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Dive Vietnam

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Vietnam

I first came to SE Asia when I was 19. A solo female backpacker travelling the world, meeting new people, exploring countries I had never been to before. Unfortunately, until very recently, Vietnam remained on this list of countries that I had never visited. However, this year I was lucky enough to spend a wonderful 10 days in this beautiful country. On my travels I’d heard so much about Vietnam – its breath-taking natural beauty, the delicious food, the kind people; one thing that I hadn’t heard much about however, was the diving.

First stop: Phu Quoc

VietnamMy first stop was Phu Quoc, a tranquil island in the south of Vietnam. I was met upon my arrival by my dive buddy from Rainbow Divers. I spent three days here in Phu Quoc where I did my Padi Nudibranch Speciality Course – a qualification specific to Vietnam. The course involved us going out on the dive boat every day and looking for nudibranchs, identifying them and then at the end of my three days here doing a short written exam. The visibility in Phu Quoc wasn’t the best and we didn’t see a huge amount on the dives, however I was surprised at how many different types of nudibranchs we saw – there were so many! All different sizes and colours – more than I have seen anywhere else in the world.

The capital city of Ho Chi Minh

I left Phu Quoc on a very delayed Vietjet plane – something that I quickly learnt was expected in Vietnam. I was heading to the capital city of Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, is an ex French colony and therefore the city has a lot of French influence which I absolutely loved. Many of the buildings have French colonial architecture which makes it very picturesque, despite the swarms of mopeds driving round the city.

I was picked up from the airport by a driver from the 5* Hotel Caravelle where I was staying. After backpacking round Thailand this was an absolute luxury and he even had a cool box with him filled with soft drinks and beer! When I arrived at the Caravelle Hotel I was greeted by the manager of the hotel and the very kind staff as well as Jeremy – the owner of Rainbow Divers. We had some photos taken at the entrance for the local press and I was taken to my incredible two-room suite. After my backpacking adventures I was in heaven!

I wish I had longer in Ho Chi Minh as I loved the small amount of the city that I managed to see in my short stay. However, my delayed flight cut my time short here and early afternoon the next day we were off to the airport again to fly to Nha Trang.

My final destination: Nha Trang

VietnamNha Trang is a coastal resort, famous for its beaches and diving and I soon learnt it is very popular with the Russians. Here I stayed at the Evason Ana Mandara Resort – Nha Trang’s only beach front resort. The staff here were so friendly and kind and I was told I was staying in one of the beach front bungalows for my three night stay here. I was being so completely spoilt again with my accommodation! The bungalow was huge – I had my own balcony looking out to sea, a beautiful four poster bed and my favourite part of the room –  the outdoor shower/bath! Everyday I felt like I was showering outside in and amongst nature, which was truly blissful.

I dived in Nha Trang every day and was picked up from the hotel by Rainbow Divers early every morning by the Rainbow Divers bus that took us to to the dive boat. I was really surprised by the great diving in Nha Trang. As I mentioned earlier in my post, I hadn’t read much or heard much about the diving but the visibility here was really great, we saw loads of different species of fish on every dive including Bat Fish, Octopus and Giant Moray Eels, although the water temperature was a little chilly (for me anyway!)

My free time in Nha Trang I spent lazing in the hammocks of the hotel grounds, drinking cocktails by the infinity beach front pool and having Vietnamese cookery classes with the Sous chef or taking private yoga classes on the beach. The hotel, with it’s breath-taking views across the bay, really was paradise, and I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone travelling to Nha Trang.

I had such an incredible trip to Vietnam, diving with Rainbow Divers, staying in the beautiful accommodation, exploring new places and meeting some incredible people. I can’t wait to return.

Sarah Winterbottom is currently the title holder of Miss Scuba United Kingdom. She won the title in October, and since then has gone on to compete in the international finals of Miss Scuba International in Malaysia, placing in the top 5. Since winning Miss Scuba United Kingdom has completed her PADI advanced open water and dry suit qualification and is currently doing her rescue course in Thailand. Sarah also dived in Egypt, Cyprus, Malaysia and the UK for the first time since entering the pageant, and hopes to continue diving this year and to learn more about marine conservation. Sarah is from London and when she isn't diving - or doing all things Miss Scuba - works in PR. Sarah loves to workout and train at bootcamp several times a week. She also loves taking part in high intensity obstacle courses and took part in Tough Mudder last year in order to raise money for Deptherapy. Sarah is multi-lingual, having studied Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Manchester, and was lucky enough to live in South America as part of her degree. Travelling is a huge passion of Sarah's and she will be going on to dive in Vietnam after Thailand.

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Searching for images to help Save Our Seas

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The Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) and organised by the Underwater Photographer of the Year opens for entries on 1st November and closes on 7th January 2023. The conservation contest is free to enter and offers cash prizes for the first, second and third placed photographs.

The Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year is open to both above-water and underwater photographs. Photographs must highlight a marine conservation story or theme, with both positive and negative stories encouraged. Freshwater themed conservation images are also accepted.

Chair of the judges, underwater photographer and marine ecologist Dr Alex Mustard MBE said: “Powerful photographs are able to change hearts, minds and attitudes. Conservation imagery is especially important from the oceans, which faces many threats from our activities. However, these issues mostly happen unwitnessed, out of sight of land or beneath the surface. This contest gives these valuable images a huge public platform.”

Dr James Lea, CEO of the Save Our Seas Foundation, said: “Images have a profound capacity to affect how people view the world, and at SOSF we are all about encouraging positive change in how people view and interact with the marine environment. As such we are delighted to partner with the Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year award, which is uniquely placed to highlight issues our oceans are facing and inspire change”.

Previous editions of the contest have attracted entries from photographers around the world, keen to draw attention to conservation issues, campaigns and success stories important to them. The award was most recently won by Thein Nguyen Ngoc from Vietnam, with his aerial photograph “Big Appetite”. The photo shows boats straining the waters for anchovies in the Phu Yen province of his country.

“Salted anchovy is the most important raw material in traditional Vietnamese fish sauce. But these little fish are also a keystone of a natural ecosystem. Despite increased fishing, the catches of anchovies have decreased by 20-30% in the past 10 years. When they are overfished, the whales, tunas, sea birds and other marine predators face starvation and critical population declines.” 

The Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year, part of UPY is an annual competition, that traces its roots back to 1965. The Marine Conservation photographer of the Year is free to enter at www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com

The Save Our Seas Foundation has been dedicated to protecting life in our oceans, especially sharks and rays, for 19 years. They have funded around 425 projects in over 85 countries, supporting passionate and innovative researchers, conservationists and educators.

Each project strives for deeper understanding and more innovative solutions in marine research, conservation and education.

Header Image: Thein Nguyen Ngoc

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Sofia Tenggrono

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The September winner was Sofia Tenggrono.


What equipment do you use?

I work with Olympus TG-6 camera, Nauticam CMC-1, 2 Inon S-2000, minigear snoot dive torch

Where can our readers see more of your work?

https://www.instagram.com/s.tenggrono/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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