Last weekend we went to Malaysia to finish up our PADI Open Water SCUBA diving certification. We took the one afternoon PADI "Intro to SCUBA" course on our honeymoon, and while we didn't want to devote the entire honeymoon to getting certified, we loved the experience. So it was high on our list of things to do now that we live in the tropics.

We got the whole Open Water course done in a week, which isn't always the case, but that's the schedule we chose. So we studied and completed a 262 page manual with quizzes at the end of each chapter over the weekend. Then we went to class last Monday evening for about 4 hours and our instructor, Jeremy, checked our quizzes, went over the content again, taught us how to assemble and disassemble gear, and gave us our final exam.

We both passed, so on Tuesday and Thursday nights we were in the pool in Singapore practicing all of the skills necessary to keep us safe and happy under water. This meant a 200 meter swim and 10 minutes of treading water/floating to start with. Once we established that we can actually swim, then a lot of buoyancy practice (keeping off the bottom and off the top) and skills and drills: setting up your tank and weights, taking the mask on and off and clearing it of water under water, taking your regulator (air hose) in and out, learning what to do if you run out of air, learning how to ascend safely, learning how to take all of your equipment off under water in case you get tangled in something, learning how to help a diver that is out of air or panicking, learning how to calculate how long you need to be on the surface between dives so that your residual nitrogen levels are correct and no one ends up in a decompression chamber.

By Thursday night we were pretty worn out. The things we were learning are absolutely essential, but I felt like I'd drunk half the pool and Kyle never did get the rented mask to fit properly and not fill up with water suddenly. At this point, I was really glad we'd done the Intro to SCUBA course three years ago, or it would have been hard to convince ourselves that this was actually going to be fun!

Friday after work we met at the dive shop and took a bus to Malaysia with 13 other divers. Three of us were earning our Open Water certification, four were earning their Advanced certification, and the rest were leisure divers.

We spent Friday night on the Malaysian mainland and got up bright and early to take a speedboat to Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island), where they filmed South Pacific and where we would finally get to really dive. We went for our first dive as soon as we arrived, before we'd even set foot on the island. Once again for us it was all drills and skills, though this time in the actual ocean, holding on to a rope along a sandy bottom that's in place for the teaching sessions. I can't decide if it's more fun to purposefully flood your contacts with seawater or chlorinated water.

After Dive #1 we had lunch and checked in, then it was back to the boat for Dives 2 and 3 on Saturday and 4 and 5 on Sunday morning. Finally there were no skills and drills! We just swam with the fishes. And y'all, it was amazing.

Our (above water) weekend pics are here: