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Tag / scuba

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

Here’s a short video compiled from the video clips I took during the dive trip to Similan Islands. Looks like I’ll need a video light or shoot almost exclusively on shallow water under bright lit condition to make this better.

Most clips were shot with Olympus E-PL3 (except those not underwater, shot with Sony Xperia Arc), using Inon wide angle converter with dome port, no red filter (which I had and probably should have made good use of.. gah!)

Hope you enjoy!

Just got back on another excellent live aboard diving trip at Similan Islands, as with last year, the experience was nothing short of awesome. The photos are now transferring onto the computer and waiting to be processed, in the mean time, here are a couple photos from the trip.

Similan Islands diving
dive buddy Dave in picture, at Koh Bon

Proper blog post on the trip, more photos, and perhaps a video is on the way soon as I get some time to work on them.

moray eel in full view, Similan Islands, Thailand
moray eel in full view, Koh Bon, Thailand

Back to the office tomorrow, been an awesome CNY holidays away from work, and the dive trip made it so much sweeter.

Hope your holiday was well spent too!

Olympus E-PL3

One of the most important item on our itinerary for Bali is scuba diving. Bali is one of the few places in this part of the world where there is almost a guarantee that you’ll dive with the otherwise very elusive Manta Rays, and there’s also a good chance in spotting the biggest bony fish in the world – the weird and wonderful Mola Mola, also known as Sun Fish.

leaving from Sanur to Nusa Penida
the beach at Sanur before heading to Nusa Penida

Prior to the trip, I did some research on the various dive centres at Bali (and there were a lot of them) and arrived at no conclusion, so I asked Edvin for suggestion and Bali Scuba was recommended, it turned out to be a good one, so thanks buddy!

Diving at Nusa Penida
the three dive sites at Nusa Penida that we went to

There are many dive sites in Bali offering very different diving experiences. There’s the USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben, white tip sharks that is common at Gili island, muck diving for macro photography at Seraya, and more.

However, since my goal was to see Manta Rays and Mola Mola, I chose Nusa Penida as my destination.

boat transfer from Sanur to Nusa Penida
Bali Scuba is located at Sanur

The dive center charges US $145 for three boat dives at Nusa Penida, and the package comes with hotel transfer, drinks, and a lunch served on the speed boat. Equipment can be rented at extra charge, and extra wet suit is recommended (5mm wet suit rented at $5).

To tag on for snorkeling only, the fee was US $50, Haze does not dive yet, so she went aboard for a snorkeling trip, that was the initial plan anyway.

manta ray at Manta Point, Nusa Penida
abundance of manta rays at Manta Point

We left Sanur at around 9 in the morning and our first dive was at the famous Manta Point, located at the Southern part of the island.

Even before jumping into the water, there were already sightings of those gentle giants swimming close to the surface.

2 mantas in a mating dance
2 mantas in a mating dance

I was wearing the rental 5 mm wet suit for the dive, and spent over 40 minutes in the water that was 22-23 Celsius. A bit too cold for me, but bearable, a hood and extra thermal guard would probably be a good idea.

My previous coldest diving temperature was at Aquaria KLCC, but 22-23 Celsius is a big difference with 24-25 Celsius.

the graceful devil ray
the graceful devil ray

The dive though, was definitely worth it. While the water at Manta Point wasn’t particularly clear and there were even debris (some banana leaves, plastic wrappers and such from offerings made by boatmen), the sight of these huge fish was amazing.

There were probably over a dozen mantas at the site and some were doing their mating dance too. A fantastic dive for sure.

mola mola at Crystal Point, Nusa Penida
mola mola: hello, diver: say cheese!

The second dive was at Crystal Point to hunt for the elusive Mola Mola.

The dive master said it’ll be cold on this dive, so I put on two wet suits this time (Haze has already abandoned snorkeling after being shocked by the 23 C water temperature at first site), but it was not nearly enough for the 17 Celsius water temperature at this site.

It was FREEZING! It was so cold I think I’d need at least a thermal layer, 2 wet suits, gloves, hood, and probably socks too.

But we saw two mola mola, so it was definitely worth it. I only managed to take four photos in the 20+ minutes we were underwater. I was shaking too much to operate the camera, basically.

Other than the temperature, the current at Crystal Point is also something to be reckoned with. There is sometimes a down current that can pull inexperience divers towards the deep slope, you need to always stay close to the coral & dive master and monitor depth constantly. A Japanese diver with another group was seen being pulled by the current while we were doing our safety stop and our DM had to help him out.

Crystal Point is definitely only suitable for those who have a bit more experience in diving.

underwater seascape at North Shore
underwater seascape at North Coast, Nusa Penida

We had lunch on the boat, took a bit of rest and then moved to the 3rd dive site of the day. This time at the much warmer North Coast of Nusa Penida. The operator usually would have a repeat at Crystal Point as third dive if you don’t spot any mola mola on first attempt.

North Coast offers drift diving opportunity, and after the two very cold water, I was happy we agreed to do something relaxing for the final dive.

then we meet another mola mola at 37 meter
then we meet another mola mola at 37 meter

And as luck would have it, we met another mola mola at this site. The dive master did mention that while there is a chance to see the sun fish here, it is exceedingly rare, we were very lucky.

The photo taken here turned out to be almost exactly the same as the one from previous site, and I think a couple of us accidentally went a little too deep chasing mola at 37 meter.

scorpion fish at north coast, nusa penida
hey look, a scorpion fish

After the encounter with the sunfish (lasted but a few minutes), the remaining dive was a more leisure and less interesting affair. There were scorpion fish, moray eel, and more coral fish. We finished the day after 40+ minutes underwater.

It was tiring, and definitely a very rewarding day diving at Nusa Penida.

Haze and I are in the midst of a 5 day trip to Bali and I scheduled in a day for diving with Bali Scuba. We did 3 dives today and it was beyond awesome, I came here with a purpose and got what I bargained for.

This majestic manta was shot at none other than the famed Manta Point dive site at Nusa Penida just earlier today.

manta ray at nusa penida

More on diving at Bali later and the whole travel experience for sure. 😀