Diving the Present
I was introduced to diving when I worked for a wetsuit manufacturer in Bali, Indonesia. I hadn’t dived back then, but I gained some knowledge about it, especially about dive gear.
One day a friend of mine took me on her diving trip with a client to Padang Bai in Bali. The conditions of the water were not good – I experienced strong currents and bad visibility. I only was snorkelling for a short time, as the water soon drifted me away and I couldn’t see anything.
After that day, I thought “how are these people diving in these crazy conditions?!”
Time passed, and I moved to a diving company. This was where my diving journey started! I went diving to where I had my bad experience, Padang Bai. Here I did an introductory diving session. However, the conditions were much different from before! The water was clear, no current, and the water was not cold - perfect for a beginner diver.
As a first-timer, I had a little bit of adrenaline, but the beauty of the water was irresistible. I rolled off the boat and descended into the water. I had an excellent dive guide with me, so my safety was in good hands. I explored the dive site, and I was amazed by the beauty of underwater life! I now understood why people go diving despite what conditions you may encounter, and since then I fell in love with it!
I took my Open Water scuba diver license not long after.
The first day of the Open Water exercise in the ocean was challenging. Never-ending waves were crashing on the rocky cliff and many boats around were rocking. I was nervous but it didn’t stop me. Luckily, the conditions underwater were not as bad as the surface, weak to mild current and murky water but still bearable. The other students and I followed the instructor and performed the skills, the hardest one was the CESA (controlled emergency swimming ascent) – where I swallowed a lot of water.
Despite that, I passed the first tough day!
The second day, on the other hand, was perfect. The calm and clear water, the diversity of fishes and corals in Amed made my day! It’s very entertaining to see those fishes swimming happily in the corals.
The last day of the course wrapped up the whole Open Water experience in beautiful dives. I did it, I finished the course, and I couldn’t be happier!
Later, I did a couple of dives as a licensed diver. Bali has a variety of different dive sites. Something for everyone. I went to Tulamben to dive the USAT Liberty Shipwreck. I would say that this is an all-in-one-package dive site as you can see macro, big pelagic fish, corals, and of course the wreck itself. You can dive in shallow or deep water, to explore and see the underwater creatures that live in it. There is almost too much to see in a single dive!
Dive Against Debris at The Jetty in Padang Bai was another wonder to behold. I love The Jetty because of the topography of the dive site. The pillars standing strong with plenty of sea fans growing on the surface of the pillars, made me feel like I was diving in the Atlantis ruins. Here are lots of sea creatures such as porcupine fish, giant frogfish, damselfish in multiple schools, yellowtail fusiliers, emperor angelfish, and I could go on all day!
For me, being able to do something helpful for the ocean left a wonderful feeling in my heart. Dive against debris is where, as a team, you remove any ocean rubbish that has worked its way into our precious ecosystem, while also witnessing the busy life underwater. During this experience, I really felt like I was taking care of their home!
A few weeks later, I decided to take the Advanced Open Water Diver course. All my previous dive experiences created a desire for me to be able to explore more. Only being an Open Water diver would mean I was limited - in terms of the maximum depth you can go.
What I loved about this experience was that I got to dive at the famous Nusa Penida Island, only a short boat ride away from the Bali mainland. In the first dive, I went to a depth of 30 meters. This was in July, the beginning of the Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) season – people travel all the way to Nusa Penida in Indonesia to see these strange-looking and unique giant fish.
While I was doing the course, I was hoping to see these majestic creatures, but unfortunately, luck was not on my side. The second dive, however, made up for it. I got to see Reef Manta Rays! They say when you dive you will get an indescribable feeling that makes your love of diving even more...that was exactly how I felt. It was my peak diving experience and one I will always cherish. Having them swim in a circle around me ignited my passion and excitement inside of me even further. I felt truly blessed.
People have different reasons for diving. Some like big pelagic fish, some like macro, and some like the underwater creatures in between. I like big pelagic fish because I think they are fantastic, one of the reasons why I love diving.
However, there is something else that made me want to dive further into scuba diving. There is a stronger feeling that makes me enjoy diving, and that is the state of mind. I don’t think about anything else besides myself. I am focused on my scuba gear, my mental state, my dive buddies, and the scenery around me. When I dive, I can become more present than I can be on land. I dive into my present moment and take it all in.
Thank you for reading, and remember to take only photos, and leave only bubbles when diving!
Written by Batoro Aji