I still remember that day, July 1st 2005. Getting away from the boredom and tension of being in the nation’s most-favoured multinational company, my colleagues Niels and Andy, and a friend of mine, Ismail Othman, boarded the first Malaysia Airlines flight to Kota Bharu for a four-day break in Perhentian. From Kota Bharu airport, we took a cab down to Kuala Besut, then straight to Perhentian by boat.
Even though I was in Perhentian three and a half months before that for my daughters’ Open Water Diver course, it would be my first time diving with Seahorse Dive Center. On arrival, Ismail, Andy, Niels and I went to dive at Batu Nisan. Later that night, Kimi joined us and stayed with us at Seahorse’s dormitory (that very dorm has now made way for what is now the Seahorse Cafe – nice food there, people).
I was initially worried because Niels, coming from Germany, may have had a different perspective of what or how an accommodation should be like, so I was a bit apprehensive about the condition of the dorm. But he was cool about staying in a dorm that had only one window, wooden double-deckers, thin mattresses, one attached bathroom and one table fan, with only a 12-hour daily electricity supply. But I guess it was the company that mattered most, as it did during my trip with Yummy Baby, Gem Odorono Corleone, Herbivore Girl, Abang Rina, Betch President, Gombak4Life and Liverpool Babe.
Niels is a legal person. To me, he is funny and good fun, although some found him to be pushy. I can’t blame him because being a German, the motto macht mit
einer großen Kanone Qualität counts. Andy is an avid topside photographer, meticulous and very detailed (redundant repetition?). He is very quiet at times, especially when he is engrossed with his work, but can deliver a mean joke from time to time. Ismail and Kimi were my daughters’ open water diver coursemates, but Kimi became my buddy when we went to Redang two months before the Perhentian trip.
I went for a night dive at Batu Nisan after which we had dinner at Abdul’s and it was fun. We slept fine that night as it rained heavily.
I woke up the next morning at 7am. Birgit Weber, the resident instructor and my Facebook friend was busy sweeping the floor with the statuesquely beautiful Divemaster, Larissa. Both Larissa and Birgit are Niels’s compatriots. We did the deepest dive first that morning at the Secret Reef, followed by another dive at Tukun Laut. In the afternoon, a member of the Singapore Marine Police, Jessie Tan, who was doing her Master Scuba Diver course did a dive with us at Tanjung Basi.
That night again we had dinner at Abdul before retiring.
The next morning, Larissa DMed us to Sugar Wreck. Niels buddied with Andy, Kimi and I, while Ismail, with the least number of dives, buddied with Larissa. During a simple penetration of the wreck’s cargo holds, Ismail was lost and had followed another group of divers. Then when we went to the top of the wreck to do our safety stop, Larissa panicked when she could not find Ismail. She was wide-eyed. I signalled for her to calm down. I then signalled to the rest to continue with their safety stop and surface when they were done. I then guided Larissa back to the wreck to search for Ismail. With our air running low, we had to surface – and there was Ismail, already in the dive boat, and he had followed his “lost buddy procedure” as briefed by the DM. The final dive of the trip was done at Sea Belle Rock…it is one of the places I hardly dive at, but is a very good dive site.
After the dive, I thought I’d play a prank and tell people I saw a Hammerhead underwater and took a picture of it.
I did see a Hammerhead; I just did not say it was a Hammerhead shark. It was after this that Andy quipped that I was a Nitrogen narcosis addict, and Kimi said maybe we ought to start a blog or website to write about our dive adventures. That was how Narcaholic was born.
It was a good trip with great friends – and because of that trip, I got to make lots of new friends through this blog, and meet my Yummy Baby
Birgit is no longer there. She is now with a dive center in Perhentian Kecil. Larissa last I heard broke-off with her boyfriend, James, and is now an instructor in the Maldives. Andy is now on his own doing photography and talks; Niels has also left the company and is now working elsewhere in KL; Ismail is missing in action; Kimi still comments on this blog, although I have not dived with him since March 2006.
Seahorse is now a double-storey dive center, and is still as busy as it was back then, and is still my favourite dive center in the Perhentians.