The plan for today began with the idea that I would take a ferry to Samal island and hope to go an island tour from there. Trouble is, it wasn’t easy to book tours to the island as the few travel agencies I made contact with at Davao City told me they only do the tours on certain days and that too if they get enough tourists.
So figuring I could try my luck and find some tour agency near Davao port, I took a taxi to get there early enough. When I was dropped off near the port entrance, I saw many dive centers.
I inquired about their ‘introductory dive’ scheme which cost ₱850 (₹1100/$19/€14). To my luck, they told me there was a group today and if I pay up, I could join them. I thought about whether to do a Samal island tour — or (finally) experience scuba diving for the first time.
Scuba diving it was!
I paid up, and was asked by the staff to choose a wetsuit and scuba foot fin that fit me.
I figured I would prep my body for the scuba dive and so I took out my GoPro and went in for a swim.
Okay, so first impressions: it’s unbelievable how after just a few feet beneath the surface pressure builds up in the ears. It was painful! Of course, the instructors teach you how to deal with the pain — squeeze your nostrils and just give one or two heavy breaths. It took a few breaths but the pain went away.
As we went deeper, my ears started to pain again! I felt a slight sense of nauseousness. I don’t know if it was the pure oxygen I was breathing in from the tank coupled with the fact this was my first dive, but I signalled to my dive companion if we could go up a bit.
Because when we reached the 30 feet depth, my head — in a fraction of a second — started to spin and I immediately signalled “back up” and the diver took me back up to the surface.
Back above water, my instructor removed my breathing apparatus and asked me what was wrong, and just asked me to breath normally. He told me I was breathing quite heavily, he could tell from the bubbles I was breathing out. Anyway, he said it was nearing the time each diver normally spends under water. He asked me if I would like to go one more time. I said no. I felt tired after all the nauseousness.
He asked me if I had breathing trouble or asthma. Although they did ask us even before anybody got in the water, my breathing ‘trouble’ was limited to dust allergies and the fact that I breathe through my mouth when I sleep. Does that make me unfit for scuba diving? Maybe?
Anyway, back on the boat, I was a bit disappointed my 30 minutes under water wasn’t as easy and pleasurable as I thought it would be. Watch scuba diving videos, you assume it’s all as simple as gliding through the deep sea. Reality is that, like a lot of things, it’s not as easy as it looks.
Anyway, here’s a video I took on the GoPro while I was under water:
Although the half-day tour included lunch on the boat, my body felt uneasy and I just didn’t feel like eating anything for a while. I just drank some water and ate some light snacks.
The only shitty part was that, because they dropped us at a different spot, I forgot to go to the office and ask them to send me the photos from their cameras. I eventually did e-mail them but despite two e-mails requesting the photos, I never got them! :-/ It’s not that bad for me considering I had my own underwater camera to capture my experiences, but imagine if you are a customer who wanted to a memorabilia from your first dive — and they don’t send it.
Once back at my hostel, I took a fresh bath and ate a light lunch. In the evening, I stepped out to have a proper dinner. I stumbled upon a Chinese restaurant that seemed quite crowded at 7pm.
Today was an eventful day. It wasn’t perfect, but now I can scratch off scuba diving from my ‘to-do’ list. In a way it was a nice way to cap off my days in Davao. Tomorrow, I head back to Manila.