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An invitation you can't refuse indefinitely...
Be ready at 7h young man! Take that bus!
Having sleep well the night before, and waking up at 6am, I felt ready for a day of discoveries! Went to meet Fred in the lobby of Ha Van Hotel (see our promotional offer Dive with Fred/50% off Ha Van Hotel hotel room) and off we went on a full bus direction Nha Trang port. Most of people on the bus were completing their training (some their Open Water certification, other finishing their Divemaster...). At 8h, all aboard, we went to the bay. My first observation on the differences with the snorkeling boats (that I was already used to) and the dive boat I was presently on was the diving equipment, neatly embarked, but eating much of the boat space; it felt cramped. Moving around wasn't easy as the divers preparing themselves with their wetsuits and air bottles. But the atmosphere was joyful and one could feel the excitation building up as the boat was nearing the first dive site at Hòn Một (for some unknown reasons nicknamed Madonna Island).
Fred's first group (completing their Divemaster certification) was drop off the island and the boat moved on to another site at Hon Mun. It is at that precise moment that I felt ''uncool'' to not dive myself; to see the sun shine on the clear azure blue and how beautiful the many fishes I could see deep in the water (it was at least 10m underwater visibility!) from the boat, I could only imagine the wonders I was missing from up there. I reason myself to start what I came to do; it was time to take some photos...
I can be a stupid and stubborn man but...ouff not this time!
Why do I keep forgetting how fun is fun and nature amazing?
Being on a ''real'' dive boat as opposed to the ''regular'' snorkeling boat (or the notorious 4 Islands boat trip) I had access to much better equipment that I would otherwise be privy; which mean my mask was easy to adjust, not leaking and my scuba breathing tube well strap on it. It wasn't my first time snorkeling at Hòn Mun protected area but it certainly was my first time that I did not had to get my head out of the water to empty my mask or to readjust my tube so to not swallow sea water! This time, it was a real pleasure to not lose any minutes considering what I was able to see so clearly!
Fred had foretold me that I would see many species of marine life but what I witness was much more than that! All my memories of previous snorkeling trips came back instantaneously; how could I forgot all the different fishes, all the amazing corals of different shapes, colors and sizes? Wow! A completely new world was developing under my hallucinated gaze as my swimming strokes were getting nearer to the shallow waters of Hòn Mun.
Thanks to Fernando for the underwater photos!
There, underwater, one has/must be impressed and elated by the uncommon sight of some kind of marine broccolis, cabbages, mushrooms and other shaped vegetable corals (truth is, to be on magic mushroom would have been awesome!!!) . Swimming in that enchanted world was some fishes with long or small noses, with teeth or not, with big eyes, with small tails, with 2 colors, 5 colors, glowing, mat, changing colors, solo, in clouds, under shadows, at the bottom, on the surface, fearing you, not fearing you, rond, hitting their head on corals...It is hard to describe the feeling one has looking at the genius and diversity of life but this is as close to paradise one can be! I can see why diver like Fred Bielande still have the passion to wake up every morning and do what they do for what it seems not much of a monetary reward...they are doing this for the love of it; I can see that now. The reward is the magic one feels seeing the harmony of so many life forms; at peace on this earthly submerged paradise. On this first dive alone I must have seen at least 30 different species of marine life. Never will I forget again so many wonders...
Look I am flying...
When I came back to the boat, I tried to warped my mind around the experience I had just lived and grabbing my friend Sergeï by the arm I started making an inspired but totally incoherent speech on why he should immediately put a mask and go experience and see for himself what I had just witnessed...My eyes were dilated, my breath short and the speed and tone of my voice on high pitch. I abandoned my effort seeing the interrogation and incomprehension in his eyes. Went to sit and calm down when a diver, I don't remember which one, came to me and suggested that I put fins to my feet..., ''you'll go much faster'' they told me. My first reaction was ''nah''...why should I bother about anything after having seen so many amazing things already (this is my classic lazy reaction). I had try fins before but I thought at the time that they were cumbersome but then remembered with it was so...it was cumbersome because I had to adjust my leaking mask and adjust my scuba tube while learning how to use them! After being told that we would be idle for another hour and no reasons to wait anymore, I wear on the fins and went back for more discoveries.
Wow! I was warned to I would swim faster but I had no idea how much faster I would be (I am not in a good physical condition)...it was alike flying! I went back to the previous spot I was in no time and when I realised I could go much farther faster, I went on to explore the coastline of Hon Mun with all the new fishes, corals, colors and other wonders that was brought to my eyes; a real treasure hunt in the kingdom of Poseidon! Swimming over submerge mini canyons, observed 3D live marine life surrounding you at all time and feel part of it all; this is just like flying! Last time I felt this kind of movement freedom was the first time I learn how to drive a motorbike, 10 years ago in HCMC. That last hour will be imprinted in my brain as a memorable moment for life!
The return back on earth
Upon my return and with all other divers onboard, food was served: caramelized pork and chicken, salads, soup and rice (all excellent I must be noted)! So good in fact that I don't even have photos of the food so it was consumed at a voracious speed by starved divers. Time went fast and other photos takens with Erling Ingason (famed Dj. Ezeo), his girlfriend and Jerome jumping off the boat and having fun to the pleasure of the photographer! But after eating and playing, and the boat on the way back to the port, results could have been predicted with accuracy: the rest for the voyage was done in silence and most people were dozing on their seats; satiated and happy for their day. Having enjoy a so great day, it is now my objective to bring my 3 daughters with me on my next snorkeling trip! I will lure them by explaining how much it would like being in Disney's Finding Nemo but in real! I am very excited to go back with them!
A community of divers
I would like to thanks Frederic Bielande for the invitation to this mind blowing experience! I will no doubt make my open water certification with him as soon as possible (and so do you). I would like also extend my gratitude to Amigo Diving Club crew run by my friend Enrico to let me have a passage their boat and be kind enough to let me photograph the journey! While I have been on the boat, I saw my good friends at Angel Dive Club and Scuba Dive Club...good times! So many friends that I usually meet at The Rooftop Lounge but, now lucky enough to meet in their natural habitat! Thank you all to make this day a truly magic moment that I will never forget!
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