Posted by The SoleSisters on -
I spread my arms, stretch my legs, and relish the feeling of weightlessness. Below me, a bustling metropolis comes into focus as I descend slowly.
Pressure builds up in my ears, so I pinch my nose and blow until I feel my eardrums pop. At the corner of my eye, I spot a hand gesturing towards me; it belongs to a man in a mask, bubbles framing his face as air escapes from his mouthpiece and floats towards a glistening ceiling. He has three fingers up, his index and thumb forming an O, and he stares at me expectantly.
I return the gesture to tell him, "I'm OK."
Actually, I'm more than OK.
Diving has been at the top of my bucket list ever since I began traveling. So, you could imagine my excitement when I was asked to join a trip to Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort in Anilao, Batangas to go on assignment for the Sole Sisters. A three-hour drive from Manila, the resort is situated on the side of a mountain, at the tip of the peninsula so you get a grand panoramic view of the ocean.
Diving can be frightening and intimidating for the first-timer. You hear a lot of well-meaning advice that quickly turn into horror stories. "Just equalize as you go down, or else you will feel pain in your ears." Or "Ascend slowly, so your lungs don’t explode."
I admit, I was terrified at first, but my fears faded quickly as we went through our first lesson. Before the actual dive, Joshua of The Wandering Juan (also a first-time diver) and I sat through a short lecture covering the basics of diving. Marco, who was also our instructor, was very patient with us, and walked us through the whole process.
|Thank you to Dennis of lovemindanao.com for taking this shot!|
When we had mastered these skills, Marco took us out to the open sea, where the real diving began.
Open Sea Diving
The boat slipped into a picture-pretty cove and the crew immediately began setting up the gears and equipment. My pulse raced as I was strapped to my tank and asked to sit at the edge of the boat, my back to the water. "You'll be doing a backwards entry roll," Marco said, instructing me to hold my regulator with one hand, while hugging the pressure gauge to my chest with the other. Then, he gave me a light push and I tumbled into the water with a splash.
(The following photos are by Lilliane of Wanderlass.com. Follow her site to see the rest of her underwater shots!)
After a while, Marco flashed us a thumbs up sign: it was time to go up. He inflated our bouyancy control device and we rose slowly to the surface. Still facing down, I watched the corals gradually become smaller and smaller, like a virtual map being zoomed out, turning houses into streets, into a block, into a city, and finally into a mass of indiscernible dots.
I pulled my towel tightly around me for warmth. A sheet of rain lay before us, but in the distance, I spotted the resort lit by dozens of bright pins of yellow light. The torrent drummed angrily against the canvas roof, the sound deafening and threatening, but I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled memories of flight, of gliding weightless over an underwater city.
The boat steadily made its way to shore, guided by the warm and friendly lights of Aiyanar.
-Book a room at Aiyanar Beach and Dive Resort through their website. A night would cost a little over PHP5,000 per head - a bit higher up the price range compared to other resorts in Anilao. But Aiyanar more than makes up for it with its well-maintained rooms and facilities, its wonderfully rejuvenating environment – plus the amount is inclusive of sumptuous buffet meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
-There are separate rates for diving, and you have the option to rent suits and equipment if you don’t have any. You can check out their rates.
There are a couple of things you need to get used under the water:
- Breathing through a regulator – Never hold your breath. The number one rule in diving is actually to keep inhaling and exhaling all throughout the dive.
- The increasing pressure on your body - This is why you need to equalize as you go down. You can do this by swallowing, moving your jaw, or pinching your nose and blowing until you hear your eardrums pop.
- The feeling of weightlessness – I thought this was the best part because it really felt like I was flying!
-Before you head out to the sea, you will have to learn and master all the necessary skills in a swimming pool. Remember to trust your instructor and enjoy the dive!
Trish left her job in advertising to travel and pursue writing. She's inspired by the words of author Ray Bradbury: "Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds." She finds inspiration in the stories of people and places, and documents her adventures in her blog, Trish in Transit.
About Sole Sisters on Assignment:
Interested in going on a trip for Sole Sisters? If you are travel-crazy just like us, please email us at solesisters(dot)weare(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject line: Sole Sisters On Assignment. We prefer that you have a blog or online writing samples as well as photos that we can review.
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