My first Scuba Diving experience

Meet Editor Ting Yong. Hear about his joys and woes on his experience in Scuba Diving, and how he got hooked up since his first.

kenting tioman scuba diving

Photo credits: Ting Yong

I first experienced scuba diving few years back in Kenting, Taiwan when I was there for my round-island Taiwan holiday. Back then, it was one of the best impromptu decisions I have ever made, with the prompt of my minsu owner and the nudge of good weather. I signed up for the Discover Scuba Diving package which consisted of an hour of quick tutorial, hand signals underwater and specific use of diving equipment. All in half a day’s work, this package is strongly recommended for beginners who are unsure of whether diving is suitable for them or not, you basically go underwater one-on-one with an instructor who will guide you through the entire dive session and introduce you to another world under the sea.

Few years later, I finally found time to take up the opportunity to go for my dive license. A reputable company would consist of a theory lesson, an open water pool diving lesson, plus a 2 days 2 nights trip overseas. Lessons and trips are conducted over weekends and the schedule is all pretty manageable even for working adults.

tioman scuba diving

Photo credits: Ting Yong

If you’re considering somewhere inexpensive and easily reach, Tioman is ideal. Getting the cost and time factor aside, there’re a few challenges which definitely include water confidence. Like I mentioned previously, diving is not for everyone regardless of what anyone else says. I consider myself a fairly competent swimmer, but it is an all new ball game together when you are underwater. There were 2 separate occasions when I realized this truth for myself.

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Photo credits: Ting Yong

The fears of Diving
During the first few dives where we had to do basic drills such as tank or mask removal etc, I had my first incident. For that drill, we were supposed to remove our face mask/googles and wear it back, subsequently expelling the water trapped in the mask as well. It was a fairly simple drill given the amount of times we practiced it in the swimming pool previously, but doing that 10m underwater with the sea current and an irritating territorial fish that kept biting me was a different story. I struggled with putting it back on properly, the exhaled air bubbles got into my nose, and I choked. Sea water got into my eyes and I lost my cool. Imagine choking on seawater through your nose, your body mechanism kicks in and mucus starts to choke your nose, the seawater stinging the eyes at the same time, your eyes are still trying to shut tight to prevent more irritation. Thankfully, the quick reaction of the instructors guided me through the situation safely, to what could have escalated to an accident if I were alone.

In another of the dives, we were given this simple task of an imaginary scenario where our oxygen tank ran out of gas without us realizing it. We were simply told to take a last deep breath of oxygen and start kicking upwards towards the surface, at the same time, exhaling the oxygen we had. As we are moving upwards, the water pressure decreases, hence whatever air we had inside would probably expand, and if we did not exhale, something along the lines of an internal explosion would probably happen. Still, I could barely make it to the surface with just one gulp of air. Although I managed it successfully, that made me think what could or would have happened if I were underwater and an actual scenario happened which required me to surface and I couldn’t.

turtle tioman diving

Photo credits: Ting Yong

Yet.. The after-joys of Diving
At the end of 5 dives, we were able to dive and control our buoyancy freely underwater. It was an awesome and irreplaceable experience, kicking a sea turtle that was my size by accident, having a sea urchin walk around on my palm, taking in the sights of Mother Earth and her beauty under the sea. The peace, the tranquility and the calm you get is something that cannot be found on land. It is just you and the sounds of your breathing. You realize the vast expanse of the ocean that can easily swallow you whole. You appreciate the minute details, your senses tingle and become more sensitive. You feel your body come alive. That being said, it also meant that the amount of danger it bring if any accidents were to occur could be disastrous and fatal as well, since its just you and your oxygen tank. Scuba diving is not for everyone, especially not for those with water phobia. It does not take a daredevil to scuba dive, but it does require a certain level of swimming competence in water to better manage diving.

Of course, this is all keeping in mind that there are professional dive instructors right by your side to rectify any issues or solve the situation or accidents that might occur during the lesson. I passed the drills without a hitch and ultimately, the course as well. But it got me thinking of the potential danger that lurks all around me once I am underwater.

sea urchin diving

Photo credits: Ting Yong

It was only when I did my first leisure dive that these “monsters under the bed” dissolved into non-existence. I was speechless for words, partially because I can’t talk underwater anyway, but I was stunned by the potential for adventure, sights and solitude. It is an extremely beautiful experience and a feeling like no other. Words cannot justify its beauty and it is something to be experienced by oneself. Those fears I had were simply unfounded and thankfully, I pushed through along with a bunch of fun-loving motivational friends to enjoy an amazing experience of a lifetime.

Photos & Article by Ting Yong.

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