30 August 2007

Treat your tastebuds

It might seem like a big leap, from Saying No to Sharkfin to Go for Sushi. It's totally not related. None of the cruelty imposed on sharks for their fins fishing methods are used. Takara do not serve sharkfins :P

Bloggers and non-bloggers are encouraged to share the voucher with your friends :)

29 August 2007

Say no to Shark fin

I just got home. It's 2.11am in the morning. And i'm thinking about shark fins. Why the hell am i thinking about sharkfins? It's just one of those random things that pop in your head and for whatever reason it is that i'm thinking about sharkfins at 2am in the morning, it must mean something!

Recently, i read an article in FINS magazine about shark finning in Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. It is an area of roughly 7,000 square kms and is loaded with forested limestone islands, mangrove-ringed lagoons and is believed by some to have the richest marine biodiversity on the planet... and is nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Andy Miners, a veteran divemaster was so taken by the pristine condition of Raja Ampat's reefs that he made it his personal mission to preserve them. He negotiated and secured an area of 200 square kms surrounding the island as a "No Take Zone" - a protected area.

During his stay there, he suddenly realised he hasnt seen sharks on any of their dives.. which didnt seem quite right. On their last day of diving, he came face-to-face with a predator that explained the absence of shark. He came across a boat anchored in the mouth of a lagoon. And on deck were dozens of shark fins from small reef sharks, severed and drying in the sun. Below the surface, shark carcasses were strewn across the reef.

"It's difficult to describe my thoughts at that moment. Bloodstained fins, mutilated sharks, overpowering stench and an unconcerned fisherman... everything about the situation was wrong, and the feeling of powerlessness was overwhelming....
What lay below on the reef was even more devastating. I focused on the first of the finned sharks. Its eyes still had a flicker of life and its wounds were fresh. I imagined the exhausted shark being violently hauled onto the boat deck, and while it struggled in vain, its fins and tail slided off. Bleeding profusely and without fins, it was dumped back into the water, and sunk helplessly to the bottom. Deprived of water flowing over its gills, starved of precious oxygen, it suffocated to death."

It's plain disturbing. It's inhumane killing.

video

These fishermen produced a handwritten permit that was apparently signed by the head of local villages to Andy. The permit cost the equivalent of US$30 for 30 days of shark fishing. If they caught 300 sharks in 30 days, it worked out to $0.10cents a shark. A bowl of shark fin soup can sell for up to US$150. It is just so wrong.

I believe many of us will argue what is the difference between killing a shark and a fish. The difference is the whole fish is consumed whereas the shark is dumped back to the ocean bed...left to die.. helplessly and pitifully. Some of them are facing extinction. And what is the leading driver of shark finning? Shark fin soup.

One of our divebums, Caroline recently found some shocking facts about sharkfins. She wrote:
"Did you know that sharks fins consumed alone are tasteless? Its the soup, the chicken stock that puts the flavour in the soup! So why not drink a chicken soup instead? Do you even know the cooking process - drying and bleaching. There's NIL nutritional value and what's more, it may even be harmful to health in the long term with high mercury content levels! Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause extensive damage to the nervous system and to foetus." Read more here and here.

What can we do?
- Dont consume shark fin products
- Avoid companies that deal in shark fin products
- Educate your friends and encourage them to take action
- Join organisations that are working to end shark finning

. The next time you go out to dinner, say no to shark fins and let others know why!.

*Images and video taken from Blue Sphere Media.

_____________________________

.One of divebums' vision is to setup a coral reef management program in Brunei, that focuses on establishing Marine Protected Areas. I really look forward to the day we can make a difference.

27 August 2007

Lelong

1. Canon Powershot G7
2. Canon Ixus 700
3. Treo 650 smartphone
4. Treo 680 smartphone

1. Canon Powershot G7 for sale! - $900! *SOLD*
- Comes with charger, extra battery pack, 1GB memory card, neck strap, and underwater housing (up to 40m)
- Camera is 4 months old and is in excellent condition

I am using this camera myself and i must say it's a great camera to consider for someone who wants an upgrade from their standard point and shoot digital cameras. G7 gives you 25 shooting modes and full manual control. I am loving the classic look.



For the specifications and review of this camera, see this page.


2. Canon Ixus 700 $400
- Comes with battery charger, 64MB memory card.
- Camera is in good condition


For the specifications and review of this camera, see this page.

3. Treo 650 smartphone $300
For specifications, see this page.

4. Treo 680 smartphone $400
For specifications, see this page.

If you are interested, please email me at bubbles_222@hotmail.com

26 August 2007

Catch me when i fall


This is what i feel like doing right now. Leaping off somewhere, and falling, with the confidence that i wont get hurt, and that someone will be waiting to catch me.

25 August 2007

Your strength is within you

Jacquie, when i read this post - You keep trying, i keep tri-ing of yours, i immediately thought i have to share this quote from a friend with you.

"Distance yourself from people who belittle you. Small people do that, but the really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great." Mark Twain.

All the best! :)

23 August 2007

Sea sick pills

Day: Sunday, 19 August 2007 - Day Dive
Crew: Myself, Andrew, Anny, Catherine, Cindy, Ya Ping, Yong, Lisa, Cik Azli, Uwais, Hj Kula and 5 other divers
Dive Site: Bolkiah Wreck and TAC Reef
Viz: Good
Max Depth: 22m
Dive Time: 56m & 60+m

It was a great dive. Good visibility, good crowd, good weather. Although sometimes good weather and calm seas does not guarantee you wont get balance disorder. I find it weird and quite unexplainable that sometimes even in the absence of rough seas, one can still feel nauseous. Somehow, it reminded me of moments when everything may seem right in life, but it doesnt mean you're complete.

I've got quite a number of pictures to show, and i think they can speak for themselves better than i can write.

.Cowry with egg capsules; each capsule can hold up to 20 eggs or more.

.This cluster of featherstars really caught my eye. It signifies indifference. It signifies unison.

.I caught sight of this solo saddleback anemonefish and was very intrigued by the way he swims. His tail flaps vigorously and his body sways with such flambouyance that mimics that of a juvenile sweetlips. I began filming him, slowly he led me to his nest. But he got fierce and was very adamant that i leave his babies alone. Little does he know i pose no threat.
.Anemone shrimp and baby saddleback.

.Toon calls this a 'sexy shrimp'. They dance with their backside tilted up, bounce left, bounce right, bounce left, bounce right.

.Expensive.


.Andrew spotted a pair blackray shrimp goby. That was what he came to this site for. It was a funny sight. Andrew, Anny and myself were planted on the sandbed side by side, inching our way towards the shrimpgoby.. short of holding our breath we tried to minimise movement as much as we can. I laughed to myself when i realised how ridiculous we must have looked if seen by a diver from above. I love this kind of challenge.
.Before we could get close enough for our liking, he darted back into his burrow. So we dispersed and went on our search for other things, then two orange-dashed goby appeared before me... muching away at whatever it was on the sand. And slowly led me back to the blackray shrimpgoby who had reappeared! Amazing!


.I couldnt get close enough for a sharper shot but he is a beauty.

.Before this dive, Anny mentioned she's never seen nemo eggs. That sat on my mind and i was determined to show her. Towards the end of our dive, i saw an anemone. Without much expectations, i lifted the edge of it and saw this clutter of red bijis with black dots. AhhhhHHhh.
.Nemo eggs!!!!. Anny was contented.

.They are usually closely packed, this pack looks like they've lost some siblings to hungry fishes. The black dots are their eyes. Amazing huh!!
Oh and they remind me of the capsules in Dr.Mario!

18 August 2007

Mum's Birthday


.Bro, mum and the horridly dark-skinned me.

"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts."
.There is no substitute for her.

No more eating out this year. So i whipped up something that the poo and I discovered by chance one night. Honey Garlic chicken in Beer Sauce! It was one of those eureka moments where we ran out of chicken stock, i opened the fridge door, dozens of Tiger beers sit infront of me, "Why dont we use beer instead?!! "mmMMmm, yeaaa!" It turned out to be insanely delicious. So i thought i could impress my mum tonight. kekeke.

The 1st time the poo and i made it, it was for the both of us. This time i had to cook for 6 person. So i added water. BAD CHOICE. When dinner was served, i looked hard at everyone on the table... waiting for that mMMm to come. I analysed faces... waiting for that wide-eye expression to come.
...
... ...
... ... ...

Staring at my dad "How is it??? You like it??" "Hmmm, ya not bad" To my mum "It is ok?" "Ya ok, whilst contemplating whether she can finish it all" To my brother who is picking rather painfully at his food.

.Think i failed miserably. cry

15 August 2007

Lembeh Straits, Indonesia (12 - 20 October 2007)

Lembeh has been on the top of our must-go list for a while now, finally it is about to become a reality.

.Picture taken from www.divetheworldindonesia.com.

Dive Trip
12th to 20th October 2007 - 8 nights, 20 boat dives and unlimited shore dives

Why Lembeh?
One of, if not, the best dive sites in the world for Macros

Lembeh is famously referred to as the "Muck Mecca", and claimed by many to be the best destination on the planet for exotic critter diving, macro or muck diving. It is one of every photographer's dream site where they get the opportunity to capture shy critters such as the mimic octopus, flambouyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimps, hairy frogfish, innumerable nudibranchs, pygmy seahorse, sea robins, snake eels, and many more. It is said that no more than a few breaths go by between one bizarre and exhilarating sight and the next.

Excellent visibility

For people who are not familiar with MUCK diving, first impression at the mention of it might trigger thoughts of dirty muddy water, poo, hence YUCK. :P "MUCK" in Lembeh is referenced to a very special kind of soil or sub-strata. Muck is the remnants of lava and volcanic ash when it is broken and grinded into sandy grains. An interesting note is when you find lots of limestone, you will usually get very clean water with fantastic visibility. It is found that the northern and western parts of lembeh are limestone and visibility are generally in excess of 30 meters.

Exotic creatures

The Lembeh Strait is adorned with long stretches of black sand beaches which means the sea is filled with black sand. These sand are of volcanic origin whose activities changes the oxygen/nitrogen/hydrogen contents of the air, land and water. Such changes have an evolutionary effect on life - fauna and flora. This muck is very high in nutrition which is one of the many reasons that give way to such a great variety found here in North Sulawesi. Thus the best place to look for strange and exotic creatures are near volcanoes and black sand beaches. It is also auspiciously located in the famed “Coral Triangle”, which boasts the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet.

Who should go?
People with an eye for the smaller and mysterious creatures of the sea. People who wish to see beyond the norm and discover the secret creations of mother nature.

Dive group size: 10-15 pax
5 confirmed
3 to be confirmed
7-10 more seats available!

Dive Resorts
We are currently torn between two resorts;
A. Black Sand Dive Retreat
B. Nomad Adventure Divers

Black Sand Dive Retreat
Black Sand Dive Retreat is a small, 6-cottage resort built to focus on personal attention both above and below the water. Each coconut-wood bungalow offers wondrous views over Kambahu Bay and Lembeh Strait. The bedroom is equipped with both a ceiling fan and a/c for your comfort, with complimentary drinking water, coffee and tea close at hand. Each unit also has a walk-in closet to keep bags and belongings organized and out of the way as well as a walled open-air “Bali-style” garden bathroom with a hot water shower to help divers reheat after long repetitive dives.

Their Main Building is where meals are prepared and served, with dining guests treated to panoramic views out over the strait.

Pro
- Blacksand Resort has some of the best dive sites right off their beach; Hairball 3, TK1, and TK2. Our unlimited shore dives will be extremely fruitful. They claimed regular encounters at their shore dives are frogfish( (9 species), mimic octopus, hairy octopus, wonderpus, flambouyant cuttlefish, pipefish (robust, delicate, velvety, etc), pipehorse, dragonnets, innumerable nudibranch, rays and many more.

- Their dive guides are under the supervision of Resort Manager Bruce Moore, who's a frequent contributor to the Scuba Diver Australasia magazine and has spent more time underwater in Lembeh than any foreigner.

Con
Diving package is double that of Nomad.
8 Nights/20 Dives: USD1415 pp (twin share) *unlimited shore dives
If,
10 divers and above: 1 guest stays and dives free. Hence: USD 1273.5
Under a dive club, i.e. Divebums, additional 10% off: USD1146.15

.Picture taken from Nomad Adventures.

Note: Black Sand Dive Resort is a new resort and has scheduled to be built and ready for accomoding divers by the end of July. We're still awaiting pictures of its completed phase to get a better idea of how the resort looks like.

Nomad Adventure Divers

Nomad Adventure Divers is an Eco friendly resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Located in a small natural bay, its prime location makes it perfect for a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere. Here one will find numerous internationally acclaimed photographers returning year after year, hunting those truly unique critters rarely seen in other regions of the world. The resort is managed by friendly, professional spanish couple Sandra and Jo, who have dedicated their entire life to the tourism industry and are passionate about diving.


.Pictures taken from Nomad Adventures.

NAD-lembeh has only 10 rooms and a typical Minahasa bungalow. 5 superior (hot water, fan & attached european toilet) and 5 deluxe (aircon, hot water, fan & attached european toilet). The uniquely decorated rooms have a panoramic view of our tropical garden, the tranquil sea and the mystic volcanos. In the Minahasa bungalow, couples looking for some more privacy will find their little haven. Located in one side of the resort and 10 steps from our private black sand beach, features hot water, air conditioning, attached open-roof balinese style bathroom, bamboo furniture, a four poster bed with mosquito net, tea and coffee making facilities and a private balcony overlooking the Strait.

Pro
Cheap cheap!
8 Nights/20 Dives: USD734 pp (twin share) *unlimited shore dives
If,
10 divers and above: 1 guest stays and dives free. Hence: USD660.6
*Havent negotiated for further discounts

Confirmed divers are voting on their preferred resort. Deadline: end August. Once the resort is confirmed, travel routes and itinerary will be arranged.

Deposits for trip: TRD

Divers from around the world who wish to join us, drop us a message at Divebums! and we will see what we can arrange for you.

For brief descriptions of the dive sites in Lembeh, visit this site.

13 August 2007

Road Trip to KK

.This gorgeous sunset right outside my bedroom window had me reminiscing my carefree days as a student.

Everything was last minute. Everything was fully booked. Luckily we managed to get the last unit in Marina Courts Apartment, KK but we havent found any accomodation in Limbang. Caryn made a few phone calls and later, Simon - a Limbang-ian who dives with us frequently - offered us accomodation at his hotel, the Prime Hotel. How convenient! He bought us a hefty dinner - fresh king prawns galore cooked in all possible sauces.. too bad i dont eat prawns, took us to Limbang's Tokyo Lounge for karaoke and this is where we caught one uncle (see rear @ pic below) nipping at a hostess' blouse with chopsticks! Whattha!! The durian season is here, there are durians everywhere, even Simon's car reeked of durian. He then asked if we would like to have durians for dessert and took us to his durian farm. There, his workers would park and wait throughout the night, listening out for thuds from durians falling. Count the number of thuds and search for the exact same number the next morning. Crikey!!
.Albert, Chris, Simon, Eric, Ai Thin, Caryn and mua.
He reminded us that we can stay at his hotel in Lawas - Perdana Hotel, KK - Beverly Hills, during our next trip. Are there any more surprises, Simon? And thanks for being such an amazing host.

Our road trip to KK began at 9 the next morning. It wasnt as bad as i had thought it would be. Probably 'cos i slept 3/4 of the way there. Thanks to Chris i can now see how ridiculous i looked and must have amused other drivers.


.Quite unwilling to get any darker than i already am.

Water rafting was out. There was no way we could have made it to Beaufort by 10am for the train ride to Padas Rivers. Huuuu. After several near-bladder-explosion scare, we finally reached KK at 1ish pm. When we reached the shopping mall, my eyes and hands took control. My eyes were scanning display windows and mannequins, my hands lured me to racks of clothes.. there was no way i could resist the temptation. We visited Scubazoo's office and saw intensive underwater video editing with quality that will put my videos to shame. Then it was on to more important things - finding an operator to dive with the next day. In the first dive shop we stopped at, there was this English instructor, Mark, who speaks in this British-campur-Msian accent that has an uncanny resemblance to that of Nick from SWV.

"You sound exactly like someone i know, Nick"
"Nick....?"
"Nick from SWV"
"Oh, he's my best friend"

What a bloody small world we live in.

Eventually, we decided to stick with Reuben Kentuts from Scuba Paradise Borneo. He is the one that photographed Nicky in Mantanani Island but having dived there that morning, he told us viz was crap and there is possibly a less than 50-50 chance of seeing Nicky so he advised against going there. His DM, Martin took us Sapi Island instead. It is one of the 5 islands within the Tungku Abdul Rahman marine park that has a beautiful beach. It being a weekend saw lots of families, couples, groups of friends and loners too soaking up the sun, snorkelling, picnicking, feeding the fish and even discovering scuba :)
.Eric at Sapi Island's jetty.
Our first dive at Agill Reef was over really quick. At 20m deep, Martin asked to check our SPG 45mins into the dive. We still had 150 bars left (tanks usually are filled to 200 bars). I think he was in disbelief, he took Caryn's SPG.. shook it and beat it against his hand thinking it malfunctioned. Little does he know we've got gills. Muhuuhuu. I quite enjoyed this dive, we keep the reef to our left and circled around it. There are the usual suspects: cardinals, damsels, nudis, puffers, parrots, and gobies! I spotted a black ray goby but it was fast for me.

Our 2nd dive was at Sapi Reef. We dropped off to a sand patch and Martin quickly spotted a flounder. It's almost impossible to photograph with it constantly trying to pack up sand on its body. There are alot of different corals here; branch, table and cabbage corals and i noticed heaps of filefish. This is also where we saw the blue spotted stingray tucked under a boulder. I stuck my hand in for an eye shot.

And our last dive for the day was at Clement Reef. It is located at the west side of Gaya Island. It was already 2pm and viz has gotten worst. There were silt everywhere giving the much-hated backscatters and made focusing rather difficult. I was rather engulfed in disappointment that we didnt see any frogfish, seahorse or anything that was rare in Brunei then i heard a loud muffled scream. It was a shrieking "MMM, EeOOO,MmMM..eeEEK" Coming from Caryn, she grabbed my arm and pointed out a fat-ass yellow nudi that looks exactly like a ladybug! I think that was the highlight of my trip. Huhhh. And my battery died on me.




.Caryn and John - doing his upside-down safety stop.


.Two fishermen right on top of our dive site.

The dives were ok although i must say it could have been better. It's quite irritating to surface knowing you have more than half of your air left and before we even familiarised ourselves with the reef and pick our subjects, time is up. Nick reckoned we were spoilt by Sipadan. Anyhoos, many thanks to Kentuts and Martin for arranging our dives.

Jazz Festival didnt seemed as happening as the usual ones held in Miri. Tickets were sold out but when we checked it out at 10pm, it appeared rather deserted so we gave it a miss and popped in to Shenanigans and Cocoon.

.Dont think i've eaten so many prawns at any one time.. cos they made me!.

.The trip back to Brunei was quite agonising.
.Insane queues.
.8 friggin' hours.
____________________________________

.Shocking, but I would do it all over again.

09 August 2007

Got a date..

Am off to KK for 2 days.

.I have a date with Nicky, the dashing dugong. wink
And will catch a Brunei band jazz it up.

.I cant seem to get the song "Hey Delilah" out of my head... H.e.l.p!.

08 August 2007

Divebums

I mentioned something cool is gonna come this way. Oh well, havent got time to work on it, so here's the fairly cool-sister dive forum open to all divers in Brunei and around the world.


This is where we share all our collection of underwater images, photography contests, tips on dive gears and photography imaging, dive trips, and many more.

Link us up! biggrin
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