IF YOU’VE JUST ARRIVED IN MALAYSIA, YOU’VE CERTAINLY got a “must do” list, and it’s probably pretty extensive. But there are so many fabulous things to do here that it often becomes a question of time rather than money.
Now, your list; let’s see. You must visit the Petronas Towers and the Bird Park in KL, you want to go to the National Museum, and then there is Melaka, Penang, Redang, Perhentian, the Cameron Highlands, the Genting Highlands, Chinatown in KL, Layang Layang, Tioman, the Monsoon Cup, Sabah and Sarawak, and so forth. Where will you ever find the time to do it all? Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that everything on your list is worth doing; the bad news is that your list is too short.
There’s one thing that you must add – you must learn to scuba dive. And there are a number of reasons why Malaysia is a good place to do this.
The first is that the diving here is among the best anywhere. The South China Sea and the Celebes Sea are superb for diving; they have magnificent coral reefs, a multitude of beautiful fish, and some of the best wreck diving in the world. In the seven years since I started diving, I have dived not only in Malaysia but in Egypt, Canada, Crete, Eritrea, Oman, Thailand, and New Zealand. Now that’s a pretty diverse range of diving locales, but the diving here in Malaysia compares to any of them and, in fact, surpasses most of them. The water is warm, in season, the visibility is excellent, and the reef life is extraordinary.
Dive sites in Sabah (such as Sipadan and Mabul particularly) are some of the most beautiful you will find anywhere. There are also a number of other places with dive centers; Layang, Tioman, Redang, and Perhentian, for instance, but you will find them everywhere.
Secondly, although scuba diving is not cheap here, either to qualify or to practice, it is a lot cheaper than it would be in North America or Europe. The equipment used and sold in Malaysia is the same equipment you will find anywhere, and the prices, should you choose to buy your own, is comparable or slightly cheaper. So this is a relatively economical place to take up the sport. This includes the actual training you will take to qualify as a scuba diver. It will cost you a little money to qualify, but it will be cheaper here than it would be at home.
Third, the quality of instruction in Malaysia, if you choose your trainers wisely, is world-class. Be a little careful about this; you can qualify as an Open Water diver in four or five days in many places in Malaysia, but not all is equally good. Check out the equipment; if it seems old, in poor shape, or badly serviced, move on. The instructors and dive guides may be careless and slipshod in their work. A good dive centre is generally a busy one. Are there a number of people who are obviously divers at the centre. Does the reception counter seem to be efficient? Check out the general look of the place. Does it seem well-organised? Is there equipment hanging out to dry? Are there classes going on? Is the center recognized by PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) or some other international dive organisation? These are all signs that the dive centre is a good one.
Fourth, anyone in reasonably good health can dive. You don’t have to be a jock or a health nut, and you don’t have to be a spring chicken either. I am 65- years old and loveably pudgy. If I can do it, you can too.
But I guess in honestly I should confess… diving is addictive. The first time you sink into the clear, aquamarine underwater world, you will be hooked – just like I am.
Source: The Expat April 2006, article by David Lavoie
This article has been edited for ExpatGoMalaysia.com
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