Wednesday, 30 July 2014

30 for Thirty: No#2 Advanced Diving Qualification

No#2 on my 30 for thirty list was to pass my next level of scuba diving certification. Scuba diving has become a bit of a holiday passion for me. I love that I can use equipment to breathe underwater and explore a completely different environment. I'm a tropical water wimp, though. I've not tried dry suit diving in the UK, though a colleague did try to tempt me to dive the Mersey. Not tempted, yet!
Unintentional, "Is this thing on?" photo
Most dive schools offer courses designed by one, or both, of two main dive organisation: PADI and SSI. Our open water was a PADI qualification. Once you're open water qualified, you can start to complete your advanced open water (PADI) or advanced adventurer (SSI) certification. My advanced is SSI. From my perspective, there's little difference, though one thing I liked with SSI is that you receive your diving qualification card there and then. For both certification programs, this involves trying out five dive specialities, including a deep dive to 30m and a navigation dive, and three more from a range of different specialities. You receive information briefings for each but, unlike the open water, there are no chapters to memorise or tests to pass. After the advanced adventurer, the next step in the scuba diving journey would be to take a full course in any of the specialities and gain the speciality diver certification.

At Shark point with Mango Dive

We started our SSI advanced adventurer with Manta Dive, a large and professional dive school in Gili Trawangan. I chose to complete a night dive, which was actually pretty horrible experience for me, a nitrox dive and one which aims to perfect your underwater buoyancy. After the five dives, I was awarded my advanced adventurer certification and felt much more confident about my diving. M had a little trouble equalising so decided to rest his ears for a few days and, thankfully, was able to complete his certification once we reached Nusa Lembongan. We booked diving and accommodation with World Diving (amazing diving experience - can't recommend them enough). I tagged along on Matiss' final advanced adventurer dives. He took advantage of Lembongan's crazy currents and completed a drift dive and an underwater naturalist speciality where we learnt more about the marine life and how to identity the beautiful fish. I also did a fun dive with Mango Dive and Bungalows, where we'd stayed on Gili Trawangan, after completing my advanced adventurer. I'd definitely recommend Mango Dive, another smaller dive shop, if you're diving on Gili T.

Nemo, poking out of his anemone. Gili Trawangan
Over the dives we saw stunning marine life. The corals in Nusa Lembongan, in particular, were breathtaking- so unspoilt and vibrant. We treated ourselves to a GoPro but the photos are actually a bit rubbish. I think we'll buy a red filter to keep some of the colour at depth, next time. Photographic reminders, or not, my dive log is full of sightings of tropical fishes, like angel fish, bat fish, butterfly fish,  parrot fish, lots of Moorish idols, and anemone fish (Nemos!) and then puffer fish, porcupine fish, boxfish, scorpion fish, octopus, cuttlefish, lion fish, sea snakes, mantis shrimps, giant travallies, sea stars, colourful nudibranch, sea cucumbers, sea stars, juvenile white tip reef sharks and a massive black tip shark (amazing!) and SO MANY SEA TURTLES! Sadly, the currents in Nusa Lembongan meant we couldn't visit the dive sites where we'd have almost certainly seen manta rays and we were also a little early to see the mola molas. Boo. Next time, Lembongan, next time.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

I'd rather be in Bali

Today is my first full day back in the office after using three weeks annual leave to explore Bali and the Gilis. I want to get back on a plane, to anywhere, and be surrounded by people and new places, rather than sitting alone in my quiet office, looking at a computer screen, trying to get motivation to write a paper, and answering emails to questions that needn't have been asked. 

Must stay positive. Must stay positive.

Bali related posts coming soon...

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