One Year Wedding Anniversary & Scuba Diving at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Last week, it was Hayley and I’s one year wedding anniversary. It has been an amazing year of adventure. We have done a lot of things that were out of our comfort zone such as stream trekking at many beautiful waterfalls in Hong Kong. We were also privileged to have seen many interesting things such as the Hmong New Year in Laos, where the local Hmong people dressed up in beautiful traditional handmade outfit and play many traditional games to celebrate their new year.

To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we went to Kota Kinabalu to — you guess it right — learn how to scuba dive. What a perfect present to our adventurous self!

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Our Adventure to Kota Kinabalu

It was our first time to visit the Borneo Island and immediately we were impressed by how laid back the place was and the fact how clean and beautiful it was. We even saw coral and coral fish at the city’s habour where we boarded the boat to the dive site – something that you would not normally be able to see at a habour.

The boat ride felt like this!
The boat ride felt like this!

For our scuba diving, we went with a company called Dive Downbelow, a PADI approved training centre. On the morning of the dive, we were picked up at our hotel and transferred to their speed boat to the nearby Gaya Island, which is part of Malaysia’s national park. The ride was fun and the boatman literately floored the boat as if he was James Bond escaping from the baddies. A rough ride after breakfast but very exhilarating!

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The Training & the Practice Dives

When we arrived at the Gaya Island, it felt like we were in a tropical paradise and both of us immediately felt in love with the place. Once we had the safety briefing,  we were taught some basic scuba diving skills and how to use the equipment. After the theory lesson, we headed out to a practice session with the instructor in a small group. After which we had a small break and went of to do our first dive.

Our first scuba dive was by the beach. Overall, our first dive was fun, but I had to overcome my fear of not being able to stay afloat. (How ironic, right?) It was completely against my instinct to not able to breathe in a “proper way” even though I fully well knew I had a regulator in my month and the air was flowing properly. After surfacing onto the sea, I took a few deep breaths and went down again. It was not comfortable at all, but I consciously took deep breaths via the regulator until I got into the rhythm and it was when I started to enjoy it.

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We managed to see some Nemo fish (they were very small – so I guess Disney lied to us!!!) some artificial corals near the shore, some stone fish and a stingray. It was really nice, but the water was quite murky as we were churning up sand at the bottom of the sea. All in all, we were excited about our dive and exploration.

Our Second Dive

After lunch, we went out again for another dive. This time, we were boated out to another island where we entered the water by the backward roll entry (i.e. the James Bond style backward flip from a boat). It was something that I wanted to do for long time. We regrouped once we entered the crystal blue water. The sea seemed very deep and bottomless when I looked down from the top.

Once we headed down, we hugged the rocky coastline where we saw many maritime in wildlife, way more than the previous dive. We saw many fish such as stonefish, jellyfish and several shoals of fish. It felt like we were in some kind of magical fairyland, especially when you looked up towards the top where the sun shone down into the sea.

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After thoughts

We really enjoyed our day out and it definitely took us out of the comfort zone. The evening when we were walking down the streets of Kota Kinabalu, it certainly felt surreal. I kept asking “did I really do it?”, and yes that was an amazing adventure Hayley and I did together!

Certainly, getting a PADI scuba diving certification will be one of the things that we will be doing next year.

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