Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia –
After a terrible experience with my open water scuba certification in Honduras a few years back, I swore I would never dive again. I won’t get into the details but two bad surfing experiences (almost drowning in both) already had me nervous. Jumping into the ocean 50 pounds of metal on my back and breathing through a tube did not excite me so much either. On top of that, a rude, cocky, and very nonchalant 25 year old diving instructor ended up with me quitting halfway through the certification. I don’t like quitting and I don’t like failure. I never have. I began to think over the past few years that not completing my diving certification would haunt me forever. Really, there are 15 year old kids and very overweight elderly people that have their open water certification. I would also see these dive instructors chain-smoking cigarettes all day, partying all night (not they are supposed to), and teaching a course the following day. After my “Discover Scuba” diving experience in Redang just a few days before where I literally didn’t even have to swim much less inflate and deflate my BCD, I was ready to give it another go. So, I booked a hotel on the smaller of the famous Perhentian Islands (the second cheapest place in the world to get your PADI diving certification) and figured I would go from there. My first night was spent on the opposite side of the island from most of the action and dive shops, shown in the last four pictures you see in the gallery below. I decided I would take a walk across pretty much the entire island and check out some other hotels/hostels and dive shops. I talked to several instructors at different shops and chose a place called Monkey Dives. The instructor I talked to explained that I could do one dive as part of the certification (the more common version of Discover Scuba) and I would only be charged for that one dive. If I decided to continue with the course, the first dive and the charge would be counted toward my certification and I would get three nights accommodation. That’s one thing I had to learn to get used to with international. In the U.S. we use terms like hotel, room and bard, a place to stay/sleep, etc. Most places overseas use the word accommodation for room. My accommodation in this case would be a bed in 16-20 person mixed dorm.
The first dive went better than I thought it would. There were a few anxious moments but I actually decided before I got of the boat after the first dive that I was gonna keep going through with the course. For those of you not familiar with PADI open water certification, after you are certified you can dive pretty much anywhere in world. However the certification test requires you to do things like take of your tank, take our your breathing device and throw it aside, take off your mask for a minute, take off you entire gear and put it back on, etc. All of these things are done about 30 feet under water. Along with that you have to watch about five hours of instructional video, take four quizzes and a final exam (50 questions if I remember right).
Well four dives later and pretty exhausted because I didn’t sleep very well, I was finally PADI open water scuba certified. Monkey Dives was located right next to the most popular bar on the island run by some very friendly Argentineans. I tried to get a good pic the late night the man you see in the middle pic top row would take out his pet monkey to entertain the drunk backpackers. What seems like a breeze for a lot of people was quite a challenge for me due to my previous experiences with both diving a surfing. I was literally fist pumping and yelling when I can out of the water after my last dive. Honestly, the feeling of accomplishment was up there in the top 5 of my life and it happened just two weeks into my first 10 week adventure in southeast Asia. . I realize that none of the pictures here have anything to do with the diving certification. I did not take my camera with me on the boat and honestly there isn’t much time over the three days to do any kind of sight seeing. The places we dove in Kecil were near these beautiful huge rocks structures jetting out of the ocean. I was excited enough that I decided to take my first “fun dives” just a week later in Thailand. Of course, I’ll be writing about that soon in a later blog…..