Story by Harrison Ooi
Photos by Anne Ooi, Adeline Loh and H.Y. Leong
I attended the MNS briefing with my dad on March 5 at MNS Headquarters where I collected a mask and snorkel for me to practice. It really gave me something to look forward to, with one more week of school to go! (Note: The trip was from March 17-20, 2005)
The first time all 29 of us met up was at Merang jetty the morning of March 17. Many had stories to tell about their journey. Upon reaching the open sea we all realised how choppy the sea was! Thankfully, our boat was sea worthy and some of us had life jackets.
When we reached Pulau Lang Tengah, there was a brief welcome by the resort manger and then we were divided into groups – beginners, intermediate and advanced [big heads!]. Our trip co-ordinators (TCs) Siew Lyn, Hon Yuen, Joanna and Richard – all MNS volunteers – set the pace for the days ahead!
We were taught how to snorkel, signal to buddy and how to respect marine life and into the water we went. I could not believe my eyes, it was like a whole new world! Who needs to go to space?
There was no karaoke for us that night. We were split into new groups. Think of a team name and start writing a marine log. The TCs had brought along a useful selection of books to help us with identification.
No lie in for us. We had to trek to the other side of the island for bungkus nasi lemak. We did not make it for sunrise, but the huge, eerie plants gave a “Jurassic Park” feel to the place and that a huge monster might rise up from the sea!
When I did have a bit of free time I would chill out on the swing beneath the huge jambu air tree and munch on a few.
Our afternoon boat ride took us to Karong Nibong. Deep water here and some of us were fortunate enough to see a turtle speed away. On the down side I had to tell the other tourists that feeding the fish is bad for the fish.
A beach clean up produced nine bags of non-biodegradable rubbish. The resort manager was clearly embarrassed! That night my group, the Dragonets worked hard on their marine log.
The underwater treasure hunt was very competitive. We were all exhausted. I needed to chill out! I cut my toe, so I missed out on snorkelling at Batu Jun. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as my dad taught me how to canoe! Later, I had to go and see the corals for one last time.
The logs had to be finished, so the TC’s could do their job of marking all this hard work. I could see on the last night everyone looked tanned and happy. Whilst my dad’s team, the Merpeople came out tops, we all felt as if we were winners.
Day 4: Some eager beavers went for a last swim. The boat ride back was smooth, with a few flying fish accompanying us. We all bid a last farewell.
I wonder when my mum is going to organise for us to go snorkelling again?