I think in the whole of my life I have only ever written one complaint letter, and that was to the council about a parking ticket I shouldn't a have been given... So it's with frustration and complete sensation of a wasted day of my holiday that I'm hoping others won't fall into the same trap.
If your planning on diving in Malaysia then I strongly recommend that you do your research and find a good dive school. Our trip to the 'reef platform' at Palau payer marine park was awful and ill list below why and hopefully in order of severity:-
The platform hosts between 300-500 people. - with a mixture of snorkelling and diving. You will be driven there in one of three very large boats that use the platform( I'll explain more later)
The area to dive in is tiny and your constantly bumping into swimmers. (not the best start if this is your first experience)
The staff and equipment are very geared up for MASS tourism and the equipment is old and dated. - I fear for the safety of the whole operation.
The instructor that was explaining how to put on your kit, did so in such a manner that instead of reassuring my wife (who had never done it) he scared her so much she was on the verge of tears. - super stuff for a honeymoon!
From arriving on the platform to being submerged in the water took a grand total of 10 minutes. No safety briefing, explanation on pressure, no kit check, - you where told verbally however - how to clear your mask, that your regulator went in your mouth and should stay there ( but not how to retrieve it should you loose it). You needed to equalise the pressure(but not what this does to you, or how often you need to blow your nose), and that you needed the OK or not sure sign to correspond with the instructor. - great, then off you went.
The instructor then takes 2 of you out at a time from your group ( about 16 in our group) - Sarah was scared as I think everyone would be with a completely alien environment and only a 10 minute prep before hand. The instructor was patient to begin with but got frustrated after a little time and wanted to get back to the group as he had another 8 couples to take out. This meant that for our £180- yes, £180 we got a grand total of 15minutes in the water with him... Possibly the most expensive dive I have ever done!
The dive should not have been allowed to take place the day we went as the seas where far to rough. Visibility was down to about one meter, this was only compounded by the fact that you have three very big boats that kicked up a load of sediment on arriving at the platform.
All the coral are brown so if your looking for a beautiful reef this is not one of them
Consequently the waters are not teaming with fish, there are some - but they are mainly attracted by the fact that tourists are allowed to throw their lunch in the water to watch the fish swarm! I know and they call this ecotourism!
In addition to this three big boats plus numerous other smaller boats all in a very small area. Huge clouds of diesel smoke bellow from the engines when they start. There are plastic bags and bottles floating in the water. Probably due to staff not cleaning up after lunch but letting the waste blow off the rig into the sea. - again is this really ecotourism? No wonder there are limited fish and brown coral.
Now let's get to the rig/ platform - this is old! There is an area / chamber that you can walk into that acts like a glass bottom boat. But it's easy to cut yourself on the rust around the door ways/hatches as you climb down - the glass panels are rusty and smashed in several cases,
Back on deck if you need the bathroom then you have the choice of two very smelly and old toilets that I imagine deposit the waste directly onto the coral below.
Lastly - the platform is about 1.2 hours from dry land. On a still, flat day that might be fine- but they keep to boat running even in bad conditions - (I imaging as they make a shed load of money out of us -£180 for the two of us - jan 2014). But nearly three hours of boat ride, plus your then stuck on the rig when you get there for a further 3-4 hours... They handed out a lot of sick bags for our return journey.
All in all do your research. Langkawi coral, saga travel and tours sdn. Should hold your heads in shame... This is not diving... This is mass tourism to line your pockets. There is nothing of value- it's a complete rip off. Further more it's destroying / destroyed the environment. People don't relax or have a good time they are too busy trying to avoid all the other bodies in the water.
As I say avoid like the plague!!
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