This was the dive trip wherein I took my Advanced certification. Unlike my other trips where I dived at the local dive center, this time around I went up with Big Bubble Centre, which is the dive centre where I got my Basic certification from.
The thing about Redang is that it’s a 12hr coach ride from Singapore. Yes, you spend half your day sitting in a coach, and coming from someone who has problem sleeping on any sort of moving vehicle, it’s quite a hard ship. However, it does mean you don’t have to worry about pressure changes from flying or wait the mandatory 12-hours after diving before heading home.
It does mean, however, an eternal bus ride, and when your driver thinks he’s some sort of F1 racer and you’re seated elevated right at the back of the bus… wear a helmet guys. Bumpy does not begin to qualify that harrowing journey back home.
But I digress, a little research shows that you could fly to Redang instead, and that sounds like a wonderful idea if I ever go back there again. (Note, from Singapore, the only direct flight is via Berjaya Air, which flies from Seletar Airport. If not, the next best option is to fly to Kuala Lumpur/Kuala Terengganu via budget airline and transfer from there.)
Still, after the bus ride, we’re dropped off at Merang jetty, where it was another hour or so journey via boat to Redang island. Seriously, just getting there was an adventure in itself.
We stayed at the Redang Kalong resort, which was decent enough, but I’m not sure if it’s because of our dive package, my friend and I were roomed with another 2 girls in a room which I’m pretty sure was not meant to house 4 people. Seriously, you could not walk between the beds, and there was just 1 narrow corridor at the foot of the beds to get to the loo. There was a room safe though, and a little porch with 2 chairs which was useful for drying wet dive gear. However, we weren’t lucky enough to get the nicer rooms, which are sea-facing and have deck-chairs and hammocks in front of them – ours was right in the corner, furthest away from everything. Not the nicest/most luxurious, but considering you’re hardly in the room it was fair.
Also, there was a school of baby Black tipped Sharks that came all the way up to the jetty area where people fed them fish. Someone counted 7! Attempted to take pictures of them in the shallows, but you couldn’t really see anything. They were perhaps about the length of your forearm? Very cute and small!
The resort is pretty quiet, it stands on its own it that particular part of the island, and you can cut through the forests to get to the other resorts, some of which are a hell lot more posh/crowded than this particular one. I like quiet though, the sheer amount of people at this other resort we visited one evening was personally terrifying. I never did understand people going to a beach packed with people!
Redang is also famous for the More More Tea inn (in chinese, that’s ???), which was used as a key location in the 2000 movie Summer Holiday (?????) starring Ritchie Ren and Sammi Cheng. It’s located at the Laguna Redang Resort, which is the start of a long long stretch of crowded beach and resorts. Interesting factoid is that it was supposed to just be a set, but became to popular they rebuilt it properly and it’s now next to a gift shop and a popular photo point. Probably only interesting if you ever watched the show though. Here’s a music video with the Laguna Redang stretch as backdrop. If you’re anything like me, you’ll memorise this song and irritate the hell out of people with it =P[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59pMRCAfW9o]
The diving itself wasn’t particularly spectacular. Perhaps it was just bad timing, or just bad global weather (the water was 31 degrees, which isn’t great for coral! I didn’t even bother with a wetsuit, just a rashie and boardshorts and I’m pretty scared of the cold) but visibility was poor (10-15m at best when good?) and nothing super unusual. Probably a good thing they’re closing the sites to let them recover…
I did see a couple of huge grey stingrays up close though. We chanced upon them sitting placidly on the sand, and surprisingly, this one let us hover pretty close.We saw 4 in total.
Also, 1 lone turtle and 3 bumpheads.
Saw the back end of a Moray eel as it flitted from coral to coral, and a coupla cute hermit crabs.
I also did my first night dive. Bit of a misnomer – you usually start a night dive in the late evening before the sun sets, but it is pretty dark underwater and you do see different animals then. I saw a whole bunch of crabs, big ones, small ones, furry looking ones…
Well now I’m officially an Advanced diver! The thing about doing a dive course is that in between dives, you still have to attend ‘lessons’ and complete tasks during your dive, which means less time to rest between dives, enjoy the underwater scenery and seeing things. Overall the Redang dive was just alright, nothing particularly spectacular about the coral or the wildlife, ah well. Apparently a long long time ago, my instructor saw a hammerhead shark here. HOW AWESOME would that be, they’re seriously bizarre looking! Here’s to more diving!