So you want to Scuba Dive?

open water, padi, scuba

Open Water Dive

I’ve kinda never really thought about it, until some really awesome videos hit my Facebook feed. After that, it was constantly at the back of my mind until ADEX (Asia Dive Expo) rolled around and I saw SimplyScuba’s PADI Open Water Dive Package retailing at $370+. Yea… before I knew it, I had a registration sheet on hand and the rest was history.

The knowledge development (theory lessons) and confined water (pool session) were done with Simply Scuba, but because I ended up doing my actual dives in Singapore (Pulau Hantu), they attached me to Marlin Divers. Don’t get me wrong, Simply Scuba was nice … but Marlin Divers were fantastic and professional.

It hasn’t been exactly easy – but for sure, most of it is psychological. Some tips that I would have found REALLY helpful:

  1. You know how instructors say think about what you got to do (especially during the dives)? Well here’s a little bit more. After you’ve visualized what you need to do, STOP thinking about it. Next, focus on your breathing. In, out, in, out. As long as you’re breathing, things will be fine. Then just take your mask off or regulator out (or whatever you need to do). I thank my yoga classes for this. Despite everything, I just kept breathing!
  2. When it comes to full mask removal underwater, what happens to most divers is that the bubbles emerging from their regulator sends water up their nose. A good way to avoid this is to tilt your head slightly while removing your mask.
  3. A few times during one dive I almost wanted to give up because I had so much trouble equalizing my ears (probably because of the evil alcohol from the night before!). Again, just stay calm and ascend a few meters – and try to equalize again. My dive group ended up having to wait for me for a bit – but I was glad that I didn’t give up in the end.
  4. In your logbook, record the weights, wetsuit type, and cylinder type you used as well as in what conditions (salt or freshwater). It will come in handy for future dives.
  5. Did I mention, stay calm? Cos yeah, Keep Calm and Scuba On.

Last but not least – remember, if you gotta go, you gotta go (try to do it somewhat discreetly and not announce it to the whole world, though…).

And that’s one more off the bucket list, folks!

Pulau Hantu

Pulau Hantu


2015 Mid Year Lookback

June. Middle of the year (almost, more or less, give or take a couple of weeks). Best time for a review or reflection on how my life has been going in the past half-year because what good are goals or resolutions or bucket lists if you don’t constantly work at them, right? So here goes. (This is kind of the first time I’m actually concretely putting it down in writing. Hoping that yes, it makes me slightly more accountable for what I’ve done and pick up the slack on what I haven’t.

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Since I made this resolution, I’ve been to: Bangkok, Phuket, Siem Reap, Penang. Hong Kong is also planned in about a weeks’ time.

Putting this list on hold, because I would like to get my PADI open water cert before I resume travels – would like to dive in so many parts of SE Asia that it seems to be a waste to go without.

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This time last year, I knew a lot of people. I met a bunch of new people each weekend. Part of my getting over my ex and getting my social life going phase. Which was all good and fun (and diverse), but I’ve fallen into that trap before and I didn’t want to again. So I cut out the people that I knew I was humouring (and were just not good for me), and I daresay the people I keep close to me now are those who would lend me a couple k’s to tide me over (if I should ever need it) or help me bury dead bodies (hopefully I won’t ever need this).

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Nowhere near completion 😦 😦 😦 Need to look at this and schedule in daily writing time, otherwise this will never get completed. I’ve been pretty bad about doing this.

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  • Teacher’s license – attained.
  • Fall in love again – attained. 🙂 And what a beautiful surprise it was.
  • PADI license – will be attained by end of this month.
  • Be fluent in another language besides English and Mandarin – so far, the french course is going great and I’m really enjoying it 😀

So where to next? In the next couple of months, I guess a few things I want to make sure I get done:

  • Cliff Jumping
  • Diving more with my diver’s license to prep for Advanced (needed to do some other dives that I want to do)
  • Kiss someone I love in the snow (totally doable!)
  • Get fitter (kinda required before tackling Mt Kinabalu or a few other items off my bucket list. I suppose stair climbing sessions are in order…)

All in all, I’m glad with how things are going. I guess my biggest setback was having to redo my practicum (and thus dragging out my bond period start), but this was offset by the fact that it made me appreciate my boyfriend and family more because he was there to support me when I needed it and cheer me on. At the same time, I’m happy that I cut out a lot of people who have not contributed to my life, because I’ve finally had the time to work on what’s important to me. So this has been a transitional period and I’m glad that I’ve still managed to get important things done in that time. So… all’s on track and can’t wait to see what else comes my way! 😉

Fire Fire Burning Bright

Slowly, you come awake. The neurons start sparking, your brain starts lighting up as consciousness grabs a hold of you. As you hover in that in between region of sleep and wakefulness, you wonder what has woken you up. There is no uncomfortable heaviness in your bladder, after all. Soon, an acrid smoky smell trickles into your room, and fills your lungs. You realise belatedly that your house is on fire. What would you save?

Someone asked me that question yesterday and well – I was stumped! Naturally, any human beings in the vicinity. And of course, my hamster Leonardo.

Next? Maybe my macbook? It has my yet-to-be-published bestseller, after all.

And then I was stuck.

And I suppose that is the freeing nature of having little needs and material possessions that you treasure.

Reflections on 2014

This comes rather belated, but then again, better late than never. I’m not a terribly huge fan of setting resolutions, but reflections are important in my opinion, because it lets you realise how much you’ve grown and developed in the span of one year. In my opinion, the recurring theme or thread through 2014 was self-discovery.

Slipping into my Singaporean Skin

Celebrating National Day 2014

Celebrating National Day 2014

2014 was the year when I finally felt like I settled into Singapore again. I still suffer from withdrawal pangs sometimes and a certain wistfulness when I think of Australia. I don’t know if it’ll ever go away. But for the most part, I’m proud and happy to call Singapore home once again. I daresay that there are much worse places to call home.

First Major Solo Trip

Climbing up Mt Vesuvius

Climbing up Mt Vesuvius

Certainly, I went to Sydney by myself in June 2013. However, being alone in Italy for the entire month of June 2014 was… freeing. It was waking up in the mornings, knowing that I myself was responsible for finding things to make my day and knowing I can depend on myself to solve any problems to crop up. It was lying by myself in a beach filled with hundreds of strangers, at peace with the world. It was swimming in the Ligurian sea, despite being half afraid that a riptide would carry me away. It was hand gestures and miming at times, when the language barrier proved insurmountable. It was helpful people going out of their way to help you when they felt you needed assistance with your luggage.

It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. For that reason, Italy will always have a part of my heart. Language barrier? Check. 10,000+km away? Check. First major solo trip? Check.

I became accepting of failure and more resilient

Previously when I began to hate what I did, I dropped into a blue almost depression-like state. This time, I didn’t hate what I was doing but I disliked the environment and situation I was thrown in. Despite it all, and despite the different circumstances, I still did my best (and in fact, did improve at the end of it all) – but it still wasn’t enough. However, I learnt to take things in my stride and just keep going on. Because no one’s going to save you unless you’re willing to save yourself – that’s what I found out for myself.

The Purge

Shia & I

Shia & I

Like EliteDaily espouses, sometimes some people need to be divorced from your life. I guess I realised that I have several toxic friends. The ones that you hang out with because s/he is part of your extended group, but you realise that it makes you a hypocrite, because being with them drains you and you do not actually enjoy their company. So I’ve actually made an effort to cut them loose, in spite of the fact that it makes me feel bad.

At the same time, I found a bunch of good friends – Abel, Alishia, Ali, Jon, Loki, my girlfriends at NIE, Phoebe – all of which I know I can rely on if I need someone to talk to.


Last but not least, I think I became more grateful for things around me this year. I hope that has made me a more appreciative person – I know it has definitely made me a happier person.

I also know I’ve done a lot of silly stuff in 2014 – especially after I came back from my Italian trip up till my birthday. I decided that this would be the time to find someone – and I became a serial dater. Up till I realised how silly it was, and started slowing down. And when I least expected it, someone in the background became a major contender for my heart. I don’t think I would have given him the chance if I wasn’t able to accept my shortcomings and kept chasing love for the sake of being with someone that I perceive as my ideal. But now, I can’t imagine my life without him and sometimes it scares me. But it’s something I hope I will come to accept in 2015. With that, come at me 2015 – let the good times roll!

J & I

J & I

Of love lost, of love found, of being.

They’re everywhere. The sad ones. The hurt ones. The jaded ones. You notice it either in the way they look – their eyes don’t sparkle or even turn into ice chips at the mere mention of ‘the previous One’. Or you notice it in the way they speak, because like the way eyes are windows into the soul, your voice and tone are a conveyance of your thoughts and feelings.

I read an article today from EliteDaily, and in it the author writes of how young, passionate couples inscribe their initials on Love locks and add it to the famous love lock bridge of Paris. Only to return months, years, decades later when that relationship has failed and attempted to do crazy things in order to remove that lock.

Would I do the same thing? Hell, no. I’m all for closure. Do I understand why they do it? Yes, I do indeed.

I’ve never cried as bitterly as the day I did when we broke up. At that time, I could only see it as a failing. Now, I know better – I can understand the girl I was in love, the woman that I now know will not commit the same mistakes and the person I will grow to be.

When you love someone, you make yourself vulnerable to them. You give them a license to hurt you, you put them at your back. You take what is left of your heart and you hand it over to them.

Sometimes it’s a failed Big Love. Sometimes it’s a series of failed dates. Either way, the skip goes out of your step and the dreams go out of your wishes for awhile. I should know, since the latter happened to me. After my last relationship ended, I went through many, many frogs. I don’t know if I still am going through them, although right now it seems more hopeful.

The Key points I’d like to make are:

1. Live in the moment. There is no point entering every first date thinking, “Is this the One?”. Thoughts translate into actions, remember – he’s bound to subconsciously pick up on this and run, or you’ll stress yourself out to the point that interaction with this person will no longer become fun. Enjoy this moment you have with this person to get to know them.

2. As difficult as it is, give people a chance. I have a girlfriend who makes snap judgements and bear preconceptions towards men based on her prior experience. This is just unfair to the man because she’ll never see him as he is, she’ll forever be seeing him as someone she thinks he is.

Sometimes, the unlikeliest people will surprise you. Hold back on those judgements.

3. Get hurt. And get hurt some more. Eventually, you will realise that (strangely), everyone is looking for love (or their perception of it). And you will also come to the strange observation that everyone has different ideas of what constitutes love, sometimes people go looking for it in all the wrong places, or you realise that it wasn’t you that caused your heartbreak, but just a mismatch of ideals. It was no one’s fault, and you grow up as you learn to address that subconscious issue that maybe you’re just not good enough.

4. Smile with your heart. Such a cheesy line. But essentially what I’m trying to drive at is that positive thoughts + caring will translate into actions and such actions make you a more attractive person in general, not only to potential matches but also to existing loved ones.

5. Keep dreaming, keep dating, keep your heart open to Love. Don’t close your heart away because you may one day very well miss the one it was meant for.

I don’t know if this helped, but for now, I’m happy with where I am. Maybe things are not as clear as I’d like them to be, but they’re far better than they ever used to be.

Of Fair Weathered Friends

It’s always sunny in Singapore, but Friendships may sometimes chance upon stormy seas. It’s rather sad, because ever since I moved back to Singapore, I’ve tried my best to be a good friend to others. I would like to think that I have been honest, I’ve been appreciative and I’ve accepted people as they are – shortcomings and strengths. And yet, this situation kind of blew out of proportion even as my attention was turned elsewhere, and, before I knew it, what used to be a good friend had become a total stranger. Although not really applicable to everyone, here is something I took away about dealing with toxic situations.

1. Never compromise who you are or bend backwards to meet someone who will not appreciate it

It was kind of ironic, because this person presents herself as being overly sensitive sometimes. As such, the group of girlfriends I was with sometimes went out of their way to accommodate her and were extremely careful in the words they used when talking to her. In contrast, I found that I’ve never had that problem – when I needed something done, I would just tell her what I needed.

For sure, the way she thought was sometimes different to us – but at the same time, I didn’t feel the need to mince words when pointing out an alternative or questioning her thinking. And I would say that the deliverables I achieved with her was far better than the outcomes my friends received.

2. Choose your friends wisely

One of my friends used to pick her up from her house every morning so she wouldn’t be late to school.

We would wait for her every morning when we stayed in the same hall to walk together.

I exchanged places with her in our Readers’ Theatre group so she wouldn’t have to endure any awkwardness working with the group.

And yet at the end of the day, this amounts to naught.

3. Don’t be afraid of removing toxic people from your life 

Initially, she started restricting PersonA on Facebook becausePersonA had told her to re-examine her priorities (sounds a little harsh, true, but at that time it deserved to be said). She used that as an excuse when it was clear that she was a little jealous because the guy she liked showed more interest in PersonA than in her. The funny thing? Both the guy and PersonA are engaged to be married (not to each other).

This gradually spiralled out of control – with her blocking and removing others in the group, and eventually when she restricted me, I just removed her. There is no point entertaining such childish antics or thoughts. Now, she no longer works with our group – rather, she works with the guy whom she’s interested in – and gone are her jeans this semester. She hasn’t worn anything but a dress. I’m not impressed. Clearly, I misread her character and I’m just glad that it’s come to the fore so I can remove her from my sphere.

This was honestly rather disappointing – the way she has gone about it has been really immature and makes me upset that I’ve invested emotions and time on someone who has clearly not appreciated it and taken it for granted. I’m done. Because sometimes it just isn’t worth it anymore.

An ending to GESL



Working in a huge group is not always terribly fun. For sure, it is a mix of frustration blending in with satisfaction when we manage to arrive at a decision. Still – my team mates didn’t really take our work for granted and it wasn’t a thankless task. Which is great. I won’t deny it though, it was tiresome at times when I would rather have focused my energies on some other thing. Here are some of my thoughts of GESL and of leading a team:

1. GESL should be assessed

In a project such as this one, coordinated by a large group and with plenty of participants, it’d definitely be a challenge to assess people’s individual contributions. Furthermore, another challenge was to get individuals more motivated about this project. As much as I would love to say that adults are generally self-motivating, reality would argue otherwise. Which is fair enough, everyone has different amounts of time that they can commit – BUT, having an extrinsic motivating factor such as grades being on the line ensures at least a minimal amount of commitment.  I faced a problem with one of our members just skipping out on meetings which pissed me off to no end, especially since she was just escaping her responsibilities. But upon consideration, that reflects on her character and work ethic, not mine.

2. Set Group Goals and Milestones together

Yes, we all know that the end product of this is to deliver a service learning project that is of benefit to the community. But, what are the steps in this process? Some members might think that conducting a risk assessment is more important. Others might feel that we have to carry out a survey on the ground first. And some other members yet might feel that even before that we need to consider what community the group would like to work with. Even before you embark on everything, it’s pretty important to talk things through with your groupmates and ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same thing. I’m pretty glad to say our group was pretty on the ball with this – some of my friends in other groups had no idea what the other members in their group were even doing.

3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

My perfectionist tendencies tend to result in a vicious cycle. First I need to take over mundane tasks and ensure they are done well. Then I get stressed because everything takes so bloody freaking long to accomplish. And then I get stressed because I am about to miss the deadline. Next another set of tasks crop up and the cycle repeats itself.

Which is why delegation is important, because ultimately you are meant to work as a team. When people take ownership of small problems, they are engaged in the group and will contribute different point of views which may result in a better product that you could have envisioned. Ideally, you trust every member of your team to pull their own weight. If, like in this case, you were allocated your team members, the next point is definitely something you need to keep in mind…

4. Know thy hands

Know your members. Know their names, some facts about them, know what makes them tick. Know their working styles as well as their strengths and weaknesses. During the orientation period and in our first group meeting, we spent time playing some ice breaking games and going through personality and work personality quizzes. Yes, it might SEEM like a waste of time – but it is not. Because any opportunity to make your members feel bonded to the group and to one another is always useful. Also, it gives you an indication of which members will work better with one another.

5. Leading through service

Sometimes, shit needs to get done and you need to set an example as a leader. Even if it’s to sit at a booth for two hours – hey, it can be fun, you could play the ukelele (see above!). What’s important is to make it fun and make it an enjoyable experience – that way you connect with members and seem more approachable to them. Having a leader who simply delegates work, or having a leader who micromanages stuff – not fun.

Do you have any other tips for working in large groups?