Vet­eran re­counts her un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tures in a new book

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XING YI xingyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Zhang Yip­ing tried scuba div­ing for the first time 10 years ago and fell in love with it.

Since then the Hangzhou na­tive, who works as a web editor with the Zhe­jiang Daily me­dia group, has dived all around the world.

In her new book, Three Thou­sand Me­ters Un­der the Sea — A Decade of Div­ing, Zhang re­counts her ad­ven­tures in the un­der­wa­ter world. The Chi­nese-lan­guage book was pub­lished by China Fi­nan­cial & Eco­nomic Pub­lish­ing House in June.

How deep can one dive? Do sharks bite divers?

These ques­tions from read­ers dur­ing the book launch in Hangzhou, cap­i­tal of Zhe­jiang prov­ince, last month re­minded Zhang of her first dive.

“I was so ner­vous that I held the dive in­struc­tor’s hand very tight,” Zhang says of her first div­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, in Lom­bok is­land, In­done­sia, in 2005.

But Zhang says her fear faded as she saw fish swim­ming in the coral reefs and she spot­ted a sea turtle.

“I felt a sense of ur­gency on my way back,” Zhang says to an au­di­ence who had lit­tle knowl­edge of the sport.

“But this was be­cause all of a sud­den the map of the world wait­ing for me to ex­plore ex­panded — the blue ocean was added.”

Recre­ational div­ing has long been a pop­u­lar leisure ac­tiv­ity in the West, but there were few peo­ple who could pro­vide such train­ing on the Chi­nese main­land a decade ago.

The au­thor, in her 30s, says in the book that she man­aged to find a HongKong in­struc­tor on Phuket is­land in Thai­land. She was cer­ti­fied as an open­wa­ter diver in 2006.

A year later, she was trained in Malaysia to be­come an ad­vanced open-wa­ter diver, which al­lowed her to dive to depths be­tween 30 and 40 me­ters.

In the book, Zhang also tells of her en­coun­ters with dif­fer­ent types of marine life, and tries to cor­rect public mis­con­cep­tions.

“Peo­ple think sharks are very dan­ger­ous. But the fact is most sharks are afraid of peo­ple, and only very few at­tack peo­ple when they feel dan­ger or mis­take hu­mans for seals,” Zhang writes.

Zhang says in the book that dur­ing a div­ing trip in the Gala­pa­gos, a Pa­cific ar­chi­pel­ago 1,000 kilo­me­ters west of Ecuador, she saw ham­mer­head sharks.

“There were prob­a­bly 1,000 ham­mer­head sharks, and we watched them swim by for al­most 10 min­utes,” writes Zhang.

In the book, Zhang says that jel­ly­fish are much more dan­ger­ous for divers than sharks, be­cause most of them are ven­omous. But she adds there are ex­cep­tions, like in Palau’s Jel­ly­fish Lake.

In the book, Zhang writes about the mag­i­cal feel­ing of be­ing sur­rounded by golden jel­ly­fish, which are a unique non­toxic va­ri­ety.

Zhang says she has been ad­dicted to div­ing for many years. When she hasn’t dived for some time and doesn’t have a trip planned, the blue ocean of­ten ap­pears in her dreams.

“Many of my dive buddies have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, and for some peo­ple it has lasted for so long that they de­cided to make div­ing their ca­reer,” writes Zhang, who has re­sisted the temp­ta­tion of be­com­ing a dive in­struc­tor and still works in the Zhe­jiang Daily me­dia group.

In the book, Zhang says that when she started div­ing in South­east Asia, there were few Chi­nese divers, so lo­cal peo­ple of­ten mis­took her for Ja­panese and greeted her with a kon­nichiwa, hello in Ja­panese. But now, Zhang writes, most fa­mous dive sites have dive shops op­er­ated by Chi­nese, and, even in lo­cal dive shops, staffers greet her in Chi­nese.

At least 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple in the coun­try have tried scuba div­ing, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased at the China In­ter­na­tional Div­ing Fes­ti­val in Ling­shui Li au­tonomous pre­fec­ture in Hainan prov­ince on July 31.

Speak­ing about div­ing, Zhang says: “Peo­ple know so lit­tle about un­der­wa­ter life. For some, fish are just food.

“I am glad that, be­sides divers, many chil­dren are in­ter­ested inmy book. I hope my book can in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion to bet­ter pro­tect the ocean.”

Zhang ded­i­cates a chap­ter to the coral reef-restoration pro­ject ini­ti­ated by some Chi­nese divers in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince, who have suc­ceeded in plant­ing some 5,600 coral in spe­cially de­signed pots in the ocean.

Zhang stopped div­ing in 2014 af­ter she got preg­nant. Her daugh­ter was born last year.

But she plans to re­turn to the wa­ter. “The min­i­mum age limit for scuba div­ing is 10. So maybe af­ter an­other decade I can go ex­plor­ing the ocean with my daugh­ter as my dive buddy.”

PAN YINGJIU / PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A close en­counter with a whale shark is one of the big­gest joys for scuba divers.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Zhang Yip­ing (top) re­counts her un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tures in her new book.

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