Friday, June 26, 2009
If you knew me say... some 8 years ago, you would know that I hate children.I hated how they needed so much attention. I hated how they cry all the time. I hated how they cost so much money. I hated how they (would) make me all fat and flabby. Then. OMG, you know what they say about us women having this maternal thing in you surface? Horrors!!! I caught myself ooohing and aaahing at babies. I don't remember when it started... must be when I was in my mid 20s. Yes lah, I'm in my late 20s now OK? No need to count. So as I was saying, I started admiring these little things. When I see parents walking around the mall with a baby in the stroller, I'll peek and coo to myself. When I go out for dinners, sometimes a family would be seated nearby and I'll be making faces at their toddler and stick my tongue out! (sometimes they imitate - so cute I tell you!)When Little Jeremy came about, and when I first saw him at the hospital, I almost melted cos he was so tiny and cute! Having said that, NO- I AM NOT READY TO BE A MOTHER YET. I still want to be able to fit into my wetsuit and dive. And of course, I don't have the money to feed another person. Sure, babies are cute. Darn cute I tell ya. But as long as I don't have to bring them home and fuss about feeding and changing, I am more than happy to play with them for a while. Guess my maternal thingie is still under-developed huh? But when I do have children, I'd want my first-born to be a girl. So I can lavish her with pretty dresses and she can prance around town in them like her momma! HAHAHA! In the mean time, I'm quite happy looking at pretty little things at Baby Hauz! Do check it out, and give Stefi your support ya!
Posted by Doreen at 3:04 pm
Thursday, June 25, 2009
As if yesterday's discovery of the RM125 nett KL-Manado-KL ticket for October isn't enough. Now I find out that it only costs RM15 for a KL-Kota Bahru-KL ticket for March next year. Always wanted to spend my birthday by the beach. Tickets are DIRT cheap, but that only gets you to your destination (and back). How ah?
What Liquor Are You?
You are sweet, friendly and sociable. Like the Carribean where you come from, you have a laid back vibe. You are best enjoyed in a relaxed state of mind.
--------------------------------Re: the above, tell me something I don't already know! :P
Posted by Doreen at 9:48 am
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I sat in bed last night, admiring my very tanned legs. While applying moisturizer, I wondered if my legs will appear thinner if they were to go even darker. I mean, I definitely look skinnier in a black dress, so does the same rule apply to my legs too? We have been spending our weekends by the pool. And by that, I don't mean lazing by the pool with a book in hand, face behind an oversized pair of sunnies.
I mean the kind where we, as the lowest in the industry's food chain (LOL!), the divemasters in training, assist the Instructors who are doing confined water training for Open Water divers. In the midst of assisting (and getting hands-on experience!), we are also required to learn and master demonstration skills for the PADI Open Water course.
And so I've been devoting my Saturdays and Sundays to sitting for theory exams, organizing equipment for students or setting up for Discover Scuba participants, and learning from Lynette and Aaron.
By the time we leave the pool, it would be about 4 or 5pm in the afternoon. Exhausted, we set off for home. Maybe it's fatigue, maybe it's the sun, but we end up rather quiet during the drive home.
Then, he'd catch me in the act.
"Why are you smiling to yourself again?"
Same reason you smile to yourself, babe!
Posted by Doreen at 10:10 am
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I have a sudden urge to read Kuntum.
Posted by Doreen at 2:26 pm
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I first heard Deep by Binocular from the DVD we got for the Mataking trip. The guy who made the video used the song as one of the background tracks.
And I've loved it since.
Deep brings me to the blue. The intro (first 10-12 seconds) reminds me of bubbles. No matter where I am, or what I'm doing, when this song comes on - I can imagine myself being underwater, the blue surrounding me.
The lyrics are simple...
So this is what you mean
And this is how you feel
So this is how you see
And this is how you breathe
I go down deep
So this is what you mean
And this is how you feel
So this is how you see
And this is how you breathe
Beneath the deep blue sea
Touching every breath
All a slight off hand
For everything you left
It's been almost 2 weeks since we returned from Manado, and things are slowly resuming normalcy. Until the next trip comes along that is!
The overall experience in Lembeh was a blast!
The wisps of clouds, like lace draped over a volcano
The many dive sites in Lembeh (click for larger view)
Half of the group with Dive Masters Michael, Mendy and Ratno.
The other half of the group with Agus and Ramli.
Surface interval in Indonesia
Departure day is always a sad affair. So I put on my happy dress and smiled.
Another (incomplete) group pic before we left Bastianos- from L-R (Top Row: Jesh, Darren, Joan / Middle Row: Albert, Doreen, Alan / Bottom Row: Ramli, Lynette, Bee Yong, Grace)
And because blogging about dive trips can be quite an emotional affair for me... here are two more departure shots which is just oh-so-emo.
Posted by Doreen at 3:00 pm
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I am going to tell you a story. This is a true story, a tragic (albeit funny!) one about our dear friends, Darren and Joan.
After a 3 hour 40 minutes flight, AK 432 touched down at Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado City. There were 15 of us in the group, but 2 didn't board the plane at LCCT because of immigration issues (story for another day). After retrieving our luggage from the conveyor belt, we proceeded to exit the terminal. Many were nicotine-deprived. Some even started with cans of Bintang beer while waiting for everyone to gather. Then, news broke that Darren and Joan were still inside because they were missing one piece of luggage. Their dive gears (2 bags) arrived, but the third, containing clothes never showed up. A report was subsequently lodged at the AirAsia counter. They took forever, and while we waited, more cigarettes and beers were consumed. After almost an hour of us waiting, Darren and Joan came by to tell us that Air Asia's system had hung. Oh, we weren't surprised at all. That's when we decided that the 11 of us will make our way to Bitung first, and then head off into the resort. Another representative from the resort will arrange for their transport after they have resolved the matter with AirAsia. We finally got into Bastianos Lembeh close to 11pm that night. Darren and Joan arrived almost an hour and a half later, sans the third piece of luggage. The rep from the resort had also brought them to some shops for them to buy cheap T-shirts, shorts and grandma underwear before they boarded the boat for the resort. The silver lining: No clothes, but at least got dive gear! Going to sleep that night, we were all hoping that the dives tomorrow would make everything OK. Joan lost all the bikinis she had packed for the trip (girl brought along 10 pairs! no joke!), so I loaned her one of mine since I brought 3 pairs along. If no bikini, she'd have to go bare under her BARE wetsuit! On the first day, they dived (private joke: Dove!) without their camera, it being their first dive with brand new BCD, reg and dive computer. The dives on the first day was mind-blowing, and everyone ended the day in high spirits.On the second day, Darren brought along an empty Fantasea housing for the dive, and left the Nikon camera back in their room. Eager as they were to capture all the amazing stuff we saw underwater, Darren said, "Test first. See leaking or not, since we already had bad luck with our luggage!" "Ya ya, let's just dive with empty housing and tissue paper inside first," concurred Joan.
After that first morning dive of our second day, Darren surfaced to say that he'd lost his housing during the dive. See the happiness on Darren's face?
"It was bobbing and floating in front of my face, damn annoying lah! So I just clipped it onto my BCD lah!" he said.
That was the last he saw of his housing.
The silver lining: No more housing, but at least camera is safe!
By then, we were already warning them that bad things happen in threes, and that they should be extra careful!
Some saving grace came that day itself, Monday afternoon, when a staff of the resort informed them that their missing luggage had arrived at Sam Ratulangi airport, and that it will be delivered to the resort by the end of the day.
That evening after dinner, we sat at the balcony of our room (since it faced the port) and listened out for any boats coming to the resort. Every boat engine we heard, we strained our necks and eyes to see if it was approaching the resort.
It finally did.
So, the winds FELT like it had changed. We were all looking forward to good things to come.
The next day, after our first dive and during our surface interval, we spotted... DOLPHINS!!!! One of the Dive Masters on our boat spotted them first, off in the distance, and we sped towards it. Another Bastianos boat was nearby, so there were two boats circling and chasing after them dolphins! Everyone was ecstatic and we acted like a bunch of sakais, cheering and screaming our heads off. At one point, them dolphins were sooooo close! Unfortunately, they were too fast, jumping in and out of the water, and the best shot I got was this...
After the hour-long surface interval on the boat, we arrived at Nudi's Retreat for the second dive of the day. We were going to see the electric clam!
My first dolphin sighting! Apparently you can see them between Sipadan and Mabul too!
We were all busy putting on our weight belts and rinsing our masks when Darren asked no one in particular, "Eh, you saw my mask ah?" HAHAHAHA! Silver lining: We did see the electric clam, and at only 3 metres! It was gorgeous. Zap Zap! So you think the story ends there right? Wrong.Darren and Joan forgot their passports which were left in the room after we had checked out. Housekeeping went through all the rooms, and managed to catch us while we were waiting for the boat to take us back to the mainland. Close. Very close. When AK 433 took off for KL at 20:05 hours, most of us were tired and slept throughout the flight. And you'd think the drama ends has to end here right? Wrong again.Upon reaching home, Joan realized she lost her mobile phone."I think it fell out of the laptop bag lah!" *slaps forehead* So ladies and gentlemen, everytime you are going through a bad day, do take a moment and think about my dear friends, Darren and Joan!
Posted by Doreen at 2:00 pm
Driving out to dinner two evenings ago, we lamented about the week was passing by so slowly.
"It's only Tuesday!" I told him.
"Last Tuesday we were so happy in Manado!" he said.
It's pure torture when you think about it, going away for a dive trip and then coming back to endure the withdrawals. Why is coming back from a dive trip so painful? Why do we do this to ourselves?
I recently stumbled upon this quote from an anonymous which I can so relate to - "I dive, because to not dive is just too hard to imagine".
So I wonder, what was it like before I discovered diving?
It wasn't so long ago you know... but what was life like then?
What did I get high on?
(Yes, you have my permission to ignore the last question).
So, diving in Lembeh was K.I.C.K.A.S.S.
I'm not a big fan of macro, but was looking forward to diving in Lembeh after reading up on the dive sites including the types of unique marine life which we will be seeing.
And since I was so semangat about checking out critters and macro life, two hours before we were due to leave for the airport, went out to Popular bookstore to buy me self a magnifying glass to bring along!
So, my wishlist was nice and short -
(1) Mimic octopus
(2) Flamboyant cuttlefish
(3) Hairy frogfish
(4) Banggai cardinalfish
* NOTE: All pictures featured in this entry are courtesy of Lynette, and you can check out the full set of album at her blog!
The mimic octopus was high on my wishlist, and we saw it on our first dive at Lembeh!
With a mimic sighting on the first dive, and with 10 more to go for the next couple of days, you can imagine how excited I was!
The flamboyant cuttlefish, which we saw on our second dive, is very impressive.
The changing of colours - very elegant and almost as though there is an aura of sort surrounding the cuttlefish when the bright red and yellow appears. We saw many throughout the many dives we did after that. Always fascinating! From pictures I found online of the hairy frogfish, they look so darn cute. Like a little monster in in need of a haircut. However, the one that we saw had really short hair, but cute factor still quite high - Look at him! We also had the opportunity to witness another species of frogfish feeding - live - before our very eyes! Dive Master Michael caught a tiny fish with his bare hands, held the tiny thing by its tail, and wagged it teasingly in front of the anxious diner. And within moments, out came the tongue (yes, like a frog!) to zap (I call it zap, but I'm sure there's a better word for this) the prey into its mouth. After the 'show' was over, we even clapped underwater, an ovation to the DM who gave us such a treat. And the last on my wishlist, the Banggai cardinalfish... Aren't they just so pretty? On a few dives, we spotted the juveniles being baby-sitted by clownfish! No other adult banggais around, just one tiny banggai cardinalfish fleeting amidst the anemone, surrounded by a group of clown. Interesting. Then of course, came a whole lot of other stuff which I've never heard of, let alone seen! The sea moth which is - IMHO - so weird! It has these wing-like fins, and it kinda walks on the sea floor.
The coconut octopus! We saw two of them, one in a shell, and the other in a glass jar called home.
I think I have a new-found love for octopuses. We saw them soooo close, and you can really see all their features - their big bulbous eyes, the white suckers sticking onto the glass surface like a gooey, sticky piece of chewing gum!
And we also saw the peculiar looking ambon scorpionfish.
Dude, I'm sorry, but you sure do look like an alien!
Nudibranches and pygmy seahorses (7 of them on 1 sea fan in Magic Rock!!!!) a plenty. All of us believe that the nudibranch in Lembeh are injected with steroids cos they were H-U-G-E! My favourite was an orange one - the moment I saw it's plump body, it made me think of a huge piece of citrus-flavoured gummi!
Angel's Window was a notable dive site for me. We descended to about 20ish metres, and there was a little tunnel which we had to swim through. The first tunnel was narrow - but so inviting - that I swam right in after the Dive Master, leaving my buddy outside. It was a short swim-thru, but my first going through an enclosure like that. After the first little tunnel, we had to go through another shorter one, which was also much wider, and exiting that second swim-through, we were already at 29 metres.
Looking upwards from the bottom... a towering pinnacle of life and colours.. GLORIOUS!
So happy OK! Like this...
Oh, my magnifying glass?
Well, I used it a lot. I was swimming soooo close to the bottom and inspecting every darn grain of sand that moved!
Posted by Doreen at 12:35 pm
Monday, June 08, 2009
Now, I am going to say this and get it over with - it is not easy writing about other dive resorts. As much as I don't want to, I end up comparing them all to Sipadan Water Village in Mabul.
The bathrooms, I love! Plenty of natural sunlight coming through, and see that ladder? You can hang your towel there when you shower!
So, that's now out of my system....
There are primarily two dive areas in Manado - Bunaken and Lembeh Straits. Getting from Bitung port to our resort is a mere 10-15 minutes boat ride away.
At Lembeh, don't expect white sandy beaches and blue turquoise waters. Volcanic substrate causes sand (on land and underwater) to be dark brown, almost black. It takes some getting used to, cos black sand just looks damn dirty and walking about barefoot felt icky at first.
There aren't many rooms at the Bastianos Lembeh, which makes it a small and cosy place. Majority of the rooms are along the single stretch of walkway which takes you to and from the rooms to the restaurant.
The rooms at Bastianos Lembeh were clean and comfortable.
The rooms are airconditioned (a must have unless at SWV) and there is a four-poster bed with drapes (a romanticized word for mosquito nets).
Here's a shot of the balcony from Lynette. I forgot to take pictures of my own balcony, but it overlooks a different view - less trees, more sea.
Because we arrived at the resort in the dark of the night, I went to sleep at 2am not knowing what the view from our balcony was like. Most of us were up by about 5:30am because the sun had already risen. I jumped out of bed and was greeted with a view like this...
The dining area (pics from Lynette) is airy and overlooks the Straits.
Food here is definitely acceptable. Buffet meals are served, and in the course of our stay, with the exception of breakfast, no dishes were repeated. Though they really need to figure out how to cook fish properly. The end of the dining area leads to the pool. 'Twas a pity that I only got to laze by the pool on our last morning there. The pool overlooks the shore outside the Bastianos Dive Centre. The Dive Centre at the Bastianos Lembeh is well-organized in their own ways and is of course much better than other resorts in Tioman or Perhentian. But I would like to have a 'hang out' area where we can have coffee and gather around to look at pictures after a dive. (Yes, like the SWV dive centre set-up!)
Overall, a very chilled resort to be at.
Posted by Doreen at 1:01 pm
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Our euphoria of arriving at Sam Ratulangi airport was short-lived when Darren and Joan's third piece of luggage failed to appear on the conveyor belt.
"Thank god it's your clothes bag and not the dive gear!" was the general and unanimous sentiment.
It was past 10pm when we arrived at the port in Bitung.
Despite the late hour, the port was a hive of activity. Local Indonesian boys gathered near a dimly lited warung strumming on their guitars and clouds of smoke billowed above their heads; the unmistakable smell of green herbs. Older men were hanging around, lazily dragging on their kreteks.
A crew of young men starting unloading our luggage from the van and onto the boat. Some of the guys in our group had hopped over to the nearby shop to purchase some bottles of Bintang. We boarded the wooden boat, settling down on the uncovered front deck. Someone offered a swig of beer, I gladly accepted.
(No pictures were taken on the night of arrival at Bitung Port because I was too bloody tired! These were taken on the day of departure.)
Posted by Doreen at 4:45 pm