You might be asking why I went on scuba diving alone? I would be the first to say that I find contentment on being alone. I do spend most of my time in solitude and I find deep joy spending time by myself. I have the weirdest and funniest thoughts that I would just burst out in laughter in the room out of the blue. This is just another day in the house. Everyone who lives with me wouldn't be surprised at all, all though there are times that their curiosity would get the best of them and would ask what's the fuss was about. I would just smile widely, shrug and turn my head side to side. Not telling them that some wonderful memories of the past just came rushing down at me. Tickles down my spine. Butterflies in my stomach. Those were the times. That or some fantasy I would have thought would be lovely to do... and so another dream would be formed. So yes. I don't mind spending my time alone. I entertain myself in the silliest of ways.
But traveling, and doing things for the first time alone? Well that seemed to be a different ballgame. I've been a believer that doing things for the first time is best experienced with a friend, a family member or a partner. Nothing really beats being in the moment and having to talk about it with someone close to you. A solo traveler, for the best part would smile, nod to fellow travelers who traveled in groups, agree with them, and then after that brief interaction, you are back to your alone-ness... Just a sad, awful scene to behold. This brings me back to Perhentian. A number of tourists stepped out of the boat, and ended up chit chattering. For what seemed like a pack of friends, had gradually dissipated in 3's in 2's in 4's... until one guy was now alone. In the realization that they were off to their own destinations, he was now left alone and feeling the awkwardness of it, he then checked his map to see where he will be going. That left me feeling heart broken for him. In a paradise like Perhentian, who would want to be alone? It's like having to walk in a park full of lovers on a valentine's day. By then, I knew I wouldn't want to be in his shoes.
So why travel solo?
Well I didn't realize that up until I realized that at one point in my life, I would have to walk his ways. There would come a time that my friends would be too busy with work, family and what nots in life, and you, a single free-spirited individual would have to be forced to do things by yourself.
That my friends explained why I had to do scuba diving alone.
|Me finding Nemo... yet again. This hide and seek business is getting old.|
I've been meaning to do it for the longest time, and I've been beating myself up every time I have to postpone it until I had enough of all the delays and took the matter in my own hands. I will do it, I didn't care if I had to do it alone. I will do it.
And I was more than happy that I did.
Here are the things that happened.
1. Snorkelled alone 10 meters away from the boat, on a 15meter deep water. Underneath me was a myriad of coral reefs in the most varied display I've ever seen, and in my mind a song of 'Little Mermaid', swimming on the surface feeling like a floating beautiful creature of the sea.
2. Free diving my friends. This one I had to get assistance from kuya. I couldn't get myself to go deeper into the water. So what kuya did was he dived deeper until he could grab the nearest and sturdiest coral reef he could find, anchored himself well, reached high up to grab my hand, like some clip of a movie, he reached out for me, and once our hands locked, he pulled me in deeper until I was able to grab hold of the coral reef beneath and was able to touch the soft sea anemones right beside it. I had to immediately swim back up to have a shot of oxygen back to my throbbing lungs. Exhausted but at least I kinda did it, thanks to kuya. Now that wasn't really free diving, I know, but that wasn't bad at all for a first timer like me.
3. Did a balancing act on top of a high rising coral reef to get some rest from swimming and to just have a good view of the marine life teeming below.
4. Scuba diving. As much as I don't want to disturb the environment below, our guide seem to want us to touch this, touch that, hold this hold that, which was really fine, but I couldn't help chipping away some coral reefs, so that's why I didn't bother really touching everything I see. It was really fascinating though to see and feel different textures and figures of corals, star fishes, sea anemones, sea cucumbers to name a few.
5. Learning how to socialize again. This part was the biggest breakthrough for me. At first, I tried my hardest to be ok being alone. Every time I tell people in the scuba center that I came in alone, they just naturally gleam at me as if I was this fascinating creature. Although I know that I am one, but it's really surreal that you see them reacting to the fineness that is me. OK enough with my narcissism there. I totally was feeling desperate to make friends because I refused to be that lonely traveler you see just sitting at the far side of boat, either looking far away in the sea, trapped in deep thoughts, or the one who was listening to every body else's discussion pretending to be interested. The treasure of every solo traveler is another solo traveler. If you see one, then that is a prospect friend. Fortunately, I was able to find one earlier on in the scuba diving center. A korean guy in his 30's. We had the most interesting discussion and I had a blast talking about random things with him. We were saved from that pitiful glances of other travelers, because we weren't the lonely loosers, we in fact, were the chattiest in the group. So there you go. I never thought I was a social freak. But there I was, ms. friendly in the boat. And I loved every second of it.
What I've learned from this?
God I never thought traveling solo would be really interesting. I was listening more, absorbing more, smiling more than I was traveling with a companion. Life couldn't get any better yeah?
This whole experience all summed up to what our scuba guide said... before plunging in the water he advised us to just relax and enjoy life. And that is something we usually forget. Good thing I'm blessed to have been reminded again.
While pondering on my experience, I realized that the fear of traveling alone doesn't always mean the fear of actual danger, instead it's the fear and anxiety you get when being strapped in the roller coaster just seconds before you go shooting up in the air. That palpitations means that you should emotionally prepare yourself because wherever you are heading to is going to blow your mind, expand your horizons, and open your consciousness to some awareness that you haven't even open your eyes to.
And that my friend, will change your life forever.