Monday, July 11, 2011

Sapi Island - Test Diving

Today - Saturday 9th July 2011. I wake up at 6.00 am with help from wifey. I was having a weird dream and it gives me lazy body.

We went out early today to avoid the expected roadblocks due to the highly anticipated BERSIH illegal rally. On the road there were definitely more police personnel than usual. I realized I was wearing yellow body fit t shirt which is the dress code for BERSIH. Very soon cop's eyes was uneasy on me. To avoid unnecessary problems, I put on another shirt for cover.

We ordered the usual fried mee and konlow mee with pork at Gaya Street for breakfast. After breakfast wife continues to drive to her office while I head for Jesselton jetty. It was about 7.20am, pretty early for a weekend in Kota Kinabalu. On my way to the jetty, varieties works of arts on the pillars of a ruined building just before the jetty invites me to snap some photos. Some of the murals was extraordinary and very details, even on the toilet space!

Jeselton jetty looks pretty well and neat, it is the main jetty used to transfer tourists and personnel form the mainland to the 5 islands of the state National Park - Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. These 5 islands are: Gaya, Mamutik, Sapi, Sulug and Manukan.

I was sitting alone among the all empty seats on the jetty when I received message with bad news from one of my buddy - Alexius Korom @ kaputan. Apparently he went out a bit late and now gritting his teeth in the beginning to be massive traffic jam. Hmm we gonna waste a lot of time here.. sigh.

Another friend - Luluq was also jammed, she send me the Dive Instructor's mobile no. so that I may contact the person and proceed to check in my self. All participant were required to fill in registration form and also a disclaimer form which after reading it thoroughly gives me a second thought about the whole thing. Basically it says "if anything bad happen to you during the course, it's your own fault and you agreed not to blame nor to claim anything from us ha ha ha".

Anyway I just signed it after convincing myself - "how bad it can be? everyone is signing the same thing anyway" and recites myself a little prayer.

After 2 hours boringly waited, finally all remaining participants arrived. I couldn't help but being nice joking and cursing my friends who were late.. grrr. I'm a lecturer for tourism subject, quality services such as punctuality is a fatwa I preach to instill into my students, there's no good feeling when it happened unnecessarily to me. But then - think positive Val- there might be blessing in disguise for their lateness.. and I do understand this particular friend, 'very late' is her trademark, and she's getting better on it.

Anyway, we were on the boat at last and 'on the way' to Sapi Island. Boat journey took approximately 15-20 minutes. Pulau Sapi is rather a small island compared to its' siblings. From a far it looks as if it is just another part of the much much larger Gaya island. Once reached the island jetty I notice that Sapi and Gaya is actually very close to each other and it looks that one may be able to just walk form one island to the other. There is almost a sand bar in between.

The beach is definitely attractive. White sandy beach, clear water (at least seen from our boat). No wonder flocks of tourist comes here everyday for snorkeling, diving or just to hang out on the beach enjoying the view and the breeze. One of the instructor says that Sapi island is quite famous with topless tourist. The boys on boat were quick to google but unfortunate for us there were none except many many topless male.

We were given a quick briefing on the basic must know techniques in diving. I
felt sorry for the nervous instructor, I mean his hands were shaking vigorously and his words were freezing. Perhaps due to the presence of his boss and other senior colleagues. I asked a few questions (just so to kick away the awkward moment). We were divided into pairs. Each pairs were assigned under 1 instructor. Ours was Mr. Robert Hastie - looks pretty serious but turn out to be very gentle and funny. He is somehow familiar to me.

Once everyone is in the water, the instructor guided us and ensure everyone pass the basic diving techniques. Although it was my 1st time, it was pretty easy for me, :) did everything without any problems. Being a kampung boy who plays in the river almost everyday do pays :). My partner - Sylvin was a bit sluggish, perhaps lacking of confident and/or uncomfortable to be underwater.. typical city dwellers :P or was it just because is a she?

Done with the basic, now it's time to apply it on the real diving sites, which is just about 100 meters away actually, ceh..

Everyone's excited except for Alexius who complained dizziness. On the actual site we were thought and required to do a different technique to dive from the boat to the sea, it looks similar to what we usually saw on tv and was much fun actually. Before my turns up to dive, one of the participant has already given up, looking wobbly he said he couldn't relax underwater and keep panicking. Too bad for him, he was in the water like less than 2 minutes...? Nevertheless, it was somehow a good thing for me as I can now used his equipment instead of mine (with the not functioning inflator).

Once in the water, very gently and convincing enough our instructor manage to get us to dive underwater.. this is the real thing. Very slowly we swam.

I bet most of us must be trying hard to enjoy the marine life while at the same time forcing ourselves to get comfortable doing diving. At least that's how I felt. Several times my body keeps turning either to the right or left side which is tickling funny. To be frank, fishes are not main concern here at this time, you are either focus on your breathing or busy kicking and adjusting your float. I was fool to smile several times and water goes into my goggle all the times, fortunately manage to apply the technique I've just learn to get the water out and at least I looks confident to the instructor. Every communication underwater is hand language. My favorite is the 'everything is ok' sign - giving 'o' using the thumb and index finger. We exchange the signs like every 3 minutes underwater :).

I think that the site have just reasonable amount of corals and marine life to be used for a test diving program. It wasn't extraordinary but I am pretty satisfied with what I've discovered and experienced. Quite a lot of colorful fishes, varieties or corals although not as colorful as seen on tv. We did saw a sea snake as well but we missed the turtles.

The actual diving took about 25-30 minutes. I wish to explore longer but I guess it was a bit late as we stated late (another good reason to blame those who were late haha). We climb into the boat and it was already 3.00++pm. No wonder I feel strangely weak and starving. Later on I understand that Alexius also 'failed' for the real diving. He had terrible dizziness and end up vomiting. I think it was because of his eyes...

Sorry Alex, your macho appearance did not help much this time. Yeah, that's him on the right picture, with Mr. Bean's pose.

We land on the jetty and was given 1 hour to clean and refresh our self also for lunch. Under the State Sabah Park Management Sapi island has but one canteen, one sundry shop and two shower facilities (one outdoor and one indoor). Several of us choose to clean our self outdoor. It's a good feeling to take shower with generous fresh water while enjoying nice view and literally being watched by others. Our precious moment was spoiled within seconds by the stench from the nearby staff quarters drains.. &@#$!!!

On the canteen runs by a local, me and Alex ordered mee maggie with egg while two of our companion ordered plain fried rice. While enjoying the overpriced lunch we noticed several full grown monitor lizards lingering around the area. I went close and took several monitor's pose, wanted to stay longer but again the stench from another drain kicks me away.. what the..

About 4.30 pm we left the area. Reach KK 20 minutes later. Myself and Alex decided to hit a nearby restaurant which serves the famous Bak Ku Teh. We ordered for two and God.. it was perfect! We were happy to settle a set of carlsberg for each before our spouse arrived to fetch us.

Hmm.. overall, as a novice diver I would give the whole experience 7 out 10. It would have been 8 over 10 if not because of the delays. One the other hand I give A++ for our instructor Mr. Robert Hastie who has been very professional and amazingly tender. I can understand why my partner is pouring praises for him. At the end I realised that I have meet him before and even played badminton with him 9 years ago, hehehe that's just great!


Ok, test diving aka discovery diving is done. Now looking forward for the real diving license program.. in Mabul or Sipadan of course :)

p/s: more picture will be uploaded soon*


Thank you Thank you Thank you - to luluq (the organiser), the company - Navi (is it?), the staff- I remember Dixon, Mr. Yap (the handsome owner), Robert, and the rest ..sorry forgot your name :(, all the participants, the natures - fishes, snakes and corals, ermm also to my wife who gave my 'permit' and of course to God the almighty. Cheers!

3 comments:

  1. hear the kaputan speaking :p .. what are wonderful experience to go diving with BFF.. next time, don't forget to bring some 'cas lotirik' during the dive. Am looking forward for the next trip to Mabul or Sipadan :)..The sabahan says 'aturrrr'..muahahaha :p.

    But, anyway congratulations to val for his blog. Smile n cheers!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Kaputan, not bringing the 'cas lotirik' was the biggest mistake of the day. From now on, regardless of whatmay the rules says, ensure a liter or two packed into the backpack kio :) Bah, harapan mabul or sipadan next.. and this time jangan lupa bawa kuntik lens hehe

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  3. Thanks for the advice gundohing val. For sure will get one good goggles next time. The rule says you can't drink 'cas lotirik' before the dive but after that hehe.. the floor is open to u maa.. :p .. Next time u Gadget!

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