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As promised, here are some photos taken from our diving trip to Anilao last Junuary (post on accommodation). These pictures were taken from the first two days of diving.

For anyone who’s interested, these is my underwater set up:

  • Olympus EPL3
  • PT-EP05L underwater housing
  • Sea & Sea YS-01 strobes x 2
  • Inon UCL-165 M67 macro wet lens
  • Ikelite tray & i-Das arm system

ribbon eel, Sombrero, Anilao
blue ribbon eel, Sombrero

I did a total of 11 dives over 4 days. We visited a number of dive sites but also went back to a few that we really liked.

Anilao really has quite a lot to offer. On the surface it is quite an unassuming peninsula. There isn’t any great beach nor excellent landscape, but underwater it’s a very different story altogether.

clownfish in anemone, Sombrero
clownfish in anemone, Sombrero

While lacking bigger marine life such as turtles and sharks, Anilao is teeming with huge variety of smaller underwater creatures. You can always expect a big variety of fish, shrimps, crabs, cephalopods (octopus/cuttlefish/squid), searhorses and various types of nudibranches basically in every other dive.

juvenile cuttlefish wasn't very pleased
juvenile cuttlefish wasn’t very pleased

Underwater landscape at most of the dive sites aren’t spectacular either. Arthur’s Rock by the resort offers perhaps the best seascape with more hard corals and rock formations, while sites such as Basura is shallow with sandy and at some parts, grassy bottoms.

emperor shrimp
emperor shrimp

It is when you look closer that you’ll start to marvel at what Anilao has to offer. Hidden amongst the corals, rocks, or sea fan are tiny creatures such as emperor shrimps, transparent shrimps, and and nudibranches.

play time with an octopus in a half bottle
play time with an octopus in a half bottle

Here, even what looked like floating debris could turn out to be ghost pipefish and other creatures. We were lucky as our guide Richard was great in spotting these and pointed them to us.

an unsuspecting scorpionfish
an unsuspecting scorpionfish

One of the strangest creatures I saw was this (I’m assuming) algae octopus that went bipedal and started walking away on the sandy seafloor with two tentacles acting like legs. It was both weird, wonderful, and slightly scary, like something you’d see in a B-grade sci-fi. Luckily it was no bigger than a tennis ball.

algae octopus going bipedal
algae octopus going bipedal

As for diving condition, there is usually very little current underwater. Other than the sites involving pygmy seahorses (maybe on another photo set), dive sites are generally rather shallow, which meant relaxing dives.

the elusive ghost pipefish
the elusive ghost pipefish

The only little problem we had was that the temperature can get a little chilly (about 25-26 C), having thicker neoprene or extra hoods/gloves should solve this problem.

transparent shrimp
transparent shrimp

Now this is making me miss diving again. We have a trip scheduled this October, but lets see if there’s a way we sneak one in between.

nudibranch - Nembrotha kubaryana
nudibranch – Nembrotha kubaryana

Following last year’s positive experience at Lang Tengah, we made a returning visit to the same island again. After Similan Islands live aboard and the trip to Pulau Sembilan (had good seafood, not so great diving), this is my third diving trip for the year, and that’s 24 dives logged this year. Can’t say I’m complaining. 😀

arriving at Redang Lang Island Resort's Jetty
arriving at Redang Lang Island Resort’s Jetty

We charted a bus and left KL at around 10pm on Thursday night. After spending a night largely freezing our asses off in the bus and had breakfast at Kampung Cina’s kopitiam, we hopped on the transfer boat, and 45 minutes or so later, we arrived at Paradise.

The fine white sand and crystal clear water always has a way of making the journey worth it.

and here's a slice of paradise here in Malaysia
and here’s a slice of paradise here in Malaysia

After lunch, we started diving. There were 5 dives in two days, and they are:

  • Day 1, first dive: Karang Nibong, 60 mins, 18m max
  • Day 1, second dive: Tanjung Terunjuk, 52 mins, 23m max
  • Day 2, morning dive: Terumbuk Kuning, 46 mins, 26m max
  • Day 2, second dive: Karang Nibong, 63 mins, 21m max
  • Day 2, afternoon dive: Karang Baha, 54 mins, 22m max

finally, a photo of us underwater
finally, a photo of us underwater

We were pretty fortunate on our dives and managed to spot leopard shark on two separate occasions. First at Tanjung Terunjuk on day one and again at Karang Baha on our last dives. However, the sharks were pretty shy, and on both occasions swam away before we could approach close enough for a Kodak moment.

By rough estimates, the sharks were at least 8-9 feet in length, and absolutely stunning.

a shy green turtle hiding beneath a boulder
a shy green turtle hiding beneath a boulder

This was also Haze’s first real diving trip, the two leisure dives at Pulau Sembilan she did (and I participated) had visibilities so poor that there isn’t actually any hint of leisure in them.

On these dives, we were blessed with visibilities in excess of 20 meters on all dives except the two occasions when we veered off to the slightly more challenging areas to spot leopard sharks.

those elusive razorfish
those elusive razorfish

At Redang Lang, like most other resorts, food is included, they are edible and very average. Breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner served at the “canteen” area everyday, and dives are usually scheduled in between meals.

a relative of bad joke eel is found here too
a relative of bad joke eel is found here too

Luckily for Haze and a few others, Redang Lang’s rental gears are all new this year. Often times at budget dive trips the rental gears can be quite… disappointing. This was one of the reasons I bought everything I need sans weight belt and scuba tank.

Lydia making friends with Nemo and family
Lydia making friends with Nemo and family

It was a good couple days of divings. We boarded the bus again on Sunday and left Paradise reluctantly. It was another 10 hours or so before we reached KL (traffic was a bitch, and we made too many stops).

Guess it’s time to plan another trip. 😀

nemo, sea fan, plenty of fish, and this interestingly shaped dead coral.. ermm
nemo, sea fan, plenty of fish, and this interestingly shaped dead coral.. ermm

James helping out divers taking off their fins before boarding

James helping out divers taking off their fins before boarding

KY, Haze, Terence, Celine, James, baby and mom, Lydia & the rest
KY, Haze, Terence, Celine, James, baby and mom, Lydia & the rest

p/s: all photos taken with Olympus E-PL3 with this set of gears.

 Olympus E-PL3

The biggest appeal of diving to me is the calmness I get when underwater, listening to nothing but the breath that I take and the bubbles flowing out from the regulator, the sense of weightlessness and the ability to move about without restriction in 3 dimension. It is a form of freedom you never get on land.

The magnificent seascape and underwater creatures, well, they are just a huge bonus. While no picture can convey that sense of liberty, here are some underwater pictures I took from various dive sites at Similan Islands.

My gears were Olympus E-PL3 with the underwater housing coupled, Inon UWL 100 & Dome port, and a single Sea & Sea YS-01 external flash.

swim through, Deep Six
swim through, Deep Six

I logged 14 dives over 4 days of diving living aboard M/V Vilai Samut operated by Liquid Adventure. (previous year experience here). The boat departs from Khao Lak at night, so night one started before day one. The sites we went to were:

Day 1:

  • Stone Henge
  • Deep Six
  • West of Eden
  • West of Eden (night)
Day 2:
  • Elephant Rock
  • Koh Bon
  • Koh Bon
  • Ko Tachai (night)
Day 3:
  • Richelieu Rock
  • Richelieu Rock
  • Ko Tachai
  • Koh Bon (night)
Day 4:
  • Koh Bon Pinnacle
  • Bon Soon Wreck

tiny black reef fish atop table coral
tiny black reef fish atop table coral at West of Eden

We were lucky to have excellent visibility of at least 30-40 meters in more than 70% of the dives, and had at least 20 meters in the rest of the dives too. Comparing with Pulau Sembilan/Lumut’s 5-10 m visibility…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pics, and say no to shark’s fins!

giant spiny lobster, night dive at West of Eden
giant spiny lobster, night dive at West of Eden

sea snake, Koh Bon
sea snake, Koh Bon

the reef at Koh Bon
the reef at Koh Bon

clown fish in anemone, night dive at Elephant Rock
clown fish in anemone, night dive at Elephant Rock

an unmoving cuttle fish, night dive at Elephant Rock
an unnerving cuttle fish, night dive at Elephant Rock

lion fish, night dive at Elephant Rock
lion fish, night dive at Elephant Rock

Dave convincing a lion fish to pose for him, Richelieu Rock
Dave convincing a lion fish to pose, Richelieu Rock

cleaner shrimps, Richelieu Rock
cleaner shrimps, Richelieu Rock

chevron barracudas, Richelieu Rock
chevron barracudas, Richelieu Rock

star fish on coral, night dive at Koh Bon
star fish on coral, night dive at Koh Bon

boxer shrimp, night dive at Koh Bon
boxer shrimp, night dive at Koh Bon

porcupine fish, Bon Soon wreck
porcupine fish, Bon Soon wreck

Bon Soon wreck
Bon Soon wreck

ghost pipe fish, Bon Soon wreck
ghost pipe fish, Bon Soon wreck

Olympus E-PL3