Thursday, December 22, 2011

On board

Spewingly delivered to Ko Tao on a bucking catamaran, I started my rescue diver course that same day.  A tough three days mastering in water and boat rescues, managing whatever emergencies Lance and Paul dreamed up, babysitting them underwater as they dekitted, turned their masks upside down, over inflated their BCDs, swam with their fins on their hands and climbed on each other while turning off tanks. 

Thoroughtly exhausted but keen to resume fun diving again, I landed in Khao Lak and boarded a three-day liveaboard the following evening headed for the Surins and famed Richelieu Rock.  A chockers dive deck, an IDC course running concurrently and staff who out of the water were more interested in themselves and flirting with each other than their paying customers made for an average boat experience.  My dive buddy - singular - the other customers and the stunning diving made up for the lackluster staff.
Along with two jaw-dropping tanks on Richelieu, night diving in biolumiscent plankton were highlights.  Putting my torch against my wetsuit after ensuring I wouldn't crash into corals, urchins, divers, I flailed about underwater like a panicked diver as the sea sparkled and cometed around me.

A rest, ketchup day in Khao Lak with some beach buds before a downpour escorted us the 30 minute walk home.  Onto Phuket tomorrow to catch a plane to Chiang Mai. 
A wee reward for a 7 am boat 

Throwing assist

 Rescue breathing on Lance

Carrying Paul up the ladder - and it's a tall boat

 Ko Tao from the sea

 En route to a dive site in the Surins

 I'm on a boat!

 Gemma and I during a surface interval

 Setting sun in the Surins

 Gemma, Roger and I back on solid ground

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dear Burma, gimme back my mates

I should have thought through my decision to sit in the front row of an Indonesian fire show a little further.  While I wan't on the receiving end of an on-fire/smoldering coconut husk, my neighbours weren't so lucky.  No obvious injurues or hospital visits required, just a stunned lass. 

Known for its theatre/music performances, I finally attended one on my last night in Ubud, Indonesia after my cocktail swilling flashpacker friends had moved on before I too was Thailand and real friends bound. 

Their pear-shaped visa run put a wee kink in my excited plans to see familiar Canadian faces.  After I hadn't heard from my friends 18 hours after they were due to return from Burma, I resigned that they must be in a bin.  In Burma. 

Rather, they'd moved on to Ko Phi Phi with nary a phone call or email until they were settled on that debacherous island.  I met Linda, a witty, chatty and interesting Brit.  After a quick meal, we stumbled into a jazz music festival for the King's Birthday.  Grabbing take-away noodles, our weight in rum we moseyed back over for a listen.  Both of us may have had boats to catch in the morning, but that didn't stop the rum flowing or the free Changs pouring in from the locals. 

Heavy headed I landed on Phi Phi, met my mates and proceded to do it all over again.  I once again had a boat to catch in the morning.  A dive boat. 

The seas were relentlessly rolly and big which did suprisingly little to quell my seasickness/raging hangover.   The King Cruiser was spectacular, the other two dives were average with the topside scenery taking all the points. 

Processing rice in Bali's abundant terraces
 Crazy big Balinese meal post-cycling/down hill cruising
 Gunung Kawi outside Ubud
 Generally sage advice
This performer alledgedly went into a trance and walked over/kicked around those coconut husks
 Nemo and his mates
 Spanish dancer
 Shit viz, but that hooded figure is me in 27 degree water.  Brr.   
 From viewpoint on Ko Phi Phi
 Around Phi Phi

 View from my window post boys
I have no idea

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Labuan Bajo, diving Komodo, new mateys

My first day in Labuan Bajo, Flores, I won the backpacker lottery when I met hilarious Kiwi  honeymooners Simon and Vanessa.  While they kindly shouted my evening meal and beer towers, I was able to freely and fluently speak my mother tongue without butchering my English down to "Me want bed cheap."  Jumping aboard Dive Komodo's boat the next morning heavy headed, I was in for three days of spectacular and challenging diving.  

A manta winged overhead as we were descending on the first dive, we snorkeled with 10 mantas during a surface interval, sharks, octopus, nudibranches and tiny crabs all said hello as Komodo's characteristic currents carried us around.  A pop in to see the Komodo dragons on Rinca Island - which were curiously congregated under the kitchen hut at the Ranger's station - and I was Bali bound after a chance encounter with Simon and Vanessa at the airport.  Keen to spend more beers together, we booked into the same hotel in Sanur. 

 With Simon and Vanessa - note Beer Tower 1
 On the way to a dive site in Komodo National Park
 Labuan Bajo, Flores
 I'm on a boat!
 Snorkeling during our surface intervals

 I spent lots of time and rupiah aboard this boat
 Komodo style.  Curiously the lizards were congregated under the kitchen hut
 In the wild
 Sunset from my bungalow
 Seaweed drying facility next to my bungalow.  eww
Nusa Lembogan dive site

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gili Air

While Bali hasn't been impressing the pants off me, Gili Air, a mere two hour mini-van/boat combo gets you out of the pricey, busy streets of one of Indonesia's very touristy islands.

 A gathering storm over Lombok

 Day 1 sunset with my new Dutch friend, Mikael (ladies, he's gorgeous  and a doctor in training)

 Just add Bintang

 Turtle sanctuary on Meno

 Ahh, lunch spot

 Where I spent lots of time and rupiah...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Farewell snow, friends, family, lover

I have temporarily left a close-knit northern British Columbia community where back doors are routinely left unlocked, where I didn't receive a house key to my summer rental property for that very reason, where popping out for milk entails running into a minimum of three people you know, where driving is unfortunately still king, where mountains can be seen from downtown, where my social circle could be found - usually walking their dog, stroller or each other - in a 10 minute self-powered radius from my house, where BBQ and fire invites were shouted as you strolled past, where family dinner nights reveal that all our collective university degrees have given us is a fascination with penises (penisi? penes?), where world-class outdoor recreational opportunities were mere hours from doorstep to summit, where I have a man who knows that wool socks are sexier than lace, canoe journeys are foreplay, supports my wandering ways and creates homemade pizzas with unequaled gusto. 

And for what?  A reckless rush into the unknown with others who have similarly left friends, family and lovers strewn across the globe?  A warm winter?  The thrill of returning?  Untold underwater adventures?  Lazy afternoons in a hammock with a novel and crazy big beer?  Some kind of reward for busting my ass this summer?

All of the above?  Regardless, I'm flying into Singapore Thursday morning and have a small question mark (downsized from Big Fat Question Mark earlier) for after the 12 November.  A pre-departure catch up and chat with Robyn in Calgary ought to point in some sort of a direction. 

In the mean time, I have another packing bomb in the basement to diffuse. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Same same but different in the boreal

A new job that's six weeks old, is an houred up version on my last one without the benefits of being payed for extra hours, requires me to live in hilariously close quarters with coworkers 300 km up the lake from Mackenzie on a genny-ridden river flat and occasionally ferries me around in a helicopter.  

Mercifully for all the tough slogging, hilarious access, and Work Safe BC violations, magnificent mountains views are abundant - even if climbing a 60 per cent slope through dense fir, alder and willow is occasionally required.  

As larch is shedding, the bunnies are digging out their winter coats and the bears are preparing for a winter's break, I too am looking for my exit.  Another 10-day shift near Tumbler Ridge, my honey's birthday and I am Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, but ultimately SE Asia bound after my usual months of Canadian employment. 

 Sukunka end of the Wolverine-Sukunka rail tunnel

 Yup, I can see a glacier from my block

Down the Wolverine valley

Abies balsamea cones

Down the Murray Furry FSR

Ribes spp.
Loo with a view
Loo with a view, version 2.0