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2nd Borneo ACT Project – Day 2

Waking up at 7am with sun streaming into our cabins, we ate a sumptuous breakfast, comprising of Christian’s raisin bread and of course Nutella. Then we split up into two groups: the soon-to-be divers and the certified divers. The trainee divers had the opportunity of doing confined water dives while the certified divers had to clean the boat.

Jin, Ravyna and Benedict enthusiastically headed for the dive, guided by our awesome dive instructor, Christian. When Jin held her head up from underwater to watch the others dive down, an overwhelming surge of seawater enveloped her face, rushing into her mask and regulator. She blew so hard as if she’s an insane bubble machine (whatever that was)—it actually worked; she was thrilled to be embraced by the ocean. On the other hand, Ravyna found the experience enjoyable as she felt much more comfortable being underwater than being on the surface. Within a short period, Benedict became accustomed to the equipment and improved on his swimming too. Generally, it went smoothly—no one’s popping like champagne or taking the regulator out for no reason, and we covered some basic skills.

After sailing around Borneo for the last three weeks, the boat has turned into an undesirable mess. Thus, the rest of us vacuumed the floors, wiped them clean with soap, polished the fiberglass and tidied the kitchen. As a reward for our hard work, we were also allowed to dive for the last time off Pulau Bankawan to collect more Crown of Thorns starfish.

Later that day we traveled thirty minutes to Pulau Silumpat, where there are pearl farms and a coral growing facility in the vicinity. The more experienced divers did a deep dive as part of the advanced open water course. It was a strange experience to see the reef from a depth of 33m: the water absorbs the red light and therefore the colours are less vivid. Furthermore, as the air pressure increases as you go deeper you use up more air with every breath and the chance of decompression sickness can also increase. Thus at increasing depth, you have to diver shorter.

On the other hand, the trainee divers along with the rest of the crew on board Pangaea went for a little snorkeling. Being vertically straight with your head down underwater doesn’t really come naturally but it feels great when you manage to do it!

When the sun was setting, we visited some indigenous people living on sampan (local boats). These people, what some people call ‘sea gypsies’, live all their lives on boats and fish only just enough to sustain themselves. Personally this was a great experience—it’s a scene we might have watched through documentary on their lives, but we had never once thought that we’d meet some of them in person.

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