Scuba Diving in Gili Islands, Indonesia - the Turtle Capital of the World , was my primary reason to set off on a solo backpacking trip to Indonesia in 2015. I was itching to get myself certified as an open water diver after I tried scuba diving in Lakshadweep for the first time. Anyone who has ever dived in Lakshadweep, would agree that I was spoilt with my first step in the underwater. So I had to choose a destination which would match upto my high expectations. I did my own research and figured out that the Philippines, Indonesia and Andaman Islands would be the best options for me. I chose Indonesia as I wanted to do my course at an international destination and the flights to Bali are cheap. And Gili Islands are only 2 hours away from Bali by a speed boat. I had spent a couple of days in Bali before I took the speed boat to Gili Trawangan.
The island impressed me beyond my imagination and I can’t ever find enough words to describe my experience of doing Scuba Diving course in Gili Islands.
The first morning, I walked up to the dive centre without any expectations in my mind. I had an instructor to myself for the entire course and I was extremely happy about it! I love personal attention when I pick up any new skill. Tim, the German instructor, was very very particular about time. Apart from this, he was super fun. We made jokes all the time during theory, confined water sessions, while I had to write my exam, on the diving boat while he gave me instructions and even underwater!
The first entire day of the course was theory, video trainings. I was relearning physics and biology from a very different perspective, the perspective of implementation! I wish I was taught all the subjects in my school through adventures! It is very important to understand the gear used for Scuba Diving and how your body is affected by the pressure underwater. At the end of the day, Tim gave me a book to read at my hostel in the night, as if the entire day’s learning wasn’t enough on a holiday!
Confined water sessions:
On the second day of my course, I was given briefing on how to use the equipment practically. I geared up and then jumped into the pool with the gear. Tim trained me on breathing with the regulator underwater, removing the regulator from the mouth and recover it while underwater, remove mask underwater for a minute, wear it and clear the mask. He then took me on the diving boat for my first Open Water Dive, and made me perform all the skills in the ocean! I would admit that I was scared with the thought of removing my regulator and mask in the ocean. I couldn’t jump out if anything goes wrong. But with the strict instructor like Tim, I had no choice! He didn’t entertain my scare at all, he probably knew everyone goes through this :) After performing the skills on a sand bed, I proceeded for my dive. I was swaying up and down, right and left. Tim had to pull me down sometimes.
The third day of the course was similar to the second day. I was taught more skills like going out of air and using buddy’s alternate air source in confined water. I had to perform these skills in the ocean during my second open water dive before proceeding for my dive. I was still swaying in the water. Towards the end of the dive, Tim asks me to perfrom CESA (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent). I had to act out of air while ascending. This time I wasn’t allowed to use his alternate air source. After coming on the surface, I had to inflate my BCD with my mouth to float on water, but I was doing it right and I was drowning. I panicked and still wasn’t able to do it right. Tim didn’t come forward to help me and kept shouting “Save your life”. I hated him when he was letting me drown, but now when I see myself diving so well, I understand how well he has trained me.
Open Water Dives:
One needs minimum of 4 Open Water Dives as part of the certification. I had completed my first two dives at the depth of 12m on day2 and day3. On the fourth day, I didn’t have to perform any skills underwater, I only had to enjoy my Open Water Dives 3 & 4 at the depth of 18m. I was learning neutral buoyancy and fish identification. By this day, I had started being stable in water. Tim let me use my underwater camera too on the last day. You aren’t allowed to use the camera during your course.
By the end of the course, I had to answer an exam and score 75% to get certified as an Open Water Diver. You get multiple attempts to clear the exam, the idea of the test is not to fail anyone, but to help them improve in the areas they lack.
Open Water Diver licence:
While I was answering my exam, Tim went out to get my licence printed. He knew I would clear it! Once he returned, he went through my answers and asked me to fulfil one more tradition before he hands over my licence to me - treat your instructor with a beer! I never liked beer, but I was so happy, that I got 4 beers and celebrated with Tim and two more divers whom I dived with. That was the best toast of my life!
My open water diver licence allows me to dive with a certified buddy upto 18 metres depth.
Maintaining all the logs of your dives is very important to check your progress as a diver. I was given my first logbook after my course. Tim helped me fill all the details, my first 4 dives were logged!
I proudly walked out as an Open Water Diver!
Open Water Diver certification is a very intense schedule and tough routine of 4 days. But, probably those were some of the best moments on my travels. I had got into the routine of an island life:
I got AQUADDICTED for the rest of my life!
I went ahead to do my Advanced Open Water Diver certification in Andaman Islands and then I'm diving across the different oceans in - Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and dying to add more to this list.
Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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Annapurna Base Camp Trek from Ghandruk Village - the shortest route to ABC Trek
Bandipur - a charming Newari heritage town in Himalayas
Khajuraho Temples: symbolism of sacred union of the divine - feminine energy & masculine consciousness
Walking along the heritage town of Orchha - a hidden gem of Bundelkhand
Sanchi Stupa - the best preserved Buddhist monument of India
Taj-UI-Masajid, Bhopal - the largest mosque in India
Indian Cultural Heritage in Madhya Pradesh - my outdoor history classroom