I am one of those girls who hates getting her hair wet. It’s really quite pathetic and nothing to be proud of. I blame it on not having had brothers to throw me into swimming pools when I was growing up (I can swim though – grandmother style – with Jackie O shades on and my head most definitely above water). So scuba diving as my relatively new passion is unlikely, to say the least.
We are in fact just back from a long weekend away with friends on their boat that travelled from the west of Singapore up to the Malaysian islands of Tioman and Aur, where we were diving nearly deserted waters and being wonderfully looked after.
I’m still loving my $100 cheapo wetsuit (below) which has lasted nearly 2 years and looks almost as good as new. Wearing one makes you feel like a cross between a Bond girl and a seal…and you’ve gotta love it for that alone. What other piece of clothing can make you feel such extreme fluctuations of temperament. For $100, I am seriously impressed and just hope my lashings of non chip red nail varnish helped my cause.
If you are just starting out on the scuba diving front and have no gear AND no idea…the place I was sent to by the person who got me hooked on diving was the DiveShop@SG, which I still think is the best shop for getting equipment from and the only ScubaPro dealer and service centre in town. Gavin (a diver) and his wife Janet run it and can help you whether you just need the basics or seriously advanced gear. Gavin will also, remarkably, talk you out of buying things too, if he doesn’t think you need them.
Found in the unlikely location of the Landmark Hotel on North Bridge Road, the store is part of the street level parade of shops on the outside of the Hotel, just at the top of Arab Street and Haji Lane. A good place for custom lensed masks fitted out with your prescription if you’d rather not dive in contacts (it’s so much easier to dive with them in but I can’t bring myself to, just in case they fall out when I’m all the way down and I panic as I can’t see anything clearly).
Gavin Ang, DiveShop@SG, T: (+65) 6297 9273
Opening times: 11am-7pm Monday-Saturday. However, a word of warning! These times are generally more guide than fact, so if you are planning a visit it’s really worth calling ahead. For instance in the mornings he’s often running late and nowhere near open at 11am; try not to go at lunchtime as he’s generally ‘just popped out’. And if you are planning on a visit just before closing, be careful because if he’s got something on that evening, he’ll shut early.
For big buys like BCDs, Benny is worth a call; he’s a great sourcer and is also a dive instructor so knows his equipment very well, what represents value for money and will last you and what won’t. He can generally get it cheaper than you can in a shop here in Singapore (do your research before buying though). Make sure you know what the product you have your eye on is worth in both the UK and US though before you order from him as it’s a good benchmark to be steered by. Things are generally a bit more out here though, so factor that in; plus you have the benefit of being able to service it locally and go back to where you bought it from if you have a problem. Invaluable. Your online bargain website may offer a good price, but what do you do if your equipment goes wrong and needs replacing?
Benny: (+65) 9488 7566
If you want to learn to dive, there are 2 options. Either Davy Koh, who was one of the pioneer divers here in Singapore and is a very good and experienced instructor, or Benny (see above). Davy taught me and he was wonderfully patient while I flipped out about various things including having to take my mask off under water. If you go through Davy you will get a TDI qualification (similar to PADI). He is also PADI qualified but prefers to teach the TDI course. There is not much difference between the two.
Benny is equally experienced and is also great at teaching small children (from around 10 years old). His secret to getting them hooked on their first shallow water dive is to capture (and later release) a nemo fish in his mask…works every time I am told. So if you are a lame-ass beginner and worried about this, that and the next thing, Benny is likely to be able to handle you well. Both Benny and Davy can teach Advanced Diving and Nitrox courses as well.
Davy: (+65) 9758 2478