Intern Leona

Ex Scuba Diving Intern Leona shares her gap year diving experiences from Koh Tao

Name:Hui Leng 'Leona' Goh

Age:24 From:Singapore

What were you doing before you joining PADI Divemaster Scuba Diving Internship on Koh Tao?

Just graduated from University of Melbourne, trained to save the many lives of companies in which our society depends - Accountant.

I was inspired to be in the money-laundering business but thought it would be nice to try something completely different before reality kicks in.

Looking back over your scuba internship, can you share an amusing story with us?

The time when John sprinted away when he realised a triggerfish was attacking me? Or when I was chased by a shark twice the size of me.

Or when someone who had sea-sickness puked all over me as I was making my ascent, with tomato chunks on my hair? Its endless...

How was your tech dive training & wreck diving with DJL [Expedition Diver Internship]?

Heavy stuff, definitely not for the weak. But every ship has a story. Deep wreck diving not only allows me to explore my limits but entitles me to go face to face with the many mysteries lying at the bottom.

Its like reading a book about wrecks but this time, you're down past 40m, asking and answering questions as you explore and enjoying the sweet release of narcosis. It has definitely made me a better diver.

What bits of the Diving Internship did you find trickiest?

What's your opinion of spending time on Koh Tao island?Taking on more responsibilities. Its no longer just my safety I worried about, but the safety of everyone else.

Tiny but cosy. Its a place where everyone knows everyone. You walk down the streets waving like a contestant in some beauty pageant. Just don't drink and ride/drive. Big no-no.

And the Divemaster swims?

Challenging but manageable after I paid Alex a small fee! ;) [joking]l. It was alright. Alex was there the whole time giving lots of love.

Do you think taking a scuba diving internship was a productive gap year experience?

Yup! The internship has taught me a lot more than just diving itself. I've learnt how a dive shop operates, the way equipment works & proper maintenance needed, how to work around the boat, when & how instructors want their whiskey served and much more...

How did you find giving dive briefings for customers?

Being the conservative freak that I already am, its always best to prepare and plan everything before entering the water. After the dive, we usually have a casual debrief to brag about the things we saw during the dive.

Dive briefings also allow me to know more about customers and their concerns regarding the dive. It usually calms anxious divers down and reassures the doubtful.

A proper, open & and FUN (sounds cheesy but true) communication system eliminates the rigid divemaster - fun diver relationship and contributes to a better buddy system with all divers working cohesively as a team. Tragedies usually result from miscommunication so why go through all that drama?

What did you think of your dive Expedition on the Mata Ikan diving WW2 wrecks in the South China Sea?

I've done other liveaboards and this expedition was so different. I've learned so much helping Kieron with gas calculations and blending, setting up all my own tech gear, blah blah.. its a long list. I love getting rough and dirty!

Which was your favourite dive site & why?

Twins. Comfortable depth, colourful and lively. I heard there are some seahorses around somewhere...I'll let you know next time. ;)

What aspect of the gap year scuba diving internship did you enjoy most?

I love assisting open water courses.

It felt really good grooming ordinary individuals into confident & safe divers.

How did you find guiding certified divers for the first time?

Horrifying at first but gratifying once you find the buoyline! lol.

Were the Divemaster academics challenging?

It wasn't as bad as I'd imagine. Alex, Kieron and the rest were always there to answer my stupid questions.

The encyclopedia was actually very insightful and contributed to a lot of problem solving moments. I've applied a lot of what I've learned from academics to all my dives.

What's the best thing you've seen underwater ?

Hmm. Hard to tell.
I saw a hammerhead in Australia, the Repulse in Malaysia [DJL Expedition], a massive turtle (twice the size of me) and sperm whale in Indonesia, giant trigger fishes chasing John and people chasing whale sharks in Ko tao. Tough.

How was the underwater equipment exchange?

That was my favourite part of the entire course!

I was lucky to have Debby as my buddy and the 3 of us (with Alex) were giggling like kids the entire time. The buddy breathing rule was a bit tricky but we managed some how... slow & steady wins the race!

Do you think you'll return to Koh Tao to further your dive training?

Yeah i'll be back to find some seahorses! I do want to be an instructor and also concentrate more in technical diving in future. I've still got lots of stuff to learn and who knows? Maybe one day I can go into marine archeology!

What will be your next diving adventure?

Its either Madagascar or Truk Lagoon. Its hard to say, depending on the amount of freedom my boss allows.

What are you doing now?

Chasing elephants and monkeys in the kingdom of cambodia. No jokes, really . About 15 more days before I lose my freedom!

Any advice for people thinking of taking a dive internship with DJL?

Expect the unexpected. Nothing will surprise you after Ko Tao!

Anything else you want to add?

My name used to be Leona before I met TIM....