Thursday, May 16, 2013

Flashback in Stills

Used to have this traditional of selecting representative photos and collating a montage for each personal travel trips I've been to, starting from 2005.  Still do and the photo count is now up to 30.  Only trips OUT OF SINGAPORE counts, so sentosa or sister island or Ubin I'm sorry.  It's not easy selecting the best photos out of a bunch of fantabulous ones and takes time and effort.

Used to, once long time ago, post an annual update of the montages for the past year on my blog.  Then I got sloppy, as I do always once in a while.  I promise I shall try to live up to the expectation and tradition.  I can't really go back too far in time now, but I'll start with 2012.  Better late than never.  There were many firsts in 2012.  Once again only personal vacation trips included, which means trips out of my weekends on business trips would not turn into my photo montage collection (that would be too much work!)

The year started with a bang which was my first ever Skication in Japan!  Whatever led me to agree to skiing?  Beats me.  Especially when you are looking and talking to an ultimate beach babe.

First Ski-perience in Japan

Then it cumulated to a FUNtastic trip across Sabah where I finally, after years of telling myself, scaled to the top of Mt Kinabalu!  All without prior training!
Where I finally conquered Mt Kinabalu

Then once again, I seek solace and fun and a reflection on my year end trip (which kinda has become a ritual for the past 5 years).  Had a fantastic time getting high and drunk on NYE.
Epic year end trip to end a tumultous year
I hope 2013 brings about a new flash of light in my life.  So far I have 2 GREAT montages.  Sitting here writing this, my mind is racing through a jumble of thoughts about what MAY lay ahead of me.  HeHeHe... It may potentially be LEGEN...wait for it...DARY! High 5! Self High 5!  Or it may just be.............

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eat, Pray, Love

Ever watched or read the movie/book? Neither have I. But I guess the gitsh of it is Julia Roberts went in search of herself in Bali, Eat, Pray and Love. End of story. Simple as that. We've seen it in movies read in books but they are called movies and Fiction for a reason. Julia Roberts is one in a trillion. Now I've done the Eat and Pray to death, been to the City of Love, City of Lights, City that never sleeps, Land of Smiles, Land of thousand Islands, Land of Dreams, Conquered Mountains and kissed a sea turtle! Where's the love? Once, not too long ago, I thought I finally had it but he broke my heart, I was naive and stupid, and I spiralled into my own world of sorrow and tears for months, no one knew not even him. But I managed to snap out of it and close for renovation. Till someone comes to complete the job. Hopefully.

I seem to have delved into an early onset of mid-life crisis, going through my bucket list and looking at where I'm heading, where I want to be. My friends have always said I'm too adventurous, travelling to too exotic a place. Exotic is a relative word. Bali is exotic to someone who's never been to Asia. I've never been but heck, maybe Bali is the answer!Yea, just have to seriously psyche myself up to pack my bags and get my ass over to Bali... Adventurous? Neh, I just live in a slightly more conservative country. I like to say I've experienced life. My body has indeed been bruised and battered all too many times but I never give up do I? Come on, review the list of things I've done/ experienced in life:

The Bummer
Health scare - checked
Excruciating pain - checked
Busted knees - checked
Broken toe - checked
Twisted ankle - checked (thrice)
Chipped/bruised/no toenails - checked (too many times)
Got lost temporarily(on land and underwater) - checked
Thrown off a bicycle - checked (ok maybe I exaggerate, fallen off a bicycle on a slope)
Chased by barking dogs - checked

The Merry
I Flashed Koh Lipe/Sipadan/Koh Tao/Bajawa - checked
Mooned the camera - checked
Emergency quick ascent from 14M underwater - checked
Got merrily drunk - checked
Half braided my short hair - checked
Swam with whalesharks - checked
Close encounter with Thresher sharks and Manta - checked
Won an arm wrestling contest with a BIG GUY - checked
Dolphins swimming nearby - checked
Serenaded privately by a local - Frank owes me that!!! I fully intend to cash in the promise

Which brings me to my uncompleted 100th dive - not forgotten and Yes I'll do it naked like a diver! 2 months ago, I told myself I'm never gonna hit 100 dives this year when I was at the 86th mark. Then I went to do 20 in Komodo. Goes to show never say never! I've learnt my lesson :) 7 yrs ago I would have never thought I would dive so much! My buddies have all but waved the white flag while my passion only slowly burned and grew. Once I was a novice diver who went with 3kg knowing 2 was all I need, then one day a diving epiphany occured and I KNEW knew diving, enjoyed the tranquility of being deep down. There really is a truth in 'nothing matters when you are deep in enjoyment and passion'. I totally didn't feel the fresh wounds on my legs when I dive! I question myself - should I take one step further and get myself DM certified? Somehow I don't think I trust myself to guide. Would you? I pride myself in being good with directions. Proven on land. But underwater is a different world. What kinda DM would I be? Get excited about the big school of fish and abandon my divers to play with it! Haha take that! Then again, my divers would have the comfort of knowing that their DM doesn't really run the risk of being low on air!

Anyway what was my point? I think I'm too lost in my new environment, therefore my mind wanders and ponders about anything and everything.  Once again, the Nth time, I'm asking myself Who What Where When. Every now and then I find myself in this predicament. Especially so when I'm experiencing a change in my life or when I'm going through a whole lot of shit in my life. Everyone has their own shit, no one's shit is shittier than the other, me included. And Murphy's law always never fails to come true when the 1st load of shit happens.  So I googled the opposite of Murphy's law - Yhprum's Law - Everything that can work, will work.  Hmm doesn't exactly mirror Murphy's (it should be Everything that can't go wrong, wouldn't go wrong)  Cos if WRONG can work, then it will work, hence fulfilling both Yhprum's Law AND Murphy's Law right?

My lower back still hurts. Sucks
My legs are still scar infested. Sucks

So I'm not making a whole lot story in this post, more like random thoughts floating through my mind right now. This new environment is not exactly agreeing with me now. Normally it doesn't take me long to swim with new change, new people. IF I put myself into it.  That is when it gets me thinking - Have I once again made a mistake? SO tired of putting myself in situations where I do not feel like I've gained an advantage or be in a better position than before.  I was afraid of this when I decided on this.  Questioning myself "Did i make the right move", "Would I regret it", "I'm scared it's going to be wrong or worse".  And now it makes me rethink back to those questions and I'm really afraid that my answer would be YES.  And then I would go on a solo vacation again and say to myself - Why am I going back to work?

Why did I agree to put myself into the torture of commuting 1.5H to work and 1.5H from work everyday? 

I should stop updating my blog so frequently by ramblings.  It's a blog, not a diary :)

I miss the star-lit skies of Labuan.  I miss arak cos I only had a tiny sip of it!

It's still only the middle of the week.  Hang in there buddies... Long weekend next week!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coral Gone Dry

Coral has gone dry! How long will it survive without the moisture of the ocean water? Wouldn't you like to know!  I'd like to know too.  Counting back, been submerged about 42 times the past 4 months.  How active was Coral!!  Time to consider Operation Rescue Diver.

BTW, Coral aka Moi is now the name of the blog.  I figured after so many years, maybe it's time for a change.  Essentially, it is still my name, albeit a translated version of my chinese name.  Funny how I never thought my chinese name meant anything until people started asking what it means and I just figured - Split the words and translate them!  Of course, you have thousands of characters in the Chinese Language that it is not easy to exactly match each word to a meaning but my Chinese name 典珊, when broken down can mean 字典的典,珊瑚的珊(i.e. part of the word that forms dictionary and part of the word that forms corals)。That's how I came up with Dictionary of Corals.  Coincidentally, my surname has the same sound as FISH in Mandarin.  So how apt it is that my name can literally mean Dictionary of Corals and Fish (beautiful and colourful corals and fish I may add).  Of course, I can tell you the Korean meaning of my name Yeo Jeon Sun - Which means Female Warrior.  Imagine the Female Warrior of the Dictionary of Corals and Fish.  I feel like a mystical creature now.
So back to life.  Coral has gone dry for 1 week now.  The last time Coral went dry, she survived for 1.5months before immersing herself again, and after that another 2 months past before she iched for the sea again.  Matter of coincidence or convenience? Maybe a bit of both.  Now donning the business attire with my heels and projecting a professional demeanour needs some getting used to.  Especially for a so-called unconventional auditor that is Coral.  How's things at the new environment? Not sure.  A little disappointed at some stuff but also nervous and excited about the complexity that follows.  Would my disappointment outweigh my excitement? Only time will tell.  
Somehow, my heart is taking a long long time to get down to business.  In the past, holiday withdrawal syndrome only lasts a flicker of an eye blink.  Now it gets harder and harder to swallow.  Why do I still dream and think about mingling with sea turtles, trevalis and Manta Ray when I'm typing away on my computer?  If there's a job to audit the underwater sea life, I'll be the first in line!
Coral: Hey sea turtle, you are not following protoccol! Underwater manual says that you don't give a fuck and you should just lazily swim around, not scurrying away!  I give you a RED!
Sea Turtle: Management oversight Coral.  We will immediately implement your recommendation.  You will see the next time you do a follow up audit that we will comply.
How fun would that be!
Now, my coral orientation marks have kinda peeled off 90%.  Still have a few painful blots that can't be peeled off but soon.  Now it's time for OPERATION VANITY PROJECT.  Despite the fact that I like roughing it out, I also like the fact that I maintain smooth flawless skin and legs that make people green with envy!  Call me vain or sissy, I don't care! I can endure the pain but I wouldn't endure the ugly scars that remain.  So Vitamin E and Aloe Oil are my friends for now. 
On another note, I hurt my lower back when I was in Labuan.  I figured I probably hurt it when I dived into the water.  But who knows.  Things happen to me when I have no idea how, and when the pain starts or bruises show, I then realize I had done something or something happened.  And this is killing me!  Not the pain, the pain I can bear.  I didn't even blink my eyes when corals started chasing me and left their marks on me.  But this lower back thing is really irritating me much.  Makes me unable to perform in my yoga class when I KNOW for a fact that I always ace those poses.  Crunching my face and taking deep breathes, I tried and tried to bend greater than the current 30 degrees to reach my optimal but the pain shoots me up.  And it kills me deep that I can't do it anymore.  Damn you back!  Maybe I shouldn't have gone back to Yoga knowing for a fact that my lower back hurts, but me being me, I don't give up and obviously I didn't let a tiny ache stop me.  But probably I should now.  Think my yoga teacher unknowingly tried to contort me further and I almost screamed.  So I guess no yoga for me tomorrow, but I'll definitely go for a swim.  Can't just sit and be an invalid.  Hopefully I can be well again for next week.
Funny how the 1.5H daily commute each way to office is not as "fun" as the 2H ride to the dive sites.  "Your 1st dive site will be a 2H boat ride away" Okie Dokie, not a problem! 1.5H on the train, well ok I'll take it.  I know, I signed up for it knowing it would be like this.  So I've gotta man up and accept it.  Still, who knows?!?!  Everyone has a breaking point.  I broke mine a couple of times before at different stages of my life.  Who is to say when it will break again this time.

Ah another milestone.  My photo montages have hit 30 pieces!  Beginning from 2005 till date, excluding business trips.  Nice!
Coral needs to get it's edges realigned again now.  Cross fingers and hope this monthly realignment will come to an end soon and Coral can shine bright and pretty!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Diving at Labuan Bajo

Why dive at Komodo? Because of the diversity of the underwater life!  Big fish, small fish, beautiful corals and of course Manta Rays! Why the diversity? Current baby, current! Big fish and Mantas LOVE currents, so with current means great sightings!  Of course you have gotta know what you are doing when diving with current.  It can be fun, it can be tough, it can be dangerous.  You can be superman, wonderwoman, astroboy swimming with current, or you can tumble with it.
So knowing I have a bad history with current, and I must say still a slight phobia of current, I still chose to dive in Komodo because you only live once, why not do the things you want to and like to and know will enjoy?! And I mean Manta Rays! How can I say no to that!

Also as I mentioned in an earlier post, why I chose to come to Komodo to dive was purely based on a conversation I had with a fellow diver, who happened to be a dive master in Komodo for several months, when I was diving in Philippines.  So on his word, I decided this is the place I have to go to for diving!
Researching dive shops online spawned only a few choices and I thought I had decided on Dive Komodo as my go-to dive shop but only to find out that 2 dives a day was what they were going to offer.  Lady luck has to, I chanced upon which was just beside my hotel who offers 3 dives a day!  Hey if I were going to make the 2H boat trip out, might as well squeeze in 1 more dive! Immediately I signed up for a 3D dive package (discounted to IDR2.9M for 9 dives).  Of course, you have to pay for the Marine park fee (IDR20K) and diving pass (IDR75K) valid for 3 days each time.
As luck has it, the 1st day of diving was just me, Ivana (Polish) and our dive master! Woohoo! I love small intimate dive groups.  As Indonesia has it, we were told to meet at 7am but of course, it never happens on time!  Indonesia time baby! We boat through great scenery and I was already psyched up!  Alex was on boat with us, as was Hugo who had a student with him.  On day 1, we saw 2 Manta - 1 at Batu Bolong, 1 at Manta Point!!! Good start! And I knew I was up for more great things to come!
Onboard Lintas Batas
Day 2 introduced 3 Danish guys who were kinda a nightmare for Theo (DM).  They dived with us for 2 days. We were in a group heading out, and as Advanced divers, they didn't have much experience under their belts but loved to wander around themselves and kinda didn't listen much to instructions.  Plus being bad with air consumption, it was a mess.  With current, they just froze up and almost stalled the dive.  One guy even forgot to open the valve all the way, causing it to shut halfway through the dive and he went out of air!  Of course, only to realize it was his own fault when we surfaced and checked the equipment!  Great job guys! So they kinda fucked up my dive time too... Well things happen and you just gotta suck it up and go with the flow..

During one of the dives, with wonderfully strong current that we were basically just flying across, one guy got lost cos he refused to let go of the rock while the rest of us drifted through.  Well his buddy didn't realize he was lost until we realized we lost 1 guy.  Cancelled dive and basically fought our way up a little too fast to surface.  Suffered a mild headache for a bit but ocean breeze and seawater cured me in no time!
Of cos, more drama ensured the next day.  I thought I would stop at 3 days of diving, but sorry to say, the underwater world is too alluring to me, and tends to seduce me back for more!  So went for more diving.  And not to mention it was Theo's (my dive master) birthday.  You would have thought it would be a good day.  But that day started with no fuel and me fighting against the sleeping monster to stay awake, then when we had fuel, then the boat broke down halfway to the dive site.  So we ended up changing the dive sites and waiting for our rescue boat which took forever to come!  And when it did, we finally understood why it took forever to arrive.  In the end most of the divers abandoned the 2nd dive, and only me, Melanie, Hugo and Theo went ahead with the 2nd dive with the rescue boat which was super duper SLOW..... Still we had a great time diving with a bit of current.  But all was good when we drowned ourselves in ARAK and Vodka and beer at night in celebration of the birthday boy's birth day...
Me Me Me

And of cos, I had to dive the sites I did not dive so I went back for more and glad I did!  This time, a small group again and had 3 great dives!  The 3rd dive was only me and my DM and it was soo fun!  We had an intimate session with a lazy sea turtle, playing with it, feeding it and sayanging it.  Totally cool! And did I mention that dive master Theo has a crazy obsession with sea turtles.  Yah, he goes crazy when one appears.
Me with cute sea turtle

Dive master who would love to kiss a sea turtle
And the rest of my time in Labuan was of course spent out in sea and underwater.  In total, I probably did like 20 dives there, visiting sites from Batu Bolong, Castle Rock, Crystal Rock, Golden Passage, Sebayur Kecil, Tatawa Kecil, Tatawa Besar, Siabo Kecil etc etc.  Maybe almost everything that could be done on a day trip dive boat.  Oh Well, dive like you would never come back again, so might as well hit all and miss nothing! 

The last day of diving was the highlight!  Great 2 dives, and the 2nd dive - Manta Orgy! Haha, we saw Manta after Manta after Manta!  Soooooo coool!! If I could shout underwater, you would hear my scream of joy miles away... And with 3 cameras underwater at that time, it was like National geographic in motion! Manta - Camera lights action! Manta - Camera Lights Action!

Manta Manta Manta
Didn't start out this way but I ended up spending 7 out of 8 days diving in Labuan.  I had meticulously (ok not really but it was in my mind) planned 8 days in LBJ to do the following - Visit to Sano Crater Lake, 1 day Cunca Wulang, 3 days diving, 1 day komodo adventure, maybe 2D1N on Sebaya Island.  But in the end, it was Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.  Only did Cunca Wulang and half day Komodo adventure and the rest was embracing the marine life of Komodo National Park!  I was a fish in the water!  Even my name is kinda  synonymous with the underwater world - Dictionary of Corals and Fish (well the sound of my surname)  Haha, I was diving so much with them that I almost became part of the staff of the shop.  These people were so generous, helpful and fun and easy to dive and work and talk with! Totally enjoyed my time there.  Special Thanks to you guys - Theo (my favourite DM, I've gota say that, who took me diving and showed me a great time), Hugo (who kinda just provide comic relief and tends to purposely irritates me but I guess I'm too "cute" to resist NOT to irritate me. But who is a really good instructor, knowledgeable), Alex (calm cool relaxed guy who likes to get drunk a lot haha) and all other divers who were there!

On a separate note, We kinda never left the dive shop on time, different shit happens on different day - no fuel, missing this missing that, lunch not ready, captain not ready, no boat boys etc etc.  As a diver, I never like that!  Yes, sometimes you don't leave on on time but not like 1-2H late or not having fuel for your boat.  That's not supposed to happen when you run a fucking dive shop that supposedly to be in operation for like 1 year!  Was I angry?  Yes, I didn't like it, but I like diving and I did have a great time diving because of the great companions on board.  Would I have left the shop?  Yes I definitely would have said "I've had enough with all this shit" but the great guys are really great 'guides' and friends who made the diving enjoyable and all those mess kinda tolerable.  If I had a shitty DM, I would have said Adios the next day.  I don't know about the other divers who suffered these shit, but I know I don't like it when you don't manage your boat and equipment properly to ensure that the dive will go smoothly.  You can blame anything else but I guess ultimately the shop has to take responsibility.  But in Indonesia, it seems nobody wants to bear that.  So that's that! 

Would I recommend the shop?  I would for the fact that they seem to be the only one who for sure offers 3 dives a day.  If you don't care about doing 2 or 3 dives, then maybe go with another dive shop with less trouble.  I would recommend the shop for the people I dived with - Theo, Hugo and Alex.  But they are not necessarily permanent staff.  Being half family, I know the shit that is going on behind the scene, but discounting that fact, the shop seems reasonable.  So I guess it's still up to you :)  If only more shops offer 3 dives a day, the options would be wide open!

It's never a boring day in Labuan Bajo!  8 days and I wasn't bored a single day.  It was so entertaining how different day brings about a different set of problems. And of course many laughs and fun.
A self made video of my diventure in Komodo.  Enjoy!

Not to mention, I passed my 100th dive in Komodo. Though I never did my 100th dive (in the diver's world, the 100th dive is meant to be a naked dive)  So i'll keep that 100th dive for future when the water is a lot warmer.  Yea we've got warm waters sometimes but just when I thought maybe I could do the naked dive this time (with no other divers around), we go dive in waters of 26 degrees (Yes Hugo, we are sissy divers so what!).  Damn!  But I'll keep my hopes high up for future :).  I keep to the Divers' Motto.

Adventures in Flores, Indonesia - Land based blog

You guys must be wondering - What? Another vacation? Does she ever work? The answer is - Yes, another vacation, and yes I do work! But you work hard, you play hard! And because I just quit my last job, I had 2 weeks free time, and being me, I can't just sit still and stay at home for 2 weeks! That's fucking 14 days! So I ran through my head, packed my bags and headed off for another adventure and finding the meaning of life before I start my new job!  That's life :)
So then you may ask - Flores? Huh? Where's that or why there?  Haha, the answer is simple yet interesting.  It traces back to a dive master's suggestion back when I was travelling in Philippines in Feb this year.  He started talking about working in Labuan as a DM for a bit and how the diving there is fantastic, and the name kinda stuck in my head for a bit.  So when I knew I had 2 weeks free time to plan, i ran through my head for ideas - usual suspect like Vietnam, Thailand crossed my mind too but Flores kinda stuck cos of the diving!  How can you measure Manta Ray against the mountains of Vietnam? So then roughly 2 weeks before I start my 2weeks break, I decided to plan my Flores trip, with the main highlight of diving in Komodo.  The ease of solo travelling - everything can be done last minute!   So basically, if I had not gone to Philippines in Feb, I wouldn't have thought of going to Flores.  That's how life works :)  Yes, I'm easily influenced.  Just hit me with the idea of paradise, fantastic diving and adventure and I'm up for it!
With what little information I got from the Internet, I decided on travelling East to West Flores, stopping for a long break in Labuan Bajo to end my vacation on a high.  Sights along the way are - Ende, Moni, Kelimutu, Bajawa and finally Labuan Bajo.  It was easy enough, just that the travelling sucks.
Bracing myself for potential flight delays, I was pleasantly surprised that my flight from Bali to Ende was only delayed by 20minutes! Yeah! Interestingly, the domestic flight from Bali to Flores is not exactly cheap considering it's less than 3H and an international flight from Singapore to Bali is not much more expensive.  I got my ticket till the very last minute and cost me more than S$150 to fly Bali to Ende (2.5H), which sucks.
Flight was smooth, no remininsce of the disaster that happened a few days before I flew (when LionAir crash landed in Bali airport).  Once I arrived in Ende, I zoomed in on my ultimate destination Moni.  Of cos I had to pay a premium to get a car to drive me to Moni since buses stop mid-day.  So I paid IDR250K for the 2H comfortable ride to Moni, arriving at around 7pm.  Immediately checked into Bintan Bungalow for a discounted price of IDR100K (include breakfast) since I was a single person (discounted from IDR150K).  After a so-so dinner, pop to sleep for an early morning to Kelimutu.  May I just add that it is COLD in Moni because we are at an altitude.  So pack for the cold!
To see the sunrise, I left at 430am with a motorbike (IDR70K return) that took 45mins to reach.  The journey there was freezing cold (luckily I had jacket) but the star-filled skies brightened up my day!  It was really amazing!  Once there, had to pay for entrance and camera fee, then followed by a 30min hike up to the top.  Reached just in time for the amazing sunrise behind the crater lake and saw the lake changed to turqoise.  So beautiful.  Stayed for a fair bit just absorbing the beauty of the place before heading back to Moni and preparing for another journey to Bajawa.
It was cold up there at 6am in the morning.  The lake is changing colour!
Two lakes, two different colours
Luckily, a driver was heading the same way so 2 other tourists took the ride to Bajawa, paying IDR100K (about the same as the public bus), enjoying a more comfortable ride (6H), stopping along the way at Black sand beach, blue stone beach.  Seriously, these are just names, and the beaches really aren't anything to shout about.  Plus, there was a terrible smell to them.
Black sand beach in Ende

Blue Ston beach in Ende.  Apparently people sell these stones in Labuan and Bali!
Bajawa is really a small, sleepy town.  We reached around 2pm, and there wasn't much going on in town.  Checked into Korina hotel for IDR120K (includes breakfast and WIFI Yea finally internet!).  It is a very basic budget hotel, but I got a comfy enough room with double bed.  However my sink was leaking so I got a shocked in the morning to find all my bags soaked.  THe breakfast is nothing to shout about and rather looked unappetising.

Went for a walk around the local market which only operates during the day and that was about it to do in Bajawa town.  Met up with my guide for the next day and talked about our itinerary for the next day.  I was too tired to venture out (having woken up at 4am), so decided to take a nap.  Interesting story about my guide. I had contacted Marcelino (recommended by travellers from Lonely Planet), but he got sick and sent his brother Arnold instead.  Then the night before, Arnold told me he couldn't make it the next day as he had to attend to something, so sent his best friend Malkiol instead. So that was how I ended up with funny Malkiol the next day.  Bajawa is still a little chilly at night, and bathing in freezing cold water made me cuss and swear each time I pour a bucket of water over me.
Sleepy town of Bajawa
Next day started at 730am, and off we went biking to Wawumudha crater lake.  Took us 45minutes then a 1H hike up to view the craters.  Not as impressive as Kelimutu but still great views up top!  Then it was off to visit 2 villages - Lupa and Bena villages.  They were both nestled in the mountains with amazing backdrop.  In the village, women are the king and property owners.  Men get married and move into live with the women.  These women are tough! and they love to chew beetlenut, those things that make your mouth and teeth look all reddish.

The ride up the mountains along the way will show you the beauty of Flores, with mountains, volcanoes and greenery greeting your eyes.  Interesting fact - NO rice fields in Bajawa cos the soil and conditions are not suitable.  People in Bajawa consider corn to be their staple food but of course now gradually becoming RICE.
Hiking up Wawumudha with my guide Malkiol

Yellowish crater lakes

Mount Ineri
Lupa village

View at Bena village

I couldn't resist NOT doing this.  Missed it the last time I was in Philippines

After the villages, we went for hot spring!  We soaked in the stream where freezing cold water meets boiling hot water and the warmth was soothing! You get occassional blasts of freezing cold, then the warmth hits back at you.  A refreshing depart from the cold showers I've been having.  By the time we got back to the hotel, it was late afternoon and I was beat.  Bade farewell to Malkiol and went for a nappy.  Malkiol was a cool and funny guy and also very knowledgeable!  Good grasp of english too!  I would highly recommend him.  And in his 3 years of guiding, I"m only 1 of 2 Singaporean he has ever met!  How Cool! If not for the next morning early ride to Labuan, I would have accepted his offer of an arak night, but alas 630am awaits me...

The next day started at 6am, waited and waited till 7am before the bus came.  We all operate on Indonesian time here! Then 15mins into the ride, we stopped at the edge of Bajawa town for god knows what, until 8am before we moved off.  Maybe the driver decided to have his breakfast? No idea! 3H into the ride, stopped for the only break of the entire 10H journey (IDR120K).  Then it was all go and no break, except for passengers to board and alight.  10H on a bumpy mountainous windy road on hard, rim-rod straight seats is not exactly comfortable.  Sleep came and went, dozing off here and there before being awaken by a bump on the head.  The scenery along the way was amazing though!  And finally, when night falls, Labuan Bajo was in sight!  Off at Gardena Hotel and checked in for IDR120K (discounted for single).  The room was amazing though!  1 double bed and 1 single bed, good enough for 3! But that was all me baby for 9 nights!  Breakfast included, but no WIFI and cold shower.
My nice hotel room in Labuan Bajo with Mozzie Net!

Met 2 Dutch boys who provided me with the entertainment for the night (together with 2 other girls from the same hotel) and also the night after.  Of cos, the 1st thing I did was check out the dive shops and booked myself for my dive adventure with DiversParadiseKomodo, just beside the hotel!  More on the dive adventure in a separate blog dudes! I'm keeping this blog DRY! Which kinda means not much going on in Labuan to do with DRYNESS.
(from Left) Hugo (Instructor), Gregor (OW diver), Alex (works at dive shop) and Theo (my dive master) at Local fish market

Pre-birthday party @ Paradise where I was challenged to arm wrestling. I won by the way
Anyways, praise myself for my great timing, but my visit coincided with my favourite dive master's birthday so that means PARTY!!! And I love a great party!  We had a pre-party the night before, and an actual day party on the night itself!  And can we say WASTED!!  Literally everyone got wasted, especially our birthday boy who was so inebriated not long after arriving at Paradise!  Face flushed red, and started dancing and kissing everyone and anyone.  But it was a fun fun night with my dearest friends in Labuan Bajo.  Of course, you pay for the drunkness the next day, waking up feeling like you're on the boat when you are not!
Party has begun, alcohol kept flowing!

Next day, finally after a few days of diving, I embarked on land activity in Labuan Bajo.  Thanks to my personal bike driver, Theo (who also happens to be my dive master Hah), I was able to visit Cunca Wulang.  Wouldn't be able to do so as I don't know how to bike and yeah you need to bike to visit that place.  1H bike through not so great road which kinda deteriorates even further.  Bring a cushion for your butt if you are not used to bumpy roads.  Then it was a roughly 30min hike to the waterfalls.  The waterfall was amazing!  And yes, I finally did cliff jumping, albeit after a few hesitating minutes.  Look, I don't have a fear of heights, but I just don't like to jump from heights.  It was not that high from where I jumped but still it was jumping from a height of more than 5M.  But I did it.  Attempted to swim to the bottom of the falls but the rapids were abit too strong for me to swim through.  And I still regret not being able to do it to this day!!!

Cunca Wulang!!!

On our bike back, got offered some coconuts from the local boys and chatted abit.  Well I didn't cos I don't speak Bahasa, but I listened in to Theo and their conversation and kinda figured my understanding through observation and intuition.  I must say I'm pretty good with that!  Had a good dinner at MadeInItaly, great food!  Then of cos, it was all back to diving again!

Finally on my last day in Labuan, I visited Rinca Island for the Komodo dragons.  I can't leave Labuan without seeing these creatures with my own eyes!  Went with the diving boat (did 2 dives + Rinca), so only had to pay for the Rinca Island fee of IDR50K + camera.  We went as a group of 4 so were charged for 2 cameras which we shared amongst us (IDR50K for each camera).  And IDR80K for guide to share.  Funnily, it was IDR50K before 1 May, and we went on 1 May when we were told 'Change in regulations, now IDR80K').  Great, just great!  Anyway we split amongst ourselves.  Saw a few dragons, happy happy.  They are big, but apparently those on Komodo island are 2x bigger!  Once they draw blood and their saliva mixed into your blood, you can die in 2 weeks unless you get the proper treatment.  We hiked up the mountain to view the sunset and the view was amazing!  Then it was off back to Labuan for a night cap to mark the end of my 2 weeks adventure.  I would say 1H is more than enough time to visit the dragons, cos they are just dragons laying on the ground. 

Komodo dragons sleeping...

The view was so amazing that I was jumping with joy!

What more do you want then to just see them and done that? For those tours selling more than 1H hike, there is really nothing much more to do than they taking you hiking up mountains and walking a bit longer. Also, since I'm a diver, the snorkelling trip that comes with the tour packages doesn't really entice me much. When I can get down and close to the marine life, snorkelling on the surface is for babies...

And that's all for land-based activity.  It was sad leaving the place after I have spent 8 days with those people and really enjoying myself there.  Days gone by without me realizing what day or date it was and that feeling was really what I've always looked forward to.  And I couldn't believe that 8 days just flew past and it was time for me to say GOOD BYE. 

My trip back home was smooth sailing, no flight delays and no mishaps.  Arrived 45mins @ Labuan Bajo airport for my flight (IDR10K for the passenger service fee) and the flight departed right on schedule.  Smooth sailing at Bali, paying IDR150K for passenger service fee again, and it was home sweet home! Back to hot showers which was the only thing I missed and craved for during my vacation. 

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Just back from yet another vacation.  3 vacations in the past 4 months, i guess you can say vacation overdose?  Goes to show I really needed to get away and refresh myself.  Yes, I really needed those vacation.  The past year has not been kind to me.  Thought it started great and promising but all things just went downhill and almost fucking killed me.  Glad I finally found the escape and those vacation really helped to calm me down and find my inner peace.  Kinda.

Now, back from a fucking awesome 2 weeks trip, of which I spent 7 days diving, looking deep into the faraway ocean line, starry starry skies, mountains and volcanoes, meeting people who breath a new splash of life into me, I feel refreshed and ready for the next challenge that awaits me.  Yes, it still is intimidating walking into a totally new environment, not knowing if the people will like you or if you will like the people, if the environment suits you and if you will gel.  But I guess, you don't know if you don't try!  Better fight for your own happiness than be trapped in a mountain of sorrow and unhappiness.
Maybe this will be my final destination in life? Maybe not really but who knows? I might go off and become a free soul, dancing with the ocean one fine day when I'm done with life! Like I always say I will do but never really did do. I just hope that the next chapter will be kind to me.  I've had enough of the shit.  I think I deserve better.
Will work on my Indonesia travel blog soon.  Stay tuned.