Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why I live here

Someone asked me why I don't blog anymore and so here you go.

"The question is not what you look at, but what you see" Henry Thoreau

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Flew into Bali, Indonesia on late Thursday night on a cheap red eye flight,  I had diving to do on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday dive one consisted of a coral reef, a large barracuda and clear visibility.  This was my first shore dive excluding certification.
Dive two was the USAT Liberty shipwreck dive.  Over 400 species of fish live on or near the wreckage.  It was very cool to swim through some of the holes in the hull.  The water was warm and this was another first, my first wreck dive.
Spent Friday night walking around town, ate dinner at an Italian restaurant on the beach.
Saturday dives
Dive one was a float dive they called the movie screen.  Imagine one large coral reef wall and a current that carries you down the coastline.  I had to do very little swimming, inflate my BC for buoyancy and float my dive away. 
Dive two was the best dive I’ve done so far at a place called Manta Point.  The name lived up to its billing.  I saw 12 manta rays, The largest manta had a wingspan of about 13 feet and swam right at me, going directly over my head, 4 feet above me.  These beautiful creatures are elegant and graceful.  I almost forgot to breathe and kept thinking about Steve Irwin but I believe it was a different type of ray that killed him.   The water was colder and a parasite in the water attaches themselves to the mantas as the mantas come into to get a good old fashion cleaning from the parasites. 
Spent Saturday night walking around, looking at art.  I bought a sarong and fully intend to wear it but don’t know where yet.  I ate at some famous place for Indonesian food that Mick Jagger ate at.  The servers where happy to point this out to me after they found out where I was from and this is what made this restaurant famous with the tourists. 
Sunday Dives
Dive one was at a place called Crystal Bay.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous about this dive.  I would consider myself in reasonable shape and somewhat confident in my skills to adapt, somewhat fearless in my actions but after the dive briefing, I questioned in my mind for a few seconds whether or not I was capable of completing this dive.  I learned that two people died here in the last three days.  One person who perished was a Japanese lady who I heard dove in a group of 12 with one dive master for all of them.  This is careless but it is the cheap way to go.  The second diver that died was diving alone, without a buddy, also careless.   Off the back of the boat I went in the form of a backwards somersault into the cold water.  What makes this dive so treacherous is the current, specifically the down current.  We had to stay close to a reef wall as we worked our way around the corner of the reef in the search of Mola molas, a very large, prehistoric looking sunfish.  Once we came around the corner to a large rock wall, boom you are being sucked down with the current.  The bubbles weren’t going up to the surface, they were being pulled down with me, I reached out and grabbed the rock wall and then it became hand over hand, rock climbing underwater.  I worked so hard to get to the top of the rock wall and out of the current that my air consumption went from 100 bar to about 40 bar in what felt like 10 minutes, which is a lot.  I didn’t see any Mola molas but was happy with the outcome that I didn’t die while challenging my diving skills.  Win/Win. 
Dive Two on Saturday was an easy float dive, very relaxing, very colorful. 
Uneventful Sunday night
Flew back to Kuala Lumpur and from KL, I am sitting in an airport in South Korea with an eleven hour layover, waiting to head to San Francisco. 

A mountain on fire

Dive site

Getting ready on the boat

The Bali people put flower petals down for me to walk on

The grounds of the hotel

More of the grounds
My Beach for a few days
On a health and fitness note, I haven’t run or worked out in over a month and half.  I was glad for the break.  Mentally as well as physically I was worn out.  Not very pleased with any of my last couple running results so I decided to not bring running shoes on this trip and take a break from it all for a minute and start with a clean slate.  I almost bought a new pair of asics during my trip but couldn’t see spending $200 on the same shoes I could get in the states for $110(KL was expensive).  I am very much looking forward to running for the love it again and getting back to the mountains. 
I forgot to write a million things but you get the idea. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kuala Lumpur and Singapore

kind of behind and about to catch up on this entire blogging thing.  
Flew from Bangkok airport to Kuala Lumpur, Maylasia.  The city is a lot cleaner and smells way better than Bangkok.  KL is more Islamic  dominated and I was entering near the end of Ramadan, there month of fasting while the sun is up.   To me, this simply means go out to eat BEFORE the sun goes down.  Learned that the hard way once.  Visited the Aquari and different areas of the town including china town.  Across from my hotel is a huge mall, in fact there are malls everywhere and these people love to shop.  While eating lunch in the food court, right below a Prada and a Gucci store,  I hear shrieking and women lifting their legs off the ground as a huge rat comes running through the food court.  Looking down at my bowl of food, I quietly wondered what I was eating.  The rat disappears and everyone goes back to eating like no big deal.  Definitely would not have the same response in America. 

Took a day trip to Malaccca, which is a city about an hour outside of KL.  Malacca is rich in Portugese, Dutch and British architecture.  Spent a lot of time at a shop called Raz Kashmir talking to the owner about his time trekking and climbing in and around K2 and Mt. Everest.  He is related to Tenzing Norgay, the famous climbing Sherpa who summited Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.  His pictures of that region and Pakistan have spurred my interest to visit these places.


Took a three day side trip to Singapore.  Cleaner than anywhere I have ever been.  It is against the law to chew gum and if you protest the government, you will be arrested.  This is one of the richest countries(cities) depending on who you talk to,  in the world.  Singapore was made famous in the U.S. a few years ago by the 17 year old who got arrested for vandalism and they caned him.  Dayton Ohio representing at its finest. 

Crashed a wedding, not really but it would have been fun to but I think I would have stuck out just a little.

Took a long hike through a rain forest park and got caught in a monsoon which only lasted a half hour or so.  Saw some crazy monkeys and a snake. 

Ate wonderful Taiwanese home cooking and met a wonderful family with a very gifted young 8 year old child named Olivia. She plays the piano and violin to the tunes of Bach and Mozart.  The family cooked dinner for me and gave me a tour of the city. 

Home made dumplings was the first course.   Soooooooo goooood.
Little Olivia grooving

Went to the night Safari at the Singapore Zoo.  Can't use a flash and being in Singapore, I wasn't about to break any laws or rules.

This maybe the coolest hotel I've ever seen.  The top that connects three towers is a ship that was turned into a full length swimming pool.  In US dollars it costs anywhere between 300 and 500 per night.

After the few days in Singapore, I am headed back to Kuala Lumpur for a few days.
From a beautiful place with beautiful people.   

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One night in Bangkok

Actually stayed in Bangkok for two weeks
The Thai people are very friendly. The food was awesome and everything is cheap.  Saw a few live, local musical shows at a local bar.  I’m amazed how quickly 5:30 am comes when you are in a club.  It never felt like I wasn’t sleeping a lot but then hey good morning to me. 

Enjoyed two cultural experiences which is short for tourist traps but both worth the visit. 
1.  Siam Niramit:  The must see show in Thailand and the stage is certified by Guinness world records  as the highest in the world.  Amazing costumes and music.  I was required to camera check  my camera on the way into the actual show so I was only able to get a few shots at the outside performances before the real show started but you get the idea.  

2.  The Floating Market:  The floating market is about 1hour and ½ outside of Bangkok.  You rent a boat and float through a number of waterways while being accosted by over zealous vendors.  Every price is negotiable.  Do it once and then you will never need to go back. 
Traffic jam

I used a cab driver that just happened to learn all his English from watching John Wayne movies and talks like john Wayne all the time.  He thought that I was a real live cowboy, since all cowboys live in Colorado. 

One night in Bangkok: 
Near the end of my time it got kind of old having so many ladies and lady boys try to molest me for a few dollars(baht)   Very sad that this is how they have to try to support their families. 
Next up Maylasia and Kuala Lumpur.   

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Phuket 2

Moved from the Westin to the Ban Karanburi Resort, The Westin catered to all nationalities, the BKR is a Thai resort with very few English speaking people.  This resort is located on Karon beach.  The predominate nationality visiting in and around Karon beach is Russians.   The AC doesn’t work that well in my room and it is effing hot and muggy. 
Dive 8 was at Anemone reef and we became familiar with a fish called a striped Remora.  These fish can be seen on sharks as they attached to the backs of sharks using their sucking mouth.  Disturbing to have these suckers trying to swim up my shorts while 20 meters under water. 
Dive 9(Shark point)  Large colorful fans, a giant Moray eel, lionfish and pilot jacks. 
Dive 10 (Koh Doc Mai) Leopard shark, huge sea turtles and a sea snake.  The sea snake is striped like a zebra, rather small but very deadly.  As Sergey, my divemaster, says one bite and 5 minutes later you are dead.  This increased my air consumption a little bit I assume.
Dive 11 (Koh Bida Nok) Lemon shark, the damned striped remora trying to suck on my junk again but the prettiest of all the dives I did and will do while in Phuket.
Dive 12 (Shark point 1 and 2) Another shark but it was swimming fast away from our group and I couldn’t tell what type it was. 
Skipped a day of diving to sightsee and allow my blisters on my toes, caused by my scuba fins to scab up.  I headed to a snake show, an elephant farm and Patong.  First, I hate snakes and felt very uncomfortable being so close to king cobras and many other snakes that could kill me very quickly.  What was I thinking going to this show, I will never know but I’ve been to one and no need to attend any of them EVERagain.  I wanted to get my picture on top of an elephant but after haggling over prices, they wouldn’t let me just get up on one, I had to purchase an hour trek through the jungle, that I had no desire to do, I decided to walk around the farm and that would have to be good enough.  This decision not to spend any money at the elephant farm changed the agreement and upset my tuk tuk driver for the day.  I agreed upon 500 bht to have the driver for the day take me to four or five different places.  At first, he was wonderfully accommodating, happy and friendly.  After refusing to pay for the elephant trek(which was a tourist rip off) he no longer talked to me and drove me to my next location and told me he would no longer be able to be my tour guide.  They get kick backs from the businesses based on where the drivers take you and I guess he was no longer making money off of me.  I paid him 200 bht and we parted ways. 
Patong:  Shops of fake DVD’s, clothing, hats, handbags, sunglasses, hell everything is a fake knock off.  Women soliciting their bodies for cheap, everywhere. 
Sunday July 29th was back to diving:
Dive 13 (Koh Doc May)
Dive 14 (Koh Bida Nok)
Dive 15 (Maya Bay)
Sea turtles, fast currents and lots of colorful fishies. 
Dive Asia was an awesome outfit to dive with.

Back in Bangkok for a week.   
Eat more chicken

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bangkok and Phuket one


My flight left Denver on time at 8:15am to Seattle for a four hour layover.   Boarded the plane in Seattle to Incheon Korea, In a middle row seat for 11 and ½ hours good god.  I slept for a few hours and the girl next to me who slept most of the trip, once curled up next to me, placed her head on my shoulder and wrapped her arm around my waste, all while she was sleeping.  In order to avoid embarrassment for her, I didn’t inform her of this cuddling while she was asleep.  I watched 7 movies and few episodes of Tv.  The transfer from Incheon Korea to Bangkok was seamless and easy even though I only had an hour to trek across a large airport.  After a 5 hour flight from Korea, I arrived in Bangkok.  That is a lot of plane riding and travel.  I would like to take this time to comment on how much better foreign airlines are in re: to service and amenities than the US.  Free glasses of wine, two full dinners, complete with warm bread, a warm towel to clean my face and freshen up and 8 flight attendants for our needs. 

The first night went to night market in a predominately Arab section of downtown.  The food was delicious as I dined on lamb Kofta and ordered apple sheesha for the hookah while surrounded by and chilling with the Saudis.  They were up late due to the start of Ramadan.   The food is extremely cheap. For lunch I got two coconut waters and pan fried thai noodles with prawns for the price of 70 thai bht, the equivalent to about 3 us dollars.
I stayed at the Conrad hotel in the downtown area.  Free breakfast; free happy hour complete with a large spread of food and drinks, everyday.  The executive level is sweet. 

Flew into Phuket on Saturday early morning, booked 10 scuba dives and settled into the Westin.  This place has everything I could want.  They have three pools, four restaurants etc. and all for the equivalent of about 35 us dollars per day.  Life is good. 

Staying here for four days before transferring to Karon beach on a different part of the island.  The first three scuba dives are off of phi phi island on Sunday July 22.  Dive five was in Koh Doc May at a depth of 22 meters for 37 minutes.  This was my first real dive outside of getting my certification.  Visibility was 8-12 meters and I saw a bamboo shark(sweet)
Dive number six was in Koh Bida Nok, depth of 18.5 meters for 45 minutes, Visibility was 10-15 meters and saw a black tip reef shark and numerous large schools of colorful fish.  This was the best dive of the three.
Dive number seven was in Bilek Bay, depth of 16 meters for 41 minutes, Visibility was 8-12 meters and saw moray eels, porcupine fish and a few giant puffer fish. 

 My awesome dive master 
some pics of my dive sites

More to come as my trip continues.