“We were floating with the current at this awesome place called Sipadan,” my roommate at Kinabalu Backpackers Lodge in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia told me. At 10 pm we were both hanging out in the dorm room. Me, after a day exploring Kota Kinabalu, eating street food, going to Palau Sapi for snorkeling, and then getting a traditional Chinese massage. Ben, having come from the other side of the island via bus through Borneo. We were both happily tired, but I was asking him to describe his experience scuba diving in Semporna, a small town on the eastern coast of Borneo, Malaysia. Scuba diving was always something that I wanted to do, something I dreamed about.
He continued, “and I was like, just sitting in lotus position floating as we rushed by turtles and these huge sharks. It was amazing, truly amazing. Do you dive?” I envied him and his underwater ease. It’s hard enough for me to sit in lotus position on land, let alone underwater.
“Uh, no. I haven’t started diving yet. I just signed up for a “Discover Dive” with Sabah Divers. I go tomorrow.” I replied awkwardly.
“Awesome! You’re going to love it. You should treat yourself to the dive course as well, being Christmas and all.” I smiled shyly. This was exactly what I was planning.
I had wanted to scuba dive for years, but I waited and waited for someone to join me. I thought, it would be better with a friend. This is something that you SHARE with people. It is also possible, that, perhaps, I was waiting for the mystical “other” that would sweep me off my feet to go hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and scuba diving on the weekends. Someone who was my other half and super athletic so that I would be too. This never happened and I was, after 7 years, tired of my dream fading.
Here I was in Kota Kinabalu, finally, pursuing my dive certification. The adventure dive with Sabah Divers was good. My instructor did a basic training for issues like water in your mask and losing your regulator at Tunku Abdul Marine Park, just a short boat ride from the city docks. Once we finished he led me on an exquisite tour of the underwater life. I saw rays, clownfish, Christmas Tree worms, and turtles.
When we got back on land, I signed up for and completed the Open Water Dive Course and became, finally, the partner that I had dreamed of meeting.