Yina Goes

Singapore Top Travel, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle Blog

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tioman: Open Water Diving with Gill Divers! (Part 2)

Hello yall!

I'm here to share about my weekend in Tioman when I got certified for my SSI Open Water Diver course! Boy, was it a tiring weekend. All went good though and I am now officially certified as a SSI Open Water Diver!

It was a very short weekend trip - We left Singapore via coach on Friday night, caught the boat from Mersing Jetty, arrived at Tioman around 3am and woke up at 8am to have breakfast and depart for the first dive.

We arrived for 6pm assembly on Friday evening at the dive shop at York Hill! These are the bags containing our dive gear - buoyancy suit, regulators, fins and wetsuit! You'll need to handle your own dive gear and they get real heavy especially by the end of the trip when they're all wet and waterlogged. Not fun, but noone ever said that diving was a glamorous hobby.

The coach ride was quite a nightmare honestly. Heavy traffic all along the way from Singapore through immigrations and all the way to Mersing. Expect a lot of jam braking and sudden acceleration because the driver was winding through and cutting lanes whenever he could.

We took a pit stop along the way to Mersing Jetty for dinner and I had some fish soup. Dinner is a must cos it would be 3am by the time we reached the resort and I'm sure everyone would be too tired to do anything else but go straight to bed!

We finally arrived at Mersing Harbour Center safely and got on the boat that would take us all the way to Tioman Island! It was a pretty rough ride, I would say. Most of us tried to sleep a little on the boat but it wasn't the most comfortable. Also, motion sickness pills highly recommended if you're prone to sea sickness.

When we arrived at the island, it was pitch dark with not a soul in sight. Went straight to our resort to crash for the night!

Inside our room for the weekend! The word "resort" is a bit of a stretch because Tioman is no luxury holiday island, so don't expect any four star accommodation - we were bunking in four to a room in a very basic, no-frills setting with two double beds. Apparently though, you can get better accomodation if you top up extra for the best resort on the island: Berjaya Tioman Resort.

For the basic accommodation package though, this is as good as it gets, two beds for four pax and one bathroom. No toiletries provided so please come prepared!

Obviously we were too tired to care much - None of us even took a shower and all of us went straight to sleep, as seeing how we only had five hours or so to rest up for the next day. I apparently slept so soundly that the morning prayers at 5am didn't even wake me up.

A short five hours later, we had to drag ourselves reluctantly out of bed to get breakfast and leave for our dives!

Sharing my oral sun protection - Heliocare Ultra. I am super anal about sun protection so I always take oral sunblock capsules and on top of that I still apply topical sunblock on the exposed areas of my body!

My advice is to go easy on the breakfast - Just have some food to fill up your tummy but don't overeat, because you might end up feeling sick on the sea or feel weird in the water because of all the weird gases expanding and compressing in your stomach lol.

The nasi lemak and beehoon soup were surprisingly yummy though! So I did overeat which serves me right because I ended up puking later.

These cute felines were all around the island!

Off to the jetty to get on our boat!

Usually, Tioman is a lot less crowded in November due to the start of the monsoon season, so there were only a few other dive groups apart from ours. IMO a good thing to have less people around but then again it also means poorer dive conditions and visibility underwater, so it's a trade off.

At least the sun didn't come bearing down so strongly on us, which means I didn't get too tanned!


We had rather cloudy weather with choppy waters, so I got really seasick on the first day and ended up puking into the sea. Urrrghhhh.

Thank goodness I felt much better from the third dive onwards and was able to enjoy myself so much more!

These compressed air tanks (bane of my life, it's so heavy oh my god) and buoyancy control suits - Suiting on these equipment and my fins are my most unfavourite part of diving.

The first time I jumped into the sea was quite a scary moment, but once I got over the initial wave of mild panic, everything felt a lot more comfortable, even when we had to remove our masks underwater and put them back on and clear them.

I also swallowed a fair share of sea water like the beginner that I am.

We did four dives on the first day, and a fifth dive on the second day - That's a total of 5 dives over the weekend.

During the dives, we were guided through the basic skills assessment we were taught in the pool session, like mask clearing, alternate air source (sharing a regulator with your buddy), and how to recognise and use hand signals underwater - All these are essential skills in diving so it's important to feel comfortable with the skills and techniques used to prevent any potentially life-threatening situations underwater.

By the end of a few dives, I was feeling so much more confident in the water! Most importantly, do not panick underwater and stay calm no matter what. Your instructor and dive master are there to take care of you and guide you.

The lovely Renggis Island which is a popular dive spot for spotting black tipped sharks - We didn't get to see any sharks, but saw a huge turtle which totally made my day!!!!

I bought this rashguard swimwear set from Fiji more than a year ago and I'm glad I got to put it to good use while diving in Tioman!!!

Not sure about other dive companies but Gill Divers only provide a 3mm "shortie" aka a short sleeved wetsuit during our Open Waters course, and I wanted to avoid that horrid half sleeve/half thigh tan so I wore my own long sleeved rash guard AND a pair of long tights, which was probably my best purchase for this trip.

After completing four dives on Day 1. Whoop whoop!


One of my most dreaded moments is climbing up that ladder with what feels like ten tonnes of gear on me.

The diving itself was actually very enjoyable, especially when we swam right above and through the corals with all those tiny little fishes darting about around us, and even spotted stingrays, turtles and huge parrot fish and bat fish!

What I didn't enjoy was when I got seasick due to the choppy sea conditions and how difficult it was to equalise my ears on the first few tries.

Tioman Island has got a grand total of ONE convenience store - It's practically the only form of civilisation on the island and this place was a godsend for biscuits (to bring on board for snacking in between dives) and cold drinks after a long day of dives.

Apart from the convenience store, you musttttt have prata at this prata shop!!!


Damn solid prata bomb with condensed milk and sugar. It was SO good!

We retired around 10pm on Day 1 to wake up at 5.30am on Day 2 for one last dive before we had to head back to Singapore.

Can't believe I actually woke up at 5.30am just to dive.

This is the view as we were going towards Renggis Island again for our last dive - It was so early that the moon was still out in its full glory!

It rained twice that morning so visibility wasn't so good, unfortunately.

The multiple dive attempts really made me more confident and sure in the water, although I had a lot of trouble with trying to stay in the water because I'm SO NATURALLY BUOYANT I KEPT FLOATING UP TOWARDS THE TOP OF THE WATER. Whenever I took a deeper breath than usual, I started feeling myself drifting upwards hahahahahaha #fail

It was very enjoyable overall and I hope my future dives will be even better with more underwater discoveries! That moment when we chanced upon that giant sea turtle felt so magical.

Gonna share some of the images taken by my dive instructor from Gill Divers, Ephraim!

We surfaced from our last dive on Saturday to come up to a beautiful double rainbow after the rain ended. What a perfect end to our day!

Saw so many of these clownfish darting about amongst the anemone underwater. The tiniest one I saw was no bigger than the nail on my little finger, can you imagine? How adorable!

Always been partial to clownfish thanks to Finding Nemo. Hahahahaha. They are a pretty common sight but seeing them still brings a thrill to me.


Possibly one of my most exciting moments on Dive 3 was running into a lone blue spotted stingray!!!

It was camouflaging very well on the seabed as the visibility was quite poor that day. I spotted it swimming in front of Eph and gestured at Eph to take notice of the ray so that he could photograph it. This shot turned out really good!!!


That’s me underwater looking very happy, indeed I was but what you don’t see is my constant struggle to NOT stay afloat hahahaha it was like *takes in deep breath*..... *slowly starts floating upwards like a helium balloon*

Eph had to resort to tugging me downwards by my ankle whenever I inadvertently started drifting back up to the surface. Yikes.

A nudibranch! Or sea slug hehe. These are small little molluscs and come in a huge variety of colours and patterns, super cute!!

The one we saw was black with white spiky thorns all over.

Lastly...

We’ve been wanting to learn something together and this is what we decided on: Diving! Having someone by your side who’s willing to go on unknown adventures with you must be one of the best things in life. Our first underwater expedition and hopefully more to come!

I'm looking forward to getting my advanced open water certification soon, so that I'm able to explore more dive sites. Absolutely can't wait! :)

#YINAtheTUNA

Read about my diving adventures!
Open Water Diving with Gill Divers! (Part 1)
Tioman: Open Water Diving with Gill Divers! (Part 2)

I got certified with Gill Divers - Gill Divers website here.


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Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Tropical Girl's Guide To Dressing Up Fashionably Warm For Winter


Hey all!

I've been receiving a lot of enquiries from readers wondering how to dress for winter, especially when it’s sub-zero temperatures in places like Seoul!

Yes, I'm a tropical Singaporean girl through and through. But with the amount of travelling I do and experiencing winter so frequently (I did subzero temperatures twice, this year alone), I feel somewhat qualified to speak my piece. I've amassed a bit of experience and a whole lot of tips and hacks in my arsenal on how to look stylish and still stay warm, even at -5 degrees!

So here you go:

A Tropical Girl's Guide to Dressing Up Fashionably for Winter!


I have a confession to make.

I friggin’ HATE winter puffer jackets that make me look like a bazhang (aka dumpling). I just cannot. I know they are amazing when it comes to keeping me warm, but looking like a dumpling is not an option.

[Coat from Uniqlo, scarf from ZARA]

I only own ONE puffy jacket from Uniqlo and I think it looks amazing for a puffy jacket lol.

But I usually keep it for situations like:
1. It’s so cold that I don’t really care even if I’m looking like a ba zhang
2. I’m somewhere in the wilderness cos then i think it’s acceptable to look non-fashionable - Puffy jackets do have a rather sporty appeal to them isn’t it?

[Coat from ZARA, snood from Hong Kong, thermal inner wear from Uniqlo]

But if I could look like THIS at -5 degrees (i.e. meaning to say somewhat fashionably stylish) then Y NOT, right?

I’m actually a very basic kinda girl. Not really the most adventurous when it comes to winter dressing, but let me share with you what works for me.

1. Find a great coat!

As seeing how your coat is the one main staple of any winter outfit, it is of paramount importance that you find a good-looking coat that fits you to a T!

Down jackets are more than warm, but a chic coat in a good fabric like wool or cashmere, or even fleece-lined offers the benefits of both decent protection from the cold, as well as keeping you stylish. On the downside, wool coats and the likes usually tend to be heavier, but it’s a trade-off for me haha I rather look a little more glamorous on my holidays, thank you very much.

[Coat from ZARA]

I love coats with detachable hoods! You can switch them up for different looks. This is the same coat as the one in the first picture of this post! Looks very different without the fur hood doesn’t it?

I own quite a few winter coats. Every time I see one I really like and it’s within budget, I’ll tell myself OK LETS BUY ITTTT. It’s quite difficult (IMO) to find a good winter coat that fits well and looks stylish at the same time. In Singapore, there are only a few places that sell fashionable winter wear at affordable prices, and I always find myself back at ZARA for their stylish range of winter wear!

You'll have so much more selection when shopping overseas, especially during winter season.

Tip: Remember to get your coat in the right size - It should be just slightly too big for you. You want to be able to layer under the coat without it feeling suffocatingly tight on the shoulders/arms!

[Coat from Taiwan, beanie from F21, turtleneck/knit dress from Seoul]

I got this coat from Taiwan! It’s made of wool and is fairly thick. I wore it on my last trip to Seoul in January when it was about -5 deg. Of course, the trick to really staying warm in subzero temperatures brings me to my next point...

2. Thermal wear is a must

No way you can wear one of these coats with just one layer inside and expect to stay warm. I’m sure you already know mine and everyone else’s open secret. Uniqlo's Heattech wear!

Their thermal wear is really affordable, and comes in a variety of colors and styles. I’m basic so I just go for the regular black scoop neck design and black leggings. 

More importantly, they have the regular version, extra warm version and ultra warm version! If you’re really really afraid of the cold, layer your heat tech!

I only have the regular and extra warm versions, so on days that I really needed to bundle up, I actually layered two layers of thermal wear inside. On top of that, I wore another knit piece or sweater! Uniqlo also does heat tech fleece turtle necks and tops which help to keep warm too.


Some readers have also recommended me fleece-lined leggings from Taobao/Qoo10 that keep warm even in -20 deg! I probably need to get myself a pair of those leggings to see how well they work.

3. Keep your extremities warm by accessorising

[Scarf and coat from ZARA, cute beanie from random shop in Hongkong]

When you’re looking at subzero temperatures, one of my preferred layering options might be:
Regular heat tech (top and leggings)
Extra warm heat tech (top and leggings)
Knit sweater
Coat

But all that is not enough, because the parts of your body exposed to the air as well as your extremities (that lose body warmth the fastest) will be the coldesttttt when you’re in such freezing conditions.

You’ll definitely need the following to help keep yourself warm:
Scarves 
Ear muffs
Beanies/Hats
Face mask
Gloves
Thick socks


You might end up like this when it gets too too cold. Beanie to protect ears, face mask to cover face. Don’t underestimate how much they help!

I have a variety of cute beanies and colourful scarves to keep me warm cos I think it’s the best way to add a pop of color to your winter outfit. Generally I like a bit of color though some people can pull off monochromatic outfits very well. With a bright color or print on you, you’ll stand out more in pictures too.

Tip: Remember to look for gloves with touch-screen capabilities - This will allow you to use your phone without removing your gloves and freezing your digits!

4. What to wear under your coat?

Tops

If you’re wondering what kinds of tops to wear over your heat tech, the best options are long-sleeved knit sweaters, turtleneck style tops and thick wool fabrics. I like turtleneck tops for winter because they offer an extra layer of protection around my neck - When it gets real cold, that extra bit of fabric really helps!

Knit sweaters can be really cute too, and I love this one that I bought in Hongdae, Seoul, paired together with a wool pencil skirt. Just remember that most of the time, what you wear inside won’t even be visible because it’d be under your thick coat and scarf anyway.

Bottoms

Jeans, leggings or skirts?
This is always a dilemma when it comes to packing for winter. I usually bring along a combination of all three! Let me share a little on how I layer them!

Jeans are a basic and generally go with most outfits.

I usually go for a basic dark wash cos that’s the most versatile. You probably don’t want to wear jeans on it’s own because the fabric doesn’t really block out the cold, so what you can do is to layer one heattech leggings, followed by jeans. It’s a hassle to go to the loo cos you’re gonna have to button/unbutton/unzip, so I’m warning you first!

Jeans made of a more elastic fabric will also work better cos you’ll have one more layer of heattech inside your jeans! Even better if you find drawstring elasticsed jeans because they can’t be seen underneath your tops/coats anyway. I usually do jeans if I’m going for a less girly look.

Skirts can be a little trickier for layering and I’ll break it down into two types, fitted skirts and flare skirts.

With flare skirts, they are a little more challenging to layer because you don’t get a good silhouette if you have longer coats! 

Flare skirts go really well with shorter jackets, though! Of course, you still wanna layer with heattech leggings underneath! (Side-note, this leather jacket was definitely not enough to keep me warm at -5 degrees. I brought out a large coat to layer over this after I got the shot I wanted :D)

Fitted skirts work way better with long coats, on the contrary.

Most convenient of all bottoms are leggings and leggings on their own! You can pull off leggings as pants if you are wearing either a long top or a long-ish jacket. Or you could layer a long tee shirt on top, as long as it covers the butt, you’ll look decent!

(My ridiculous fur shrug is from ZARA, on sale. I mean, how often do I get to wear cute furry things? I relish every opportunity to.)

Leggings on their own are great cos going to the toilet is so easy. It also feels much less restrictive! I layered up two heattech leggings this time in Seoul and it worked for me.

Dresses

I don’t do dresses as much in winter because I generally find it easier to just layer tops with jeans/leggings, but wearing dresses pinafore style with a turtleneck inside can be a stylish way to wear a dress during winter!

Another pinafore with turtleneck inside combi!You can also tell that I recycle my winter accessories a fair bit, like this printed scarf I got in MNG Spain some time ago, it’s one of my favourites.

5. Footwear

I’m definitely a boots person when it comes to cold weather!

Boots help to block out the wind, and of course because I can’t wear them in Singapore, so I try to utilise them to the maximum whenever I get the opportunity to.

Boots come in a huge variety of styles and patterns!

I have boots like these: Under the knee leather boots, got these in Taiwan earlier this year! Tall boots are great because they also serve the function of being able to block out the wind and cold, another layer of protection against the freezing cold!

These are lifesavers! UGG boots that are fur-lined, water-proof and also give me good footing even on snowy or wet ground. Good for even subzero temperatures. They are not super pretty but have a rugged charm. I've also worn them even for trekking in the snow before, that’s how hardy they are!

I also own a pair of Hunter boots: I got them online on shopbop at least 2-3 years ago and I wear them very often, especially in autumn to mild winter climates.

Hunter boots are great cos they’re waterproof and are so easy to wear. On the negative side, they are a bit heavier than regular boots and they might not work so well for icy grounds cos they’re not slip proof like my UGGs. I sized up half a size and it fits me with allowance, which is necessary for wearing thick socks in cold climates.

Low booties like these are great for normal walking around in city areas!

I especially like black suede booties cos they are most flattering when worn with black leggings. Bought these two pairs from Hongdae in Seoul! The black ones go with everything and are comfy enough for me to walk about the entire day.

Sneakers go well with coats/jeans/leggings too, but I personally prefer boots for their style factor!

6. Not warm enough? Heat packs to the rescue!

If you’re really really afraid of the cold, just do whatever it takes to stay warm, even if it means being all wrapped up from head to toe!

What works for me might not work as well for you, and it all depends on your personal tolerance to the cold. Still not warm enough? Don't forget to stock up on these useful little packets that can be slotted into your pockets for extra warmth. These are lifesavers especially for freezing fingers that feel like they're about to drop off!

7. Bonus Tip! Keep a bottle of fabric freshener handy

On a somewhat-related note, a small bottle of fabric freshener could be your best friend on your winter vacation! You will be re-wearing your thermal wear and coats plenty of times, and that stale smell of Korean BBQ lingering on your clothes won't be pleasant when you have to don on the same coat the next day.

Air your coats well by hanging them up in the open, and be liberal with the use of fabric freshener that helps to kill bacteria and remove odours to keep you smelling fresh all the time. Because one just can't stay away from Korean BBQ, especially in winter, can they?

Closing Note

No-one ever said that you had to choose between looking stylish and staying warm! On this ending note, I hope this post has been useful somewhat for all the tropical girls out there! 

If I’ve missed out anything you wanna know more about, or if you’ve got your own hacks and tips to share, please leave a comment! Meanwhile, stay toasty and stylish this winter!


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