WONDER: The Wonder of Wander
Everyone possesses a different outlook to the same situation.
CATCH borrows the eyes of a 27 year old student as he dives into the deep
WORDS ESTELLE QUECK
IMAGE CREDITS EDWIN HIONG
The diveboat pulled up at the jetty of Paya Bakau, the fumes of exhaust competing with the air which smelt of brine and saltwater. There was not a wisp of land in sight. Adrenaline levels soared and hearts palpitated wildly in anticipation of a first dive.
With masks strapped securely on and pressure regulators in their mouths, the divers manage a thumbs up to wish each other good luck.
Edwin Hiong was among one of those waiting for the cue to take the first ever plunge into the oasis.
What lies beneath? What do I expect?
The ocean brings with it so much mystery and vastness - covering 70% of the earth’s surface yet. If mankind, with all its technological advances, have yet to trawl through all that land offers, one can only barely grasp at the worlds that awaits us under the ocean.
Yet of course, not many of us have the luxury of expediting the sea full-time.
Let’s take a dive into the sea through the eyes of Edwin. The 27 year old Economics student is an avid adventurer who has a thirst for the height of mountains and the depths of the ocean.
Lean and tanned, one can tell that Edwin takes nature by its horns to explore all that it has to offer.
Edwin compares diving to the famed webgame Pokemon. “In the shoes of Ash, you’d like to meet new wild Pokemons to complete your pokedex, or in this case, your dive experience!”
The clown fish, giant moray eel and sea urchins are common sights in the underwater world. But Edwin has swum with rarer sea creatures like the sea turtle and a black-tip shark.
“The beauty in diving is that every dive is an opportunity to see something different, and potentially new,” Edwin tells CATCH. “It is the anticipation and the eagerness to discover another marine animal which you might’ve heard of but have yet to see!”
The first dive is like putting on glasses for the first time. Edwin shares of his first dive fondly as though it were just yesterday, “Despite having had only three hours of sleep before the dive, stepping into the water instantly did the trick— I was immediately refreshed.”
Edwin attributes the wonders of this first experience to the adrenaline of discovering what was beneath the currents.
The excitement of uncovering the mysteries that lie beneath the currents pumps adrenaline into the adventurer.
As the diving group waited for the descent, Edwin ducked his head into the choppy waters for a sneak peek of what was beneath him. “I placed my face down into the water and couldn’t see the bottom of the bay, I was a little shocked to realise that it was deeper than I thought.”
Despite the great obscurity of the sea, the allure of it lies paradoxically in the very same — the beauty of the unknown.
Diving brings a multitude of experiences which cannot be felt on land. Edwin explains that the world seems to slow down underwater. Behold, as minute fishes in psychedelic hues glide by effortlessly.
Taking on the sea is opening presents on Christmas morning; there is a surprise awaiting every turn. In fact, Edwin explains that the world seems to slow down underwater. Behold, as schools of minute fish in psychedelic hues glide by, quivering nervously as they swim near you.
“It’s peaceful, since most of the time you hear only your own breathing and bubbles! Once in a while a motorboat passes in the vicinity, or a distinct noise will be made to get people’s attention.”
However, if there is one thing that does not slow down underwater, it is time. A regular diving trip to Pulau Tioman happens over the weekend where divers take a coach and ferry on Friday evening. Ample rest is to be had between each dive, allowing for not more than four dives over one trip.
Perhaps this is what draws Edwin and other recreational divers alike back into the deep waters time and again— that there is no limit to what the underwater world offers yet time is such a limited resource.
Edwin says he dives to explore the beauty of the underwater world, “Scuba diving is the gateway to access the depths under the water surface, which uncommonly explored as compared to land travels. It would be a shame to miss out on all the marvellous views which God has created below the water surface.”