In July 2015 I had taken a vacation from my vacation and booked a two-week stay in Bali, Indonesia. I was flying out from Cairns, Australia and the cheapest flight of course had to be at night so that I arrived in Bali at 2am in the morning and could spend a couple of hours hanging out at the airport.
I was really glad when I arrived in Bali since it was the time of the volcano outbreak in Java so that a lot of flights had to be cancelled or even return half way. While I was in Bali, Denpasar airport had to shut down for a few days and a lot of people did not make it off the island for a while.
Thankfully this did not affect my stay, after surviving the night at the airport I headed straight to Ubud where I spent a total of two days. From there I decided to go to Gili Trawangan where I was planning on getting my Open Water scuba diving certification.
Getting there took longer than expected due to the crazy traffic in Indonesia. The ferry station was not that far away but it ended up taking a couple of hours to get there. The ferries where going to go to all three island that are part of the Gili islands and drop off the travellers at their destinations as well as our luggage. We put stickers on it with the name of the island but they ended up just throwing them around at the boat. I was a little worried that my luggage wouldn’t arrive or get lost. It was also my first time traveling in an asian country and I still had to get used to the way of traveling.
Two hours later I finally arrived on Gili Trawangan and headed straight to my hostel to drop of my luggage and discover the island. It was such a lovely island, so many restaurants straight at the beach, beautiful waters and really easy to find your way around. Wanting to start diving as soon as possible I started having a look at all the different dive centres. There were so many dive centres alongside the beach I had no idea how to choose, it was insane.
I went into Manta Dive to get an idea about the price. The 4 day Open Water Course would cost 5500000 Rupiah (550 AUD) and was a fixed price for all the diving schools. They told me I could start the very same night with the theory and I just signed up without checking out the other dive centres.
Before this I had done a discovery dive in Australia, which included going done to about 8 metres while having to hold on to the instructor and getting an idea of how it feels like to breath underwater. Being totally honest it was quite scary. It had gotten better after a couple of minutes but the first few breaths under water scared the shit out of me. After that I went snorkelling and I did not feel like ever going diving again at that very moment.
This, however, was a couple of months earlier. Back then I didn’t know that I was going to go to Indonesia and diving there is a lot cheaper than in Australia. I must have forgotten about my fears and how it felt like to be under water.
Also I did like to go out of my comfort zone every now and then and a couple of months later I really wanted to try out diving again. So I did. I didn’t know how much I would end up loving it back then.
In the evening I went back to the Manta Dive centre where we started with the theory and I met the other participants. We were a group of six people and one instructor, which was a good number. We were also always in company of one or two dive masters as well.
Everyone got handed out an SSI Open Water Diver book for lend and we started watching some videos about the basics of scuba diving and had to fill out some paper sheets that would help us studying for the exam. I was a bit slow with filling the questions out so I finished the rest at night, which wasn’t too bad, I didn’t had anything else to do.
The next day we started diving. First we had to learn how to put on the equipment properly and open the tank and basics like that. And most importantly: How to do a buddy check! To remember the components of the buddy check we had this saying: Bruce Willis Rocks Action Films. Or Ruins them, whichever you prefer. Standing for: Buoyancy, Weights, Releases, Air and Final check. You’ll have to do it so often, you’ll never forget it.
After that we jumped into the pool, learned different ways of entering the pool and started learning scuba diving skills on and under the surface. This included of course the hand signs for communicating under water, how to take of your regulator, remove your mask and how to deflate your west. It felt good to know how to react if water would enter my mask or what to do if for some reason the regulator would fall out of my mouth.
We started diving around at the pool, had to perform the skills under water, with a dive master assisting us and if we would go to the very bottom (around 3 metres) we could already feel the pressure on our ears.
After our instructor thought we had enough practise in the pool we went out for lunch and after we would actually go on a real dive in the open ocean.
Other than in Thailand where you would go out with massive boats, the boards on Gili T. are a lot smaller just enough space for everyone to sit on the edges, ready to enter the water.
And then it was time for us to go on our first dive. Everyone was excited and it worked out pretty well. I was still remembering the terrible pain in my ears from the discover scuba dive and still having my problems to properly equalise.
We started diving around after we had all reached the ground. The water temperature was about a lovely 28 degrees and visibility was perfect. At the end of our dive we had to perform some of the skills that we had practised in the pool before, this time in the open ocean.
And that was it, one dive down, three more to go until we would receive our Open Water certification. We also received our log books where from now on every single dive will be written down and documented.
The next day included two dives and some more theory. We also had a multiple choice exam, which was thankfully really easy and everybody passed. The first dive was again to a maximum of 12 metres and the second one down to 18 metres, which was the maximum you are allowed to dive to with a simple Open Water Diver certification.
We did some more skills that we didn’t do the day before and repeated some of the important ones such as what to do if somebody runs out of air. This also included some skills on the surface like removing the weight belt or taking of the BC and putting it back on. Three dives down, one more to go.
Technically the next day we would have been done with our course but the weather was so bad that all dives had to be cancelled and no boats were sent out. So we were all forced to stay on Gili T. for another day. Could have been worse.
A day later we went for our final dive. Again down to 18 metres and not having to do any skills anymore just getting to enjoy the fascinating underwater world. It was impressive. This time I also took my Go Pro with me to take some underwater footage. Later I did make a little video out of it which you will find on the bottom of this post (I did not own underwater filter at that time so excuse the colour quality):
When we were doing our safety stop before ascending back to the surface, the instructor handed us our certification cards under water. And that’s how I became a certified scuba diver. It’s that easy.
The next day I made it off the island. Due to the weather boats were only operating in the morning because after that the waves were too high to send out the ferries. I made it back to Bali and headed to Kuta for my last couple of days in Indonesia.