The Gatherings of Divers at MIDE 2023

It’s a happy day for me, because I’ve finally earned this SSI pro t-shirt after so many months of training. This shirt is awarded to SSI dive pro candidates upon successful completion of their course.

Coincidentally the annual Malaysia International Dive Expo happens to be ongoing and so the first thing I did after receiving my t-shirt upon completion of my training was head over to the dive expo with my instructors.

The crowd was massive at MIDE 2023.Organised by AsiaEvents Exsic Sdn Bhd, MIDE is an annual event aimed at growing and strengthening the Malaysian dive community and businesses. It remains the most well attended event in Malaysia, and well-reputed for its trademark resilience and wide variety of top dive gear suppliers and international diving packages. Under ordinary circumstances, I would avoid crowded events like this. I have never gone to any dive expo since I became a certified diver, but this year I made an exception, because I’d like to join in the fun and meet people from the diving industry.

This is my instructor Suhaimi Salleh of KAIA Underwater Academy. I call him Abang Mie. I started off as an Open Water Diver with just 12 logged dives when I started taking scuba specialties with him. In a blink of an eye, I found myself already taking SSI Diver Stress and Rescue and after that, SSI Dive Guide course. This is because I really enjoyed learning with him. He’s really a nice guy. Never stingy with his knowledge and takes really good care of his students.

Twinning with my SSI Marine Ecology and SSI Dive Guide instructor. I call her Kak Syahnaz. She’s the best instructor you can ask for if you’re the manja type of student and cannot take harsh scolding. She’s a very nice teacher. She’s strict while teaching but never to the point that makes you feel like crying if you can’t do something well. She always motivate me and assures me when I was doing my SSI Dive Guide training.

Hates massive crowds but I went to MIDE regardless, this year. Because my family is there. All of these people are my martial family; my Laoshi, my bro, my Shi Jie and also my Shi Mu. They were toiling at Scuba Dobedo Divers’ booth.

I spent most of my time with them during the lockdown era learning Qigong and Taichi with them via Google Meet. I haven’t been seeing my bro Spiros Kyriazatis for a very, very long time since he went back to his home country. Miss him lots and promised him I’ll drop by in MIDE to visit him and Laoshi, and so I did.

The last time the 3 of us had a picture together was back in 2021, during my first fun dive after my open water certification at Empangan Semenyih, during our surface interval. I was only at my 11th dive and I was such a big baby and both my Laoshi and my bro had to take extra care of me. They must be really glad now that these days they don’t have to babysit me anymore whenever it comes to diving.😂

I’m really happy that we had a chance to take a picture together again this time.

My Laoshi and my bro are both dive pros from PADI. I on the other hand decided to pursue my diving career with SSI after my AOW, but no matter how high I’ve reach, or no matter how deep I’ve dive, they will always be the people I love and care about. They will always be my family.

The first person whom I personally shared my happiness with when I earned my SSI dive pro t-shirt is Tom Chan , my Qigong and Taichi Laoshi. Why? Because he is not only just my Laoshi, but he’s also like a father to me. He gave me lotsa care and love, and supported me in everything that I wanted to achieve. And Laoshi quietly taught me stuff to help me ease my journey. I have benefited alot from his knowledge and kindness. When I said I wanna go dive pro, he encouraged me. When I said I wanna be a mermaid, he helped me pick my first tail. When I told him I wanna take up freediving, he quietly taught me wellness Qigong so that it will be helpful in my breath holding. He didn’t say he was helping me, but I noticed, of course.

Like I said, I hate crowds, seriously, cuz the energy buzz is so high and it gets me feeling dizzy and disoriented, so I usually avoid going to expos where there are so many people gathering. But this year I made an exception mainly because I wanted to see him. Apart from sharing with him my good news, I also want to see him give talks. He’s one of the speakers at MIDE.

My Laoshi, Tom Chan is an in-house PADI Course Director at Scuba Dobedo Divers . He was one of the speakers in MIDE 2023. One of the reasons why I went to MIDE was to see him on stage. He gave talks on the Razor Sidemount system and why you should go sidemounting. I think Laoshi looks really sharp here. I usually see Laoshi in different settings, usually in our Qigong and Taichi class. Instead of holding a mic for a talk, he’d be using headphones while wielding Chinese weapons like sword, sabre, spear, Guandao and stick. Laoshi always wears white outfit during our practice session. He almost never wears black for our classes.

I don’t know if I will ever go tech-rec or tech in diving. I don’t know if I will ever be a sidemount diver. But if I ever decides to, I won’t pick anyone else to do sidemounting with. I’ll definitely choose to learn from Laoshi. He’s the best teacher ever. For now, I’ll just continue to be his naughty Energizer Bunny Taichi student. 😂

Maybe one day in the future, I’ll snap a picture of Laoshi on a totally different stage; say…Martial Arts tournament. Let’s keep a finger crossed on that. I’m rooting for that. Or maybe…it can be the other way around. Me on stage, performing and Laoshi can be my photographer.🤭😂😂

Apart from listening to my Laoshi’s talk, I also took the opportunity to go for dive gear shopping and of course, meet friends from the diving industry. It’s really rare to meet so many dive buddies at the same time and this is the perfect opportunity to meet and visit each other. Here’s sharing with you the people whom I’ve met and managed to catch up with during the MIDE 2023.

Yours truly with her PADI side of the family, attending a talk by Tom Chan . Yep. We’re my Laoshi’s pom pom boys and girls.
Picture courtesy of the Akuana Malaysia hot dude, Ken Chang, first from the left.

On my right side is Swen Becht . He’s my PADI freediving instructor. Although I decided to pursue a scuba diving career with SSI, I decided to go with PADI for my freediving. Why? I could have chosen an SSI instructor too for my freediving, but I didn’t. Many people asked me why. Well, here’s why; this is because I choose the instructor, not the agency. My freediving instructor is an eye-candy, isn’t he? Yep. He is. No doubt he has a lot of fangirls trailing after him. But that’s not the reason why I decided to learn freediving from him. I decided to learn from him after I met him for the first time at Bandar Saujana Putra Lake. I was at the lake doing my weekly underwater clean up, and he happened to bring his students and I saw how he handled his students during class. I saw how he takes really good care of his students back then. Saw how he gave clear instructions while assuring his students during the training session and I liked how steady and soothing his energy is. It’s almost similar to my Laoshi and I thought, yes, this is the guy I wanted to learn freediving from one day. And to cut the long story short, I did ended up signing up freediving course with him.

Fast forward today, I’m confident that I’ll be learning a great deal about freediving from him. He’s a real good mentor as well. Really warm and easy to talk to and makes freediving really fun to learn. He always gives me assurance whenever I feel not confident about something. I’m definitely looking forward to our next freediving session soon.

On another note, Swen is the only instructor that I did not try to get him to try scuba diving or try mermaiding. This is because he’s also a scuba diver and he can also dive and swim with a monofin. No doubt he will make a good merman if he wants. It’ll be no fun to tease him like the rest of my teachers. 😂😂😂😂

Stay away, ladies. Swen is happily married and is a doting father to a really cute baby. You don’t stand a chance. So yea…don’t even think of trying to flirt with him.😂

Say hi to my friend, SSI Instructor Trainer around; Kevin Ling Hua Wei from. Wanna learn scuba diving? Go find him. Wanna learn freediving? Yep…he can teach you too. And yes…even if you wanna learn how to be a mermaid…or a merman, you can find him too. He can teach you those too. 🤭🤭🤭

Surrounded by hot SSI dudes. Two from the left are Vincent Lai and Ricky Koh. They’re SSI Area Managers. Their job scopes are to support SSI dive centres in administration/marketing and all the hard office stuff. Not easy stuff. It involves a lot of PR skills. Not for the faint hearted and definitely not for introverts.

Two on the right, Farid and Echa. Farid is my regular lake dive buddy and is also a dive buddy for underwater clean up volunteering works. Without him, conservation works would be really really dull.

A photo with buddies and the legends of the diving industry.

This is Nurul Zuraini. She’s one of the instructors whom I’ve had the privilege to learn from when I was an open water candidate for SDI. Well, she’s not exactly my instructor, but she’s one of the instructors that I keep bugging back then. I remember that I just finished off my confined water training and she was conducting a swimming class. Being typical Ellie, I shamelessly crashed into her swimming class in the pool with her students and begged her to teach me too. 😂

She’s also one of the people who gave me valuable advice when it comes to choosing my dive gear when I was still new in scuba diving.

It’s really nice to see her again after all these years. She once told me that one day I too will become a dive pro if I train hard enough. And true to her words…I did. 😃

Say hello to ZY Lim , Lee Kang Ee and Karen Choong . ZY needs no further introduction as you guys are probably already familiar with him by now as he’s my mer-buddy. Kang Ee is a scuba instructor+ merman while Karen is an SSI Mermaid Instructor at my mermaid school, Onshore Mermaid. I’m more used to seeing them all wet and in action at the pool, so it takes a little while for me to get used to their dry, on land looks. 😂

The lovely lady beside me is Amy Cheng . She’s a SSI Mermaid Instructor Trainer. She trains both mermaids and mermaid instructor candidates, which made her my principal at my mermaid school, Onshore Mermaid. Without her warmth and hospitality that drawn me to sign up for SSI Mermaid course last year, I wouldn’t be a certified SSI Mermaid today. Love ya, Teacher Amy. Thank you so much for keeping an eye on me at the pool and help me improve my mermaiding skills. 😘😍

This is En. Nawar. He’s the big guy in Jabatan Perikanan Melaka and is a conservation expert. Programs that he organizes usually cover the newly gazetted Taman Laut Melaka and consist of ghost net removals and coral propagation works. There are lotsa things I wanna share about ghost net removal, but I’ll leave it for the next postings for now.

Here’s my dive and gossip buddy David Tang . The last time I met him was during Grandpa Chan’s funeral. I’m so happy to be able to finally catch up with him in a non-sombre and a happy, high energy event.

On show at MIDE 2023 were the latest and greatest in scuba-diving related products and services, new lines including sailing expeditions and various watersports, but I was there more for the awesome people in the diving industry. MIDE 2023 was a great platform to catch up with inspiring and like-minded people who share the same interest and passion efficiently in a short period of time. I hope I’ll be able to do this again soon. Perhaps, in a different environment setting.

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