First day diving

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Diving in Egypt

[more photos from the diving in the Egypt set on Flickr]

I had an early start as today I had booked two dives in the Red Sea with Emperor Divers, who’d bent over backwards to arrange everything for us before we came out. I have dived in the Red Sea before (a handful of shore dives from Eilat), but these would be my first boat dives in the area.

It was a great day on a lovely boat (the Emperor Marcus), with a fantastic lunch, and Ryan was one of the best dive guides I’ve had – just a great personality and his rapport with Paul, the other guide on board, was fantastic.

The water was warm and the sea life plentiful. Visibility is amongst the best I’ve had while diving but I still limited myself to two dives despite a third being offered for only €20. I tend to get headaches after diving and today was particularly bad, perhaps down to dehydration. I definitely need to remember to drink more water in such hot climates.

Our rarity of the day was an eagle ray, seen at quite some distance. There were plenty of interesting fish and the like at a closer proximity to get decent photos of. My buddy, Norman, managed to find a cute little nudibranch but even without taking into account the more mobile life forms there’s no denying that the coral in the area is some of the most spectacular I have ever seen.

Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Diving in Egypt

I opted to cough up for the Nitrox course afterwards and was supplied with a DVD player, DVD and manual to bone up on before Thursday’s dives and short test. Courtesy of a special offer, Emperor were swallowing the PADI certification fee for the course which is now a “dry” one, not requiring any actual dive time.

Back at the dive centre, I bumped into my dad who’d had a go at a Discover SCUBA Dive (DSD) course. Sadly, he’d not been able to complete it. Due to some ill health over the last couple of years his breathing’s not top notch and he just couldn’t get the rhythm. Thanks, though, to the staff who assisted him as best they could and he has said he’d love to have another go sometime.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Birthday in the sun

The Can-Can

Fit women showing you their knickers. That's class, that is.

My first full day on holiday was a) busy and b) my birthday. As mentioned yesterday, I decided to treat myself to a couple of dives, partly to try to make sure I didn’t need a PADI refresher as I’m required to dive every 6 months or I have to sit a course. Which is both expensive and annoying.

We got up fairly early and Christina decided to come along for the ride, though she couldn’t dive as she was coming down with a cold. The shop sorted me out with all my kit, including an air bottle that required a wrench to open. Not until I’d ripped the skin on my hand trying first. Ah well.

The boat was a smallish RIB with enough room for a handful of us. There were two instructors, the pilot, Christina and myself and two other divers. The trip to the first dive site was maybe 15-20 minutes during which time I managed to just about stave off seasickness. The sea was pretty calm so we’d picked a good day to go out.

Having said that, I couldn’t wait to get into the water and away from the bobbing. The sea was a moderately comfortable 19 degrees – colder than I’m used to, but fine with the full length wetsuit I’d been issued with. I was one on one with my instructor so we edged our way down the anchor rope to around 30m and began to explore.

Thing is, My mask kept fogging and I was rapidly becoming both dizzy and disorientated. I’ve never felt like this underwater before, even with mask problems. The mask was my own – I’d brought it with me and it had been fine in the past. I guess it needed a better clean before use. However, the head problems just wouldn’t go away. As long as I kept my mask clear, I wasn’t so bad but at the first hint of clouding I started to feel spaced out.

Not good.

I just relaxed and kept my mask clear as much as possible. The dive itself was OK with decent visibility, but nothing spectacular to see. However, I don’t remember too much of it which is a shame.


And more hot women in hotter pants.

When we surfaced, I had a bit of a headache and we also got stuck at the dive site for some time as the anchor had managed to wedge itself rather too securely on the sea floor. My instructor had to dive down to loosen it, and after almost half an hour of riding the waves what little food I’d had that morning decided to make an exit.

We made it to the second dive site, known for turtles, about half an hour after that where all the water I’d drunk decided to leave my digestive tracts and mix with the sea water. I decided to sit the dive out and lie down. I wasn’t just ill, I still had a sore head and felt dizzy. Not a good shape to be in before a dive, even a shallow one.

So that was most of the day. After returning to shore I headed back to the resort with a sandwich and had a bit of a snooze until I felt more human. I was in such a rush to lie down I even forgot to get my logbook stamped. Very annoyed about that.

The rest of the daylight hours were relaxed, and in the evening we caught a free bus up to see a cabaret show that Christina and her mum had booked. Not normally something I’d do on holiday, but hey – why not? It was called The Sound of Musicals and included a meal and all the alcohol we could shove down our necks.

It wasn’t bad, either. The food was pretty decent and the free wine not the worst in the world (though the rosé was the driest I’ve ever tasted and I stuck to beer anyway). The performances were good, and the song choices not bad either. There were numbers from The Sound of Music, Les Misérables, Chicago, and Joseph amongst others.

The girl sat next to me was related to one of the main cast members and on the way out I mentioned this to him as the performers waved us off. “The noisy girl at the front? Yeah, that’s my cousin!”

There is a vague possibility that Christina and I headed back to the karaoke bar when we returned to town, but there is no proof of these rumours. I hope.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Quick trip to Tenerife

Got to love the token xmassy tinsel

Got to love the token xmassy tinsel

This was fairly last-minute so I didn’t really mention it much on here, but when I finished my school placements (and for other reasons) I just needed to get the hell away from the UK for a bit. Unwind, chill out, avoid the internet and pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist.

Fortunately, I know some very lovely people who offered me a room for a few nights if I fancied chilling out in Tenerife. All I had to do was get there and bring some spending money. Easy.

A quick check via pointed me in the direction of Scotland‘s largest airline, GlopeSpan from whom I booked a return flight from Glasgow. Oh, yes. That would bite me in the bum in a few days time…

So stupidly early on Sunday 13th, my uncle dropped me off at Glasgow Airport. Bang on time I took off and shortly before midday I landed at Tenerife South Reina-Sofia Airport. One point to note is that although Tenerife is Spanish territory, it’s in the same time zone as the UK so there’s no need to adjust your watches. Tell this to the telephone companies as my phone insisted on moving itself forward an hour due to connecting to a Spanish network. Grr.

Taxi from the airport to Costa Adeje where I would be staying is posted as being €23.50. I opted for the bus instead as I’m a  cheapskate. For those heading that way, you want the number 111 to Playa Las Américas and then 416 or 417 to Torviscas. Do note there is a less frequent survice on a Sunday and you’ll need to look for landmarks on the second leg to make sure you get off at the right place – it’s barely 10 minutes’ ride. Total cost was less that €4, so make sure you have some smaller notes or pocket change to hand.

From the stop, it was a short walk to the resort where I was staying and met up with the lovely Christina and her mother, Karen. The weather was nice (though there were a few showers over the week) and the company good!

My first priority was to book some diving. I’d tried to organise something online when I was still in the UK, but the company I’d looked at hadn’t replied. As it happened, they were based less than 5 minutes’ walk from our resort so Christina and I wandered down to sort something out.

The company was Diversity, and after some haggling, they agreed to the internet rate of €65 for two dives, all in. Far cheaper than other operations that were asking that or more for just two dives with equipment hire on top. The choice was Monday or Wednesday due to weather and tides and I decided to dive the following day.

After that, it was pretty much just a relaxing day. We walked about, I got familiar with where things were and had a McDs as my first meal of the day. Dinner was a lovely roast at the restaurant attached to the resort and in the evening I got slightly drunk and attempted karaoke at a nearby bar. Twice. Or maybe three times.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

East Timor / Dili – A diving update

After comments made on the Dili Guide post and a rather heavy-handed (and angry, and vaguely threatening) email from Wayne at Free Flow I’ve kind of had my arm bent into putting this post up. Wayne is wanting (nay, demanding) an apology for my comment that Free Flow’s safety measures are (to quote myself) “rather slipshod”.

As Wayne has pointed out to me, Free Flow’s safety record is 100% – they have had no accidents, mishaps, deaths, injuries, lost divers or any such during the time they have been registered and keeping records. There. That’s clear.

The information I was given was from a third party PADI Professional and related to practices at Free Flow. I had no reason to disbelieve what that person told me, and to date I still have no reason. To the best of my knowledge, this individual has and had no axe to grind with Free Flow as an organisation, I had (at the time) made no mention of personally using them and it came up in conversation about diving in general and in East Timor specifically.

However, do bear in mind that I am one person who heard this from one other. While I am a PADI Professional (as Wayne pointed out) and must not defame PADI or other PADI members/organisations, I am also bound to be honest as far as I can be. As such, I reported one concern I had which had – as I stated – come from another PADI Pro (who I will now most certainly not be naming). As such, said individual is also bound by the same rules.

If the information I got was incorrect – and I knew as such – then I would unreservedly and without prompting adjust the original post and issue an apology. People who know me know that I’m stubborn as a mule, but very quick to back down if proved wrong. I am not too proud to apologise or to be corrected.

In this instance, though, I effectively have one person’s word against the other. One I regard as, if not a friend then a passing acquaintance. The other I regard as someone who – perhaps with justification, in fairness – has thrown some weighty messages my way and who I don’t know other than this.

I hope this puts my comments on the safety of Free Flow Divers in Dili, East Timor into some clarity. People, if you’re going to dig out info on a company or individual – do it through more channels than just one blog post.  My original post clearly stated that I had no personal experience with Free Flow and was only passing on something I’ve heard. Their published safety record and current  PADI Dive Resort status should also be brought into the equation when you’re weighing things up.

Even though I don’t really feel I have to do this, but to prove a point that there are many positive comments about Free Flow and Wayne himself out there if you look hard enough, do check out the “People Say The Nicest Things” post on Free Flow’s own blog. Notice that some of the sources listed are somewhat more well-respected and experienced than some guy’s travel blog.

For completeness, in his original comment (I won’t repeat his email on here as it does mention some other matters which I don’t believe are for public reading relating to Free Flow’s business) Wayne also had a go at me for my comments on pricing. Re-reading my original post, the mention of “pricey” was actually against Dive Timor-Larosae, another dive business.

However – and I have edited the post to reflect this – this was badly written on my part. I should have made it clear, or kept the pricing issue separate, as I had intended to emphasise that diving is expensive in East Timor as compared to other regions, such as the Gili Islands, Borneo, Ko Tao and the like.

For this, I do apologise.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Moving around

Camouflaged cuttlefish

Camouflaged cuttlefish

As I said in the last post, Leah had been ill overnight so I left her to get some kip while I looked for a new room. Big Bubbles had people arriving who’d filled the place with reservations and we had to shift elsewhere.

I tried a few places up the road until I got to Manta Dive. One member of staff there walked me around and off the beach (there are a few rows further back with equally nice accommodation) until we found somewhere that guests had vacated only minutes beforehand. As the aircon wasn’t working, they knocked a little off and I said I’d take it. OK, they only knocked $2.50 off it, but any discount is good.

The one benefit of already being on the island is that I had first dibs compared to those who would arrive by ferry an hour or two later.

Colourful shrimp

Colourful shrimp

Also, a small miracle – the screen started working on the back of my camera again. Then it stopped working. Then it started again. Typically it starts when I’ve pretty much decided I won’t be doing any more dives (although never say never), but as it’s intermittent I won’t start celebrating yet. It’s still going for repair when I get home, especially as it’s started repeating the fault it had in Brisbane earlier in the year where it refuses to believe the battery compartment is closed when I switch it on. And it seems to be letting water in at shallow depths which it shouldn’t.

As a “thank you” for their help, I decided to do a dive with Manta and in the afternoon went off to do the Bounty Wreck while Leah huddled up and tried to reintroduce fluids into her body. This was a great dive and one I can definitely recommend. The beginning is a drift for 15 or so minutes until you reach the wreck itself where there is little or no current.

Juvenile lion fish

Juvenile lion fish

I believe it used to be a restaurant so it’s not a “ship” shape, more of a damaged cube. However, it’s teaming with life and very easy to get around. It’s also at a fairly shallow depth so you should manage a decent dive time.

One word of warning is to avoid the food at Manta. The diving is good and the staff lovely, but anything above and beyond a cheese and tomato jaffle (which was nice) isn’t worth trying. Leah had spag bol and I went for a chicken fajita. They were both so salty they tasted virtually identical.

And thence to bed in our lovely Lombok rice-barn themed pad.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]