerating).
  • There was a hole in our door!! 
  • The only saving grace was the aircon. 
We were so desperate we travelled to other islands in search of better place to stay in. But we realized our beach was the best.. so we decided to stay put :( 

For better rooms, i would recommend Arwana Resort. It looked better and more well-built than the dingy Flora Bay Resort.

Deceivingly nice front of our flora bay resort :( 

4 days of diving, 
flying in water, 
caring nothing less but survival when underneath. 
I slept really early every night (due to lack of things to do), 
and woke up early every day for a day of workout (the scuba tanks were heavy for my frame), 
ate at regular timings due to diving schedule. 
And it got me thinking that, city life seriously screwed our bio clocks.

Our daily routine before hitting the water (:

I cannot wait till the next time!

Diving trip anyone? Count me in!!

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