Diving @ Dayang [8 – 10 April 2011]

My first real holiday of 2011 was the dive trip to Pulau Dayang.

As it was more than a year since our last dive, both Lewis and I went for refresher the week before. The refresher definitely helped as both of us forgot most of what we had learnt during our OWD course.

Besides Lewis I met the rest of my group at the office of Sunny Cove. Two of them will be taking their open water diver course while the rest of us (3) will be having leisure dives.

We met our divemaster Val and paid her for our trip. Total damage was 370 SGD for the trip and equipment rental (and additional 70 SGD for the refresher).

Before we even left Singapore drama struck us.

One of the girls in our traveling party, X, brought along her expired passport instead. As we were running on a rather tight schedule, we might have to leave her behind if she couldn’t get someone to bring her passport to Woodlands checkpoint in time.

The rest of the traveling party had to endure an anxious 45 minutes wondering if she could make it in time. Fortunately she didn’t stay too far and managed to get her sis to deliver the passport.

有惊无险.

We left the checkpoint at around 9.30pm for Mersing and our bus stopped at a petrol station for pit stop. For some of us it was the first chance to get dinner and thus was warmly welcomed.

There were two stretches of road when the bus ran into heavy traffic. One for no apparent reason and the other due to police road block. These conditions caused us to reach Mersing jetty slightly after 12 midnight and luckily the boat for Dayang hadn’t set sail yet.

At the jetty I managed to run into a friend FJ who was heading to Pulau Aur for his OWD certification. In fact his trip was the impetus for my return to diving.

The sailing time to Pulau Dayang was around four hours and I fall asleep shortly after it set sail.

It was close to 5am when we finally arrived at Pulau Dayang.

And boy was I glad to be on solid ground. The sea was pretty choppy and there were quite a number of fellow passengers who got sea-sick.

Accommodation was pretty basic with our whole group sharing a dormitory room for 12. Despite the shared bathrooms having no hot water, I still had to shower before sleeping.

The breakfast was ready when we woke up around 3 hours later. One good thing about Dayang was that all meals were being catered for. Clearly it wasn’t Michelin but definitely edible. Fearful of sea-sickness I declined to indulge and just had a nibble.

There would be three dives on Saturday followed by another two on Sunday morning. The dive sites were all around 5-10 minutes from the jetty and we hardly had any time to prepare our tanks by the time we reached them.

The first site was called Lang and the visibility wasn’t too bad. I had problem descending and my divemaster had to pass me an extra weight. Guess I’m really lightweight.

My other dive buddy A had an underwater camera whose battery unfortunately died on her mid-way through the dive. Here are some of the pics before the battery died:

After lunch we had two more dives (with tea in between) and we were done with diving by 5pm. An interesting point of note was that I had to swap BCD with E, one of the girls taking her open water diver certification, for the rest of the trip. Her BCD kept getting inflated when it was connected to the tank and the size of my BCD (S) was the most similar to hers (XS). Since I was considered a certified diver, I should be able to manually inflate the BCD.

Or so I thought. I just ended up getting my buddy Lewis to inflate it for me.

Anyway since it was quite early and dinner wasn’t ready yet, some of us went for a swim. The divers with advanced open water diver certification went for their night dive instead.

I took some pictures:

As there won’t be any excursions out to the sea I was able to tuck in to my first real meal at the dinner. To my surprise no seafood was served (thought they should be since we were by the sea) but after thinking through it made sense since the divers won’t want to eat what they were swimming with underwater.

Most of the divers on the island turned in early due to the lack of sleep the previous night. We would be up early at 6am the next day in order to squeeze two more dives before returning to Mersing on the 1pm ferry.

Despite not having any breakfast, the choppy waves in the early morning had an effect on me. Coupled with the diesel fumes from the stationary boat was all too much for me. I ended barfing when I emerged from the water after the dive. Realizing that it wasn’t worth the pain to go out to the sea again, I chose to rest at the beach while the rest went for the final dive of the trip.

Photos from day 2 courtesy of A:

There were one last meal before our ferry ride back to Mersing. Being kiasu Singaporeans we boarded the ferry half an hour before departure time to ‘chop’ seats.

I took one motion sickness pill before the ride and it did prevent me from feeling nauseous. However I felt like I wasn’t fully awake and was in a semi-trance-like state. A feeling which was hard to describe.

We got into Mersing at around 5pm and went about to get Ramly burgers for dinner. Saw FJ again and he got us jealous by claiming that he saw a turtle. Oh well. We will have to wait till our next dive.

Verdict: I did enjoy some of the dives but sea-sickness reared its ugly head on me. The traveling time was kinda long (>7 hours) but Dayang’s beach made up for it. The accommodation was basic but still acceptable. Food wasn’t bad but I wish there was more seafood (understand why there isn’t though). 370 SGD for up to 6 dives, dive equipment rental, food, transport and accommodation seems to be a fair price.

Lewis was already asking me about doing advanced open water diver course. I guess I’ll need to forget the pain of being sea-sick before agreeing to breathe compressed air again.

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