Wait, WAIT! Before you girls start pelting me with used tampons, allow me to explain.
My boyfriend is very much the opposite of me. I'm loud and bossy. He's usually shy and reserved. I like to be seen and heard. He likes to keep it low. I use words to express what I'm feeling, be it anger, love, hate, lust, happiness, emo-ness or boredom. He, on the other hand, is not so much of a verbal person. In fact, he could probably go one whole day without uttering a word. If you were to tell me to shut up for a day, I'll probably slit my wrists or something.
Which is good right? (Not me slitting my wrists you dumb dumb!) In a relationship, you gotta have someone talking, and someone listening (or at least pretending to listen).
Now, those 3 little words of "I love you" is not something we say everyday.
I say it out loud to him on special days, or when I really am overwhelmed by emotions, or caught in a moment where I'm staring at him, or something that he's doing, and I realize, my God, I love this guy, and I will tell him so, right there and then.
When it comes to him, I can probably count the number of times he's said that to me in the years we have been going out. The thing is, he doesn't need to. I know he loves me. Because of the things he does for me. Because he has me in his plans. Because.
When he holds my hand tightly, I know he loves me. When he tells me to 'watch my bag', I know he loves me. When he nags at me to eat, I know he loves me. When he gives me his housekeys, I know he loves me. When he smses me to say that it's raining and to drive carefully, I know he loves me. When he takes me out for my late night cravings, I know he loves me. When he changes the channel after I tell him golf is boring, I know he loves me.
But the other day, when we fought, and in the midst of all the fury, I shoved him and said "Do you love me or not, HUH?"
"Of course I do!" he yelled.
"Then how come you never say it to me?" I retorted, jugular-veins-a-popping.
Thing is this - many moons ago, I swore to myself that I will not be the type of girl who ask their boyfriend 'do you love me?'
It's just stupid, OK? And yes, I felt like Paris Hilton after that fight. Not the 'One Night in Paris' feeling unfortunately. The other one.
A friend of mine (in her early 30s) has been happily married for the past 10 years. They enjoyed their DINK (Double-Income-No-Kids) lifestyle for a good 8 years before having the little boy they have now.
Yes, till today, after 10 years of marriage, they are very happy, and still very much in love. On weekends, they still make it a point to do things together as a couple, sans the child. He never goes by a day without saying 'I love you' to her. He says it when he wakes up. He says it when he comes home from work. He says it before going to bed. When he sends her an SMS, he ends it with 'Love you!'.
During one of their arguments, she told him that he wasn't romantic enough.
Needless to say, he retorted by saying that 'If I wasn't romantic, I won't tell you I love you everyday!"
"Yes, that's the thing - your i-love-yous has become like diarrhoea without meaning cos you use it so often!"
Like me, she too, once upon a time swore to herself that such stupidity should not be allowed.
----------------- To all the men in the world - thank you for putting up with us.
Famished, we decided upon Thai food for dinner. And to Sri Ayutthaya in USJ we headed to.
Arriving at the restaurant just shy of 7:00pm on a Sunday evening meant that parking was a breeze.
At the entrance, we were greeted by a lady dolled up in a white-off-the-shoulder-type of traditional Thai costume. Upon our entry into the restaurant, an echo of sawadeeka and sawadeekap ensued.
The entire restaurant was bathed in yellow light, lending a very cosy and welcoming ambience to the interior. Wooden beams with intricate carvings, lamps dotted in sequence, soft yellow drapes, dark wooden furniture, white linen napkins, white satin-ish table runner. Music playing softly in the background sounded like this.
It didn't take us very long to decide, and despite the variety listed in the menu, we did it rather amicably I must say.
Anticipating a spicy ride, I ordered plain water, while he opted for watermelon juice.
For starters, the mango kerabu's sour and spicy tang definitely did arouse our palates.
Topped with crunchy fried onions, the kerabu was rather spicy. It was peppered through and through with chopped cili padi, as though it grew on the head of the chef who prepared this. I had to sort the chilli from the mango for every bite that I took. Troublesome.
The boyfriend found it nice enough, but would have preferred a whole lot more chopped groundnuts.
We ordered steamed rice with tomyam seafood soup, pandan chicken and a compulsory green of kangkung belacan.
Some minutes passed, and a waitress came to inform us that they ran out of pandan chicken.
At 7:00pm on a weekend? Hmmm.
We then ordered fried chicken with chilli paste instead.
If I wanted tomyam squid soup I would have ordered tomyam squid soup. But I wanted a mix, therefore the seafood option, thinking it would have me a variety. There was 1 prawn, 2 pieces of bite-size fish, and maybe 5 pieces of bite-size squid in it. Then again, for RM9.90 and probably to serve one, I didn't expect much.
In terms of taste, a thumbs up. The soup was quite 'concentrated', an aromatic and rich flavour of zest and spice.
I wonder who came up with this dish first- the Thais or us, Malaysians?
The kangkung belacan we had was definitely tasty! Belacan hardly ever goes down wrong with Malaysians. The kangkung was plump and juicy. The only gripe we both had was that it could have done with a lot much less oil.
Despite being a substitute to the originally intended pandan chicken, the fried chicken in chilli paste did not disappoint. The taste was very familiar - a spicier version of our local kacang sauce we have with satay.
The sweet of the sauce was a welcoming addition to the already high spice factor derived from the other dishes. Again, despite it being very flavourful, it could have done with lesser oil.
To top everything off, we had a mango and glutinous rice dessert each.
The glutinous rice was smooth and creamy, like a baby's bum. The sweet factor was just right. Three thick slices of mango accompanied the rice, and we chomped our way through it. Delight!
Overall rating for Sri Ayutthaya (USJ) - 6.5 on Essentric's Food-o-Meter.
For a total bill of RM88.80 for two, it is a decent and rather authentic Thai outlet. But don't go out of your way for it, only when dying for a change.
Albert had problems with his ear. Trapped air. Everything he heard sounded echo-ey. It hurt too. Underwater, he said it felt like there were amplifiers attached to his ear as the bubbles he produced sounded real loud.
Jasmine had problems of being too buoyant, and was constantly hovering above us. Rizal had to hold on to her BCD to keep her down. But on our very last dive, she aced it and was swimming alongside us, and not above us.
Lewis dreaded the surface skills cos he got drowsy from the rocking of the waves. He hated BCD recovery on the surface too, finding it a problem to climb atop a fully-inflated BCD, position his buttocks and to slide the thing back on his back. He did it eventually, so yay! When asked to do navigation skills with use of a compass on the surface of the water, he took one look at the compass on his left wrist, and then pushed his arms aside and started swimming, breast-stroke a.k.a. frog style! We all burst out laughing.
And me - After one of our shore dives, was walking on the beach, heading back to the dive centre with all the gear still on me, felt my tank slipping out from my BCD! Guess I didn't secure it properly earlier on. Thank goodness it only came off when I was already out of the water! After that incident, for the rest of the dives, I was extremely anal about tightening the clasp that held the tank, fearing it coming lose underwater.
But, despite all the drama that ensued, we had a blast, an ABSOLUTE BLAST. Each and every one of us.
Yes, I look like a ding dong here don't I? But a happy ding dong.
On our last evening in Tioman, we proudly donned our 'Certified PADI Diver' tee shirts.
Basking in the glow of sunset, we logged our last dive, which was coincidentally, the best of the 6 dives we had.
When it came to calculation of the pressure group and the RNT and all that, we required some jogging of the memory and directions from the instructor. Heh, we conveniently let it slip from mind after passing the theory paper.
While we busied ourselves writing down our comments and noting the things we saw, Lewis, being the visual person that he is, produced sketches of the types of fish. Of course, while logging the last dive, I wondered when I will be doing this again.
To Lynette - A big, big, BIG heartfelt THANK YOU to you for being an awesome instructor, for sharing with us your passion and love for the sea and its inhabitants, for showing us a whole new world, for being YOU. Looking forward to the many dives we will be doing together :)
To my new diving buddies - Jasmine, Lewis and Albert, we had fun didn't we? Let's dive more, and don't any of you ever stop! I also look forward to the many, many dives we will be doing together in future. The sea awaits us! And oh, I think we should spread the love :)
To Rizal - Good luck with your Advanced certification and have fun in your upcoming Tenggol trip!
To you reading this - are you a diver yet?
If you are, I look forward to dive with you too. And yes, I've still got heaps to learn! But if you're not, THIS is a good place to start.
I still keep to my word - scuba diving is the best thing I've done in my 27 years, and it will probably be one of the best life experiences I've had when I lay on my deathbed doing my reflections.
God, I can be so morbid.
Full collection of photos and videos can be found HERE.
A couple of years ago, we were on one of our Tioman getaways.
There were 6 divers and 3... erm, snorkellers.
When the divers went out for their 3 boat dives a day, we went along and snorkelled at the same sites. Them down below, us up above, on the surface, like manta rays.
Guess who spotted a hawksbill turtle at a particular site?
Me, me, me!
It was huuuuuuuuuuuuge. Seeing it swim in front of me, I too swam and swam with all my might, all the time keeping my eyes glued to its graceful movements.
I still remember how it felt. My heart was beating real quickly and I just kicked and kicked to propel myself faster. I wanted to scream, but had the snorkel in my mouth. I wanted to scream at it, "Wait! Wait for me! Don't swim so fast!"
It eventually out-swam me (duh!) and disappeared into the vast ocean.
When we were all back on-board, I proudly announced my first turtle sighting. Us snorkellers were excited because it was a first for everyone.
The divers cheh-ed us. But they didn't see no turtles at that particular site! We did!
Anyways, that's was my love-at-first-sight with turtles.
At the Renggis site on our very last dive, we spotted a turtle. He wasn't very big, but what he lacked in size, he made up by being very accepting of our presence. Yes, I decided that it's gonna be a he.
He swam, just swam. But very slowly and ever so gracefully.
We followed. In those moments, I had practically shut out the rest of the world, no sound, no nothing else - just him swimming right before my very eyes.
It was pure serenity.
And weirdly hypnotic.
Back at the dive centre, while we were logging our dives, a bunch of divers had just completed their last dive, and we exchanged 'hellos' and 'good dive?' as they walked pass us towards the rinse tub.
The Finnish dude came up to us and told us what he saw.
A bunch of divers, pulling and tugging at a turtle, trying to make it come out from under a reef. The bunch of idiots decided that they will not take no for an answer, and that they didn't come all the way here to catch sight of a camera-shy turtle.
They oughta be tear-gassed. They oughta be banned from diving. They oughta try having turtles pulling at their arms and legs. They oughta be killed.
If I ever encounter such stupid divers in future (I pray not!), I will swim up to them, pull their mask off their face and let it snap back, AND THEN cut their regulator hose, BOTH of them.
Did you know that the batfish are playful creatures and are attracted to bubbles?
At one point, we were surrounded by a group of about 6-8 batfish who were curious and at the same time playful.
To be up, close and personal with fish, and other marine life in their original and natural environment left me awe-struck.
After a good 10 minutes of playing with the batfish, we started swimming away. When we turned our heads back, much to our delight, there were 2 of them tailing us! These 2 followed us for quite a while, before deciding that we weren’t gonna play with them anymore, and then they left.
How cool was that?
Did you know that sea urchins can be eaten raw?
Inside its mean looking exterior is a yellowish gooey whatchamacalit, which the Japanese love. Nuh uh, as much as I love my sushi and sashimi, I’m not about to excite my palate with this.
Oh, and their eyes and arsehole are brightly coloured against the black.
There were plenty of sea urchins around the Swiss House Reef. Apparently, the presence of sea urchins in huge numbers indicates polluted water as these spiky creatures feed on yucky stuff.
During one of our dives, Lynette lifted a sea urchin off the ground by holding on to one of its sharp-pokey thing. What we saw after that was like watching National Geographic, but instead of watching it thru the idiot box, we were there witnessing it - LIVE. The smaller fish began crowding around the exposed sea urchin and started nibbling at the urchin from below (no sharp-pokey thing underneath!).
Our nosey tuskfish on the other hand, just opened his mouth and took a big bite off the urchin, chewed for a bit, and then spit the pokey things out. What the tuskfish did also provided the smaller fish with more access in feeding on the sea urchin.
Albert wanted to get a little bit more acquainted with this little fella here.
Because they don’t have sharp-pokey things on the underside of them, you can actually rest it on your palm and feel its little legs moving about.
Lewis on the other hand got to know the sea urchins a little bit more than he wanted to.
I don’t quite remember how or when it happened, but he basically under-estimated the distance of those creatures before putting his fin down on the sand, and his ankles grazed against the sharp-pokey things.
When they poke you, a wee bit of their sharp-pokey things snaps off under your skin and stays there. Lewis had a couple of tiny black spots on his ankle, remnants of the black spikes. We were told that their pokey things are calcium-based, and that it would dissolve eventually. Did it hurt? Just like a needle poke apparently.
Can you imagine landing on a sea urchin on your ass?
Did you know that Nemo is not the name of the species and that this name is merely fictional? (DUH?!)
The clownfish live amidst the anemone corals, and that’s how the writers from Finding Nemo got the ‘Nemo’ name.
Albert loves them.
We thought that the clownfish was being really friendly, swimming up towards his face. Later found out that the bugger was actually being defensive, coming up and warning you to stay out of his crib.
Damn small. One bite also can swallow the fella.
Did you know that you can tell when a shark is nearby even without sighting the actual shark yet?
You look out for their friends, the cleaner wrasse. Obviously you first need to know how to ID this cleaner wrasse. (The author does not know what a cleaner wrasse looks like at time of publishing. She will need to go back and refer to the dive log as she clearly remembered noting it down).
On our first Renggis dive, Lynette spotted a cleaner wrasse and wrote on her board, ‘Shark nearby’. I guess we missed it in the course of conveying the message to one another.
But when we went back to Renggis the next day, we saw not one, but TWO black-tipped sharks!
Did you know that when barracudas need to take a dump, they usually leave the school and do it alone cos they are ashamed by the act of defecating?
I'm in one of those days - pre-menstrual and feeling like a bloated cow.
Like waking up at 6:45am isn't bad enough, on top of that, I have absolutely nothing to wear to work!
I pulled out a pair of black pants and one of those long, baggy blouses - perfect for camouflaging bloatedness.
Arrived in Bangsar with some time to kill, so I dropped by Makcik's stall for a plate of meehoon with telur goreng.
Her son, as usual was helping her in manning the stall and he was the one who brought the teh-o-ais over to my table. After placing the drink down, we exchanged usual pleasantries and I enquired about the muddy state of the road. Burst pipe he said.
And he left to get busy after that, while a steady stream of customers had begun occupying the few tables and chairs around the stall.
While tucking into my breakfast, makcik's son suddenly came up really close to my side and whispered "Kak, your zipper terbuka lah!"
The zipper of the blouse.
It was at the side. And I had forgotten to pull it up.
The entire of my left torso, from under my armpit all the way to my waist was exposed. My red bra was also obviously screaming for attention.
Why I didn't feel the chill morning air coming through there puzzles me.
In the 4 days that we spent on Tioman (3 if you exclude the 4th day, i.e. travelling home day), all of us clocked in a total of 6 dives - 3 shore and 3 boat dives.
I honestly wasn't expecting much from the shore dives cos I figured the most damaged reefs would be the ones closer to shore right?
As to-be-certified Open Water Divers, we had a set of skills to complete over the course of a few dives. There were probably about 8-10 skills in total, and my only gripe is that we cannot complete it all in 1 dive. I mean, you get everything over and done with, so your next few dives can be spent ronda-ing the reef or other dive sites, instead of kneeling down on some sandy patch. Apparently PADI's regulation prohibits jamming everything into 1 dive. And Lynette was a very law-abiding instructor *grins*
Thankfully, a small group of us meant that we didn't waste too much time kneeling, instead of swimming. And because we were a smaller group, in between doing our skills, people still found time to pose and pretend that they are distant cousins of the mermaid.
That first morning itself, we had a briefing-cum-orientation prior to the dive. Lynette pointed out the spots which we will be heading to on the Swiss House Reef on the map. I looked, but know for a fact that it won't make any difference to me cos once underwater, I would have no freaking idea where we were :) I decided that my safest bet would be to stick close to her.
We geared up excitedly and I just cannot wait to make use of my new-found-technology-aided super power of breathing underwater! The sea was being very welcoming - sun up, the water was clear AND calm!
I made it sound like I very terror kan? But the truth was, in that very first shore dive, we started off with kneeling down in very shallow water (if you stand up, your head will be out of the water lah!). With the waves going back and forth from the shore, it stirred up a lot of sand. And with 4 new divers in there trying to get a grip of their buoyancy and being accustomed to water movements, heck - it was like a sandstorm in there! For a fraction of a second, I actually felt scared cos I couldn't see SHIT.
Our first shore dive was only less than 6 metres deep, but the novelty of being there for the first time was enough to get us all high.
A tuskfish swam in our direction and started poking its nose around. Literally. That bugger was quite fat and measured about 3 feet in length. He swam in and out, and in between the circle we formed, with no fear whatsoever, just coolly checking us out. If Lynette hadn't tell us how harmless he was, I'd fin hard and swim away fast cos he had nasty looking fangs sticking out of his mouth.
I constantly remind myself - I am in THEIR territory. So best not to cari pasal cos I'm just a visitor. Yes, I feel very strongly about the fact that we are merely visitors (or observers) under water, and therefore have NO right to disrupt, and yes, that means no touching, harassing or destroying anything. And watch where you put your fin!
During pool sessions, I had problems with my buoyancy and had this fear that when I go out into the open water, I'd be crashing into them corals and thereby destroying hundreds of years of formation. Nothing of that sort happened - thankfully! Somehow, things were easier in the sea *shrugs* Beats me too! Though I secretly suspect that because the fun factor was so high, it over-shadowed everything else, thus making things much, MUCH easier.
Our fourth dive was a boat dive, off Renggis, and I finally got to do a backroll - which was just super cool!
(EDIT: This video just won't seem to work. My eyes are getting tired from squinting at those HTML codes to see what's wrong! For now, the link is HERE)
Renggis was an awesome dive site, but Lynette took a giant stride into the water, went down the descent line with us, and forgot all about her camera.
Clocking a dive at Pirate Reef, we spotted a pair of cuttlefish not long after descent. As we swam closer to it, the (presumably) male one left, and we then got to witness the female cuttlefish laying eggs, and carefully depositing them in between the corals.
After a restless couple of hours in bed, we woke up in the dark of the night to begin our journey down south. Trying to sleep! Right... who were we kidding?
In under 3 hours, our exit off the PLUS highway meandered into a winding, single-laned road, and we were soon enveloped by thick mist for the rest of the journey to Mersing.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I just lost my dive-virginity, and so the next few dive-related entries are gonna be I-did-this-I-said-that kinda posts.
Tioman brings back plenty of memories. The island has been serving as my haven on earth, my getaway, claiming 5 snorkelling excursions, many a sandfly bites, hours of sunbathing on its beaches, and it just felt right to pop our dive cherry in its waters.
Kampung Tekek was quite a shocker at first, unlike the isolated-ness of Salang which we have grown to love. The marina at Tekek is a big mankind-mistake on the clear blue waters of this sleepy village. After a 90 second bumpy ride in a battered and un-numbered van, which had a blue and yellow plastic table cloth taped to where the back-window once was, we were dropped off at Swiss Cottage.
Name jer yang glamer.
Tekek is the heart of duty-free Tioman where litte duty-free shops line the solitary road, the single artery that takes you from one end of the village to the other.
Swiss Cottage sits right on the beach, at the foot of the hill that leads to Berjaya's property.
We wasted no time and clocked in our first shore dive that morning itself.
I have never felt so alive, especially when being snugly trapped in a tight piece of black rubber.
So unlike the stickiness of the warm, salty air of Tioman.
We were at home, watching some tele with our usual venti latte from Starbucks. Halfway through, our hands subconsciously reached for the dive log-book which were still on the coffee table, yet to be kept away.
We read in silence for a few minutes, reminiscing I guess.
The boyfriend then got up and walked to the ironing room.
I drank some coffee, and nonchalantly channel-surfed for a bit. A few minutes went by, and still no sight of him re-appearing.
Curious, I made my way to the room, and lo and behold - found him seated on the floor amidst the already-cleaned-and-dried-diving gears. Our wetsuits were hanging off the shelf, masks back into their respective casing, the BCDs and regulators were near the bag, to be returned to Lynette soon, and his bright yellow fins were standing up against the wall.
I smiled, and joined him on the floor.
"I miss using them already," he said.
I cooed an agreement, and we just sat there, in that ironing room, for the next 15 minutes looking at those gears.
"Maybe you can put your mask and fins on when you go into the shower?" I asked him.
At first, I thought that the weather has cleared up, seeing how the sun is shining with such vengeance in the last couple of days. I even took my car for a wash the other day, only to have it drizzle the very next day.
I understand you cannot please everyone.
But I am heading to Tioman on Friday morning. According to the very professional people at Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia, it has also been raining in Tioman the last couple of days. However, it is predicted to be sunny all day from Friday all the way to Sunday.
Our predictions are a cause of your actions, therefore can you do something about that? Keep those predictions accurate? Please?
Just for a couple of days, I promise! I am leaving Tioman on Monday, after the weekend, so you can let it rain then, when I'm gone.
And in return, I promise I'll be good for the rest of the year.