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So our first real day in Palau didn’t exactly turn out as I had imagined.
1) I wake up extremely groggy because I had barely slept. I kept tossing and turning and waking up during the night because of the creepy crawly feeling or because of the loud-ass AC.
2) I go for our breakfast buns that we bought in Taiwan and realize…shit the bags aren’t sealed and there are ants ALL over them…GROSS
3) Oh god do we have to sleep here again tonight?
So for breakfast we have a few granola bars instead and head down to wait for our Sam’s Tours pickup. They’re a bit late but eventually we’re on our way and after a few other pickups we’re at the dive center. We get our affairs in order as all of our correspondence had been via e-mail and I was really counting on them to organize everything as I had no idea what was going to happen. Luckily they were totally on the ball and everything was set.
The big thing for Joanna to decide was whether to come with me to do open water dives 3 and 4 with me and do a refresher course or just go straight into diving. To back it up a bit, I got a question the other day from Joanna that went along the lines of “so where do you breathe out of when diving…your nose or your mouth?” which I promptly laughed at. So suffice to say, it was a good choice when she said that she’d do a refresher course with me. Another thing we had to decide was whether we were going to get dive computers or not. I figured this would be a good idea to track our nitrogen levels since we were doing 4 days out there. Once I got out of the office I realized that I forgot to bring my referral papers from the other dives I had done earlier in the trip so I had to get a ride back to Lehn’s sand pick it up while Joanna did a test.
Once I got back we worked with our instructor, Rick, for the rest of the day who was amazing. After reviewing Joanna’s test we geared up and got a thorough rundown of everything and what we were going to be doing in the water. I also got to ask a lot of questions which was great. The biggest concern for me was the clearing of water in my mask but Rick was able to teach me a few new techniques to try that might work better for me.
Open Water Dive 3 was to my surprise literally off the jetty of the dive shop. This one was more or less purely technical skills including flooding the mask, give/share air, hovering and navigating with a compass.
Lunch was pretty awesome with their standard bento boxes. Who would’ve thought I’d be having bento boxes in Palau but I guess with their Japanese occupation and all there has to be some sort of Japanese influence somewhere.
I was definitely nervous going into Open Water Dive 4 because I knew I would have to do a full mask removal. I was slightly more confident with the mask clearing because on Dive 3 I was able to do it without accidentally breathing in through my nose. The full mask removal underwater went off without a hitch and aside from that I did more hovering and a emergency ascent (CESA). After these skill tests on the floor the rest of the dive was must more enjoyable as we actually got to swim around and check out what was near the dock. They have one section that is pretty neat called the micro-wall which is literally the concrete wall underwater of the shop which actually has a surprising amount of small fish to see.
And there you have it folks…I was then officially Open Water Diver certified. I took my picture for my file and temporary card and I was good to go.
After that I had a Red Rooster amber (locally brewed) beer and then of course we had to face the reality of Lehn’s Motel…that it wasn’t really going to work out. We talked to the guys at Sam’s Tours (who had arranged the whole package for us) and asked if we could get upgraded for our remaining days to a proper hotel at least. They recommended West Plaza Malakal and since it was too late to make the swap on this day we said we’d check it out and if it was okay we’d move there for the next night. West Plaza Malakal was only 15 minutes walk so we decided to check it out. The lady at the front desk showed us one of the possible rooms and it was way better so we went back to Sam’s Tours and told them we’d do it.
For dinner we cabbed downtown to first walk around the main street to buy some souvenirs and then finally a Thai restaurant that was recommended online called Suriyothai followed by dessert at a Japanese café next door. We tried really hard to minimize the amount of time we needed to be at the motel.
Reluctantly, we cabbed back to Lehn’s and tried to sleep ASAP.
- West Plaza Malakal is definitely a lot better than Lehn’s. The best hotel to stay at I would say (bang for buck) would definitely be Sea Passion if you can get it. Unfortunately a lot of Taiwanese tour groups were staying there and we tried to book this Palau trip too late so it was all full by the time we were looking.
- If you haven’t gone diving in awhile, seriously think about doing a refresher either back at home to save time or as your first day of diving on a multi-dive day trip.
- It’s pretty awesome to be Open Water Diver certified. Once you’re certified you’re good for life. Toughest part is the flooding of the mask test but once you get over that it’s really not that bad. Everything else is a piece of cake. Get certified. Let the diving addiction start!
- Pick up to Sam’s Tours
- Open Water Dive 3
- Open Water Dive 4
- Check out West Plaza Malakal
- Cab downtown to do some shopping
- Dinner at Suriyothai Restaurant
- Dessert at Japanese Café nearby
- Suffer through another night at Lehn’s
The diving begins the next so make sure you read Day 67 – Palau – Ngerchong Outside and Dexter’s Corner.
Curious what else I did on my trip to Asia? See the full itinerary and all 89 days.