From Heels to Fins
Once upon a time there was a stressed-out city girl, climbing the career ladder in the big smoke of Melbourne. That’s me, in case you were wondering. A personal drama at home led to a big night out and the organising of an impromptu holiday with my sister, to tropical Thailand. It was here that I had my first taste of diving. What can I say, the awesomeness of being underwater and aquatic life instantly had me hooked… pun intended. I loved everything about it; I loved being underwater, I loved seeing fish, I loved talking about fish and I even began dreaming about fish. But most of all I loved the pace and feel of life on tropical island.
Well, I really threw myself into the diving and completed the PADI Open Water to PADI Rescue Diver in the space of my two weeks. I remember one afternoon, speaking with my instructor and telling her how much I wished that I could have her lifestyle. She replied with a simple, ‘Why don’t you?’, and would you believe it, I couldn’t come up with one single, solid reason why I couldn’t.
So, I slung up my heels and three months later I had relocated to Koh Tao and completed my PADI Divemaster course with Buddha View, began working as a guide and really began enjoying the tropical island lifestyle I’d been longing for. My intention was only to ever be away from the ‘real world’ for one year, before heading back to my briefcase and suits. But wouldn’t you know it, life had other plans! My next adventure involved relocating with a handsome bar manager (also a dive pro) and moving to Bali to see what other wonders diving in South East Asia had to offer, as we had a great opportunity to work for a new start-up dive shop. Being involved in the setup process and diving as well as managing the day to day running of the shop really taught me some invaluable lessons.
In 2016 and now living and diving on Nusa Lembongan Bali, (I told you I have a thing for beautiful tropical islands), and with dreams of opening our own dive shop, I heard that Mark Soworka (Dive Careers) was coming to the island and I decided that now was probably the perfect time to undertake my IDC taking me to the next level of PADI Dive Instructor. Having done my Divemaster with Mark, I knew exactly what I was getting myself in for and the IDC certainly lived up to exactly my expectation; I made lots of new friends, probably partied a little more than I should have, but most importantly Mark took me through the whole course in an easy, relaxed, entertaining but thorough manner.
IDC you later
It’s only been 1 year since I completed my IDC and I am very proud, excited and wetsuit fillingly nervous to report that we have just opened the doors of our very own PADI 5* dive center – Siren Diving Lembongan. The road that’s lead here certainly hasn’t been a straight path! The last couple of years have been fun for sure, difficult at times but most of all very educational. There have been quite a few unexpected turns and to my surprise a great many unexpected opportunities. Having previously been involved in the setup process of a couple of dive businesses has been instrumental to us, as we now know what we want and don’t want in our own center.
For us, the focus of Siren Diving is very much about personality, taking people out diving and just simply having a fun time. I love being out on our boat and seeing lots of smiling happy faces. Sure, we are safe and educational like all PADI 5* Centers should be but most of all, as clichéd as it sounds, we aim to give someone a holiday island and underwater experience they remember. Maybe even inspire them as my instructor did me.
One of the most valuable things I have learnt throughout this whole process is the importance of friendships and connections that you make, both in the dive industry and the local community in which you are living. I would certainly recommend doing your IDC with a renowned operator like Dive Careers, not just because they have decades of experience in teaching new PADI Professionals, but for the networking and connections.
Another seemingly obvious pointer for you… If you are going to setup a business in a new country, live there first! Three years of living and diving in Indonesia, two of which has been right here in Nusa Lembongan has been invaluable. Not just from understanding the laws, regulations and customs but from building relationships in the local community. Make friends with as many local people as you can. Smile, laugh, tell silly jokes and most importantly treat everyone you meet with the respect they deserve. It was only when we experienced an unforeseen, possibly terminal setback, that we realised just how much a part of the community we were. It was inspiring see how willing so many people were to help us and how many people wanted to work with us. There is a reason that local island communities function so well and the clue is in the name… “community”. Without meaning to go all hippy on you, it’s something that you can’t experience in a big city and like all good things in life, you put a little in and the return is tenfold.
Finally, and it kind of ties in with the 2 previous points, understand that you certainly need to be organised and thorough, but you can’t do everything on your own and have strength in all areas. I love the diving, spend hours working on social media and organising my two business partners, one of which is my loving partner, part time instructor and full time clown, Darren. Our other business partner is an island local and diving machine, Wayan, without whom we would be floundering in the shallows and undoubtedly be blundering into all kinds of social faux pars.
So the next time you have a thought of, “I wish I could do this all the time”. Ask yourself, “Why don’t you?” Who knows where it’ll lead.
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web : www.sirendiving.com