Kyspeaks.com

Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / scuba

This is a follow up post to the 2013 Maldives trip, while the previous post detailed the liveaboard trip in its entirety, I want to share the dive log and some underwater photos in this post.

Photos are taken with Olympus E-PL3 & PT-EP05L underwater housing, I use an Inon UWL 100 & dome port for wide angle shots, and the Inon UCL 165 close up lens for the few macro photos.

Lighting is supplemented with a couple Sea & Sea YS-D1 from my buddy Terence, control wasn’t the best since I’m still getting used to the set up. I gotta be more patient in trying out different settings, but alas, when the underwater world is so beautiful, sometimes you just want to enjoy the moment.

the Choo family & Cherish, posing with a turtle at Fish Head
Joshua, Aileen & Cherish, posing with a turtle at Fish Head

We logged 17 dives over 6 days of diving, and got to see basically everything except manta rays at cleaning stations, but the sharks, tuna, whale shark, marble rays, beautiful seascape, and wonderful company more than made up for it.

Here’s hoping we will visit this paradise of a country again in not so distant future.

guitar shark found at 38 meters at "Fish Head"
guitar shark found at 38 meters at “Fish Head”

Day 1
Dive 1:
Check out dive.
28.1m
One diver shot up from 20m with mask and regulator off, luckily proper CESA observed
Saw two black tip around 5-6′
Titan trigger non aggressive
School red tooth trigger fish
A very big morey eel
Parrot fish

Dive 2:
Night dive 9pm+
Site: fesdu lagoon
Manta
Set up lights on boat and dhony to attract mantas.
Went down and visibility was not too great due to sand kick up
Manta came close few times, magical
65 mins
During safety stop Manta feeding under lights. Shot a short video
The same diver cut the dive short, still recovering from first dive’s emergency ascent

school of fish at Lily's Manta Point
school of fish at Lily’s Manta Point

a customary picture of nemo
a customary picture of nemo

played with the cleaner wrasses a little at Broken Rock, day 4
played with the cleaner wrasses a little at Broken Rock, day 4

Day 2
Dive 3:
Site: fish head
Guitar shark at 38.5 meter.
Saw some 6 footer gray sharks
Giant morey eel swimming out of hiding place too
Plenty of fish, coral
Medium current, maybe a tad too deep at guitar shark area, luckily monitored and did not go into deco
Alan and Nicole came up late due to deco
The diver who had problem on the first day had a good dive, that’s great

Dive 4:
Before lunch
Second dive at Lily’s Manta point
Didn’t manage to spot any Manta this time
Close to 20m and we found a spot on Sandy bottom waiting for Manta, did not happen
Ended up playing a bit and taking pics at the nearby reefs

Dive 5:
Afternoon dive
Same site at Lily’s Manta point
No Manta this dive either, nice leisure dive
Puffer fish, coral fish, played with the sand and fishes taking advantage pecking the debris

day 3 - swimming with whale shark
day 3 – swimming with whale shark

Kudimaa wreck, I always love the ambiance of a wreck dive
Kudimaa wreck, I always love the ambiance of a wreck dive

Day 3
Dive 6:
Kuradah Thila
Plenty of reef fish, huge garupa too
Nice seascape, Nemo too
Saw a Manta while on Dhoni

Dive 7:
Second dive
South of ali atoll
Site: manigili
Trying to spot whale shark
We Snorkeled with the baby wheel shark first, was fun at first then it got too crowded
Some other group didn’t play nice and cut through front, blah
Still the whale shark was majestic!
Diving later was non eventful except the whale shark for the first minute.
Too much current swaying us left and right so we went up after about 40m

Dive 8:
Third dive of the day
Kudimaa wreck
Beautiful wreck, we went inside a little bit too
Didn’t put my flash trigger securely so no flash available
Big school of bat fish, very bold and curious

Night time Manta! Two came to the boat and we snorkel with them, took some pics. Very graceful and magical, better than whale shark I think

manta visited us again on the 3rd night, majestic creature
manta visited us again on the 3rd night, majestic creature

a moray eel scheming something against Caely, at Broken Rock
a moray eel scheming something against Caely, at Broken Rock

caught Nicole framing these pair of butterfly fish
caught Nicole framing these pair of butterfly fish

Day 4
Dive 9:
Site: broken rock
Nice leisure dive, Joshua having a bit of problem descending, tried helping but didn’t manage cos I didn’t carry weight
Saw a pair of yellow batfish, nice pic opportunity
Morey swimming outside too

Dive 10:
Site: vashu giri kandu
Deep and with quite a bit of current
Saw napoleon wrasse, sharks, and eagle ray
Hanging on the side wall to fight off current
Almost deco at 3-4 mins for a while
One of the more challenging dive sites

Dive 11:
Night dive
Alimatha jetty
One of the more exciting dives
We had some sardin in a milo tin and lots of nurse sharks came
Got very close to them too
A few knocked me and the camera pretty solid
Giant trivoli were huge, almost 2 feet in length and very bold
Huge marble Rays too
Haze was petrified underwater, didn’t know nurse sharks don’t bite
Awesome dive even tho it was very shallow at about 5-8 meters only

diving with nurse sharks at Alimatha Jetty, thrilling experience
diving with nurse sharks at Alimatha Jetty, thrilling experience

huge marble ray among the sharks
huge marble ray among the sharks

Day 5
Dive 12:
Site: miyaru kandu (means channel)
Black tip, napoleon wrasse and a honeycomb eel.
Others saw a school of black tip at deeper end too
Quite deep, less exciting dive especially after last night

Dive 13:
Site: kandoona
Pretty deep dive, hit deco for about a minute strong current and we just hang on the rocks, looking at quite a few gray reef sharks just chilling at the channel, kinda like f1 car in wind tunnel
A few Napoleon wrasse too
35 meter

Dive 14:
Site: vilivaru giri
Lots of reef fish, a few types of trigger
Trying to take a photo of a pair of pipe fish but an unsuspecting morey bit attacked the strobe
Saw a turtle too
Quite a lot of clown fish too
Beautiful corals, including table coral
Brown ribbon eel
Others saw octopus too

spotted this beautiful jellyfish at "Sunlight" dive site
spotted this beautiful jellyfish at “Sunlight” dive site, day 5

beautiful seascape at "Sunlight"
beautiful seascape at “Sunlight”

plenty of these small critters at Miyaru Kandu, day 4
plenty of these small critters at Miyaru Kandu, day 4

say cheese, Mr. Turtle of Miyaru Kandu dive site
say cheese, Mr. Turtle of Miyaru Kandu dive site

Day 6Dive 15:
Site: sunlight
No Manta
Played with sand again
Saw a tiny little flounder which was very cute
The two coral blocks had some jewel garupa, Nemo etc
Saw a pretty good size jelly fish on the way up too

Dive 16:
Dive site: Lankan reef
Saw a tuna for the first time. A bit far away so can’t get any pics.
It was some 10-20m from a shark that everyone was checking out
No Manta sightings tho
Reef fish aplenty, pipe fish too
Dive 17:
Dive site: Lankan reef
Another try for Manta but yet again no luck
Saw a shark, turtle, yellow pipe fish and other reef fish
A more relaxing end as the last dive of our trip
It was well worth it, we got to see eventing we could hope for. Not seeing Manta at cleaning station is alright.

Haze & yours truly, signing off
Haze & yours truly, signing off 

Earlier last month we did a small road trip to the South. Our ultimate destination was the concert of Snow Patrol at Singapore, but since that falls on a Monday night, we took the opportunity to stop by Tioman island for a couple nights over the weekends.

we dived in these four sites around Tioman island
we dived in these four sites around Tioman island

In Malaysia, I’ve dived at Tenggol, Redang, Lang Tengah, Aur, Sembilan, and Sipadan, so I thought it’ll be nice to tick Tioman off the list too.

Like Pulau Aur/Dayang, the ferry to Tioman island leaves at Mersing. The ferry stops at 5 different jetties – Genting, Paya, Tekek, ABC (Air Batang), and Salang Bay.

eat, dive, and rock along the beach, what a life
eat, dive, and rock along the beach, what a life

Ferry fare is at RM 35 each way per person, and you need to know where you are supposed to get off. We chose Salang Bay because it’s one of the more diver friendly destinations located at northern side of the island.

The ferry ride took about an hour or so to get to the island, but since Salang Bay is the 5th and final stop, the total time spent on boat was closer to 2 hours. One word of advice: it can get very cold in the ferry, bring a jacket!

(annoyingly, Salang Bay is the first stop on the way back to Mersing, so it’s another 2 hour again…)

this is the boat we dived from, not the most glamourous but it works
this is the boat we dived from, not the most glamourous but it works

Diving at most other islands in Malaysia is usually a packaged affair. You pay a single fee and accommodation, boat transfer, x number of dives, and food are all included.

At Tioman though, it is more like an ala carte menu. Ferry fare is paid separately, you get to choose a dive operator, stay at any chalet/resorts of your choice, and eat at any restaurants/food stalls on the island.

The advantage of this is that it caters to different budgets, and if you’re interested in just chilling at the beach and doing a bit of snorkeling, a 3 day 2 night stay can be had for less than 3-400 bucks. The disadvantages though, is that you need a bit of planning, and don’t get the “pay once and forget about everything” deal like you do at other islands.

yep, that's a useful thread mill
yep, that’s a useful thread mill

After a bit of scouting around online, we decided to go with B&J Diving Center. They are one of the bigger dive operators at both Salang Bay and ABC Beach that will also help book resorts and secure ferry tickets, which makes our job a bit easier.

We did 4 boat dives with them, which comes up to RM 430, and since we were using our own equipment, we got a 20% discount that brought the price to RM 344. The more dives you do, the cheaper it gets. Price list is available on their website.

and a muray eel decided to swim across that blue spotted sting ray
and a muray eel decided to swim across that blue spotted sting ray

As for accommodation, we stayed at Salang Indah Resort (RM 120/weekday – RM 135/weekend). The bed is clean, there’s hot water, but that’s all you can say about the chalet. They didn’t maintain it very well, and I think we will look into other resorts on subsequent visits even though this one is quite close to the dive center.

There are almost 10 resorts at Salang Bay (list of resorts) and prices starts at something like RM 50 for two person if you can live with cold water and no air conditioning.

hawksbill turtle has had enough with divers
hawksbill turtle has had enough with divers

At Salang Bay, or at least with B & J, dive boat departs at the jetty, which is about a good 100 meter walk from the dive center. They do have a cart and your friendly dive masters will load up the equipment and send it over to the boat. However, it does take quite a bit longer to get from dive center to being underwater.

cuttlefish kept saying "you can't see me, you can't see me"
cuttlefish kept saying “you can’t see me, you can’t see me”

Diving at Tioman is best from March till about late June/July where the water is clearest. We did it early August, and on top of that it was full moon – high tide. Hence visibility was pretty terrible. We didn’t manage to see more than 5-10 meters on our dives.

fat garoupa fish decided to sit on top of a coral
fat garoupa fish decided to sit on top of a coral

Our dive sites were Reggis Island, Sayok, Tiger Reef, and Labas, and despite the poor visibility, we did manage to see quite a bit. These are some pretty nice dive sites.

There were plenty of clown fish – we spotted False Percula Clownfish, Tomato Clownfish, and Bright Pink Skunk Clownfish vigorously defending their patch of anemone whenever my camera went close for a Kodak moment.

again, there were plenty of nemo, here's three types of them
again, there were plenty of nemo, here’s three types of them

We also spotted a couple hawksbill turtles, a rather stealthy cuttlefish, garoupa fish, blue spotted stingrays, moray eels, bat fish, angel fish, and barracuda, and a pretty good size reef shark among other reef fish. Would have been able to get better photos if visibility wasn’t so bad.

we had a great time at tioman, I'm sure we'll revisit sometimes
we had a great time at tioman, I’m sure we’ll revisit sometimes

As for B & J, they are pretty decent. We had two different dive masters on our dives and they were pretty professional and attentive to details. The pre-dive briefings were comprehensive, and each DM didn’t have to take care of more than 4-5 divers. Our experience with them was a positive one, and it’s very likely that we dive with them next time around.

I’ll talk about food at Salang Bay some other time. Need another holiday!

After attending MIDE (Malaysian International Dive Expo) a few weeks prior and ended up spending quite a chunk of change on gears, Haze and I decided that a dive trip must follow. After all, the last trip was some 4 months ago at Lang Tengah.

After a bit of calling about different dive operators both in Tioman and Tenggol, we settled on diving with the operator at Tenggol Resort, the establishment situated on the far right of the beach if you are facing the island.

our resort is located at the far right of the beach
our resort is located at the far right of the beach

Due to schedule constraint, we only wanted a 2 day 1 night trip, and the package we got quoted was RM 580 per pax, which includes 4 guided boat dives. However, we also had to pay a RM 250 surcharge due to the fact that they had to use a 24-seat ferry to fetch just two of us from Dungun (other divers were all on the 3D2N option).

Fair enough I guess, hat made it a tad more expensive than normal for 4-dives, but we were pretty adamant on diving last weekend, so we went ahead with the arrangement anyway.

jelly fish, and note the inhabitants within it
jelly fish, and note the inhabitants within it

Ferry was to depart at 8:30 am in the morning, we started our drive from PJ at around 3 in the morning and it took us about 4.5 hours including a sahur stop at highway R&R to cover some 400 km.

obligatory shot of a family of nemo
obligatory shot of a family of nemo

Dungun is actually the closest place to get to for any decent diving, unless you actually consider Lumut/Sembilan islands a valid diving option, which I don’t and hence hasn’t bothered to pen down  the trip there earlier this year.

I just wish they didn’t delay the opening East Coast Highway to 2015 from the original 2011, that would cut half an hour off, hello JKR!

can you spot the tiny shrimp?
can you spot the tiny shrimp?

The room we had at Tenggol Resort had 2 single bed on each side of the smallish room, with no table or closet, and an attached bathroom with surprisingly good heated water (works from 7 pm till 8:30 am, as with electricity). Air conditioning didn’t really work well for us but temperature at night on the island is usually pretty comfortable anyway.

We didn’t have any problems with insects or bed bugs but a mat salleh in another room had his back bitten pretty bad. This is definitely not a 3-star or even 1-star type of place, but it will get you through the night if you’re not too fussy.

a pair of nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, yes, coitus
a pair of nudibranch, Hypselodoris bullocki, yes, coitus

As with any trip at Tenggol (and with most islands), all meals are provided. We were lucky as there was an actual professional chef working (part time) at the resort for that particular week, so we ended up having pretty awesome meal. Your mileage may vary.

a white nudi wandering around - Chromodoris coi
a white nudi wandering around – Chromodoris coi

We did 3 boat dives on the day of arrival, and another morning dive on the next day. Our dive master Salleh was a very “chilling” type of guy, but perhaps one that is more suited for seasoned divers than beginners. Briefings were actually very brief, and the DM also didn’t dictate what we were doing underwater for the most part, we were also allowed to stay as long as we wanted instead of some who can’t wait to get out of water once it’s over 45 minutes.

My experience with the DM is a positive one.

underwater seascape
underwater seascape

Short dive logs, check this image for dive sites:

  1. Moon Wrecker – 11:26 am 21/6/2012. 43 minutes drift dive with plenty to see and pretty decent 15 meter visibility.  Saw some huge jelly fish, and one being attacked/eaten by a Titan Trigger fish, a 5 foot long black tip shark swam by 15-20 meter away too, good stuff. Slightly challenging dive for Haze in the beginning but she cope well. DM led us with another 2 guys – Thomas & Trud (spelling?).
  2. Rajawali Reef – 2:54 pm 21/6/2012. Plenty of nudibranch in this dive, there were no current, nice and relaxing. Spotted stingrays too, 54 minute dive time.
  3. Tanjung Gemuk – 5:53 pm 21/6/2012. We spent another 55 minutes on the last dive of the day, nice calm evening water with more nudibranch, stingray, eel, and pipe fish. It was just Haze, myself, and the dive master in this dive.
  4. Tokong Timur – 8:41 am 22/6/2012. One of the better dive sites at Tenggol that is also a bit more challenging, Tokong Timur is a very small island with a light house atop. There was a bit of a mild current and slightly choppy surface water, saw one really big batfish, and as with anywhere Tenggol, more nudibranch, sea fan, and nemo. Not a bad way to end the trip.
Our maximum depths in all those dives were capped at around 20+ meters, and at one point we touched 27 meter I believe.

Haze's imitation of a sky dive, or something
Haze’s imitation of a sky dive, or something

With this short Tenggol trip I’ve logged 28 dives in 4 diving trips this year. Diving can be an expensive hobby, I justify it with not having a car loan.

hello stingray, look who's looming behind
hello stingray, look who’s looming behind

My current set up for underwater photography is the Olympus E-PL3 with the in-house EP-PT05L housing. I have an ikelite plate for it and a single Sea & Sea YS-01 underwater strobe to light up the subject. All photos taken with Inon UWL 100 & Dome port.

My gears are almost complete, I just need to upgrade it to dual YS-01 (or trade this in for dual Inon z-240 and be RM 2-3k poorer), and add a stacked Inon UCL-165 lenses for macro to complete my gears. Perhaps some floats will help too, the equipment is getting heavy.

normal camwhore is so mainstream, this is underwater camwhore!
normal camwhore is so mainstream, this is underwater camwhore!

I think there’s another 1-2 trips to be done in this year, bring it on!

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. :D

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. :D

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