Tuesday, August 4, 2009


During our recent trip, we dived at Si Amil and Denawan islands.

Both these islands are nearby each other, but a 45 minutes boat ride from Mabul, where we were staying at.

The beautiful Denawan

Like Sipadan, these islands have a "security post" at the jetty, where the Tentara Laut DiRaja Malaysia are based to protect us, and our waters from alien invasion.
While doing our surface interval at Denawan, a military boat docked.

We soon found ourselves on it! Of course we asked Mr. Army Men for permission first lah!

It was hillarious! I mean, it's not everyday you find yourself riding on a military boat, no?

The seats, we had to straddle as though horseback riding. And there are even stirrups where we can slide our foot into!

Some people even went to try out the "driver's seat".

Alas, that wasn't allowed.

And he was gunned down.

Question - what does RIB 7K stand for?

We thought it might mean Rubber Inflatable Boat.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coral Planting

The moment I stepped off the boat and onto the arrival jetty at the Sipadan Water Village Resort, I felt that magical giddy high of euphoria again. I remember how and why I fell in love with this place six months ago.

We were lucky to be able to have a chalet facing the open sea again, from where we were treated to pretty cool sunrises in the mornings.

In conjunction with the 12th Mabul Marine Day and 3rd Mabul Marine Week, which was held from the 18 - 25 July 2009, one of the highlights of our trip was the coral planting activity.

Broken coral pieces were collected for the purpose of the transplanting. Each participant was given a piece of coral, tagged with our name.

I was Dooren Loo. I've had many variations of my name being mis-spelled; Dorren, Dorin, Dorine... but Dooren sure beats it all.

With our coral piece identified, we were all given a data sheet to fill in with our particulars, and the details of our coral.

I had a piece of staghorn coral (scientific name Acropora), a branching coral with cylindrical branches protruding out and up. The staghorn is one of the fastest growing corals, with branches increasing in length by 10-20 centimetres a year.

After we have completed the data sheet, it was time for the actual planting at the Old House Reef II on Mabul.

Our guide, Bobby, began by helping us prepare a cement mixture of sorts which we will use as a base. This mixture will then harden over time, providing a sturdy base for the coral.

The new corals are to be transplated on surfaces which is solid and firm, like a rock.

And this is me with my staghorn.

No other corals were hurt or killed in the process of planting this one.

This is Lynette's coral after it's firmly secured.

And a compulsory group shot with Bobby after we surfaced from the dive - Top Row L-R: Colin, Bee Yong, Albert, Lynette, Matthew, Duke and unknown Caucasian, Bottom Row L-R: Shen, Doreen, Bobby

Monday, July 27, 2009


On 22 July, I frowned because I had to put on a life-jacket for the boat ride from Semporna to Mabul.

On 27 July, I frown because I'm back here in KL.

But you already expected that from me, kan?

Let me sort the pics out, then will blog.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

babies christened

Two weekends ago, we christened our new babies at the training pool.

When we got home, like good parents parents, diligently we rinsed everything in fresh water and put them out to dry.

It was like watching our babies on graduation day - that proud feeling, you know?

My baby, the Tusa Passage BCD.

He ain't heavy, he's my Zeagle.

Forgive us, I think our tanglungs are going to be hanging there until the next Chinese New Year.

Now, the only thing which we haven't christened...

And we're going to get to give it a good and proper christening tomorrow!

Off to Sipadan Water Village for the Mabul Marine Week, back on Sunday.

Updates when I'm back.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

how it started

I met an ex-colleague over the weekend.

"So how did you get into this diving thing?" he asked.

It got me thinking about how it all started.

It was the MIDE (Malaysia International Dive Expo) weekend back in July 2007 and we decided to drive down to PWTC to check it out. We hadn't started diving then, but went just because.

We walked along the aisles, booths on our left and right. We drooled at the picture displays that were put up by exhibitors. We marveled at the dive equipments which were on sale. We asked questions and were given answers. We also collected name cards and brochures.

As we were about to make our way out, we saw this lady manning the booth on her own. She had a friendly and approachable face, unlike the guy whom we had just spoken to (I still remember the name of his Dive Centre to this very day!)

We had a quick chat and took her name card away with us.

It was end of 2007 when we finally went for our first theory class, and we've never looked back since.

Yes, her friendly and approachable face made a difference to us in the sea (no pun intended) of other dive centres at MIDE that afternoon.

But that was only the beginning.

It's been 15 months since we got our
PADI Open Water Diver certification.

We could have gone for that one trip and then not dive again for another year. We could have gone for that one trip and then decided that diving isn't that great afterall. Worse - we could have gone for that one trip and then realized that diving is bullshit and regret forking out money to be certified.

But of course, nothing of that sort happened.

We are now in the midst of our PADI Divemaster course, the first step towards making scuba diving a career. From hereon, we will be moving on to do our Instructor Development Course to lead up to the Instructor Exam (IE). And if all goes well, we'll be PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors before the year ends!

Très exciting, non?

And for this, we've got Lynette to thank.

Thank you for making us book all those trips we booked. Thank you for sharing with us - your passion, your enthusiasm, your knowledge. Thank you for leading the way in showing us that we can make a career out of this, just like you did. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for believing in us.

Having said that, it's not all a fun ride. In the months leading up to the IE, there is much to be done! So much to read, so much to learn, and so much to remember. Meeting our PADI Course Director over the weekend was a wee bit daunting, but it further drove home the point that this is serious work, but one which will yield serious fun upon completion.

Well, we started our story with MIDE back in 2007. And now,
MIDE 2009 is here this weekend, 3-5 July at the PWTC!

See you there?

So I told my ex-colleague, "I guess I fell in and got hooked. Don't know how to come out of it now."
(Not that I want to!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the weekends

I sat in bed last night, admiring my very tanned legs. While applying moisturizer, I wondered if my legs will appear thinner if they were to go even darker. I mean, I definitely look skinnier in a black dress, so does the same rule apply to my legs too?

We have been spending our weekends by the pool.

And by that, I don't mean lazing by the pool with a book in hand, face behind an oversized pair of sunnies.

I mean the kind where we, as the lowest in the industry's food chain (LOL!), the divemasters in training, assist the Instructors who are doing confined water training for Open Water divers. In the midst of assisting (and getting hands-on experience!), we are also required to learn and master demonstration skills for the PADI Open Water course.

And so I've been devoting my Saturdays and Sundays to sitting for theory exams, organizing equipment for students or setting up for Discover Scuba participants, and learning from Lynette and Aaron.

By the time we leave the pool, it would be about 4 or 5pm in the afternoon. Exhausted, we set off for home. Maybe it's fatigue, maybe it's the sun, but we end up rather quiet during the drive home.

Then, he'd catch me in the act.

"Why are you smiling to yourself again?"

Same reason you smile to yourself, babe!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Manado: Part 5

I first heard Deep by Binocular from the DVD we got for the Mataking trip. The guy who made the video used the song as one of the background tracks.

And I've loved it since.

Deep brings me to the blue. The intro (first 10-12 seconds) reminds me of bubbles. No matter where I am, or what I'm doing, when this song comes on - I can imagine myself being underwater, the blue surrounding me.

The lyrics are simple...

So this is what you mean
And this is how you feel
So this is how you see
And this is how you breathe

** Sometimes
I know
I go down deep

So this is what you mean
And this is how you feel
So this is how you see
And this is how you breathe


Beneath the deep blue sea
Touching every breath
All a slight off hand
For everything you left


It's been almost 2 weeks since we returned from Manado, and things are slowly resuming normalcy. Until the next trip comes along that is!

The overall experience in Lembeh was a blast!

The wisps of clouds, like lace draped over a volcano

The many dive sites in Lembeh (click for larger view)
Half of the group with Dive Masters Michael, Mendy and Ratno.

The other half of the group with Agus and Ramli.

Dive boat

Surface interval in Indonesia

Departure day is always a sad affair. So I put on my happy dress and smiled.

Another (incomplete) group pic before we left Bastianos- from L-R (Top Row: Jesh, Darren, Joan / Middle Row: Albert, Doreen, Alan / Bottom Row: Ramli, Lynette, Bee Yong, Grace)
And because blogging about dive trips can be quite an emotional affair for me... here are two more departure shots which is just oh-so-emo.