One of the most amazing experiences of my life, to almost one of the last…
Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
– Byron Bay, Australia
Well, its my birthday. Well, kinda but not. Technically, I was born Nov 13th in North Vancouver, and its still the 12th there, but really, close enough. Its the first ever sunny birthday I’ve ever had, so it doesn’t really feel like November. But it feels good to be 28.
I’m struggling to keep up with my blogs, since much has happened and I’m still a week or so back. So let’s get to it.
The Great Barrier Reef. One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. An amazing 900 islands, stretching over 2600 km. One of the musts of my trip. So I headed to Airlie Beach after Fraser, where I had booked a dive on a huge pontoon floating on the outer edge of the reef.
It was a cool wanderland, set afloat all year round, complete with a waterslide, glassbottom, underwater sub, and all the equipment needed for diving and snorkelling on the amazing reef.
Our massive yacht which took us out to the pontoon, through the Whitsunday Islands.
Me and the Reef.
As I went by myself, I realized the cruise was not your usual backpacker type outing. In fact, I got a way better deal then the rest of the people on board, but it was mostly old people, rich people and kids. I was put into the first dive group, so I had no time to get nervous. In my group, I had 3 older Asian people. Awesome. Asians aren’t known for our swimming abilities usually, except for when they take dope and win gold metals.
We went through the proper instructions, suited up, and made our way to the bottom of the pontoon, where there was an underwater platform. We’d practice breathing techniques and getting used to breathing under water. Its probably the most un-natural feeling I’ve ever had, but I got used to it eventually. The old Chinese woman with my divemaster did not. She was FREAKING out! At one point saying, “The water tastes funny!” to where our instructor said, “Its supposed to dear. Its the ocean.”
It took us 20 minutes of going under, me giving the “ok” and then her panicing and going back to the surface. Finally, our divemaster grabbed both our hand and down we went.
After you go down, you forget that your breathing underwater. You forget that your holding hands with a older South African man while swimming. You just hear your breath, and get lost in the world. It was freakin amazing.
This was only the view from under the pontoon. And quite honestly, pictures wouldn’t do it justice anyways. The coral was so bright and vibrant down below. Huge schools of fish swim right through you. We swam up to a giant clam, 1m across, and stuck our hands in it until it closed. Highlight for me, when a giant wrasse fish, named Willi, who is a resident of the area, swam straight up to us, and stared me right in the face.
You can’t tell from the pic, but he’s about the size of a 12 yr old child. And he’d swim a foot away from my face, and stare at me. I pet him. It felt weird, but totally cool.
And then, before I knew it, we came back up. Because the old Chinese lady was freaking out so much, we didn’t have as much time underwater. Probably only about 20mins, when it should have been 30.
We had the opportunity to dive again for half price, and I figured I may never dive on the Reef again. I did it again.
This time, no hand holding. There was 4 of us, 2 instructors, all people were good to go. The 2nd dive we went even deeper and to a different part of the Reef. So much more vibrant and different species of everything. It was so much cooler floating on your own, swimming around like I was in space. And then I almost freaked out.
Water gets into your mask, and you’re just supposed to look up, push the top of your mask, and blow out your nose. The instructor swam up to me, and motioned for me to do so. He went to adjust my mask, and I think I may have inhaled through my nose, and I freaked and spat out my regulator. I was holding my breath under 6m of ocean water.
Now, I don’t know the psychics of everything, but a buddy on Fraser was talking about diving. If you swim up to the surface too fast, your lungs could expand too fast and begin to bleed. Your ears might not be used to the difference in pressure, and your head could explode too (well, not really. But I don’t think it’d feel good) I was about to swim to the surface and try to get some air.
The instructor grabbed me by my flipper, pulled me down and shoved the regulator back in my mouth. Now I was paranoid it was full of water and I couldn’t breath it in. We were instructed what to do, but it all goes out the window when your in the situation of course. He motioned me to calm down, and start breathing. And held my hand until I started to breath and relax again. I’ve never been so enjoying the company of a warm man’s hand in my life.
We stared into each other eyes, and he serenaded me on the surface of the ocean floor for a while. We sung “A Whole New World” underneath our breath. K, now its getting weird.
Diving on the Great Barrier Reef has been the highlight of my trip so far. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. It was the only time this entire trip, that I was just in the moment. Wasn’t thinking about how much I missed home, or my loved ones, or the crazyness of travelling. It was awesome.
So much so, that I did another dive when I was up in Cairns. I swam over a reef shark, which was frickin’ cool! I didn’t die then either.
Doing my best to stay alive. Love and miss you all.
posted Tuesday November 2007