Monday, December 21, 2009

I have always wanted to do this!

Jumping off a jetty and swimming in the sea! And I finally got to do it! Sunday at the tail end of the Sipadan trip!

So I was in Sipadan last week for diving. Five days 4 nights, 3-4 dives each day until I got sick of looking at sharks and turtles hehe.

Got to see the school of barracudas at Barracuda Point. On our second attempt. They're huge-ass man, like 2m long each. And there were hundreds of them. I had never seen so many barracudas in my life.

I got very close to them, almost at arm's length. Dunno if that was a good idea. They're predators.

But I did get attacked by a trigger fish during another dive. That was a first. But I did not panic. I was blissfully unaware of everything. My instructor Cyrena told me later. She was behind me and saw the thing going after my fins.

Sipadan was also the first time I tried drift diving. There were mild currents at some of the sites we went.

Because of the currents, it was also the first time I puked after surfacing from a dive.

But interesting tho the dives were, the thing that I took home from this trip was the last day, when we were sitting around at the jetty doing nothing (since you can't dive 24 hours prior to flying).

Suddenly our friend Alyssa said, "Hey let's go swimming!"

The sea was calm.

I thought hey, splendid idea!

So me, Alyssa and her brother Hannan along with Pua and Fauzy, jumped into the water from the jetty.

We did all kinds of styles. Awkward ones too -- Bruce Lee kicks, backflips, somersault. It really was a Sea Games event. Yeah it's called un-synchronised diving haha.

I loved how the water felt. The sun was bright but the water was cool.

Then Alyssa said perhaps we should jump from the top of the jetty -- the deck. That's like 3m above the sea. I thought, whoa.

Earlier this year, I was in Perhentian and I remember one evening standing alone at the jetty looking out to the sea below, wondering if I would ever have the courage to jump.

I was afraid then. Because I didn't know how to tread water.

But for this Sipadan trip, things were different. I was a new person. I had overcome my fear of water.

Alyssa, Hannan and I decided we must do this. We really were like tiga budak kampung. So we took a few steps back, ran towards the sea and leapt high in the air while screaming at the top of our lungs. There was a good few seconds of 'air time' before we hit the water with a huge splash. And then emerged with a big smile.

I had never had so much fun in my life! :D

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yet another breakthrough

Today, while practicing for an upcoming diving trip to Sipadan (woo-hoo!) I managed another breakthrough, this time for scuba diving.

I learnt to breathe indefinitely with the mask off.

Before today, that was the single most hated thing that I had for scuba diving. Why did I hate it? Becos for the most part, your nose is safely covered under the mask and when you take your mask off, your nose gets exposed and you are prone to sucking water in through your nose.

Do you have any idea how painful that can be, having water rushing into your sinus?

In fact, I went taste of this unpleasant experience early on in diving. Last year while practicing for my first Panasonic marine conservation assignment (practice incidentally was at the same Shah Alam pool), our instructor made us perform a number of skills, one of which was to take off our mask for a few seconds, replace it and clear water from it.

All of us newbies struggled with it. Nobody could do it.

I think it hit me hardest; becos of that one failed skill, I had doubts about my ability to survive diving in the sea and was contemplating pulling out of the assignment. Luckily I did not give in to that fear.

So how did I manage it this time? I decided to believe what the text book says: that it is easy to breathe with the mask off (in the book, they even have a picture of a guy doing that). Pinching my nose at first, I slowly let go of it and started to breathe in a controlled manner. It worked!

Dolphin Lee, my instructor for today, instructed me to swim with the mask off from one end of the pool to the other. That's 50m.

It was a 'wow' moment when I finished that manouevre.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Muslim former Swedish ambassador dies

I found this while reading on Islam in Sweden.

Muhammad Knut Bernström, former diplomat and translator of the Quran into the Swedish language, passed away recently on October 21, just a day shy of his 90th birthday.

Bernström was Swedish ambassador to Venezuela from 1963-1969, Spain (1973-1976) and Morocco (1976-1983. As a diplomat, he had also worked in France, Soviet Union, United States, Brazil and Colombia.

He converted to Islam in 1986 and took the name Muhammad.

His passions were languages, cultures and human rights issues.

Bernström was also a Muslim scholar. Over a period of ten years, he completed the monumental, self-imposed task of interpreting the Quran from classical Arabic into Swedish.

May Allah have mercy on his soul.