As I come to the end of my time as an instructor with Two Fish, I look back fondly on the last few months spent both in Gili Air and Bunaken – I’ve met some wonderful people from all over the world, experienced some of the best diving in Indonesia and learnt a huge amount about diving, teaching and what it’s like to work in this wonderful country!
I began my journey with Two Fish in Gili Air, doing my Instructor Development Course with course director Marie. I was joined by Ilan, from France, and Bridget, from Australia. What ensued was one of the best 2 weeks of my life! Living on a tropical island was everything I could have hoped for, with beautiful scenery everywhere you look and brilliant diving to match. I did a few days fun diving before the course started, and I wasn’t disappointed – the abundance of turtles, stunning reef fish and variety of dive sites makes diving the Gili islands so wonderful! With warm waters and incredible visibility, I experienced some great diving that I won’t be forgetting any time soon! The team at Gili Air were so fun to be around and made me feel so welcome.
When the course started, I was immediately put at ease by Marie and her confident style of teaching. Doing the IDC as part of a 3 was ideal – we could learn from each other but it still felt a small enough group that we each got very tailored advice from Marie. Over the 2 weeks, we learnt how to teach, both in the classroom and in the pool and open water. Throughout, Marie was an excellent teacher – she imparted so much knowledge and wisdom in such a small space of time, but I never felt overloaded with information – the 2 weeks were so much fun, and rarely felt like work (even doing homework)! Ilan and Bridget were such fun course companions too – I’ll never forget Bridget using a pair of knickers to shield her head from the sun during a pool session – please never change!
All too quickly, the IDC was over, and the IE loomed. However, thanks to Marie, I felt prepared and was actually looking forward to the exam (this has NEVER happened before). We went over to Gili Trawangan for the exam, and the 2 days passed in a blur – before I knew it, there were 3 newly qualified PADI instructors heading back to Gili Air for a well deserved glass (or bottle) of wine!
After the exam was over, Bridget and I embarked on our MSDT prep (specialty training). This was good fun, as it meant we were learning about areas of diving that we specifically enjoyed – for me, it was great to get back to wreck diving! In just 2 days, we had completed our MSDT prep, and were fully fledged diving instructors. Again, I can’t thank Marie enough for all her help and guidance throughout my time with her – any student with her as a course director should count themselves very lucky!
With my brand new instructor certificate in hand, it was time to move on from Gili Air, and put into practice all I’d learnt in the last few weeks. Next stop, Bunaken!
I was lucky enough to get an internship with Two Fish at their Bunaken resort – I was thrilled, given that the diving in Bunaken is spectacular, being voted as having one of the best wall dives in Asia! As soon as I arrived, I got stuck in with teaching courses, alongside fellow dive instructor Markus. For the first few courses I taught, he shadowed my lessons and gave me invaluable feedback. My first course was with Susan, Jon and Marcus, a family from the UK doing their Advanced Open Water. They were very patient students while I found my feet, and I had a great few days with them. Highlights would have to include watching the family squabble over navigation – as expected, Susan was right when it came down to finding their way back, with Marcus and Jon giving somewhat unhelpful directions – I’d love to be a fly on the wall during any long car trips with those guys!
Over the next 8 weeks, I taught a variety of courses, from Open Water all the way to Rescue and divemaster. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching people from all over the world (UK, USA, Holland, China, Australia, Columbia, Austria, Switzerland, Singapore… The list goes on!) and it’s been a wonderful way to find out more about so many other countries and cultures. In particular, I had a really fun week teaching alongside Sebastian, a Chinese speaking instructor, with a group of 8 Chinese open water students who spoke very little English. A huge amount of trust is involved when all the dive briefings and explanations of skills are given by another instructor in another language – I had to hope that when we got in the water everything I did would make sense to them. Luckily, Sebastian had taught like this before and the course went without a hitch. Even more fun was playing celebratory drinking games the night they all passed… in Mandarin!
The internship didn’t come without its own set of challenges, however. Although I wouldn’t say I’ve had any ‘problem’ students, trying to teach someone to dive who can’t swim and can’t speak very good English was as tough as it sounds. However, I’ve been fortunate enough that all my students have been incredibly hard working, and this particular student got up at 6am every morning throughout the course to go and practice her swimming in the pool before the dives. This meant that although at times it was difficult, it’s given me a resilience that I didn’t have previously, and a huge amount of respect for the students for whom diving didn’t come so easily.
I also had the great pleasure of teaching some of the dive guides while I’ve been here. Rocky and Albert were so much fun to work with, and I was more than ready to help them progress with their diving. We did a rescue and EFR course over a few days, and had such a laugh throughout. There was a LOT of splashing around, but when it came down to it they both got really involved, playing victim and rescuer very competently!
As aforementioned, I’ve also had the pleasure of teaching parts of the divemaster course. Divemaster trainee Csaba and I had a very fun afternoon doing his Discover Local Diving module – I put him through his paces, acting like a nervous and incompetent student, as people often do Discover Local Diving dives when they haven’t dived in a while, or are unfamiliar with the location. I took great pleasure in swimming as fast as I could in the wrong direction, taking my kit off underwater and pretending to panic and shooting for the surface – all in all being the worst student imaginable. He dealt with it very well and I’m sure he will make a brilliant instructor.
From the very advanced to the very beginner – one of my favourite courses while I’ve been here would have to be with 10 year old Victor, doing his Junior Open Water. He comes from a diving family, similar to my own (my Dad is an instructor and my mum a BSAC Dive Leader (equivalent to PADI divemaster)) so it was no wonder he wanted to get in the water as soon as he turned 10 (beating me to it – I was a diver by 12)! I was astonished with how talented he is – we did the course in English even though that was his 3rd language! He absolutely flew through the course… Who knows, maybe he’ll turn out like me and be an instructor in 10 years!
Although Bunaken is a relatively small and quiet island, it does know how to throw a party. I was immensely grateful to Yadi, one of the compressor technicians, for inviting myself and Markus to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was lovely to be part of the local celebrations, and get more of an understanding of the culture here on the island. Aside from diving, I’ve also organised a reef clean up during my time here, which produced a staggering 56kg of rubbish! I sifted through it and sent PADI’s Dive Against Debris campaign a report, letting them know what kind of rubbish pollutes our waters. It was great to see so many of the guests helping out with the clean up (hopefully not just because of the prize of a free beer for whoever got the most rubbish)!
It would be remiss of me to do a blog about my time here without describing the beautiful diving in Bunaken. The wall diving here is unparalleled, with a huge abundance and variety of coral and marine life. My favourite sites are Lekuan, Ron’s Point and Siladen, because of the beautiful topography and variety of reef fish.
Thanks to Bridget I have a new found appreciation for micro life and corals – I love spotting nudibranchs and trying to identify types of coral, taking a much more active role in fish ID. There are loads of beautiful hawksbill and green turtles, puffer fish and my favourite, box fish – as well as scorpion leaf fish, lion fish, frog fish and stone fish.
Overall, my time both in Gili Air and Bunaken has been absolutely fantastic – I’ve learnt so much and done some incredible diving, and made many wonderful friends. Although I’ve well and truly got the travel bug, and can’t wait to go to lots of new places, I doubt it will be too long before I’m back.