Everyone remembers their first time.
It was on a sunny Saturday afternoon when I woke up super-duper early and met up with friends at the Taipei Main Station. Together, we took a bus to Loudong for our “first experience” in scuba diving.
The course was called “Discovery Scuba,” and as the name implies, it’s a course that gives amateurs like us a chance to experience scuba under the close supervision of a scuba instructor. So, that’s four students to one experienced master diver. If ever we like it, we can continue going for two weekends to get our Open Water certification, meaning, you can go diving with friends, without a master diver present.
The first part is watching a video on safety scuba diving guidelines. Here, the video explains the basic elements of scuba diving, namely buoyancy, water pressure and more. Chester, our diving instructor explained these concepts to us further, ensuring we understood everything the video said.
I think the video was an hour… and by that time, my eyes were drooping.
Not that the video wasn’t interesting, it was.
But it was just too freaking long.
Anyway, after the video, we finally geared up in our wet suits.
Man, it was soooo difficult to get into mine. It’s very, very tight and has to fit your body perfectly.
After much pushing and pulling, I finally got into mine. Gosh, I tell you, every curve, every ounce of fat can be seen when you’re wearing a wetsuit.
Good thing, they don’t have full-length mirrors on the dive shop.
Afterwards, we wore weights on our waists, which was freaking heavy! I alone, was wearing 6 freaking kilos!
Then, they geared us up with our BCDs and scuba diving tanks.
I can now officially empathize with turtles who have to carry their heavy shells on their backs! Those were pretty heavy.
But it was bearable compared to the weights, which kept on hitting my hip bone.
I guess, I need more fat in my form to cushion the blow.
The walk to the bay was awful!
It was merely 3 minutes long, but it felt like a long time with all the heavy gear on our backs. We also had to walk across an abalone farm, and I was so afraid that I’d lose my balance and fall into the tank.
But it was pretty uneventful and we managed to get into the water safely.
In the water, Master Ken (our diving instructor) and Serge (his diving assistant) gave us on-hand lessons on how to equalize (blow on your nose or swallow), clear out your goggles in the water, breathe through the scuba gear, among others. That took at least 15 minutes.
And then we’re off!
With our heavy flippers, we swum underwater and got our first glimpse of marine life.
It was fantastic!
We merely stayed near the coast, but the water was pretty clear, and my goodness, you can really see a lot of marine life! Diving under 14 meters, it was really beautiful and we saw a lot of brightly-colored fishes (think Nemo, but with more variety), small lobsters, crabs and even a giant puffer as big as 1 1/2 feet! We also saw corals, anemones and more.
Underwater life is just so beautiful.
But frankly, my friends and I were more focused on breathing and equalizing properly, and tried not holding our breath.
According to the video, the most dangerous element in scuba diving is in holding our breaths. It even gave an illustration of our lungs bursting like a balloon if you hold your breath too long. Really scary.
So yeah, we made sure we breathed and equalized regularly, panicking when we couldn’t do it every other minute.
But overall, it was beautiful, and I’m glad I did it.
I may not be interested in getting a certification (I found the gear to be too troublesome and it takes a whole day just to go scuba diving), but at least, I can confidently say that I’ve given it a try and actually finding out what it was like.
It was still a very nice experience.
Postscript: After sharing with them news of my first scuba diving experience, it makes me uncomfortable that my parents are sending these sorts of messages back:
“It is a great experience of under the sea. However, as you know dad naman, he is just very concern about your safety under the water. For our family, aside from Ting before doing the scuba, it is really something new in our life and dad is worry that with the first wonderful experience, you might get too involved in this kind of sport WHICH DAD IS NOT IN FAVOR OF. Mom says, do not push through with this kind of scuba sport because it is very difficult to convince dad on this, after having the stories of even professionals are being pulled down into the deep sea.
Mr. XXXXXXXXX also agrees with dad that girls are not supposed to get involved in scuba diving. If you said of just an experience so that when people talked about it, you have something to discuss with also, but definitely, it is not a sport for you to be involved in.”
Pop! There goes my bubble of enthusiasm!
And this was after I have made it clear that I wasn’t really interested in a certification! GOD!
It’s these type of response that makes me NOT want to go back home.
Puh-lease! I can just hear the bolt and lock slamming shut.
Whereas I am happy to share them news that I’ve tried something new, here they are treating me as an 8-year old girl!
I’m 24, for goodness sakes!
You can see now why I am so upset. And how strict my parents are. They still don’t think I can take care of myself.
Here you are enjoying your life, and one email from your parents remind you that you’re still a caged animal.
This is just one of the reasons why I try to censor my activities from them whenever I can. It’s always safer to just shut up, than share and have them bring out their wagging tongues about what you can or cannot do.
God, I’m so happy I’m in Taiwan right now and out from the claws of my parents!
Gosh, I’m still so upset. 🙁