Nothing beats 2005 Putri Indonesia (Miss Indonesian) winner Nadine Chandra- winata's passion for the ocean and the environment. A consummate and certified diver, Nadine regularly dives.
"I usually get in touch with the ocean at least once a month, either diving or just strolling at the beach and listening to the wind and the waves. It is my calling and my way of relaxing," she said.
While Nadine only developed her interest in diving after she won the beauty pageant, it was a holiday in her junior high years that introduced her to the fun side of diving.
"I went snorkeling in Lombok, Nusa Tenggara. I boarded the boat that was also carrying divers. When we got to the spot, I remained close to the surface and they *the divers* submerged. I became curious about it since then."
It was the curiosity and the passion to conquer challenges and her fear of the sea that made her take a diving course in Bunaken in 2006. The 25-year-old is now a certified diver-rescuer, or at level four of all five levels.
"I took the license, theories and practices, around five days to one week. I fit all the schedules into those five days. As a result, I did three practices in one day, but it was still in accordance with the theories," she said.
During the process of her rescue diver certification, Nadine and her friends used rubber dolls as the victims. They found this slightly weird and they could not stop laughing. As a result, they had to repeat the rescue stunt three times.
"But then I learned my lesson: in the ocean, we should take everything seriously. Also, there are a lot of things about rescue that we can apply both in the ocean and on the land."
Through diving, Nadine has learned, among other things, to manage her balance as divers usually submerge carrying 8 kilograms' worth of equipment, including an air disposer and an air supplier.
"Diving is like taking an airplane flight. Our ears will suffer from the air pressure. So don't rush. We should use all our senses and do it slowly. We should not go too deep or too shallow.
"We can't dive without having a full understanding of our body because our lives are at stake. We should cooperate with our diving buddies. It's all about teamwork."
Before and after diving, Nadine usually reads information about the diving site, the weather, the coral reef types and the fish, to learn their names and their habits.
"We need to know what we are about to see and face. When we dive, never take or leave anything but bubbles."
Together with photographer Windiarto Tjandra, she introduced the beauty of the sea through her book Nadine, Labor of Love. In the book, the German-born beauty and the underwater beauty were featured side by side.
Diving her way across the country, Nadine loves all diving sites here. She admires beautiful coral reefs in Wakatobi, Southeast Sulawesi, marvels at a Grand Canyon-like coral reef in Aceh and finds turtles swimming peacefully near the dock in Derawan.
"During a night dive in Bunaken, I often saw dinosaur-like fishes. I'm sure there are a lot of undiscovered underwater beauties in other diving sites in Indonesa."
Nadine regretted not many people dive as a hobby. She assumed this is due to fears of darkness and the thought of going into the depth of the abyss.
"They have to change their mind-set. It's not that dark. If we dive during the day, we can use sunlight to see the beauty of the coral reef. The most important thing is to follow the diving standards."
While Indonesia is famous for its land and sea beauty, many reports show exploitation of rainforests and coral reefs. Despite the looming natural disaster, Nadine feels there is at least a 30 percent improvement in how the communities manage the ocean.
"Perhaps the global warming issue and the natural disaster threats have made them realize the importance of oceans. For example, they have stopped throwing waste into the sea. I've seen people have stopped excessively fishing and harvesting coral. Even in Bontang, Kalimantan, there are activities to take care of the forests.
"Everyone should go green. We should ask friends to join the cause, even by simply turning off lamps. We are nature's major destroyers, but we can also become nature's major saviors."
Her environmental concerns led to the international organization World Wildlife Fund naming her as its marine conservation ambassador. Wakatobi regency in Southeast Sulawesi province has also chosen Nadine as its eco-tourism ambassador. Recently, Nadine and singer Maia Estianty were appointed to be foster mothers to a Sumatran elephant.
According to Nadine, it was her parents who taught her to love nature. Her father is Indonesian and her mother is German, and she has twin brothers, Marcel and Mischa, who also work as models and actors.
"We used to go to the beach every week. I remembered my parents used to take us to Carita Beach and Pasir Putih Beach in Jember. They told me I should respect other creatures. If we are thankful for what we have and respect others, all problems can be solved."
Spending only the first three years of her life in Germany, Nadine prefers to live in Indonesia as the tropical climate agrees with her.
Representing Indonesia in the 2006 Miss Universe contest held at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium, Nadine grabbed second place for the Best National Costume and Friendship Award.
Besides her environmental work, Nadine also starred in several movies such as Realita, Cinta dan Rock'n Roll (Reality, Love and Rock'n Roll) in 2006, Generasi Biru (Blue Generation) in 2009 and her latest, Mati Suri (Apparently Dead), also in 2009.