Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tioman Shark Dive 8 March 2008

I had my Advanced Open Water Dive certificate in Tioman. The feeling of revisit Tioman with more relaxation was definitely somewhat different. Our diving date coincided with public holiday. The booking was so full that we had to board the night ferry from Mersing jetty, so did the return journey. I should conclude that the night ferry experience was ‘rocking’ up and down due to downpour and current. My dive buddies were Apple, Carrie and Fei. We stayed in Berjaya Tioman and dived with B&J Dive Centre. B&J was professional in diving business – equipment was well-maintained, boat was spacious and dive master was responsible. We did 3 dives with B&J, together with many foreigners. I did not rent any underwater camera this time but our Finnish diver friend, Timo, was kind to provide me photos for blogging.

Berjaya Tioman Beach and Spa Resort. Comfortable and scenic.

Magician Rock (52 min, 18.9 meters)
Magician was famous for its cool and colourful coralscape. I did not spot many special fish species but the coral view was pleasant. Right after descending, I spotted a juvenile harlequin sweetlip which was in the middle of transition to its adulthood. The physical appearances of juvenile and adult sweetlip differ from the dotted size on their body. This transition sweetlip had both big and small dots on its body, sweet!
Another adventure was my personal confrontation with the Titan Triggerfish attack. That was a hell of an excitement! I was taking my sweet time to glide through the coral while suddenly my buddy and dive master signaled warning to watch out my back. By the time I turned around, a nasty and bitchy triggerfish charged to my direction. Retreat and recharge again, it was within my arm-length and I could clearly saw its sharp and piercing tooth. Fighting to save my ass off, I hit the triggerfish repeatedly with my pointer. Huh, the stubborn triggerfish finally backed away and I was halfway to the surface! My buddies were watching the whole show with amusement, pity me…

Striking nudibranch searching for mates

North Point (52 min, 20.7 meters)
The dive site had some coral walls. Both macro and large species could be spotted here. I was excited to spot my first Barramundi Cod. It was shy and searching for shade when we went after for closer look. Besides, we also spotted a giant moray eel, as long as my height! Its sleeky body was pretty much exposed between the boulder slit. Check out the photo!

Giant moray eel! Secure your finger first...

Barramundi Cod, one of my wish list to spot

Renggis Island (61 min, 12.0 meters)
My 2nd time to dive Renggis. It was right in front of Berjaya Tioman Resort. My first dive was a night dive and I did not really enjoy it. My anticipation for this dive was therefore a bit reserved. Well, it turned out that this dive was awesome! We spotted many creatures – black-tip shark, cuttlefish, chevron barracuda, turtle, all sorts of clownfish and anemone.... It was a close encounter with a pair of cuttlefish. These creatures were amazing. They changed their body colour and pattern in a blink of time. Once, I spotted them emitting fluorescent colour while hunting at night, cool thing. There were more than one black-tip shark in Renggis. They were as big as my size, but fatter and bulkier! The only thing I wanted to complain was the surging current and thermocline.

Ever changing cuttlefish

We had half-day strolling Kampung Tekek, enjoying the fried rice and chicken, chatting non-sense, annoying Apple and Carrie, playing ‘moneyless’ mahjong…. In short, we had a quite relaxing diving holiday, well, put aside the ferry ride and gruesome driving journey. Also, I was satisfied with my diving skill, improving bits by bits. Keep diving, diver Fox…

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Travel Experience, Part 3 (Europe & Amsterdam)

Part 4 (Europe, Amsterdam)

Not wanting to travel alone, I shared my prize with a friend. The tour that I won was a budget tour. In fact, the itinerary was so compact that we stayed in every country for only two or three days. So much to see but so little time to utilize, I would say it was quite a challenge. The countries that we had covered were France, Holland, Germany, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy and so on. I had vague memory on this tour, since the schedule was too congested. During that time, Euro was not established yet and therefore, we had so much fun in exchanging foreign currency in each country. As the first time to explore Europe, European countries were very similar and very different to me. Odd enough, their languages were so different in pronunciation but yet they shared the similar wording. They had their own food and cultures but soccer was pretty much dominant throughout the whole Europe. As much as I like French food, Italian food was exquisitely comparable to Spanish and Chinese food. Brand name, such as Gucci, Prada, Armani, Porsche, Ferrari etc. became too common in Europe.

There were two small but intriguing European countries worth to mention in this tour. Liechtenstein was the smallest country in Europe. It was famous for its stamp publication. The country still has their king system. Similarly, Monaco was small and scenic, popular for its winding F1 track and world-class Monte Carlo casino. Unfortunately, I still used film camera at that time and none of the photos were taken digitally.

Bridges in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was the most typical harbour city to me. Local sailors bid farewell and travel far ashore while foreign sailors stopped by to refuel, to rejuvenate and even to get laid in the red-light district. That was always the image in my mind and it was exactly how I felt when I set afoot on this city. Amsterdam are world-renowned for many things – clog, cheese, tulips, window girls etc. Afterall, Amsterdam is always branded with XXX – Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll.

Sea of Tulips.

The cutest snapshot in Keukenhof Garden.

In Keukenhof garden, I had seen the prettiest and the most variety tulips in my life. Their colours were so vibrant as if they were artificially painted. We spent more than 3 hours to snap shots but none of them justified the freshness and perfection of those tulips. You got to see with your naked eyes, for once in your life! Strolling along the notorious red-light district, I did feel some kind of pity and, well, kinky. The truth was raw and savage. Inside a transparent cubicle, the prostitutes elaborated their body to attract customers. The customer could even negotiate the price before making a deal. How pathetic… but somehow, prostitution was legal, so did the drug taking, and no one was complaining about the free window browsing.

Can you believe that Tulips originated from Turkey!?