Sabadee SuperChicks!

I hope you all enjoyed a brilliant Christmas/NYE holiday. I certainly enjoyed a very different one. No snow, no ice, no cold… Christmas Eve I spent in Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon) and on Christmas day I found myself yet again on a bus journey, this time to get from Vietnam to Cambodia.
Cambodia is such a fascinating country. It’s rich in cultural heritage, the people are really friendly and the food is just amazing! It’s truly an inspiration! I stopped in Siem Reap to go to the grounds of Angkor Wat, to discover some of the beautiful temples of the ancient Khmer empire, which ruled from 9th to 13th century. Now climbing the ruins during day time in intense heat was sometimes a bit of a challenge. But staying well hydrated when it’s hot is definitely a must and therefore a lot of water was drunk all day long.
However, hydration is vital to your good health all year around! Water is considered as an essential nutrient. It has many important roles, such as moving nutrients and waste through the body, maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating the body temperature, protecting and cushioning joints and organs and of course it lowers the risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
After a hefty NYE in Bangkok I left the city and went South, to enjoy a bit of a lazy lifestyle at the beaches of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Soon enough I started getting a bit bored by the lazying around and was looking for something new, something active I could do. That was when I took the decision, to sign up for a PADI Open Water Scuba Diving course.
Scuba diving is an excellent way to improve physical and emotional wellbeing, you learn new skills, meet loads of new people (and yes, they generally are fun), expand your environmental awareness and you experience the world from a new angle.
You don’t need to be super fit to become a scuba diver; it’s a sport that can be done  by nearly everybody. But you do need to be in fairly good health. First I had to fill out a looooong medical questionnaire, which I didn’t mind as it’s safe to say – my life was dependant on my answers. Luckily I didn’t need an extra medical check from a doctor, so I was allowed on the course straight away. Next to 10hrs theory in a classroom, I did a 3 hour ‘dive’ in the pool, to learn the basics about the scuba diving gear and breathing under water, as well as 4 dives in the sea, down to 18 meters.
As you’re probably aware, exercising in water is highly effective due to the natural resistance of the water. Swimming in depth strapped up to scuba equipment makes for a great work out! The tank alone weighs about a ton and the weight belt didn’t improve the situation… But of course this becomes insignificant, once you’re under water, as it actually helps you to stay under water and exploring the underwater environment effortlessly. So if you should decide to dive on a regular basis, your general fitness will slowly improve.
Besides the fitness aspect, it won’t take you by surprise that it also improves your emotional well-being. Maybe you’ve heard the theory that watching fish in an aquarium is a stress buster. Imagine how the calming qualities of observing an underwater environment are intensified when you’re actually down there and interacting with it. So after I spent my first 40mins in the sea, I realised, that you have to experience it yourself to understand, what the divers talk about. If it’s floating with a school of barracudas, seeing Christmas Tree Worms disappearing into the corals and coming back out, finding Nemo in the anemone, being ‘chased’ by a trigger fish, discovering a sting ray sleeping or simply watching your air bubbles getting bigger the higher they climb to the surface is simply breath taking! Though ‘breath taking’ only as a figure of speech. Rule number one in diving is that you never hold your breath! But since diving is a great way to get back to nature, de-stress and relax, you’ll learn, to adjust your breathing to a calm, natural breathing, as breathing calmly under water makes your air last much longer and therefore you can dive for longer.
Although you can’t talk underwater for obvious reasons, this isn’t a lonely sport. You’ll always ‘buddy-up’ with somebody, go through gear checks together on board before you dive, watch and help each other out whilst diving and there is a sign language you’ll use underwater. This means that you’ll meet immediately like-minded new people.
Once you’re a PADI Open Water diver, you can go on and improve your skills, do advanced training and choose to take speciality courses such as underwater naturalism, underwater photography, deep diving, night diving and much more.
So you won’t be surprised to hear that I am really looking forward to the upcoming 6 weeks in Indonesia, where I will make sure, that I will find the time to discover not only the terrestrial beauty of Bali, Lombok, Gilli Islands, Komodo and Flores but also the underwater world. Hopefully I can again report many new exciting things to you.
Gaby
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