The second week already… Three of us completed the advanced open water course, so the dive learning is done. Now we can completely concentrate on the benthic and fish learning. Some of us even managed to pass the benthic tests (computer and underwater part). The fish learning / point outs are going well, although there are some nasty families and species, which are confusing everyone (changing color, not behaving as they should do,…).
A thing that everyone already had noticed, during the dives and snorkeling on the house reef, was the huge amount of bleached corals. The results of the surveys were just shocking. Hopefully the seawater temperature will decrease, or all those once so colorful hard and soft corals and anemones will die.
At the end of the second week we did our first night dive. Not that scary at all, so do not believe all those stories that they tell you. We saw some amazing things, a sleeping turtle, nocturnal fishes, polycheates and even some copepods were passing the light of your torch. The top act (for me at least) was the bioluminescence, when we covered our torches and waved, just amazing how many tiny little lights you can see.
In the third week we went for 3 days to Mukut, a little village in the south of the Island. After a wet ride with the speedboat (thank you Katie for the wet t-shirt!), we arrived in Mukut, where we all stayed with the same guest family in the `Hilton-hotel`-house of the village. A very colorful house, especially the decoration on the ceiling was an eye catcher. The real Malay food, mainly the fish was a nice variation on the diet of chicken and rice. Eating with your fingers (only right hand) was another challenge, especially the soup! But beside this, everything was just delicious.
The school had 18 children between 7 and 12 years old, and 10 teachers (almost private lessons), it was amazing how well equipped this little school was. We started with the hilarious train-game and an alphabet game, it was surprising how well they could spell the words and how helpful the older ones were with the younger ones. After some games to practice their English, time for some marine linked lessons, the function and the rules of a marine park. In the afternoon some more fun things by painting the mural that Sandra and the 2 Chris’s had drawn on the wall. The mural is the alphabet with marine linked words and figures, beginning with Anchor, Beach, Coral,… (easy) and ending with Zooxanthellae (hmm).
The second day some more ecology lessons, now about the symbiosis and the function of different ecosystems and how they are linked to each other. In the afternoon there were no lessons, because it was the beginning of the school holidays. With no children in the school, we decided to walk to the waterfalls. After the recent rains, it was an impressive the power of water. The water wasn`t that warm, as you could see in the look on the swimmer’s faces, when they touched the water!
After 2 days of no diving, everyone was impatient to get back into the water. The site we went to (Bahara) was just stunning, so clear and colorful, just like on National Geographic and Finding Nemo!
This fun dive was fantastic to end our, third week on Tioman. I`m having a great time, and I think the other volunteers are feeling the same way.