Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maldives February 2010

I'm waiting in the Hulhule hotel whilst my dive buddies are getting
drunk at the bar. Flight back to Singapore is in 5 hours time - so I'd
thot I'd kill some time and write a quick note. The internet
connection here is patchy so I gotta make it fast.

I just spent 6 dives of diving on a live on board scuba diving boat in
the Maldives, 18 dives (3 a day). Its a bit of a deja vu as I did
Maldives 2 years ago at the start of the monsoon season - and the
diving was rough.

I was expecting calm seas, great visibility and plenty of marine life.

But you can't have marine life without current. We did a lot of channel dives - some exceeding 30m - a few of us hit 40m. You would expect to see more doing the deeper dives - but this time most of the good stuff - the sharks and the manta rays (giant graceful bat like ocean creatures) were found at 15 - 20m.

We were very fortunate to encounter the larger marine life at the start of the trip. On the 2nd day, we got into a "shark alley" where there were over a dozen or more sharks prowling around.

I forgot my camera for that dive. Pity, the visibility was excellent - 20 - 30m.

On the 3rd and 4th days we ran into a group of mantas. They are extremely graceful and beautiful creatures. To see them soaring and flying in the ocean current is a spiritual experience. They are also not shy and seem to enjoy the company of humans. They soared and played over our heads - there were moments when I stopped filming them and just gazed at the creatures - there is this special moment of affinity as they glide pass you, your eyes lock for a brief moment - and then they soar away.

To my Christian friends, if you see one you cannot help but be awestruck at God's handiwork. Deep in the ocean depth, or trillions of light years in the heavens, "He hath made all things beautiful in its time".

This time I remembered to bring my dive camera (and my dive com) so I got a number of good video shots.

Not all the dives were easy, the deep dives were particularly hard -the current was super strong. I like to be on the edge of the group soI can get good photo shots but on one of the dives I was separated and swept into a coral reef - the current was so strong that at times I
was pinned against the coral, unable to move. Fortunately, I had my orange safety marker, (which looks like a giant long sausage balloon) deployed it, did my safety stop, and ascended.

The Ocean is a very big place - if it wasn't for that cheap $18 safety marker I don't think the boat would have seen me. I think I'll buy another one. :)

I will post up videos of the diving scenes on youtube when I get back. The internet connection here is not good.

This time round I dived with a group of people I totally didn't know. But hey, I didn't want to spend my Chinese New Year eve visiting relatives and getting the old crappy snide jokes about being single. Scrw that man.

The group was half Singaporean - half Cosmopolitan - French, Spanish, US/Chinese, Kiwi, and an Indian cancer surgeon working in Shanghai as a consultant. Fascinating bunch of people. What amazing lives they lived. My life is dead boring in comparison. I couldn't think of any of my usual witty comments. I think I said a few dumb things too. ah well. I get a bit tense when I'm with new people. So I don't usually say much if anything at all.

The boat that we were on - the Princess Lara seems to be a copy of the MV Eagle Ray - same sort of arrangement but just a bit more bigger and spacious. Nice boat, some of the crew were younger and maybe less experienced than the Eagle Ray tho.

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