Perhentian: Evening sun on the waves
The clouds so weirdly polarized that they rippled with opal colors. Enchanting a surreal beauty on the beach of the Perhentian. Bunch of kids had earlier on playing catch there. Their little laughter echoing in the blowing soothing wind, not a slight annoyance to the beach-goers sun bathing on the powdery sand. I stood for a moment to catch in the sunset at the Teluk Dalam beach in my wet suit. I could see the eastern horizon tinged with hues of light yellow and pink, reflecting the frothy waves beneath - like snow foam on a winter day. I was ready for my first night dive.
Pushing the boat away from the shallow water, we were soon on our way to Tukas point for our first night dive with Eugene, our skinny brown dive master. First boat ride at night, first glance of the ocean at night and first darkness waiting just down below. Plunging in the water, descending after thumbs-down signal, I caught up with my buddy, Steve - very much determined to keep close to him by hook or by crook. I shone my torch to the surface beneath, getting much exited to see what comes lurking out at night when creatures on land sleep. The light illuminated through the spooky intense darkness, turning it with motion into a wholly new surreal seascape I have not possibly known before. Certainly not the same world once the sun goes down.
As we slowly funnelled through, different marine life greeted us. I oscillated my torch on the corals and saw one huge hermite crab emerged, another bright red crab strolling by, a small puffer fish spinning at the bottom, while few pinkish twinkle reflected from the shrimps adorning the surrounding like the neon lights of a happening café in town. Moray eels squirming in between the crevices while most fish appeared to be sleeping with their eyes wide open. Lee pounced upon a big green parrotfish napping in a small cave, its body glowed gorgeously as I took my time to admire it. We were cautious not to shine on the sleepy head eyes directly because we might be unwittingly blinding it. I was totally bemused by the after-dark activity, turning the zero visibility fear into a new fascinating experience.
Days before, we had gone to few dive site for our advance certification course. Tokong Laut, a rocky outcrop islet situated on the northwest of Pulau Perhentian Kecil was quite a sight as well. Just a 20 minutes speedboat ride there, divers are presented with a boulder-like terrain that sloped down to about 30 meters gradually. Mild currents normally sweep through the triangular shape boulder terrain. Colonies of sea fans and small reef fish carpeted the area while angel fish, jacks, moray eels, bat fish, surgeon fish, butterfly fish, sting ray and schools of trevellies circling in harmony. The trigger fish were in their best behaviour that particular day. An answered prayer.
Wreck diving at the Vietnamese dive site holds a memory of lost in space experience. Current was strong when we visited the sunken remnants of the ill-fated Vietnamese ship. No souls were harmed when it sunk, as it was a lonely abandoned ship on its way for repair. Small particles swept by current make visibility bad, with just 3 meters. Everything was muddy green colour when we descended down the line. My eyes instinctively search for a pattern of a ship in vain. Only when I neared the bottom, the wreck mysteriously stood there suddenly, resting at the bottom of the sea solemnly. Not a particular clear shape of its body, being covered by corals, sponges, algae and other marine organisms after 35 years of rest.
Right before we departed the island, we hopped on a fun dive to Secret Reef
, a submerged reef with plenty of marine life and an average depth of 26 meters. I personally love this last dive, especially when diving through a school of yellowtail snapper, grinning to myself as they dispersed away in split seconds. Like the way a child would chase after a flock of birds. Or the excitement curving on my face when I saw my first lionfish and two big puffer fish passing right next to me, so near I could see their mouth puffing. Some razor fish stood near the green sea fan in their normal heads down position.
As I ascended my last dive at the Perhentian, I could feel the sun slicing through the waves. Reminding me that beauty need not be found only on land. But here in the underwater kingdom, where no one would by any chance being neglected by the beauty of the denizens of the deep.
Published on 7/30/03