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Island Life cont….

Beach puppies

Beach puppies (11)
Around the beginning of December I was having breakfast at my usual spot and noticed a tourist walk on the beach and get mobbed by puppies!!! Well this needed closer investigation. So climbing down the restaurant ladder to the beach (I love being able to write that) I walked on over. Instantly I was mobbed. There were 7 puppies if I remember correctly and they were solid balls of fluff that lived under the deck of another restaurant. I had a flash back to a week before when, while having breakfast with Simone** at the French Bakery, I had heard some yelping. I discovered a few teeny tiny pups seemingly lost and not finding their mother. I picked one up and carried it out of the road just as the mum trotted up. I had not thought of them till this morning.
Beach puppies (10)
They had grown to be even cuter and it appeared well looked over. While I played with them, and decided on my favorite, the owner came out and proudly looked on. She was feeding them well and truly seemed to care. However, it did cross my mind that if the mum dog could produce this many pups at one time Chaloklum may soon be overrun. I just hoped she might consider spaying her soon. I let PAC know so that they could look into it.

Favorite that I think I would have named BEAR

Favorite that I think I would have named BEAR

Visiting the pups became part of my morning routine, when I didn’t dive and I loved every minute of it. They would see me coming and run down the beach towards me for attention. Then again I shouldn’t feel special as they ran down the beach towards everyone, including seagulls and crabs. After a week or so I noticed my favorite had disappeared and feared the worst. Later, while chatting with Laura at PAC about them, she told me that someone had brought in a very fluffy black pup with white paw that they had found “lonely and homeless” on Chaloklum beach. It had to me my little Bear, at least she found a home, but am pretty certain the person made up the part about finding a lonesome pup wandering the beach, as they never parted company from the pack.

At my farewell dinner in mid December the pups had got older and also discovered they could climb up to Genny’s Italian restuarant and beg. One little guy was very persistent and only happy with us and preferably on a lap, namely mine.
Beach puppies

I hope they will all find homes this year!

Bungalow Dogs

There are 2 dogs that live around the bungalows, Blackie and Brownie. They come around every now and then and usually make themselves at home. We have also been told to make sure the little porch gate is closed at night as they have learnt to open the fridge that is located in the outside kitchen. Luckily I never had any issues like that.

Blackie and Brownie

Blackie and Brownie

One day while I was eating some left over pizza Blackie came over to see what was on offer for snacks. Usually I try not to give them anything as I don’t want to encourage begging too much. But on this occasion I just couldn’t finish the piece of pizza and hated to see it go to waste (it had already been in the fridge 2 days and I had no microwave to freshen it). So I grandly placed it in front of him. He looked at me and looked at the pizza… Then looked at me as if I was completely bonkers for offering him something so unappetizing. So with no other recourse I tossed it into the trash. It had barely hit the top of the pile when Blackie enthusiastically got up and grabbed it. Obviously it is more appetizing out of the garbage, after finishing it he brought Brownie over to get some (oops all gone)… got to love island dogs.
bungalow dogs (2)

Monsoon it be a coming

The Monsoon season in Southern Thailand does not follow the same timing as the North, often catching travelers off guard. On Koh Phangan it runs between October and December, but so far we had only had a day here and there. But finally it arrived, en force. Almost 10 days of solid rain…everything was super saturated! After that you could time the mosquito incubation period almost to the minute as wave after wave hit us in swarms.

Preparing for the rains

Preparing for the rains


The storm moving in at Sail Rock

The storm moving in at Sail Rock


Almost had to swim my bike back to the bungalow

Almost had to swim my bike back to the bungalow


the new lake aka mosquito breeding grounds!

the new lake aka mosquito breeding grounds!

 
 

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Whale Shark Ahead!!!

Boat Dives

My 2nd day out on the boat. Glorious sunny weather, getting a nice tan but must be careful not to have it be a burn. Today I was diving with Dive Master Marc, he had a scuba tune up student. A tune up is when a diver has been away from diving for a certain amount of time and needs a refresher course.

Marc is one of those divers who must have been born in the water, ridiculously comfortable in it and will often just jump in before the boat has stopped moving. He is also a bit like a bear in the sense that lifting tanks that take all my strength are like a feather for him, 2 at a time no worries! However, I do have to be careful as I got hit in the head a couple of times by his fins…As far as our customer went, he did really well, except for a minor panic attack when his mask filled with water.

On our second dive I saw something that is considered one of, if not the, Holy Grail of diving, a whale shark. It was beautiful, magnificent and fabulous all at the same time. About 5m/16.4ft long. We had heard they were there after the first dive, so went looking for them on the second. We went out to one of the pinnacles where it had been and hung around looking at tons and tons of fish. Whale sharks eat plankton and the water was thick with it, perfect conditions. But no luck, so we turned around and headed back, just as the whale shark was heading towards us. Blew my mind, but our customer was low on air so we had to head to the surface… incredible, just incredible.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Devlin – fellow dive master

And He Shall Be Named: Alex Whaleshark

One of the recently certified dive masters on our boat couldn’t help himself and touched the whale shark. I was on the surface when a whole stream of divers heading back to their boat started yelling at him. Later in the video you can see the exact moment he touched it, as everyone started yelling underwater. He literally got shunned by the community. Here is the video: Don’t Touch The Whale Shark

There is a reason for this. One of the golden rules of diving is DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! Take only pictures leave only bubbles… If every diver started touching and riding the whale sharks they may stop coming and on a more serious note, the oils in our hands could cause a skin infection when it comes in contact with them. However, I do understand why, the shark is so amazing that you almost can’t stop yourself wanting to touch it.

All in all a superb day of diving, despite getting a tad sunburnt and smacking my shin on the boat steps twice while trying to get out.

Dinner was at 2 Brothers Restaurant and their famous 2 brothers Pad Thai and snickers/coconut shake. Yummy and soo much. The pad thai had seafood in it, which I am not a huge fan of, but the rest was yummy.

Catch Up Day

Next day was a no work day, so spent it catching up with things. Diary, blog, tried to study my dive master books. Did some training on my bike, Lucy Liu, and Gem (Thai dive instructor and owner of the bike) got me a lower seat and gave me some tips. Seriously, my legs are so dang short.

Later that evening I went with Carol to Tong Sala, the main town, sitting behind her on her bike. We went to the scuba shop and I picked up a dry bag to carry my stuff on the boat.

Back at home it was an exciting afternoon of cleaning and packing away and sorting stuff to move to my new bungalow. Carol had introduced me to green curry ramen so had that for lunch and cornflakes for dinner.

Later I chatted with Ricardo’s girlfriend, Sara, she said it looked like Ricardo had dengue fever, also known as break bone fever, cause that’s what it feels like. I was leaning towards it being the infection from his bug bite on his toe that had hit the bloodstream, but either way he was very sick. Koh Phangan is a hot spot for Dengue and Chaloklum is the hot spot of the hot spot, so break out your mozzy (mosquito) repellent when you get here.

All is well, and enjoying the island so far.. unfortunately discovered the 2nd hand camera I bought for my underwater housing has issues and the screen is blank. What a bugger….

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Thailand, Travel

 

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Learning to Ride…

Practice Makes Perfect

Since my failed attempt to ride the motobike the day before I was very leery about trying again. But with my smaller, purple bike that comes with a basket and lots of encouragement from others I decided to give it a try.

I started by doing short bursts up and down the Lotus dirt driveway, it has a circular form so I could try go round it and then back. I did that a few times and then it was decided I had to try on a longer road. Marc, the divemaster from Belgium, took me on Lucy Liu (my purple bike), down the road to the temple, got off the bike, pointed into the distance and said “go!”. Ummmm, ok. I went up and down a couple of times and then we rode back.

Carol did the same for me later in the afternoon. The first time I looped back and headed to her the look on her face made me wonder if I would ever learn to ride. She looked downright terrified for my safety and everyone else’s. Oh Lordy…..

Ricardo, my instructor, came to the shop in the late afternoon after doing a visa run to Koh Samoi, a neighboring island, and wanted to see my progress. He made me go back and forth a number of times and by the end of it I could go in a straight line reasonably well and with at least some confidence. I still put my feet out and turn manually and stopping usually involves braking, putting my feet down on either side and waddling the bike to a stop. Practice, practice and more practice.

Cafe Del Mar

One of the local places here in Chaloklum is Cafe Del Mar, run by Hinch and Francis, a Dutch couple. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday they have all you can eat, first come first serve, till it runs out meals for good prices. Marc and Linda from Belgium took me to my first visit there for roast pork, roast potatoes and coleslaw… We got there just in time to get the last few servings and it was some of the best food I had tasted for a while. It’s funny how you don’t even realise you crave western style comfort food when traveling in the east.

Cafe Del Mar is also located right on the beach so got to sit around and drink rum and pineapple juice while listening to the ocean. I could get used to this!

Sail Rock

The next day was my first dive to the famous Sail Rock, apparently the best dive site in the gulf of Thailand. 45mins from Chaloklum by boat, you reach an unassuming haystack type rock sticking out of the ocean, in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t seem overly big and rather unimpressive until you go below the water.

I can’t even list all the amazing creatures we saw, photos will help though and later I will add a video or two.

Me!

The Water Was Literally THICK With Fish

Me Looking At Bat Fish

Me Looking At…..

At This… Little Goby

One of the most nerve racking things we saw were Bull Sharks. In South Africa they are known as Zambezi Sharks and have a tendency to swim up rivers for many many miles and also have a tendency of tasting the locals. I grew up never going to swim as the mouth of a river, especially at dusk or dawn (usual feeding times), never swimming across a river near the mouth if there was another option to get across and here I was swimming with them. But apparently these are friendly Bull Sharks.

Bull Shark

Bull sharks had not been seen around these parts for over 7 years. But around 4mths ago a net, most likely dropped by a drunk fisherman, covered a large portion of the rock and trapped many fish. Divers from all around joined the effort to remove the net and save as many fish as they could. 2 days later 10 bull sharks were sighted. It’s believed the vibrations made by the dying fish attracted them…

Thai For Dinner

Back at the shop the rain was pissing on and off and so we couldn’t get any bike training in. For dinner I walked to a local place opposite the 7 11 store that Ricardo had recommended and ordered the chicken lemongrass salad. It was delicious! While I was sitting there I started to chat to a Swiss couple who were seated at the next table. Before I knew it I had booked them for diving the next day… and a nice little commission of 400baht (about $11 US) was coming my way. Might not seem like a lot but since dinner only cost 70baht, that would cover a number of meals in the future.

Home and sleep, utterly exhausted with another day on the boat in the morning!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Thailand, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Sipidan Diving cont…

The next two days I succeeded in getting Sipidan permits as well. This was great as in it is a stunning dive site. But bad as it meant 5.30am wake ups every morning and I would have loved to have at least 1 day exploring Mabul or one of the other islands. Then again as soon as you were in the water, it was all worth it.

I won’t bore you with too much typing, instead here is a photo collage of some of our best shots:
(to truly get the idea check out one of my dive buddies photo site – These are amazing shots!)

Where's Nemo??


Swimming with turtles


School of Jackfish


peekaboo lobster


White Tip Shark

Every dive I would concentrate really hard on remembering characteristics of each fish, but no matter how hard I tried I was always stumped when it came to ID.

Orange Fishy


Blue and Yellow fishy


Goby type... I think


Lionfish variety

Eels, eels glorious eels:

Blue eel


Moray eel

Then there are the things many folks overlook:

Giant clam


Nudibranch 1


Nudibranch 2

But diving isn’t complete without a buddy or 3 beside you:

Martin


Kathy


Dave and Kathy


Urs, Dave, Kathy and Martin (The Fearsome Foursome) - photo courtesy of Matt Krumins

However, there always has to be one sight that will be burned into your retinas for ever and ever. The kind of sight that no matter how you want to look away, you simply can’t. This is what I witnessed upon surfacing after a dive… kudos for being proud – May I present: Russian Mr. Bean
WARNING THE BELOW PHOTO MIGHT DISTURB SOME VIEWERS

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Sipidan Diving!

1st November to 3rd November 2011

Sipidan Island

Sipidan Island is the only oceanic island in Malaysia. Meaning it does not sit on the continental shelf but is volcanic in nature, formed by coral growing atop an extinct volcano. Found off the east coast of Sabah on the island of Borneo, it is located in the heart of the Indo-Pacific basin, the centre of one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. It is no surprise then to find at least 3 of it’s sites on the top 100 dive spots of the world. An important note is that the Seaventures Rig house reef is number 74.

So rising at sparrows fart, 5.30am, I headed down to the main deck to have some coffee (or rather milo/coffee mix introduced to me by Martin) and watch the sunrise until we headed out at 6am. The weather was already warm and balmy but the sunrise was spectacular.

Sunrise from the rig

Once we had all gathered and got our gear sorted we headed down the sea-lavator.

The Sea-Lavator

It was a glorious morning as we sped across the waves for a 30min ride to Sipidan. Todays lead instructor, the mysterious instructor from yesterdays dive in Mabul. He just suddenly appeared on the boat didn’t say anything and took amazing pictures. Now here he is merrily balancing the boat as we speed across the ocean.

balancing act


Dive tanks at dawn

The Fearsome Foursome were missing one member but the remaining three were psyched for the upcoming dives.

Urs, Me and Dave

When we finally arrived at the tiny island we had to sign in. This is to prevent too many divers from using the site. Each dive company gets a specific number of “visas” for their divers and Seaventures gets 13. However 3 were being used by a Russian millionaire who didn’t even invite us for a drink, hence Martin missed out on the first Sipidan dive, but went to some surrounding islands instead.

After checking in and signing away our lives, again, we got back in the boat and headed out for our first dive site “white Tip Avenue” to see the Bumphead Parrotfish Parade. This is a daily phenomenon around 6.45am. Numerous Bumphead Parrotfish make their way to feeding grounds in a long line, similar to a parade. You might think there would be about 10, but no on this first day there were hundreds, I am sure, as the parade kept on and on and they are fairly large fish. See the parade for yourself.

Bumphead Parrotfish

The most exciting discovery as we oohh’d and ahhh’d at the parade was that Dave’s 2nd mask works!!! I can see, and not only that it has nifty little magnifying lenses on the bottom so I can see the dive computer way easier. Woohooo now lets enjoy the diving!!!

just a smidge of water in the bottom, but I can SEE!!!!!

And then something wrapped around my ankle and arm and stung like a …insert expletive here… Yup my first jelly sting, luckily it was not a serious one and when we surfaced we discovered that most of us had had a close encounter with 1 or 5.

There were so many fish and corals and anemones and white tip sharks I barely knew where to look. At one point Ricadro called us over and made the sign for some small creature, it kind of looked like he was acting out a monkey, but I am pretty certain sea monkeys aren’t real in that sense. Later I discovered he was pointing out an Orangutan Crab. Ahhhhhh ok! Ricardo was great at pointing out all the small creatures like the crab and nudibranchs and so much more. (photo courtesy of Ricardo)

Porcelain Crab

After a breakfast and much needed pee stop, for some reason being at depth seriously contstricts your bladder, we had time to look around the island. However we were strongly warned not to walk around the island and only stick to the beach in front of the picnic area, otherwise the soldiers might shoot us. I thought they were joking until I saw the soldiers.

Sipidan armed patrol

This is due to Sipidan being on the border of the Philippines and Malaysia and home to many unsavory groups. A kidnapping occurred there in 2000, when 20 hostages were taken by possible pirates or separatists. Sipidan used to be home to a luxury resort, but since the kidnappings and due to the ecological value of the island the resort has since been dismantled, diver numbers restricted and a permanent army unit placed on site. Tourists are not allowed to walk around the island to protect the natural biodiversity and bird habitat.

white heron hunting

The next two dives were as spectacular as the first. Hanging Gardens was a deeper wall dive hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive hammerheaad sharks. No luck there but still stunning. Barracuda point lived up to its name with massive schools of Barracuda that were downright intimidating. I tried desperately to memorize the fish species but the minute I opened the ID book there were so many varieties I could barely keep track.

I fear cold water diving may be lost to me forever!!

After 3 stupendous dives we headed back to the rig. We all agreed to play down just how fabulous the dive was so Martin wouldn’t feel bad, but when we heard they got to see the flamboyant cuttlefish all pretense went out the window and we all gushed at the spectacular things we had seen. Back by noon we all sat down for another yummy meal and then the others headed out for their third dive. I spent the afternoon soaking up some rays and napping.

Mabul Island

Just a short 3 minute boat trip from the rig is Mabul island, and every night they offer a free ride where you can enjoy the island for an hour and return in time for dinner. Technically this was to be Urs, Martin and my last night on the rig and so, along with Dave, we went to explore the island. At the same time Martin and I were deciding to stay an extra night as it was just too amazing to leave so soon.

Mabul, like Semporna, is a an oxymoron, a contradiction. You have an exclusive resort right next to a village of sea gypsies that live in abstract poverty in most cases. There is no education in regards to litter and it is everywhere.

I hope they mean something else

There is also talk of dismantling the resort and possibly the rig from Mabul island in the same way as Sipidan and turning it into a natural heritage site. However, there is the large community of displaced sea gypsies to re-home if such a plan was acted upon.

The four of us wandered through the island with our fearless leader, Martin, armed with some vital Malay vocabulary, in the lead. We came across some beautiful (the people) and some sad (sick kitten) sites. Here are some pics to get an idea of the place.

entrance to luxury resort


kids cooking sea snails on rubbish heap


cute girl swimming


the sea gypsy community


Sunset on Mabul

A fantastic day full of adventure and beauty and friendships. tomorrow is another early morning as we all made the Sipidan dive!

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Borneo Scuba!!!!

If someone told me at the beginning of this trip I would utter the sentence “Heading to Borneo to go Scuba Diving”, I would have thought them mad. Borneo is one of those near mythical places like Timbuktu and Zanzibar, you always want to go but never think you will get the chance.

It still seems a little ostentatious when I say it to myself. Add to that “will be living on a converted oil rig” and its downright pompous. I have been diving while traveling but I have never organised a trip or part there of directly committed to the act of diving, I am so glad I did!

Borneo anyone??

After my fabulous friends dropped me off at the airport, I headed through security and hung out in the waiting area. Didn’t have long to wait before boarding. The fun part was that 2 flights were boarding from the same gate, one to the left and one to the right, so you had to be extra careful you went on the right flight.

Borneo is an island off the south of Malaysia and it is separated into Malaysian Borneo and Filipino Borneo. I was leaving mainland Malaysia and Flying into Tawau part of Malaysian Borneo. On the flight I had thought how unnecessary it was to bring my passport and risk losing it. But it turns out you have to go through immigration! What do you know!

I had planned to take the cheap route of local bus into town then bus to Semporna from where I would take a boat to the rig the following day. Exiting the airport into tropical island heat soon made that thought waver significantly. I asked a guard how to get into town and he directed me to a tourist shuttle, which while still 6times the price of the local bus was still cheaper than the taxi. Oh what the hell, its too hot to argue. The drive took around 1.5hrs and except for the fishtailing and hydroplaning during a sudden rain storm the drive was quite pleasant.

Semporna Town

Arriving in Semporna the driver dropped me off at my backpackers and after relaxing for a bit I went out to explore. For being the entry way to some of the best diving in the world, Semporna is remarkably undeveloped and touristy. It reminded me a bit of Puno in Peru, gateway to Lake Titicaca, rather dirty and not very tourist friendly. However, the people were really friendly and their smiles blew you away. One little girl started following me trying to convince me her name was “Money”… When she realised my purse strings were shut tight she told me her real name, which I could barely pronounce.

Semporna is also a town of stark contrasts, the locals sell fruit and veggies on the side of the road along with clothes and fish, at hte same time there are 2 massive stores reminiscent of WalMart. In fact one is dubbed G-Mart. Here are some pics as it is the best way to explain:

Local fruit sellers


The local Mosque


well I guess "K" and "Wal" were taken already

But the people are wonderfully friendly and truly beautiful.

This old lady was selling sweets and juice on a street corner. She had such a beautiful face and acted all shy when, after buying a few sweets, I asked if I could take a photo indicating I thought she was beautiful. You wish you could sit down and hear all about their life.

Dinner

I went back to the hostel and on the way saw something in the water. At first I thought it was a large snake, then a crocodile, then I was certain it was a crocodile. After taking a photo and zooming in I realised it was a huge, freaking monitor lizard. That would surely give you a heart attack if it came swimming towards you. It must have been almost 2m long.

After a nice afternoon nap while listening to the rain, I headed back to town for lunch at a place called Scuba Junkies. I wavered between the pizza and the steak but on my waiters encouragement I went with the steak. I truly hate sitting alone at a restaurant, unless I have a book or a computer, something to do. A lone guy sat across from me at the next table and after about 10min of trying to build my courage to talk to a stranger I blurted out “have you been diving Sipidan?”. His eyes lit up and he said yeah and it was amazing. I asked if I could join and soon we were deep in discussion about diving and what it was like. My steak arrived and it was heaven on a plate. Perfectly medium and with the nice little crunch on the skin….mmmmmmmm steak!!!!!

He was from Scotland but lived in Bangladesh where his family ran a clothing factory. How random is that?? I told him I had a 10hr layover in Dhaka and asked advice. What is the likelihood of meeting a Scotsman, living in Bangladesh, having dinner in Semporna. Unfortunately he wasn’t due back for another week otherwise he would have come to pick me up at the airport. What a bummer! But still, you kind of want to break out in song…It’s a small world afterall…..

New Friends and the… RIG!

I was awake early and had a 2hr wait till my pickup for the boat ride to the rig. I hung out at the hostel and had my free toast and coffee breakfast and finally the time came. I was sooooo excited. We drove to the office so I could sign my life away and pay the balance. As I walked in I saw a rather dashing young man, and we immediately started talking. Martin is a lawyer, 40 (although hard to believe) from the UK living in Australia, who has quit his job to travel for over a year and plans to study social work. He was super pumped about the rig as he had just walked in and asked about it and found himself set for 3 days 2 nights, same as me. We also met Dave and Urs who would be there the same time. Dave would be staying 5 days. It was then that the Fearsome Foursome was formed. We all got on ridiculously well. Martin from UK/AUS, Dave from USA, Urs from Austria (I think) now in Australia and me from SA/USA. What a mottled crew and perfect at the same time.

The lads

We loaded into the boat and headed out to sea. An hour long boat ride past villages and island and a community of sea gypsies. Sea Gypsies are people from the Philippines who left at some point to go fishing and the like. When they tried to return they had no documents and were refused entry. Now they live on the ocean or islands along the border of Malaysia and the Philippines.

a tropical island on the way to the rig

Finally, the RIG appeared on the horizon, and what a sight it was. None of us could believe we would be staying on that beast. Technically it hadn’t been used for oil but rather as a repair station for ships at sea. When a partnership, to build a luxury resort on Mabul Island, between 2 millionaires broke up the one built the resort the other brought the rig to Mabul bay and placed it right in front of the resorts view.

THE SEAVENTURES RIG!

We took the “sea-lavator” from the boat up to the rig platform and were greeted by the staff with juice.

Borneo Seaventures welcome party

Then we had our introduction, signed away our lives again and were introduced to the dive master, Jon. He gave us a run down of our check dive and then it was off to our rooms to get changed and ready for dive one. As it was low season we were lucky enough to have our own rooms.

Checkout dive

One of my biggest fears, especially after a couple of years without diving, is putting my gear together wrong. I had hoped they would simply set it up and place it on your back. But no, Jon pointed at my gear and said we leave in 10min. Racking my brain I remembered which way to attach the regulator and such and finally had everything set, including trying to work out how much weight I needed.

This was tricky as I usually dive in cold water with a thick wet suit using pounds and now I was in warm tropical water, my first time, in a short thin suit using kilograms. But after some math, never a favorite task, we figured out about what I needed.

Dive ready


Eventually we were all loaded and on the sea-lavator heading straight down into the ocean and the house reef below the rig. I have to say its downright awesome to just say “going down” and next minute you are knee deep in the warm tropical ocean.

The dive was spectacular with tons of amazing fish and nudibranchs and such. Unfortunately it was the start of some serious mask issues. Due to the smallness of my face and the only style of mask I had serious leakage problems and spent most of the dive trying to clear my mask.

Lion Fish

But on the upside the water was 28C, that’s 10 degrees warmer than my warmest dive so I was in heaven.

After an amazing dive, we headed up on the sea-lavator and had some lunch. Then after some mask discussions we tried a different one to see if we had luck there and headed down again to the boat for a dive near Mabul Island, just a 2min ride away.

Mabul Island House Reef

I had also requested a smaller tank and bcd as I kept nearly floating out of the bcd and the tank kept clonking me in the head. The dive was great but again I was miserable for the most part as this mask was even worse. But we saw amazing things, 2 broadclub cuttlefish and so many turtles that were gargantuan in size.

cuttlefish curtesy of instructor Ricardo


Turtle courtesy of Instructor Ricardo

I sucked my air as the mask made life difficult and so had to surface early with Urs and Dave. We hung out at the surface until the boat picked us up. Or rather picked them up, the instructor told us to swim and then when I got there told the others to wait and picked them up.

One more for the heck of it

Dave chose beer-o-clock when we got back but Urs, Martin and I went for one more late dive. And this time one of the dive instructors offered me his mask to see if it worked better. It didn’t work perfectly but it was a little better. We had decided to leave too late so it got pretty dark down there at one point. But still a great day of diving.

Sipidan list

That evening we eagerly awaited the list for who was going to Sipidan Island, the place to be when you are in the area.
Finally the list was revealed and everyone, except for Martin, had got a pass. He was rather unhappy about this but he was on the list for diving at some of the other islands.

the List

So tomorrow morning at 5.30am the alarm will go off. Dave has an extra mask and so I will give that one a try and pray that I have better luck. Day 1 has been incredible, the food fantastic and the staff awesome. Can’t wait for day 2.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Scuba Diving, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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