I always knew my friend Kim was a great diver and although I don’t dive, I have promised her that if I ever dive, it will definitely be with her. I may have had a wine or two when I made that promise! Now Kim has achieved the amazing status as a PADI Course Director, so I wanted to interview her and find out how her love for diving and the ocean actually started and how it led her to Lembongan – which is where we met.
So, Kim, tell me how long you have been diving for?
"I started diving in 1998… oh wow! That’s 20 years ago now! I was living on a Caribbean island called Curacao and a friend kept pushing me to learn to dive. My friend wanted to do the Open Water Course which is basically the beginner course, so finally after being pushed into it, I agreed to tag along and do the course. And oh, dear Buddha, did that change my life! I ended up staying in the Caribbean for six months, diving around Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire."
And then what…returned to Holland and kept dreaming of diving?
"Kind of, yes! I went back to Holland and worked crazy hours to save money to go on holidays to exotic locations, all for diving. My diving obsession took me to Australia, Lombok, Mauritius, Thailand, Perhentian Islands, Sabah (places like Sipadan, Kapalai and Mabul), the Philippines and of course Bali! I chose my holiday spots just for the diving. The more dives I did, the more this little voice in my head and my heart kept saying to me – become a dive instructor. Do what you love for your job. But how?!"
Kim, lots of people dream about making sea-changes but it’s not easy. How did you do it? Did you just take a leap of faith and fingers crossed and here we are?
"Well I did my second dive course which is the PADI Advanced Open Water course, and that little voice was getting stronger and louder. So, I knew I had to start working a way towards making my love into my work. It took me ten years of diving for enjoyment but finally I changed my life and turned my passion for diving every day into my actual job! And it’s the best thing I have ever done!"
Where are your favourite dive sites and why?
"That’s a difficult question because I have a few. A heavenly experience was a wreck dive in the Perhentian where the coral had grown on the stairs of the ship in thousands of colours and when the sun hit the depths of that wreck, the coral started shining as if they were lighting the staircase to heaven. I have also dived with bull sharks which was totally amazing, but then again, the world class dives I do around my home island of Nusa Lembongan are simply breath-taking as well."
I really am starting to think I need to learn to dive Kim! But how did you make the move from living in Holland and travelling to dive to working in the industry?
"Well I moved to Thailand and worked there in Koh Tao for a while with my partner Bastiaan. We decided to make the move to Nusa Lembongan, just for the diving, and it was here we opened Scuba Center Asia as a PADI 5* Instructor Development Dive Resort. We had actually already started Scuba Center Asia when we were in Holland and it was our web-based dive shop while we were in Thailand. Then in Lembongan we opened the dive resort as a part of the Scuba Center Asia business. Now that I’m a PADI Course Director, maybe I can help other people change their lives if they are looking for change and for a different way of life, away from the office and the city."
What does being a PADI Course Director mean for you personally?
"It’s just such an incredible honour. It’s like being a part of an elite group that all made it through the competitive application process to get into the Course Director Training Course (CDTC). The process examines your experience and training goals and obviously your diving skills and knowledge. The CDTC took place in Kota Kinabalu and only 45 people from around the world were chosen to participate. Of that 45, only 4 of them were women so I was amongst a very inspirational bunch of people. Less than 1% of divers worldwide can call themselves a Course Director so it really is very special and as someone passionate about what I do, it’s the ultimate in recognition and career ambition. Having said that, it is also very humbling to be considered a role model by those looking to get into diving or further their diving career. If my experiences as a diver and now a Course Director can help other divers enjoy and appreciate every ocean dive experience, learn new skills and maybe even look for future training in diving, then I feel like I have achieved what I set out to do. Now Clare, I have a question for you hey…. when are you coming diving with me?!?!"
Good question Kim, let’s work on my fear of masks and snorkels first yeah? Ha ha ha
In all seriousness, Kim is dedicated to her work and her love for diving. Scuba Center Asia offers dives for every level, whether you are jellyfish level like me, or have travelled the world searching for that ultimate dive. Now as a qualified Course Director, she can offer the best in training to all divers and anyone wanting to make the same inspirational sea-change.
Get in touch with Kim at [email protected]