By Norlida Kamarulzaman
The pre-trip meeting was quite a scene of confusion as there were more members wanting to go than places available. As was promised, first come first served and those who were late, well too bad.
The day of the trip dawned bright and clear. The boat transfer was rescheduled and as usual we had to wait. In the true spirit of MNS we helped each other and patiently waited. We only forged ahead at about 3pm and reached the island at around 4:15pm. Thus, we only had time for one dive on the first day.
As was already advised, this was not a commercially organised trip (April 28-May 1, 2001). Everything was done on our own. As there was no dive master, I was elected to lead the dives.
I was not familiar with the geography of the place and we missed the reef on the first dive and ended doing what is called a blue dive. For the adventurous, this would be exciting and challenging. For the inexperienced divers, they would be all right as long as they stayed close to their dive buddies. For those who did not like diving without the reference of a coral bottom or wall, it would be a little confusing. However, as long as they followed the leader, things would be okay. We surfaced after doing a 15 feet safety stop and that was that.
On the second day, two people went out for a dawn dive. This was really very early. They literally went out at the crack of dawn (around 5am)! Not yours truly. Too early after the hassle of the journey the day before.
The other dives were normal except for the last dive. Wanting a more challenging dive, we urged the boatman to go a little beyond the bay. We descended together to about 60 feet and after three minutes of finning we encountered currents which got stronger. We had to hold onto the rocks at the bottom. We inched slowly until our legs turned to “wood”.
Deciding the currents were too strong, I decided to go up and so did everyone else. The currents were so strong that we ended up separated into two groups of three people each. When my group surfaced, we were in the middle of the sea with no boat in sight.
Fortunately, we had the sausage and felt more secure, although Eu Choy had to read the instructions first before the sausage could stand upright! However, after about 5-10 minutes, the boatman eventually came to pick us up. How wonderful it felt at the sight of the boat approaching and after exiting the water, we just sat and rested.
The young snorkellers seemed to be quite happy after every session and after the last session, every one of them went for a long nap (the combined effects of lunch plus tea). This surprised the older divers (just a little).
Food on the trip consisted of delicacies such as barbecue prawns; fish-head noodles; porridge with oysters, century eggs and vegetables; chicken, lamb and satay were specially ordered from Penang (!); and delicious nasi lemak. What more could I say?
Aur itself was a unique little island. The fisherman’s house we stayed at had two rooms: one for the ladies and the other for the gentlemen. However, a few of us elected to sleep outside on the verandah which was more open and thus more airy. Surprisingly, there were no mosquitoes.
There was a pathway from the house to a very quiet and small village. It took us about 15-20 minutes of walking and climbing along a rocky path/terrain to reach the village. It looked rather deserted. There was a jetty with a small eating shop and clinic, and a few houses.
Four days on the island hardly seemed enough time to get properly acquainted with it. Maybe another trip before the end of this year during the durian season.