While in vietnam, we went diving in Nha Trang 2 consecutive days. We had 2 Nitrox and 2 normal dives in divesites situated around a small island 30 minutes off the coast. The sight-distance wasn’t great but I still managed to make a few pictures of all the Lionfish we saw.
My last weekend trip during my internship took me to Kota Kinabalu in east Malaysia. Compared to Indonesia, Thailand and even west Malaysia, I was impressed how different the country was. Roads with markings (and they actually respected them instead of honking all the time) and mainly 2/3 story stone houses that would perfectly fit European suburban areas instead of 20+ story living complexes combined with wood/corrugated iron cabins. Additionally, the people were really nice without the “annoying salesman”-mentality “mister, come here! original, I give you good price”.
After arriving and discovering the city at night, I did 3 dives around Gaya Island in the “Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park” and rented a camera. The water was slightly blurry so I couldn’t capture the turtle that swam by around 15m from us. The colors, especially of the delicate feathery plants and the nudibranchs were amazing and even crisper than in the pictures.
Later I met some people in the hostel and (after a heavy 3h rain) we had dinner at the night market and tried all kinds of new fruits like Jackfruits (they look like giant durians but taste way better! (they’re orange inside)), Rambutans (fluffy red balls), Mangosteens or Snakeskin fruits. On sunday, I visited the Orang Utan sanctuary at Shangri-La where they rehabilitate abandoned young Orang Utans. Since the Tour was kind of boring, I’m lucky the money at least serves a good purpose to preserve our gentle, hairy relatives.
Despite the vicinity of malaysia’s capital, I haven’t been there until now. Partly due to a lack of cheap and convenient flights, partly because It was deemed unworthy of a weekend trip by many expats who’d been there. Since some friends of mine wanted to go there anyway, we went along. After a very comfortable 6 hour bus ride (3 seats per row, massage-function, legspace…) including the annoying procedure at the borders (we europeans should be soo glad we have ‘Schengen’) we arrived in the middle of the night. The next day we visited the Batu caves which turned out to be a lot less spectacular as described – mainly due to a lack of a proper temple for which it was used in the past. The dark cave on the other hand was filled with life (mainly bats and snails). After seeing the Petronas towers and a few shopping malls, we were confident that 36h was actually enough to get a good impression since the city is pretty similar to parts of singapore. We might’ve been more impressed if KL was our first big city after backpacking though more rural areas.
While showing singapore to my visitors, I could snap another few pictures from the best sights.
I used my last two days of leave to spend a weekend on the paradise island of Kho Phi Phi, Thailand, with my friends from Aachen. After a shaky ferry-ride we found an accomodation far from the town in a forest by the beach. Despite the numberous mosquitos, the bamboo huts were an amazing accomodation and we used our days to enjoy diving, thai food and discovering the island.
When I first talked to a german who’d been to singapore for an internship before, he said “you’ll be spending every weekend in Rawa!”. It took me quite long to finally get there on me 17th weekend ;). The organisation was a little complicated for our group of 15 and the prebooked transport didn’t work smoothly either. After almost 2 hours,the minibus and the cab were finally both at the pickup location. Going through singaporean and malaysian customs took some time as well before our late-night arrival at Mersing where we boarded the speedboat to the island-paradise. Rawa, private property of the scheich of johor, is located southwest of Tioman island and houses 2 resorts next to the pier which is equipped with 2 waterslides. We stayed at Alang’s Rawa for 2 nights, enjoyed the food buffets, the rental kajaks and the beautiful scenery. Of course we didn’t miss out to play flunkyball and party at night. The “Let’s build a sand-car. Are you in?”-“sure!” conversation made us spend almost 3 hours digging sand and reconfiguring the shape :D. Unfortunately the weather shortened our beach time a little but thanks to a bunch of awesome people I’ve met in Singapore, we had a great weekend!
Besides getting my advanced open water diver certificate and some further diving in Bali, I also toured around the island for 1 day, hiked the volcano at night and spend an afternoon enjoying the waves at Kuta beach.
Unfortunately the hike to the volcano wasn’t rewarded – as I expected – with the view of a beautiful sunrise. After starting the trip with 200 stairs to a temple located at 950m at 3.00 a.m., My guide and me hiked through the steep RAINforest. The high humidity and fog filled the air with water and the additional wind resulted in a blistering cold which I neither expected nor was prepared to encounter. No jacket could have possibly withstood this madness for 3 hours anyway as the other freezing figures in perfect waterproof outdoor gear on the mountaintop assured me. 😀 After googling some details, it turned out the 1600m hike from 1300m to 2900m which was told to me, was a slight underestimation. The parking lot below the temple is located at around 900m while the mountaintop rises to 3142m, resulting in 2242m of steep forest or rocky paths and climbing with a headlight in the dark. The clouds and fog didn’t allow for any good pictures 🙁 but 2200m in 3h is quite an achievement :).
I tried to capture the vast rice-fields (from a driving car) and impressive temples as well as the waves at kuta beach, but see for yourself:
After getting to singapore I was eager to finally have a chance to dive. To see the wonderful world below the surface. After my open water diver in Tioman Island where I caught a first glimpse of the hidden beauty while focussing on all necessary techniques and procedures, I went to Bali last weekend. The padi advanced open water diver course is an accumulation of mainly fun-dives with some additional skills and Bali’s east coast offeres interesting dive-sites. After looking through the vast amount of diving schools, I decided to join the Tulamben wreck divers for a few days. During 4.5 out of 7 dives I rented a camera and tried my luck with color distortion, parallax (floating particles that reflect any flash coming from the same direction as the camera – e.g. built in flash), little light and quick moving objects while floating by myself. Underwater photography requieres a lot of skills and perfect buoyancy – especially with a compact camera without external flash or light. (The underwater casing for my nex 5 is as expensive as the camera itself 🙁 ). Thanks to my diving instructor I had a great time and some of the pictures turned out ok, allowing you to take a glimpse at the amazing habitat between -30 and 0m. [I met a turtleee! 🙂 ]
The wreck of USAT Liberty, a US cargo ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942, then towed to the beach and unloaded. A vulcanic eruption in 1963 made it slip into the water. It lies at 3-30m depth and has become a very famous diving site in Bali.