I'm back... with a license! :) I don't know where to start! I've experienced many things and there's so much to articulate but I don't think I can truly express them all.
The whole trip was intense. It wasn't leisure, trust me. The night journey from SG to Tioman (brill long night drive under the stars towards Mersing jetty, and then had a fiercely cold ferry ride to the island) took up more than four hours. That experience itself reminded me of the past crazy camps I had which I sorely miss. Had about three hours of sleep before I started the day...
Had a total of five dives in three different sites - Paya House Reef (first three dives), Soyak (fourth), and Renggis (fifth, a leisure dive).
Had to complete three dives on the first day itself. I managed CESA (controlled emergency swimming ascent) well this time round and the feeling was awesome. I had my first experience with free descend (descending without holding on to a line) during the second dive and I love doing it! The third dive's bottom time was the longest during the trip - 52 minutes.
The dive group had the opportunity to descend 17 metres during the fourth dive. A good 48 minutes under the sea, along the reef. Beautiful sight it was... shoals of fish, strange looking sea slugs, giant clams, sea cucumbers, pretty anemones... one needed an observant eye and a sense of mindfulness to the surroundings. In the beginning, the corals looked more dead than alive. When I managed to "be one" with the dive gear, I could shift my awareness from them to the life around me... it was just, marvelous.
I miss the feel of having a regulator in my mouth, and tasting good air. I feel blessed and truly thankful for such an experience. Never in my life, never a second, have I ever wished to dive deep under water. Now that I'm a certified open water diver, I wonder when I will get another opportunity to dive again. I've been asked whether I'd like to take up the advanced open water diver training. I gave a straight-up no, because I would love to go for a few more dive trips first. Then again, I sorely miss the feel of a regulator, and also the feel of being so light in the depths of the sea? I think scuba diving is a brill escape from the crazy traffic on land, really (not to mention an escape from polluted air, too!).