My fears all too often set up road blocks for me. While I may not leap across those road blocks like a pro athlete, I do my best to keep going. It’s been years since my two ‘I almost drowned’ incidents and it has taken Shawn all his charm and patience to get me into the water. It has taken far too long for me to feel comfortable in the sea but I like to think that it was a combination of love and trust that has brought me this far.

When Shawn said that he was finally going to do his PADI certification I felt a mixture of happiness and disappointment. Happiness because he was finally going to achieve his dream and sadness because I would not be able to join him. The PADI certification requires that an individual should be able to swim. That however is something that I have still not managed to master. So I guess that my dreams of becoming a certified diver will have to wait for a while. In the mean time, I allowed myself to indulge in the Discover scuba dives.

DISCOVER SCUBA IN KOTA KINABALU

Discover scuba and friends

Georgia! The girl who helped calm my nerves! Can’t thank you enough girl!

I decided to do my Discover Scuba dives with Diverse Borneo. It was the same company that Shawn was doing his PADI certification from. My main motive was to spend more time with him. It was the last day of Shawn’s PADI course and I was pretty happy to be diving with him. That is till he told me that I would have to jump off the boat backwards. All my pseudo-confidence was gone with the wind.

It takes me 5 minutes to jump off any boat… I usually have Shawn in the water and a helpful neighbor who will count down 1… 2… 3… It still takes all of my courage to jump! Once I’m in the water I’m fine but the jump takes it out of me.

Things just got worse when we were informed that we would be on separate boats for the entire day. I was not pleased at all. In fact I was so petrified that I had tears in my eyes as Shawn packed up his gear and headed off to his boat. What was I going to do? How could I do it alone? I know I was not totally alone but to put my fears aside and trust someone I did not know for more than 10 seconds was almost not possible.

I felt so trapped. It was the first time I was going to be on a boat without Shawn and the hydrophobic part of me started clawing its way to the surface. Luckily for me Georgia saved the day. She was going to be diving with her friend along with my instructor Misol and me. She started talking to me and before I knew it she had stopped my fears from becoming a full blown panic attack.

LEARNING THE TRICKS OF TRADE

Discover Scuba instructor

Misol was definitely a very patient instructor!

The first part of the Discover Scuba dive is learning skills that you may and will need when you dive. Since I had dived before (luckily!) I wasn’t panicking too much. In fact, Misol allowed me to climb out of the boat so I did not have to jump! It went a long way to calming down my fears. We headed out to the shallow end of Sapi island where we practiced our skills. These included how to clear the regulator, how to remove water from your mask and what to do when you lose your regulator. The quick recap was great for all of us.

THE ACTUAL SCUBA DIVE

The actual scuba dive was really amazing. We descended slowly as we swam off the reef. I’ve been snorkeling in a lot of different places and all too often the damage of global warming is very evident. The first part of the dive showed us coral broken and bleached. It was heart breaking. I later learned that the destruction of the coral closer to the shore is caused due a combination of bomb fishing and storms. That is what someone who was part of our Discover Scuba team said.

As you went deeper more coral seemed alive. The waters were full of fish. Misol told me that it was one of those days where the divers get lucky and the conditions to dive are extremely good. We caught sight of a sting ray. Something that is really popular in the Sapi region. To be truthful, I wouldn’t have seen it if it wasn’t for Misol. I spotted a huge eel. I never realized that they had such big teeth!

Puffer fish were definitely around and so were a lot of clams. These weren’t just any clams. They were giant clams. We later learned that there are seven species of giant clams and all of them can be found in the islands near Kota Kinabalu. What do they look like? Much to everyone’s horror I said that they looked like a vagina when they are open. I still stand my description graphic though it may be. J

As we went deeper the size of the fish definitely increased. The colors were amazing. It made me feel guilty for eating fish. They are so colorful and full of magic under the water. I kind off felt like I was taking away their magic.

FOOD AND ONE MORE DIVE

Discover scuba on Sapi island

A place to ponder, a spot to think!

With our first dive done we were hungry. Diving seems to take up a lot energy. The Discover Scuba package includes lunch. We were taken to a part of Sapi island that housed a restaurant. Misol proudly told us that only the divers get to eat here. We were presented a menu and asked to order. The food was decent but a bit too oily for me. Thankfully I had brought my parcel of fruits along. IBS and oil don’t go together so I always tend to look out for myself.

This is where we finally got to meet Shawn again. He on the other hand was busy struggling to finish his exams and eat at the same time. We both still had one dive left. The diving instructors offered to swap us around so that I could be on the same boat as Shawn but I declined. I had gained a great deal of confidence with my instructor Misol and I had made a friend Georgia who was absolutely amazing!

We had enough time on the island to explore the beach and take a few photographs. The water was really very beautiful. It was clear and free of debris. While I didn’t jump in, I did walk around listening to the water lap up on the shore. Peace… The peace that I was craving for.

It was soon tie to head back for our second dive. Misol told me that if I was still too scared to jump of the boat backwards then I could walk off. It was all up to me. Georgia and the rest of the gang however were extremely supportive. I can’t thank them enough for just being there because I did jump and I didn’t break anything (thankfully!).

Discover Scuba

The best part was that I finished my Discover Scuba course feeling happy!

The second dive was somehow more beautiful than the previous one. I think it had a lot to do with how comfortable I had got with my company. For me going out there without Shawn was challenging myself. It was pushing myself beyond my known limits. I could have broken down and cried but I chose to survive. That is what made the Discover Scuba in Kota Kinabalu so special. That and the new friend I made along the way.

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