I am a SCUBA junkie. I will dive anywhere, any time, with anyone. Want to descend 120 feet (40 meters) to the Great Blue Hole in Belize? I’m your girl. Want to see what is under the jade-green water in Cambodia? Take me with you. Want to stick me on a boat for 6 nights in Thailand so that I can see manta rays? Aye aye, captain.
Naturally, in Malaysia, the crippling addiction overcame me again, and I found myself searching out dive sites like the fiend that I am.
That’s where Pulau Perhentian (Malay for “Perhentian Islands) comes in.
Located on Peninsular Malaysia’s northeast coast, this spot had hands down the best beach I have been to in Southeast Asia.
I know, I know, I did say that about Otres Beach in Cambodia, and yes, I did also say that about my beloved Tonsai Beach in Thailand.
This time, I mean it (okay I meant it before too, but, this time for reals). Would you look at that perfectly clear water?
Then I had a moment. I’ve been on 35 dives now (to some that will sound like a lot and others will shake their heads and point to their 600-dive log books) and have to say, even in the most beautiful surroundings, I still find it hard to truly be in the moment and not worrying about the past or stressing about the future.
Sail Rock in Perhentian was different. The schools of fish constantly passing me by and the calm beauty all around me truly made me feel in the moment and like I belonged down there.
Then, the rock head parrotfish seemed to sail by, giant, blue, and majestic.
Partially, this was due to Barnaby, the pufferfish (yes, I named him).
I was with other advanced open water divers, so we had a little more leeway than usual. I stayed behind for a few minutes after we came across three rather large (about half the size of my torso) pufferfish that were covered in giraffe-like markings.
Normally, I see them from a distance, but this time, they were right at eye level with me in the ever-so-clear and warm waters.
I stopped and stared at them. They did not swim away. They did not aggressively get closer, as clownfish do. Oh but it’s so cute when they do, they’re the size of my thumb or smaller and get all territorial with their anemones.
They just stopped and observed me, and I them. The moment seemed frozen in time. We could have sat there for ages. I felt like in some strange way, we bonded. It was like they were telling me, “you’re alright with me,” and I communicated back “you’re alright with me, too.”
Just like that, life, travel, and all of the things that had been weighing on me were lifted. All seemed to make sense again.
Thanks, Barnaby, for bringing me to the present.