Diving Layang Layang, Sabah March 2013

This is again a very much post dated piece, almost a year ago.  Strangely, maybe because the new year resolution is to travel less, I am hoping to go fill in the blanks in my past 2 years of blogging life.  Pardon me for the lack of updates but hey, I guess always better late than never. 🙂

Layang Layang had always been on my radar but because I like to travel alone, I had not been able to get past myself on its single supplement fees.  I knew it would never happen but I was secretly hoping that there would be more and more single travellers and this figure would eventually become insignificant.  Well, that didn’t happen but someone up there is always watching out for me. 🙂  I had signed up for a dive master course and by some coincidence, my instructor asked if I would like to complete my course in Layang Layang and all I had to do was pay for my air tickets and the single supplement fees for my single room.  The choice was obvious.  I had to go despite my tight work schedule.

A pretty little island isolated from pretty much the rest of the world, we had to fly to Kota Kinabalu from Singapore and eventually get on a little plane to get to our secluded island.  Do take note that both you and your luggage will be weighed before you board so try not to overload yourself.  There is only one resort on the island and its only opened from March to August, 6 months in a year.  Good mainly for scuba diving I would say or simply rest and relax at the resort.  Three flights a week take you in and out of the island so its good to check your connecting flights in Kota Kinabalu.

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
arriving at layang layang

We arrived in the early morning before 8 am and that means we would be able to clock at least 2 dives on our arrival day.  Sadly for me, I had my course items to complete and a schedule to follow, so its not my usual no rush trip.  We had some breakfast and for me, I had to be at the pool to do a refresher course for a aow student on the trip.  I think i need a refresher to run the refresher course. :p

The first 2 dives were pretty relaxing.  I was tasked to assist the instructor in conducting her aow course.  As there was only a lone student, I was pretty relaxed and there were only very little preparation needed.  Some shots of what went on underwater with a very relaxed student indeed. 🙂

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Assisting AOW course
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Yes, I see them too!!

And what we do during safety stops …… watching my instructor perform 🙂

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Fooling around with the instructor

I had an early rest the first night.  It had been a tiring day with all the traveling and early morning flights.  Not a foodie person, so if you had noticed, I do not take photos of my food.  But I had to say that the food here is simply wonderful with a nice variety to choose from.  Yes, buffet style so help yourself to as many servings as you would like.

I had an early morning briefing with my instructor.  Unfortunately I guess it didn’t go too well.  I wasn’t really sure what went wrong but I would definitely had preferred better planning on what I was supposed to be doing.  2 non communicating instructors didn’t really equate to excellent information being passed on.  Confused, I was told this is the diving industry where plans change all the time.  Well, had it been due to the weather, water conditions or any other natural occurrences, I would buy into the idea a lot better.  An obvious lapse in planning my training schedule and a pretty lame attempt to try to cover that up.  I skipped my first dive.

Didn’t end up too badly on the boat though.  A pod of dolphins came by and the boatman skilfully rounded them up by circling around them.  That was pretty fun. Water was too choppy for me to take a good shot but it made up for the little morning unhappiness.  I was ready to dive again. 🙂

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Choppy waters but the dolphins came to say hello

And so it was finally decided.  I had to do a deep dive scenario with an extra side mounted tank for my next dive. Didn’t sound too bad.  I did my navigation into the blue and back too.  I hadn’t been prepared for counting off tasks off my list this dive trip but I guess it was still a training trip so it might really not be all fun and laughter after all. 🙁

Fortunately, there was still plenty to see down below.  We kind of extended our dive time ‘a little’ with our extra tank.  And one thing noted, not nice to keep the rest waiting up there on the boat. :p

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Deep dive
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
And a bigger turtle…

After lunch time, we had a long talk on my training schedule and I realised we were not going to be able to finish all my to-do-list despite staying almost a week here.  The only way to make this as productive as we possibly can was to include an evening shore dive daily.  It was going to be tiring for myself and the other divers in the group who were going to play the role of mock students to help me complete my course requirements.  This was becoming less and less of a holiday.  (special note : sorry guys and a big thank you too for all your help.)

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Shore dive – all too familiar now

Yes this is the area that we dived for the next few evenings… …

The next morning, I woke up refreshed and we were all ready to go hammerhead ‘hunting’.  Not the best choice of word as all we wanted was a good look and if luck has it, a good picture of the lovely creature.

The decision that morning was to swim out into the blue away from the reef.  This was a real search and we were constantly reminded not to give chase and to watch our depth and no decompression time.  All set to go.

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
A whole school of hammerheads

We were really lucky.  It was not one or two, we had a whole school right beneath us, at a depth of 40m.  A few curious ones were circling around us.  Not the best photographer but I was happy with this.  Now I can clearly see where she got her name from.  This was an excellent way to start the day.

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Happy photographers celebrating

Its amazing how we derive so much pleasure from life’s little surprises.  We thought we had seen what we came out here for and should really be thankful and not be greedy.  But when life decides to be generous, its hard to imagine what comes next.

And so, even at the reef, by the wall, a big fat hammie decided to come say hello.  Not forgetting a white tip too. 🙂

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
more sharks
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
uneventful but fun dive

Our third dive was pretty uneventful but the day’s worth of excitement were sufficient topic for both lunch and dinner.  It was always nice to have divers sitting around, working on their laptops and sharing photos of the day.  It wasn’t really about having the best shot but to me, it was sharing life’s simple joys.  We were all behaving like children being handed the latest toy.

2 more days before we leave and I was beginning to feel that little realisation of reality.  I cleared that nagging thought out of my mind.  I was going to enjoy my dives today. 🙂  We had some lovely morning greetings from our friends underwater.  And another hammerhead… I think they love us. :p

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Lovely morning greetings
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Amazing visibility

A little shift in our focus and I started looking for some of my favourite guys underwater…

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
my favourite little fellows

and we found our ways to make up for the missing hammies ……

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
What we do on a sharkless dive

The excitement followed us back to our resort and we could hear excited ramblings coming from different tables on what they had seen for the day.  Amidst the sounds of cutleries were laughters of joy and expectations of the coming day’s dive.  For many, tomorrow’s morning dive marked the last dive out here at Layang Layang.  Yes, full of anticipation on what was to come the next day.

I made it a point to wake up earlier to take some pictures of the surroundings.  Sitting out in the open field right beyond the runway, facing the dark open sea ahead, it was a rare moment of peace and tranquility.  It had been a while since I travelled with a group and I guessed I had been missing out on this solitary moments I had always enjoy when I was alone.  I had time to spare and I allowed my thoughts to wander and to dream.  More than one person had told me I lived in a fairy tale world and I needed to snap out of that.  But wasn’t every little child’s world pretty much the same?  Deep inside, I probably didn’t want to grow up too much.  I still wanted to be easily forgiven for any wrongs I had done and I still wanted to get away with certain things I shot out without thinking deep enough.  And on the same note, I wanted to wake up and not remember how someone had betrayed my trust or made use of my friendship with them.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world when all would be alright and reset to its primal best after a good night’s sleep?

The lovely views that sent me into a daze and into my own little world…

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
By the runway

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
resort views
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Seaview from the resort

The last dive of this trip.  I will miss diving here….

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
They came to say goodbye
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
In schools too
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
and more
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
and not forgetting the usual heroes

We had a no-dive time to fulfil before our flight out the next morning, so we decided to go bird watching.  What i didn’t expect was to smell them first way before seeing them.  It was a lot of birds….

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
Bird watching
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
and more birds

And on our way back from ‘bird island’  it was photo-taking time…

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
The team with a missing member (non-bird watcher) 🙂

Back at the resort, it was our turn to be the stars. 🙂

Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
photo time with my dive buddy
Pulau layang layang, Sabah Malaysia
The dive shop

We ended our last night at the resort drinking.  No photo evidence and I am definitely glad about this.  I had my first beer down the snorkel experience and I didn’t know I had it in me to finish an entire can in a single breath.  Nope, not trying that again any time soon.

And Layang Layang, I’m definitely coming back for a good relaxing leisure dive…..

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