Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Pulau Hantu, Singapore (25th May 2013)

It's been a long time since I've dived in Singapore waters. The last time was while helping a friend in his dive company, more than a decade ago, when I was still a secondary school student. It's one of the few places you can dive in Singapore waters though most definitely not on the wishlists of any avid divers in the world. One of the main reasons would be visibility. If you're lucky, visibility might be 4-5 meters. On a bad day, you might not even be able to see your hands clearly if you'd extended your arms out. Diving in Singapore waters, if you want to see anything at all, requires some planning. Checking the tide tables to ensure minimal current is imperative. There are a few groups who dive regularly. Alternatively, you could simply charter your own boat and arrange rental equipment. I was fortunate to be invited to join a private charter. As I already had my own equipment, the total cost was a fraction compared to going on a weekend trip in Malaysia ( P. Tioman, P. Aur or P. Dayang). We just split the cost of the boat charter and paid for our individual equipment requirements. Despite the poor visibility and its small size, Singapore does have a biologically diverse reef system.

After meeting bright and early at a jetty on the west coast of Singapore, we headed out on our chartered boat towards P. Hantu, approximately 45 mins sailing time away. We would have 2 dives over the course of half a day. During this trip visibility wasn't at its optimum in fact during the first dive, where i was in a group of 3, we kept lost our 3rd person twice. After descending to the bottom, we decided on a heading and set of, upon turning back after less than 10m, the third diver was gone. We circled for 2-3 mins then ascended. Found the 3rd person on the surface and descended together again only to have the scenario repeat itself.

Most of the photography which would be carried out would be macro as the poor visibility prevents any decent shots to be taken at a distance. Out of the many shots I took, only 2 seemed worth sharing!

Blue-lined flatworm (Pseudoceros sp.)

Nudibranch (Glossodoris atromarginata)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Difficulty writing

I'd always assumed that with the thousands of photos i'd accumulated, it'd be simple to just do a short write up and just upload the photos. It really is a lot more difficult than that though. Right now I've got 3 posts in draft state still. My 2nd part of the Asean family rally, the 2nd leg of my trip to india up to Leh as well as the Vietnam trip which I came back from this April ( probably will be more than a single post too). 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Mumbai, India (1-3 June 2013)

Filler post. Not much text, just photos. Took this trip on the spur of the moment and really paid a premium on it. My flight to Mumbai on SQ was SGD1.3K and my domestic flight on Go-Air from Mumbai to Ladakh was another 1.3K.

This was a trip which i had not intended to go on. I'd been asked by Elizabeth a couple of months back but had declined. Sometimes the need to escape from ugly things drive you to do financially silly things like buying tickets 2 days before flying. Anyway the trip was planned  from the 3rd til the 9th of June. Since I was in a silly mood, I agreed to go and decided that I should spend a few days in Mumbai as well. Liz had kindly agreed to let me stay in her spare room at her apartment. As the first of June was a Saturday as well, I'd also have someone to show me around the streets of Mumbai!

Day 1: Mumbai ( Gateway, Bazaar, Victoria Terminus)

Day 2: Elephanta caves. Ferry took a while so it was pretty much a whole day trip. I was reminded of Petra (Jordan) which I had visited the same year. Just much hotter and more humid as well. Ended the day with some of the local sweets and of course a kingfisher beer!

Day 3: Not much photos at all as it was raining the whole day and all I did was walk out to the nearby mall for Macdonalds :( The same night we head to Ladakh too! I was on a different flight from the other folks though, but we'd all be transiting in Delhi and taking the same plane from Delhi to Leh Airport.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Asean Family rally 2009 Part 1 (Travelling from Singapore through Malaysia to Thailand)

I had the opportunity to tag along with a group from SMSA (Singapore Motor Sport Association). This was part of the ASEAN Family Rally in conjunction with the ASEAN summit held in Thailand. Our Singapore contingent would set off on the 28th of February for Hatyai and return back to Singapore on the 6th. Basically, it was a 900+ km drive to be able to take part in a 400+km drive, then another 900+ km back to SG. All Photos taken from Bingo's camera as I did not have a camera then and almost all of my photos taken with my phone were kind of blurry.
Breifing before event
So bright and early before the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, we met up for a short safety brief before heading to Penang.
The three Porsche cars lined up outside our hotel in Penang.
Despite not driving at all,I did have the fortune to be a passenger in one of three Porsche cars which were part of the Singapore convoy.
Group shot

Being typical Singaporeans, we had to take a group photograph before starting the second leg of our journey which would take us from Penang, through the Malaysia-Thailand border, and into Hatyai. 

Uniquely Singapore!
Our "Uniquely Singapore" tops were kindly provided by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) since this was a sort diplomatic trip. Helped that an ex chairman of STB was also along for the trip ;)

Local politician welcoming us into Thailand
Finally at noon, we reached the Malaysia-Thailand border. In addition to having a welcoming party at the border, one of the benefits was that we got to "fast track" through Thai customs as we were on a "diplomatic mission". So no lengthy wait and vehicle inspection!

Dancers in traditional attire

There was much fanfare when we arrived, with a dance troupe putting up a performance for us. I imagine it was a bit of an annoyance for the normal crowd that crossed the borders as there was a section of immigration blocked off.

Unexpected welcome
Photos together with the dance troupe

Banner welcoming participants at the Malaysia-Thailand border

Local police leading the way
After crossing the border, with a police escort guiding us, we headed for our hotel where we would have a briefing before the actual day

No more photographs from the afternoon today as I'd split up from the rest to walk around town on my own. There was however a dinner organised for all participants which also included a fireworks display!

Exchange of gifts between the Guest of Honor and our SG contingent leader
Different countries contingent representatives
Fireworks 1

Fireworks 2
Closing performance

Closing performance

Hopefully the blog post for the next part of the trip doesn't take me as long to write as this one!