I stayed at Blue Planet, Bira, for 8 weeks. These will forever be part of the most amazing weeks of my life.
Every step leading to my trip to Bira (IOP application, payment, visa submission, and travel planning) was incredibly smooth thanks to the support and impressive reactivity of the IOP coordination team. The instant I stepped out of the taxi in Blue Planet, I felt at home. Sylvain (Blue Planet owner) has created a comfortable little paradise that homes only wonderful people, the two most lovely dogs (Luffy and Puji), and that is part of a super cool community. We would hang out with the neighbours all the time. And the village is pretty cute, with a well-supplied open market taking place every second day, 24h 7/7 open grocery stores with all the sweets you want, and the convenient laundries. Even though Bira is quite isolate compared to bigger cities, it got everything one needs. There, not much scooter wailing, but bird songs, waves, and occasional monkey commotions. I had rarely, or maybe never, be such at peace.
The IOP course material are very well thought and complete, giving a thorough insight into the science of marine conservation. Even with a background in Biology and Conservation, I have learnt plenty. And the workshop would have never been that great without the knowledge of the IOP staff, Jeffri (instructor and manager) and Qinthan (coral expert and great human). Their passion, hard work, and professionalism will remain a source of inspiration. It was also very rewarding to be able to apply the theory in different projects (coral nursery, Coral Watch, mangrove nursery, dive against debris…) taking place at Blue Planet and around Bira.
I started the internship with a rescue diver certification and quickly realised that there was a lot to learn and practice to become a divemaster! Jeffri and Rafi (Blue Planet instructor) made us work hard, and that was awesome. Thanks to them, I jumped straight into a divemaster job with confidence. I am really glad to have learnt from such talented instructors. Also, the Blue Planet crew is exceptionally sweet and competent. It was a real pleasure to be accompanied by Pa Asda’s enthusiastic smile and witness Pa Swan Dang’s captain skills. About the dives, well, Bira sites are gems. Every single dive was a new experience, mix of mind-blowing colours, species, and topographies. Sharks, sharks, and sharks. That is the pure truth. We were lucky enough to even swim with a whale shark! And for the adrenaline addicts, Bira has its fair share of current to offer. The diversity of the sites and dive types that I experimented there made me a quite complete diver comfortable to explore the world’s reefs.
I would never thank the Bira people enough!
Thank you Sylvain, Phoebe, Jeffri, Rafi, Qinthan, all the awesome interns, Luffy, and Puji for the countless precious memories.