Sabah #3: Fun Dives

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December 30th 2015
Published: February 19th 2016
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Eek! Now, I have finished my Padi course, I can go out diving. We got up early again, I am so not used to this but it does make a nice change, and headed down to the dive shop. We had to pay for the dives that we were going to do today. Since we had dived with them before, we both got a bit of a discount. My friend got more as she had done more dives. Then we headed along to the Jesselton Point Waterfront and met up with the divemasters and the other divers at one of the cafes. We'd already had some breakfast, so didn't get any food. Once everyone was there, we headed down to the boats. They do a roll call and we were directed onto the correct boats. It is a pretty quick operation, as one boat needs to be filled with its peeps, so that it can move to let the next boat in to fill up. We headed out from the port. The trip is about 15 minutes so not too long. It is nice that the dive spots are close by. It means we are not wasting too much time to reach the sites, meaning we can get more dives in.

I was really happy to find out that my group would consist of myself, my friend and our divemaster. We got kitted up, I put on my wet suit and tried on my fins to make sure that they were a good fit. I was both excited and nervous to be heading back into the water. Our first dive was at a place called Fish Feeder near Gaya and Sapi Islands. We went down to a depth of 18 metres and the water was about 30 degrees Celsius. The visibility was about 4-5 metres and I was under water for about 44 minutes. My descent was pretty hard, as I was so buoyant. I needed to have extra weight added, so I was now with 6 kgs. The highlight of this dive was seeing a turtle! He was so laid back, just sitting on a piece of rock/coral, watching the world go by. I saw lots of different fish and coral. The ones I was able to identify later, were bubble coral, mushroom coral and pore coral. I still am not very good at keeping myself underwater as I lose weight from the oxygen tank. When we were starting to go back up, I couldn't stop myself, so I surfaced ages before the others oops! The boat wasn't too far away, so I was able to signal for the drover to come and pick me up. Also my BCD wasn't working properly, as a cable had come loose meaning that when I filled it with air, it would just start hissing back out. However I managed to stay afloat while waiting for the boat without having to do manual inflation.

After our first dive, we headed over to Gaya Island to take some time out. I hadn't been to Gaya Island when I was doing my PADI course, so it was nice to visit somewhere new. This island is a lot bigger and more commercialised than Sapi Island, or at least the part that I have visited. Still, it would be nice to spend some time on the islands, chilling, swimming and snorkelling. Maybe one day, I will make it back here. We spent about twenty minutes to half an hour on the island. We just sat on one of the walls, away from the main beach munching on some cereal bars. Even though this part wasn't the main beach, it was still really popular. There were lots of people in the water.

Our second dive was to Coral Garden near Sapi Island. We went down to 16 metres and our dive time was about 46 minutes. We saw lots more stuff underwater. I was really impressed with the sea urchins. I thought that they just kind of sat there, but we saw a group of about two or three walking along the ocean floor. So cool! I also saw some brain coral and other sea creatures and plants. I thought that my second dive would be better as I had tightened my mask to make sure that the water wouldn't leak in. However, it was far too tight and was hurting my head. I spent most of my time, trying to stop it from hurting my head, so I didn't really enjoy my dive. I just wanted to get to the surface and rip my mask off.

We headed back to Sapi Island for lunch. I was definitely in need of a rest. I decided to order sweet and sour chicken today, as it had looked good when others had ordered. Of course, I ordered an iced coffee to, gotta get my caffeine in. The sweet and sour chicken was good, I really enjoyed it, the food on the island has been pretty decent. It's not amazing, but it could have been a whole lot worse, as you are a captive market. It was nice to chill out for a bit, as I hadn't really enjoyed my last dive too much. I think we spent about and hour, maybe a bit longer on the island. We sat in the shade of the restaurant, and took some time to chill out. I was feeling pretty tired, so it was nice to sit and do nothing for a while.

We headed back to the boat and went off to do our third and final dive of the day. This time the boat went out to an area called Mid Reef as it was midway between Sapi and Gaya islands. The visibility was still quite poor around 5 metres and we went down to a depth of 16 metres. The water temperature was about 27-30 degrees Celsius. We saw loads of different fish, plants and other sea creatures. I really need to study the chart that my friend has, as I am crap at identifiying the different things that I see. I think oh I'll remember that and then when I get to the surface, I can only remember one or two things. I think I am just a bit overwhelmed at all the things I've seen in this new world that has opened up to me. I definitely enjoyed this dive a lot more than the previous one. We spent about 50 minutes underwater, discovering lots of stuff. My buoyancy improved a little bit, as I managed to sort myself out and added a little air to my BCD, so I would float instead of dragging along the ocean floor. Also I noticed the other divers this time. I don't know if this area was more compact, the visibility was slightly better, or I was just more aware of my surroundings. Luckily, I didn't get confused and swim off with the wrong group.

At the jetty we filled in our dive logs. Three more dives under my belt. I'm a bit sad knowing that I won't be able to do it again for a good while. It seems a bit of a shame as I now have these skills, but won't be able to practice them and get better. I think I will need to do a refresher course next time I dive. I hope I can go in Korea some time. We took a look in a shop that sold dive equipment near the jetty, but it was a bit grotty and they had so much stuff, not just diving, but all sorts of outdoorsy stuff. It felt good to have a warm shower back at the hostel and wash the salt water away. We prepped our stuff for the next day, before heading out for dinner.

For dinner we decided to head back to Chili Vanilla, our favourite restaurant in Kota Kinabulu. We got there pretty early, as we usually do, and were surprised to see that a lot of the tables had been reserved. Luckily, there were some hidden around the corner that were empty and unreserved. I had been wanting to have the fried calamari as I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had it, so I ordered it for my starter. I got a big basket of calamari served on a bed of salad with sumac mayo, which was very tasty. I had to google sumac when I was back at the hostel, as I didn't have a clue what it was. I also had Chilli Vanilla cocktail, which was delicious. We split two mains. We had a fish dish (I forget which one) served on Spaetzle, which was really good, the Spaetzle was creamy. The other dish was chicken (I think, my memory is going as I am writing this so long after we were there) stufed with duck, apricot and date served on couscous. The chicken was really nice, but the couscous was a bit plain. We were well and truly stuffed by the time we left the restaurant. We waddled back to the hostel in preparation for our early morning the next day.

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