Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dive Manado



Not long ago, i was introduced to the world of u/w photography by the Aquanerds members. Armed with a compact Canon Ixus 860IS + Inon D2000 strobe + Inon UCL-165 closed-up lens, i decided to make a trip
to Manado during Chinese New Year.
The 10-day-trip was done with Bastianos Dive Resort,in which i had spent the first few days diving in Bunaken and the rest in Lembeh.



Being one of the most frequented dive destination in South East Asia,Bunaken offers one exceptional wall diving experience with excellent visibility,colourful & healthy corals and great variety of marine lives.
Mind you, sometimes currents in Bunaken can be strong and unpredictable. At Mike's point, we were drifted so far away to the open ocean, scarry...

After spending 3 days in Bunaken, i was transferred to Lembeh. I particularly like the calm water in Lembeh, and most of the dives were done in shallow water. I could just spent hours in water to find those small yet amazing critters, while practising my not so good buoyancy and photo shooting skills.
So,where're the photos of hairy frogfish? Mimic octopus? Blue-ringed octopus? Well, i had no chance to get glimpses of them! Just no luck. But wouldn't that a good reason to come back again? Hehe...

Till then


Friday, February 6, 2009

New frontier ... ??

Kuala Abai Fishing Village

On my recent "leisure drive out of town" during CNY, maro and myself were traveling to a little town of Kota Belud, north of Kota Kinabalu city. Our initial intention was to check out where Kuala Abai situated. Its a small fishing village just like any others which can be found around Malaysia. The village is situated on both sides of a brown coloured river mouth opening to the South China Sea and the Usukan Island visible on the horizon. There were 5 small chalets with basic facilities for rent and according to the locals, it caters for small family outing over weekends. There was also a small jetty for boats departing to Mantanani Island.

Sensing that there was nothing to shout about except for the smoothing sea breeze, I decided to head to Kota belud for lunch. However, before we left, we were told my some locals to drive further up the road across a small bridge as there is a small new resort with rather scenic view.

To our biggest suprise, we found a place called Usukan Bay - still unexplored I suppose and with cristal clear water and REEF !!!! of course !!! Something we definately are interested in.
The new small resort was a cosy one with probably 10 rooms and fully own by Subaparadize, Kota Kinabalu. The place was serene, peaceful and waters were calm although a smal refinery can be visible next to the resort. But there was no signs of polution what so ever.

Interesting ... !! we shall see .. ..

Usukan Bay is the bigger one on this satellite view with the refinery jetty on its north east

Area Type:

Hydrographic

Location Type:

Bay

Latitude:

6.366667

Longitude:

116.3167

Latitude (DMS):

6° 22' 0 N

Longitude (DMS):

116° 19' 0 E

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Diving Updates ....

Dear folks .. would like to inform everyone who can make it to come by for our March diving trip.

Dates : highly possible 26-29 March although myself and Ang would be in Semporna probably from 22 March. If you have a long break and would like to join us early you are definitely welcome to do so.

Destination : I'm still working out for the cheapest and yet best resort available for our trip. Currently, we have 4 options available as I can see it.
1. Pompong Island resort
2. SWV Mabul Island resort
3. Mataking Island resort
4. Day Trips via semporna

Kindly please contact steve or me for the price list if you are interested. Basic principles : the more the merrier and the more also the cheaper .. hopefully .. cheers .. see you guys soon ..

BTW : kindly please confirm your leaves and let us know if you are interested as March is the peak season for diving in Semporna area.

Latest update : We will be heading to either Pompom island / SWV mabul on the 22-24 March 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Aquanerds in Manado, Bunaken and Lembeh Straits

I hereby wish to announce out loud that one of our close mate are going to North Sulawesi this Chinese New Year holidays. Do u know who is that person ?? Well .. hope our mate enjoy his time there with my old friends in Bastianos Resort. Please keep putting up the pressure on him to take more stunning photos as ITS LEMBEH STRAITS (MUCK DIVING CAPITAL) anyway .. and we are still waiting for his first post on his experience .. may be a collage is a good idea ah .. cheers ...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

100 : Reflection

As with all things in life, there comes a time at some point, a number perhaps, which makes something significant and melodramatic. Back in 2003, decided to take up diving with much convincing from my friend Boyd. Did a four day open water course at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, 1st day was boring as hell as it constituted of endless boring lectures and video sessions but found out they were as important as any other aspect of diving as I found out through out my dive experience. The rest of the course was “fun” as it involved water.

The first plunge was, let say not what I’d expect from diving. As macho as I wanted to be, I was made to look stupid as I could not descend. It was a struggle. Who in their right mind would consider scuba diving a cool sport. By the time I managed to descend, the pain in my ears was unbearable. To add to my suffering I happened to land on a group of sea urchins. Supprisingly, I felt no pain as their prickly spine made multiple punture wounds on my foot. Nevertheless I panicked, looking frantically at my foot to see if it would swell up but it did not. After having passed my open water I did a few more dives after that but it did not enthrall or spur any excitement about diving. So that was it then for diving.

It wasn’t til late 2005, did my passion for diving was reignited again by a chance encounter with SAY and Scian Ray. Two cocky divers I must say, not in a bad way, but because I was jealous about the way they were telling their dive stories and places they had been. From diving in Mabul and Sipadan to Bunaken and Sangalaki, the way they were chatting away ‘bout these places, my mind was already wondering off to diving somewhere.

So we decided to make a trip to Lankayan Resort. It was this trip that sparked it all. Though my dive skills weren’t up to par and while it was a struggle to control my bouyancy and always having to be the first to ascend up for obvious reasons (swallowing air like fish out of water) it was a turning point. I finally came to understand what macro diving meant and what a nuddybranch was. I was a step up on my underwater jargon.

The memorable thing about this trip was on our last dive day, we decided to go on a night dive searching for a single flambouyant curtlefish which was spotted by another fellow diver at the resort at some unmarked site. With Scian Ray’s navigational skills we arrived at the spot and started looking, after like ten minutes or so, we found what we were looking for. She was beautiful, hunting all alone, with her colours constantly changing. As cliché as it may sound, it was a sight to behold. I was hooked on diving.

Soon after that, I was diving in Mabul, Kapalai, Sipadan, Roach Reef, Tulamben, Puerto and not forgetting Silam. Met up with many dive buddies along the way. From the likes of Steven, Sunny, Chris, Eric, Allister, Joe, Josie, Gay and the rest. Sorry can’t name you all otherwise this writing would be all about what to name your babies. I’ve honed my diving skills with them.

With improved skills I moved on to getting my advanced and graduated from being diver observer to diver photographer. It’s all natural progression I guess. Armed with a Canon IXUS 900TI, I was snapping away like a pro on a catwalk. Captured a lot of memories with this camera though I think its time to move on to DSLR as I am beginning to find my snaps unsatisfying.

Talking about memories, they have been a lot of memorable ones but nothing will ever beat my night dive in Lankayan. To name a few, I got lost once in Roach Reef at Baracudda sanctuary, rather was left behind. As the rest of my buddies were sounded to what they thought was a school of barracudas, I was left all alone with the ever creeping darkness of the ocean floor, hence the name Lonely Diver plus the fact that SAY and Scian Ray were always going on trips leaving poor me all alone, grudge intended.

There was also this one time on dive in Coral Gardens Tulamben, dive buddies SAY, Scian and Candice, it was an evening dive, it was beginning to get pretty dark and viz was poor. While navigating our way around, we spotted a lone white tip, pretty big, lurking around. What made it scary was it was circling round us as if hunting and we knew that reerf sharks hunt at night, it was funny in way that we started to pull in and huddle together. Safety in numbers, yeah right, I was the fat and juicy one. Scariest moment ever! Kept checking if my legs was still there thoughout the dive. But the dive was rewarded by a school of mammoth size bumpheads grazzing on corals.

How great are the memories and how great is my passion for diving. Throughout my dives, I’ve seen many a wonderful things that the ocean has to offer and I have also seen the devastation that we, land walkers have caused, just by our mere presence on land and sea. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t dive at all, its’ just that when we dive we should dive with care. I have seen too many divers hitting and breaking into corals and enthusiastic photographers taking snapshots without care at all about their surroundings. Dive guides eager for tips poking and enticing critters out of their hidding place. All these, in one form or another, do great harm.

I am not critisizing anyone, merely myself. I am sad to admit that I have been guilty on these acts during the early stages of my dive experience. But with experience comes knowledge, with knowledge comes wisdom and with wisdom I hope to share what I have learnt.

If you can’t control your bouyancy try and stay away from fragile reefs, don’t worry just drift, your skills will improve in due course for you to get closer. If you’re taking snaps, be weary of your surroundings; mind where you put your fins and where to grasp. If a snap, no matter how tempting it is, has potential to cause reef damage, fin away. They’ll be plenty more oppurtunities. If a dive guide pokes around which damages reef life to entice something out, do not reward such behaviours.

Hitting 100, was all about reflection on what it means to dive and what it means to conserve our sea coral reefs not just for the sake of its beauty but its function as whole, as a nesting ground, as a breeding ground and as shelter for the youngs of the ocean.

This is my reflection, my thanks goes out those who have shared their experience and company, especially SAY and Scian Ray for reigniting the passion. The dive it took to hit 100 has indeed been a journey of self discovery.

To dive is……… this is your reflection.




Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Semporna Diving Safari

It has been 11 days since the new year, I finally managed to find time to write a new post on our year-end diving safari around Semporna, Malaysian Borneo.

After months of arrangement and planning, the day finally came. It was a splendid dive trip indeed. A picture speaks a thousand words. This collage describes the whole trip and the experience I had.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Final Diving trip 2008...

Hey all!!

In short, the last diving trip of 2008 was just... splendid! There is just no other perfect word to describe it (though nothing is perfect)...i won't bore u with all the details of the trip ( hehehe its scian ray's job, he promised us to post the chronicles of the trip plus with all the great pictures too, so..on the lookout ok guys), just a word of thanks and appreciation to all of u ( yessss, u guys) for making the trip worthwhile. Here are just the ' geez' of the amazing trip.

29th Dec 2008
Took a short flight down to Tawau (via our 'trustworthy' airasia - phew..reached safely) in the morning. This time around, went down with our latest member @ng! Felt a bit awkward n strange at first , hell yeah!! we were strangers for goodness sake! then the ice broke....hehehe...ok, to cut the story short, it took us a little bit longer then we expected ( it has something to do with the cab from Semporna which one of our members booked for us ). Not that we're complaining at all, the journey was fun! Pak Munit drove us to our destination, slow and steady in his sturdy, old 1965 Mercedes Benz ( mind you! only 2 of it left in semporna) driving at 50km/hr, accompanying us with a string of old english songs in the pouring rain! Nevertheless, Pak Munit was pleasant. oh, and @ng too, he gave a running commentary of previous and possible happening places in semporna! hehe, thanks @ng.

Once we reached, we checked into the local inn and headed straight to a cafe ( was voted as the most happening cafe in town by our fellow members ) for lunch. Basically, was just enjoying the sunny afternoon, feeling very grateful of being far far away from work, while waiting for scian ray and ninamaro to join us from mabul. Evening time was filled with tasks - from buying fish, chicken, squids, marinating ingredients to marinating them all and chucking them all in ninamaro small, petite but spascious fridge hehehe..( no offence ninamaro). oh, the hike up to Bukit Tengkorak was fantastic!!! The view was sooo breathtaking! ( you'll agree with me once you see the pictures later ) I was already down with a terrible flu and sore throat, decided not to paint the town red that night, so headed back to the inn alone to get a good wholesome night rest!

30th Dec 2008
Thank GOD, the fever had gone, left with just the annoying sore throat. Fellow members were so understanding and headed straight to a busy, big coffeeshop in town for a lovely warm tea. And the toast was great too! Was told that the homemade bread are always selling like hotcakes every single day! After breakfast, all of us headed up to Kunak/Silam, with @ng's friend's trusted sportscar ( mind you, its a 'limited edition' one hehehe) for wreck diving and BBQ. Met up with steven, chris and unclevirus in Borneo Paradise Resort. Diving, as usual, was great and not to forget the BBQ. Had great time with them, they were never short of giving me pointers in photography and also never ( i repeat, never) fall short in their hospitality. I was touched by their act of kindness onto me ( offered a towel and even holding up a towel preventing the rain and seawater from hitting me, couldnt care less of their coldness, i was shivering to the bones mannnn... and not to forget, setting aside the not-so-hot BBQ goodies for me to eat) Thanks guys, your warm kindness will always be remembered and appreciated...
Hehehe the night was not wasted at all as we met up with Allister and his lovely Josephine ( was nice meeting u again alli and a pleasure meeting u josey). A suprise birthday celebration was held for Scian ray and ninamaro in Turtle tomb cafe, filled with laughter and joy and drinks and pool and cake and etc.... pics will be coming right up, correct me if im wrong scian ray?


31st Dec 2008 - 2nd Jan 2009
In Bornsea Pompom resort. Er, what can i say?? the place was just remarkable! though not a 5-star-all-around-luxurious resort, we were treated like kings! ( er, and queens) well, at least i did...though its just a simple place, the homely feeling of being there was just so welcoming and the sea was..oh-so-inviting...i enjoyed my time, every single second, be it underwater ( safe scubadiving and some other funny acts underwater, ehem, you know who you are and what you did hehehhe) or above water ( from free karaoke sessions on the boat, storytelling n reminescing good old times, shooting fabulous fireworks at the beach to playing the circling game) with my 'bros n sis' ( though half of the time i couldnt understand a word from u guys, a note to u guys, 'say is not chinese-speaking!')...those 'fantabulous' time will always be cherished. The food was great, we were fed by awesome cooks! compliment to the chefs, cheers! good guiding and company from the Mr Phin and the Gang! cheers to y'all!

2nd Jan 2009
Headed back to reality.Took a flight back to kk, reached safe and sound...oh, this flight was a very 'chatty' one, no feeling of awkwardness at all!

Well, it was a Good way to end the year! Great time, great diving, great company....that's all that matter!.... betul tak geng?

Till then, wishing everyone a joyous and wonderful new year, may the year ahead brings joy and happiness all year round! Keep Your Eyes On the Blog for the Chronicles of the trip and loads of beautiful pictures from fellow members of Borneo Aquanerds.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Semporna, Silam and Pompom Island .. sample itinery and check list

Here's the sample itinerary and schedule like for our year end trip .. feel free to let me know if there is any correction need to be done

Month of December 2008
28 , 29 - I will be in SWV, Mabul diving with Ninamaro and her Japanese friends
29 - back to semporna at around 1pm. @ng and say should be arriving semporna at 12 noon via taxi from airport ( arranged ). Check in to sipadan global backpackers and leisure time from then.

30 - Ninamaro, @ng and myself and say will depart semporna to LD at 6.30am after breakfast in semporna

Instructions from steve :
- (Semporna-Borneo Paradise resort in LD takes about 90 minutes)
- (steve, unclevirus and chris will meet us at the resort's junction,30 minutes from kunak roundabout.Please slow down your vehicle once you see the signboard (Borneo-Paradise) on your right hand side and a huge,steel bridge right in front of you.

- Estimated time for us to reach the destination from junction: 15 minutes
- 1st dive: 9.30 am 2nd dive : 11.30 am
(since I was informed there is no resident guide so the one with the highest dive qualification will lead - @ng ... *_*) kindly please request for him ya
- Lunch : Resort's Restaurant/BBQ+Fruits+Beer

- Estimated time reached or depart for semporna : around 5.30 pm - ?? steve is it depart or arrival .. I thought we were doing sunset BBQ ??

- All check in Borneo backpackers
- Allister's group ? Ben's group ?? schedule ?? - still pending .. any volunteers to get in touch with them . Allister is currently at SWV .. having the time of his life .(working during christmas !)
- Dinner at ?? singamata ( for those big eaters like steve ) and follow by hanging out at turtle tomb cafe .. no choice because its the only happening place in Semporna .. *_*

31 - all depart pompom at 8.30am except ninamaro - departing for swv, Mabul
2 - Departing pompom - semporna at 1pm after lunch at resort.
- @ng and say will follow Allister to airport for their flight 5pm to KK
- My flight to KL at 6pm

Final check : ( X means sorted out)
ie Dive thanks (x)

1. Transport for @ng, say- airport to semporna (x)
2. Accomodation 29 and 30 in semporna (x)
3. Transport from semporna to LD on 30 (x)
4. Dive tanks - (x) total 14 tanks and rm 25 per tank. Steve .. prepare 2 emergency extra tanks
5. Dive boat - (x)
6. Direction and waiting point - (x)
7. First aid kit - (x)
8 BBQ stuff - (x)
9 BBQ grill utensils - (x) need to remind steve again
10. Beverages - (x)
12. Fireworks for pompom - (x) steve watch out for mata please
13. Photography workshop if got by - chris ?? (?x)
14 . Steve's swimming trunk - (x)

please add on whatever i had missed out