Saturday, July 19, 2008

Surprise... surprise

Yesterday, I sat for the IDMO final test. Prior to that, we had a session (final one) with Carl. He came to give out his best student prize which went to Azizan. The prize was his book and he gave it to the student who he thought did exceptionally well during the morning presentation (which was more like a torture session...hahaha). The presentations were in fact a way for him to make old dogs like us study. Anyone can be picked and hence the extra effort in studying at night. I did not do well in these sessions as I can't speak in front of crowds and I just cannot memorize and regugitate facts, that is a damn hard thing to do!
Anyway, after that was the exams. 50 MCQ questions in 90 minutes. We had to answer 35 correct to pass. I was lucky as majority of the questions was easy for me as I have dived for a long time. The physiology and physics parts were a breeze, again, the memorizing facts part was a bit of a problem. I did what I knew best, guess! And surprise,surprise when the results were announced...ah ha... I got 96% (or only 2 wrong). And with that I got the top student for the IDMO series 2008. Such a sweet surprise.
Yesterday afternoon we went to Sipadan. No, not diving but just a joyride. I went on the army boat the RHIB (?? don't know what it stands for) but it is an inflatable assault boat that can seat 12 passengers. There were 2 boats, the generals were on one and the lower ranking guys (plus us civillians) were on the other. Since no big shots were on our boat the army guys had a lot of fun showing off, and it was really like a rollercoaster ride.....I was holding so hard to the seats, afraid that I might just fly off and fall into the waters. The ride was about 45 minutes and we were in Sipadan by 3.30 pm. The army base there had a feast ready for us, and I had the most delicious 'cokodok sotong' ever. Some of the guys went swimming and snorkelling but I opted for walking round the island. Man, that was an opportunity I cannot resist. Since Sipadan was closed to the public on 1.1.2005 no one (except the army,of course) could roam around the island (the land part anyway). Only place divers could walk on was the 100 metres stretch at the Drop Off. And, I, a civillian was able to walk on the other areas (with the army escort, of course). Dream come true. Yeah, I realise that a beach is like any other beach but being able to walk freely on restricted areas was such a adrenaline rush (hehehe... I am exaggerating). But the view was really awesome.
On the way back we stopped at Kapalai and that brings back lovely memories. I think that was the last trip the whole gang went diving together- December 2006. Saliha, Kaz, Wanie, Inda, Azrin and I had so much fun then. The place looked the same and how I wished I was able to dive.
We finally got back to Semporna at about 6.40pm. Jean almost missed her ride to the airport and she sms'ed to say she reached Tawau with only 10 minutes to spare... hahaha... but I think the afternoon excursion was really worth it!

The whole course (academically and socially) was wonderful. I made a lot of new friends in the army, and even Major General Mat Zin is now my friend... And the most important thing is, now I have friends who take care of the decompression chambers.... (well, you have to forgive me, this is diving doctor thinking).
For now, good bye Semporna. It has been a wonderful two weeks!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tomorrow is my IDMO test. 50 MCQs in 90 minutes. I hope I pass! Well, I am going back to mug in 30 minutes time.

On Saturday I will be in Tawau, change of scenery! My flight is on Monday and basically I have 2 free days to roam. I guess I will be exploring the town and also watch ASTRO then. :) I wish I can fly back earlier but it will cost me a bomb. Back earlier means I can go house hunting earlier. I am running out of time and it is making me stressed! I like to have things sorted so I can get on with work and other things. I need to move my stuff out of the apartment in Temerloh on the 2nd of August....

Nevermind, I should take a break and not worry about things.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pulau Sebangkat

Yesterday, I dived at Pulau Sebangkat about 20 minutes from Semporna. We gathered at 8.30am at the dive shop and left about 9am. On the way, we stopped at Singamata a fish farm and a floating hotel to pickup more equipment. We had total of 13 divers including out 2 DMs. Apart from Dr Lee, his wife and Jean Li; we were joined by Major Gen Mat Zin (not sure if the spelling is correct), Col Khairuddin, Major Azizan and 2 other IDMO secretariat. The other two were a couple from China.


Arrived at the island and started our dive at 10.20 am. Took a long time to get people organised plus the boat was wee too small for a party of 13. It was a lovely place. Viz was only about 10m but then that is expected with such a short distance from the town. WE SAW PYGMY SEAHORSES!!!! 12 on a Gargonian seafan (there was supposed to be 13 but our DM was pissed off cos one went missing). I was in seventh heaven. Anyway, apart from that it was true muck diving- so many small stuff, nudibranches, shrimps, pipefishes not to forget many species of reef fishes.


Surface interval was spent at the shore. It was low tide and it was pleasant to snorkel, which I did. The whole area was covered with seagrass and I went seahorse hunting...hahahah... I didn't find one but I wished I did. The village kids we following me around posing for photos for my camera. They even caught fishes with their bare hands to please me....:)


2nd dive was at the same island but further east. Same macro stuff, and I was very very elated. Jean Li and I were soon left by the whole group but I had an absolute lovely time.


After that we went back to the Singamata Floating Hotel/Dive Centre and Fish Farm. Food was lousy- RM 5 for 'mee kuning with kobis and kicap'.. Several things appalled me. First, the place was advertised in Semporna as RM30 per night. Apparently that price is only for foreigners and for locals it is RM150 per night (uh duh.... discrimination in your own backyard...well, they are owned by Singaporeans!!!!). 2nd they have huge confined areas where fishes were kept. In the largest enclosure, they have two Napolean wrasses, a leapard shark, some reef sharks and loads of reef fishes. I feel so sad for the sharks and the wrasses..... they should be free. By the way, is it legal to keep these wildlife in such enclosures????


Well, after from that we did a jetty dive to the outside perimeter of the fish farm. Viz was about 5 metres but then a heaven for muck diving again. Loads of interesting things including a Peacock mantis shrimp, some nudibranches, anemone shrimps, different type of anemones and lastly a Spanish Dancer. It was a good dive, not as good at the first two but then, I am always happy when I am diving. For the pictorial report, wait for me to come back next week and log on to my Flickr.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sipadan ... Revisited

Today I dived in Sipadan... yup, last night they told us the permits were available. After dinner I prepared my camera and housing for the trip. No macro lense. I wish I had wide angle for this dive.
Anyway, I was at the shop 7.50am. As usual, the Malaysian crowd was fashionably late, and I assume the dive shop is so used to that because seemed like no one bothered. We finally left for Sipadan at about 8.30 am.
The 1st dive was at Coral Gardens. In the group was Jean-Li, Lt Col Rtd Dr Lee, his wife Melanie, and her sister Helen and Dr Carl Edmonds... yup, the authority, the pioneer in diving medicine. He and Dr Lee are our lecturers for the IDMO course. Carl would say that he is 'reaching 70 from the wrong direction' when asked his age. ,.... well, I am digressing but I am so awed being able to meet such a legend. And man, he still dives! But true to his lectures he dives very moderately nowadays... he believes aging makes diving more dangerous and one is more prone to get DCS and other problems if diving 'excessively' . Maximum he does is 2 dives a day!

Anyway, Sipadan was as previous.... turtles, black tip reef sharks, and also a lot of small stuffs, nudibranches, shrimps etc, if you care to look for them.... The 1st timers were awed... yeah big stuff usually mesmerized the newbies. But the corals was disappointing.... From my previous visits (2005, 2006) I feel that more corals have been destroyed and in hindsight, there were even not as many turtles and sharks!


Jean-Li was my buddy and she became a cam whore underwater... Posing near every turtle she saw... pretending to vomit into a barrel sponge, she looked so horrifying that I quickly took her photos, I was scared the underwater life would be traumatised...hahaha.... Well, it was fun and it reminded me of how it was when Saliha, Marina and I reacted when we came to Sipadan for the first time.
Anyway, tomorrow were are going to go Pygmy Hunting (Seahorse la!). I am so excited, I am preparing my macro lense. Fingers crossed, hope the photos will turn out ok.
*apparently tomorrow we are diving with one of the generals (there are a total of 20 of them) of the medical corp. Hmmmm.....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Semporna.... The update

Today is my birthday and I am in Semporna. Many of you would be thinking "what the heck is she doing writing her blog when she should be out there diving?" .. Exactly my sentiments but then I caught a cold yesterday... and now I am recuperating.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be better can can join the gang to Mabul. Today's plan was Pulau Sibuan. I have never been there so it is quite a dissapointment!

I have been here since last week. Merman joined me for the trip here last Saturday and we went diving on Sunday... Mabul and Kapalai. Apparently the permits for Sipadan is all out! He left on Monday and I started my two week dive medice course. It is called 'International Dive Medical Officer' (IDMO) Course. It teaches doctors about the not so well known field of diving medicine, illnesses related to it and also how to determine if a person is certified to dive. It is definately an eye-opener. We were never taught this in medical school. And what the intructors, the Dive Industry tell the public is definately skewed!

I have known this (logically) but a lot of people argue that it is not true. DIVING IS A DENGEROUS SPORT!!!! It has a mortality of about 17 percent in 100 000 per year. It doesn't mean I will stop diving but generally it tells us that we have to take precautions when diving and to promote safe diving. Reckless behaviour is not acceptable! Hahaha.... half of the divers I know are idiots, gung-ho asses who if I tell them this would go into an arguement on how I am wrong.

Well, that is not my mission. I am attending this course because I dive a lot and the ones I love also dive a lot. Not a lot of doctors have the knowledge and I plan to equip myself to keep my family, friends and myself safe.

I hope I can dive tomorrow.... I am off to bed now (it is 1 pm and outside is so damn hot!)

p.s. I will post photos of Semporna when I get back. The pc is full of viruses!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Darjah Dua Hijau

I was envious when Khamarul said he met up with his primary school friends a few weeks ago. I mean apart from Wee Aun and Normazura, I hardly met anyone lese since our last day in Standard Six. Of ya, Ros Azlin was with me and Normazura in Puteri Titiwangsa but I guess that is all.

Last week, someone 'found' me on Facebook. It helps that my name is unique...(c'mon guys, have you ever met another Lynn Azura??) and also the fact that I was the most comot girl (and still is) and a school bully despite my size..hehehe now you guys know why I am fierce..hahaha

Anyway, Wan Mohd Nizam aka Nizam Lope (have no idea why he calls himself that nowadays) was the one who 'found' me. I remembered him coz despite him being quiet, he stays in Setapak Garden plus his name reminds me of Terusan Wan Mohamad Saman... sejarah darjah 4 tuh....

After that I got renewed vigour to search for my old classmates. It was easy to find those who have unique names like me. In the end, I found Siew Jin Ee (daughter of Mrs Siew our English teacher in Standard 5), Yeoh Leng Sim, Chan Fatt Chian and Surinder Kaur. The Malay chaps and gals had so common names that any search reveals more than 500 hits...

Nizam scanned the photos above and I had a good laugh looking at my face. As usual I will be in a corner... I remembered at this time I had 'mangkuk' hair.... Mom cuts our hair by placing a huge bowl over our heads and follow the outline of the bowl...... Standard Two was a wonderful time... I was the head female bully.....(self appointed...), Normazura was my side-kick...well, we were best friends from kindergarten....I would whack anyone who tries to bully me and my friends... hey I may be small but I packed a few good punches and kicks and if all fails bite them!!!

The most memorable thing was playing Police and Thief every recess time.... the whole class would join in... day in day out..... the boys would be on one side and the girls the other.... I would be running up and down till the recess bell rings.... food was to us secondary. And with that amopunt of running and sweating, no wonder by the time I reach home I was so stinking mom would force me to have my bath immediately.

Ah those were the days.....

As for my friends, I am still searching for them. Hope we can meet up soon!