Diving the Deep

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Holiday Dive Inn Semporna
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Thursday, January 31, 2013

When the torrential rains starter the evening before, we were a little bit concerned.  But weather moved pretty fast here.  In the morning our boat ride was more than interesting.  Forty five minuted by speed boat crashing over waves and bruising or bottoms while raindrops turned into needles poking into our eyes.  The sound of the crashing air cylinders rang in my ears the whole day.  Only Brian was bright eyed hanging on and shouting 'whoo hoo' with the biggest waves. 

But who really cares about rain when you're diving?  One you're below the surface, you're wet anyways and the waves don't really matter anymore.

After a mild anxiety attack on the first descent, I was diving again.  Why do I keep doing this?  I know I can breath under water, but I do a little mind flip at first and have to talk myself through this.  However, I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt and blame my inexperience.  During the next 3 days I'll do more dives than I ever have, so things should get better. 

Within a minute or two of our descent, our first sea turtle flew over us.  Yes, flew.  They flap their front fins and lift off and move more effortlessly than a bird.  I've been dying to see a turtle, but it didn't happen in Thailand.  Now they are everywhere!  Flying overhead, on the sand, at cleaning stations...I can't keep up!

We saw lots of different fish and a ridiculously huge barracuda (at least 6 feet) and my new favourite fish - spotted sweet lips :)  Some blue spotted rays which were so fast if you didn't see them right away, you missed them completely.  We even saw a cuttle fish that dodged around from place to place changing colours as he went.  On the 2nd day I could hear dolphins in the water, but didn't see them anywhere. 

We even got to swim around an old wreak.  What an unearthly experience swimming into the blue.  Suddenly in the distance you start to see something.  A few blinks and a few kicks closer and things start to come into focus until it's right there in great detail!

3 dives a day.  I've never seen such clear water.  In the shallows of the beach, it's like it doesn't even exist - just crystal like glass.  Then it turns to a beautiful turquoise or aquamarine - almost teal!  The colour pool manufacturers must dream of.  In the depths, the water is a gorgeous azure blue...or indigo...it keeps changing with the light.  Either way, it's very inviting and it's 28 C.  But even at that temperature, 1 hour in the water and I'm quite cold.  Up into the 30 C air, which isn't much of a difference, but with the sun warms you up in minutes.  Unfortunately, today we didn't have sun, but instead had wind and some rain so I kept cold all day.  To the point where getting back into the water was actually warmer. 

Brian unfortunately missed a dive as he wasn't feeling well.  We think he's trying too hard to conserve his air (to dive for longer periods of time).  Over time this can cause a build up of Co2 and gives bad headaches.  After 2 dives with headaches he made himself sick.  Luckily it's easily rectified, all he has to do is BREATH!  Thankfully, a little rest and he was fine. 

Time seems to stop when diving.  As soon as you're beneath the surface sounds dull and light is less, there are no fast movements, just floating and gazing.  Creatures move about their own business without worrying about you.  It's so different from wildlife spotting on land.  Here, you plop down right in the midst of everything and you can just stare and stare.  Beautiful corals of all colour, shapes and sizes with fish dodging in and out and around.  Each dive transports you to another world.

But even the surface is a little different out here.  Some beautiful little islands out in the  water.  One was only inhabited by a small group of 'sea gypsies' who  make their living off the sea.  Most of us would spend millions to live where they do!  They're homes are perched over the water, they're  children play in the sand everyday, and they're out on boats most of the time.  What a life!

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