In the afternoon of that first day, the group was divided according to the courses that they would take. Jun Won, Thomas and Smriti focused on the theory for their Rescue and Advanced courses, while the Open Water divers were given a swim test in the ocean. It was a particularly challenging task for me because I have never been a strong swimmer, and now thrown into the sea with its current pushing me back and forth, I was scared. Thankfully, with help of a great friend and the wonderful instructors, I was able to pass the test. The experience ended the first day and later that evening, the whole group had dinner at the resort where I got to talk with the skillful chef who made all the tasty food.
The next morning, we all had theory sessions followed with the rest of the day in the pool. I felt myself getting more fearless and was even eager to take my first breath under water. We learned a lot of skills that day, including how to assemble the equipment, how to do checks with your buddies and practiced solutions for a lot of unwanted situations. Our session ended with us all waiting for the next day to come; the day we would take our first Giant Stride into the ocean.
Everybody woke up the next morning feeling excited and energetic. This was it! I felt scared initially but was quickly overwhelmed by the desire to see a world different from mine. After assembling all our equipment and lifting the heavy tanks to the dive spot, we all took turns to go down. The feeling of hitting water is amazing, and we swam out further to descend to the ocean floor, where we practiced our techniques from the pool.
At dinner time, we all boarded a boat that would carry us to a different beach where our dinner was waiting. In that one hour on the sea, we saw many islands covered with green forest, we saw the sun dipping itself in the ocean, slowly descending, probably going for a night dive. The dinner with pizza was super tasty, and we shared our favourite moments of the day.
The next day it was time to enter the ocean again but this time, from a boat. We fell backward and experienced a different kind of water rush. Nonetheless, it was amazing! My buddy Morgan and I got caught up with the breath-taking scenery of the coral reef and the ship wreck; the world beneath the surface is so strange to us, so new and yet so beautiful and captivating.
On the final day of diving, we went for a recreational dive, visiting a giant coral reef, full of vibrant colours and interesting marine creatures. My buddy Morgan was bitten by a clown fish when she was trying to socialize with them. We also completed a Dive Against Debris, where we collected rubbish from the ocean floor. After dinner that evening, we planned our trip to the local school. We delivered all the stationary and packed them up into stacks, boxes and bags.
Friday morning, we took a bus up the hill to visit the local school. The students there greeted us with enthusiasm and gratitude, making us feel delighted. We played many different games with the children and at the end of the morning we had to be pulled away from the classroom to go home. We walked down the hills, and finally loaded our now light suitcases onto the boat that would take us towards home. It was time to wave goodbye to Puerto Galera.
Here are some of our highlights:
Tue Minh Nguyen, Year 12