I’ve been itching to dive again since my last dive in September last year after my Open Water Diver certification, but with travel restrictions imposed by the government is still in effect, there’s nothing much I can do. With the recent news that the Malaysian government is strictly putting their feet down and they’re not going to consider reopening the state border until at least the end of May 2021 if the Covid19 numbers has drastically gone down to two numbers or 80% of Malaysian population have been vaccinated, I was left utterly devastated. I knew that since I’m living in Kuala Lumpur, I couldn’t possibly cross the state and island diving trips is no longer possible since there are none in my state. I can now kiss Vitamin Sea goodbye until the restrictions is lifted off.
Tough being a scuba diver in the Covid19 era, huh. I’ve always believed in focusing on the solution instead of the problem. So, the problem here is that I want to dive but I can’t dive in the sea because there are none in Kuala Lumpur or Klang Valley area. The solution? Go for lake diving, then. There are plenty in Klang Valley for me to dive in.And so, I scoured around in Facebook groups and discovered that Scuba Dobedo Divers organizes lake diving in Klang Valley area every weekend. It’s just a half day trip and just about 1 hour drive away from my place and I thought, this is it, and I signed up for a lake diving experience.
Now, let me be honest with you. Prior to the Covid19 pandemic crisis, I would have never considered lake diving. I’ve watched plenty of videos on lake diving in Malaysian lakes and the limited visibility shown in the videos was more than enough to scare me off. Most of the DMs and diving professionals that I’m acquainted with kinda told me that there’s nothing interesting to see or experience as well if I were to dive in lakes. They think that I would just be wasting my time and money if I were to do that. Hearing that, I keep telling myself that there’s no point in diving if I can barely see anything. Plus, I wasn’t sure if the guides or dive leaders are trustworthy and dependable, considering I’m still a novice in this whole diving thing. I wasn’t sure if I can handle it and I keep making excuses not to explore lakes even though most of the lakes in Klang Valley are just a stone throw away from the place I’m living.But now that travel restrictions will still be in effect probably til kingdom comes, I thought that I wouldn’t have any other options than to dive in lakes. I told myself to stop making excuses and stop getting influenced by naysayers. I told myself that it would be safe, plus one of the Scuba Dobedo instructor as well as the DM who leads the lake exploration as a guide also happens to be my Taichi coach and my martial brother. I wouldn’t just be diving with strangers, but with people who I can trust. I assured myself that even if there’s limited visibility in the lakes I’ll be diving, it would be an exciting experience for me as a diver and so I brainwashed my husband a.k.a my dive buddy and my friend Stella&her husband Ben to come along with me.
And so my lake exploration adventure began. Dive location: Port Kura Kura Dive Site, Semenyih Dam at Hulu Langat, Selangor. The Semenyih Dam is one of the Klang Valley major dams in Selangor, Malaysia. Built in 1985, the dam is surrounded with green forested hills. The dam provides one of the most picturesque sights in Selangor.
It also supplies a major portion of drinking water to the Klang Valley population. It’s not a famous spot for scuba diving and a special permit is needed to scuba dive over here but it’s certainly famous for those who are into fishing. Every now and then on weekends it will be visited by anglers, and sometimes cycling and hiking enthusiasts as well. To reach this place is abit of a pain. You need to kinda jungle trek a little bit and unless you are driving a 4WD vehicle, you would need to park your vehicle at about 5 minutes walk away. Luckily for us, the organizers helped us with our heavy scuba equipments and stuff by using their vehicle. The road to the dam can be likened to slithering snake. My son and I actually puked while on the way to the place. If you’re the type who are prone to motion sickness, I’d advice you pop some non-drowsy motion sickness pills to ward off your motion sickness away.
This place is still at sea level, and therefore no Altitude Diving Specialty is required to dive here. The max depth of this dam is 45m, but our dive plan is to just dive up to 11m max. Expected visibility range is around 1-2m. The purpose of the dive is to explore the dive site and spot any underwater creatures that’s inhabiting this ecosystem. For every two divers there will be one dive guide; an Instructor or a Dive Master leading the dive.
Frankly speaking, I was really nervous. Unlike everyone else who are experienced divers, I’m only an Open Water Diver with just 9 logged dives under my belt prior to this.
I haven’t really fundive before and all my dives were certification and training dives instead of a fundive. All things considered, this is my first official fundive, and it’s a limited visibility one at that.
After briefing was done, Tom, my husband and I alongside with other group of divers made a shore entry and a slow descent.
The visibility was bad. It was just about 1m and we can barely see each other. It takes quite awhile for the eyes to focus to get used to the surrounding. And you need to be extremely alert to be able to stick to your buddy and your guide. I’m the sort of person who is afraid of the dark and gets really afraid if I couldn’t see anything, but strange enough, upon descend and getting used to the surroundings, I feel much calmer than when I was diving in the sea. The water was quite warm and very calm. There were no rough currents for me to fight against when underwater.The dive spot we were exploring have soft muddy bottom. Despite of the sediments floating around and severely limiting my visibility, I discovered that I can glide easily after adjusting my buoyancy. It’s weird. I don’t know how everyone else feel, but I love the feeling of diving in this place. I was strangely unafraid once underwater and only focus on following my guide-the torchlight being my guiding point. The visibility was about 1m or less throughout the entire exploration dive, but we managed to spot some creatures that’s inhabiting this dam’s ecosystem.
*Pictures credit to Tom ST Chan
We managed to spot some mussels, juvenile crab, juvenile lobster, and juvenile shrimps. I think I also caught a glimpse of a strange looking black coloured fish with yellow eyes swimming by, but I’m not very sure what fish it is. Since I didn’t snap a picture of it and identify the fish, I guess I won’t officially be including it in my logbook. To say that I’m a happy diver is an understatement. I wasn’t really expecting to see those creatures. I have low expectations on this dive and didn’t expect to spot anything at all as I was forewarned about the visibility, but I’m glad we did.
Surface interval before our second dive.
Abit of a Taichi routine with my teacher Tom, and my martial brother Spyros during the surface interval. I was feeling abit tired and sleepy during the surface interval, so performing some Taichi routine helps to boost my energy a little. (I’ll talk about that and the benefits of practicing Taichi in other postings).
Me and my husband after our second dive. Yea…I didn’t forget my signature Jalur Gemilang pose.
All things considered, there are a few things I feel I need to jot down for those who are interested in exploring this dive site:
1. The road to the Semenyih Dam requires a skillful driver as it’s curves and somewhat ‘snakey’. Those who are prone to motion sickness should take some motion sickness pills to ward it off before you start driving, or your first dive wouldn’t be comfortable. Over the counter pills like Veloxin should be good. It’s non-drowsy.
2. Driving in a 4WD to reach the place is recommended, but if you’re not driving one, be sure to be properly attired for a short jungle trekking.
3. The shore of this dive site does not have shady areas, so it’s recommended that you pop up a fly sheet for shelter. I usually don’t recommend divers to use sunblocks as it can hurt the marine creatures, but in this case I do recommend one. Slather some good amount of reef friendly sunblocks on your body if you don’t want to suffer sunburns. Alternatively, you can use Aloe Vera gels to protect your skin.
4. Monkey alert. Plenty of naughty monkeys lives here, I’d personally recommend you to set up a tent and put your belongings and food in there to keep them safe if you are bringing any.
5. The shore is scorching hot in the morning. Prepare sufficient cold drinks to keep yourself hydrated. Isotonic drinks, mineral water and coconut juice is highly recommended. Some would prefer coffee or tea but I wouldn’t exactly recommend that as these beverages are diuretic instead of hydrating.
6. Visibility at this dive site is bad, you can lose your guide and buddy easily if you don’t focus. I lost my buddy and guide 3 times while diving here, and some other divers with different guides lost their buddies too, but there’s nothing to be afraid of or to be panicked about. If that happens to you, just follow the lost buddy procedure and make a safety stop if necessary and resurface to wait for your guide and buddy. The surface is calm and since the area is not that huge, you can see the shore from where you are once you resurface. Once reunited, you may continue the dive or abort the dive as you saw fit. My guide, my buddy and myself did just that and it was still an enjoyable dive for us.
7. You need to be well equipped for this exploration dive. Must have items for the dive; high lumen diving torchlight (shallow light torches are useless here), aluminium pointer or shaker to make sounds in case you need to catch attention, diving knife in case you get tangled with something and a good dive computer. I recommend those with brightly coloured LCD screen display and those with strong backlight instead of dot matrix ones. You will not be able to read the dot matrix screen in low visibility environment. A compass will also be helpful for the exploration dive.
8. Watch your buoyancy. The bottom of this dive site is soft and muddy, so be sure not to hit the bottom when you descent and try your best to not kick any mud up or you will end up worsening the visibility for yourself and your buddies.
9. Monitor your gauge and dive computer closely for your remaining air and safety stops. Since the visibility is really low and you can sometime overlook the gauge for remaining air and dive computer for a safety stop. Overlooking this is dangerous as you might suffer from DCS if you’re not careful.
10. Proper weighting is required. This is freshwater we are talking about, and you can sink down easily, so make sure you don’t overweight yourself.
One for the album. Overall, I enjoyed my dive immensely. My guide Tom is very patient and attentive and I feel that I could trust my life with him during the dive. The lake exploration diving trip is a huge personal achievement for me. Not only I get to see plenty of marine creatures but I get to practice my buoyancy, finning and real-life buddy lost procedure as well. It’s definitely a good training ground if you’d like to practice your skills and build your confidence. Not exactly for the faint hearted but adventurous scuba divers would probably enjoy diving here. So, will I consider diving here again? Yes, definitely. I’m already scheming for my next exploration dive and looking forward for more adventure in the nearest future.
Before I end this post, I’d like to thank Tom ST Chan, Spyros and Farah for being so helpful and patient with us. Thank you so much. You guys are such a gem and I look forward to dive with you guys again.
Interested to explore this dive site? Refer to the details below for more information:
Hulu Langat Lake Exploration Dive-Diving dates: Every Saturday and Sunday.
-Price: RM180- 2 dives, inclusive of refreshments, tank&weight (additional charges applies for other equipments)
-Free and easy and no charges for accompanying non divers.
Contact: Judy- +60 12-213 1139
Tom- +60 12-291 8883
Scuba Dobedo Divers
3rd Floor, Lot 22951, Jalan Emas, Taman Emas, 43200 Cheras, Selangor