On the 19th of March, I found myself in a mini speedboat travelling along the waters, South East from Singapore.
I was in Bintan- a popular resort location for families and beach enthusiasts.
As the speedboat raced on, there was a crisp sound of water crashing against the windows of the boat, the occasional, sudden sputter of the two Yamaha engines at the back but most distinctively, a constant, jarring sound which interrupted my attempt at appreciating the tranquilness of the sea.
On board, twenty oxygen tanks repeatedly collided with each other whenever the boat rode over a wave. After a 15 minutes journey, the initially lively engine died down. The wobble of the oxygen tanks stopped and the boat came to a halt.
I was out in the middle of the ocean, with nothing but vast surfaces of water. The nearest island seemed like a 15 minute ride away.
Our small group of 12 stood up and went to claim our individual dive kits which were neatly stashed in a corner of the boat. It was time to prepare our equipment and gear up. While we tried to ready our oxygen tanks, it was important to hang on tightly to it as the unwanted started to happen.
The ROCKING- gentle but deadly. The merciless current pounded the boat, causing it to tip from side to side. The longer we took to prepare, the easier the seasickness got to us.
I was eager to get off the boat, but was simultaneously hesitant to plunge into the ocean. After all, being submerged in water whilst having one’s face smacked by the waves constantly ain’t no fun.
One by one, we gathered by the edge of the boat. I stood and waited in line patiently, checking all the equipment around me, taking multiple deep breaths before sitting at the ledge to wear my flippers. Then, with one hand against my stomach, the other, pressed tightly on my mask and an outstretched leg, I fell vertically into the sea.
The giant step took me well below the water but it was not long before I bobbed back up to the surface. Head tilted, resting against the buoyancy device I finned swiftly to join the others who were holding onto a buoy.
After a quick briefing, we were tasked to release the air from our buoyancy device and descend. Bit by bit I could feel the once puffy buoyancy bag slowly shrink in size that was now similar to the fitting of a normal t-shirt. Gradually, the island which I could initially see became blurry. My vision turned a little bluer and within seconds, I was underwater.
It seemed like we were sinking into an endless abyss but gradually the sea bed became clear. A sudden silence ensued. No longer could you hear the currents pound upon your chest. We were like floating Darth Vaders, making grisly, mechanical breaths as we finned along the sea bed in search of interesting finds.
Unfortunately, there were not much marine life to see but being in the ocean itself made up for it. The stillness of just standing on the seabed and closing one’s eyes, brought about much peace and serenity, something our heavily competitive world can hardly provide these days. Those ephemeral joys of staying in an environment completely different from ours reaffirmed the fact of how large our world actually is.
Diving was never part of my plans in 2016 as being submerged in the water is more often than not a pretty uncomfortable thing to imagine. Yet, had I chosen to remain in my comfort zone, it would have been impossible to see a side of this world we hardly witness, a side which still has lots to amazing experiences to offer.