One Day as a Divemaster in Komodo

We rise early. It’s 6:30am but the roosters have been crowing all night. I shake Val; she squirms in protest but finally wakes up. “Wh–what?” she mumbles. “Time to go,” I whisper and stumble across creaky wood planks to the bathroom grasping for my toothbrush. Val steals five more minutes of sleep. Labuan Bajo is…

Another day in Komodo

It’s January 2011 and Val and I have been in Komodo, Indonesia for six months. Today we guided four Ukrainians and a Czech through the aptly named Manta Point dive site. I vividly remember our first dives at this site. I would marvel at Nun, our most experienced divemaster, spotting mantas from seemingly impossible distances and…

Divemaster: Part 5

Today we snorkeled 800m (1/2 mile) as fast as we could. My lungs raced to keep up my legs, which would have certainly caught fire had they not been in water. Val dominated the race, but my bruised ego took a backseat to the fact that I’d finished the last requirement of the PADI Divemaster course….

Divemaster: Part 4

The last week has been a dream come true for us. We have been guiding a group of nine Korean divers through the blue playground. They are a happy and excitable bunch. Our euphoria should be coming from the superb diving and invigoration of leading our own dives, but in reality its the inexhaustible supply of…

Divemaster: Part 3

What a difference a few weeks make. We’ve accomplished so much and acclimated to the rhythm of life in a dive shop. Exams are finished, 15 of 20 skills are mastered, our 400m swim and 100m diver tow were fast enough, 15 min treading water was a breeze, we’ve mapped a dive site, and made our…

Komodo: The First Dive

Today Val and I made our first real dive in Komodo. We’ve actually been in the water for the last few days, but only in a few meters of water to assist brand new divers complete their courses. We hadn’t been to any real dive sites… until today. Wolfgang, our instructor, tells us to back…

Divemaster: Part 2

Our first weeks have gone by in a blur. We’ve completed exams, spent hours mercilessly repeating skills, and above all else dived – A LOT. Wolfgang is pushing us along. He let us take our exams without the slightest bit of a teaching. “If you need my instruction then I am happy to give it,…

Divemaster: Part 1

Val and I are becoming PADI Divemasters.  For those of you that don’t scuba dive a divemaster is basically a professional dive guide. They are responsible for safely leading divers through the beautiful, yet ever deadly, underwater world. PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) is the largest SCUBA certification agency in the world. They have finely tuned…

Arriving in Labuan Bajo

Arriving at the airport in Labuan Bajo was encouraging. Despite the poetic soliloquies we’d heard about the diving here, not a single person had a kind word for Labuan Bajo, so our expectations were pretty low. The airport, if a bit small, was clean and modern and as a bonus it was a nice temperature…

Bali

…and then suddenly we found ourselves in Bali, the most touristy area in Indonesia, and we would quickly find out why. Bali is a beautiful and lush island, a Hindu stronghold in a predominately Muslim country. Bali is known for it’s great cuisine and emphasis on the arts and culture. We head to Ubud first,…

Mt. Bromo

As we began readying ourselves to leave Yogyakarta it became clear that getting to Bali was going to be a headache.  We could take a train, which would undoubtedly be the most comfortable and scenic.  The problem was the length, requisite overnight stops meant hotel rooms and the hypothetical bill was adding up quickly.  The…

Central Java

Yogyakarta (pronounced Joe – g – jah – kar – tah) is the cultural capital of the island of Java, Indonesia’s most important and populous island.  A little over 500 thousand of the island’s 120 million people live here and they are fiercely proud of their unique customs, art, and language. Jogja, as the locals…

Megaliths and Trekking the Lore Lindu

This particular destination was not originally on our SE Asia radar of things to do, but a landslide covering a large section of road created a major detour for us. Arriving in Tentena, we learned that an already 20-hour long bus ride to Tana Toroja was about to be made a lot longer by the…

Underwater Togean Islands

Here’s the evidence of our underwater escapades in the Togean Islands, courtesy of our divemaster.  Those of you that know Chori-zo will be happy to see his foray into his native habitat.

Togean Islands

The Togean Islands are a collection of limestone plots huddled in a large peninsula formed by North and Central Sulawesi.  They are a well known, but difficult to reach, place to forget time and become one with sand and sun. We started our Togean Odyssey in Manado, near the Northeastern tip of Sulawesi.  First we…

Bunaken, Indonesia

***I had to make this photos very small to get them uploaded, which is unfortunate because they have lost a lot of quality in the process and I had to remove many of ones containing expertly hidden fish.  Take a moment to look closely at them as there may be hidden treasures you don’t notice…

Bunaken Photos

Pulau Bunaken is a small island off the Northeast coast of the Sulawesi, Indonesia.  We’re here for only one reason – to dive!  The sea here is rich with life and has especially incredible corals.  So far we’ve done nine dives but will be doing a few more before we head to the Lembeh Strait. …

Many Monkeys and 1 Monchichi!!

Welcome to the jungle baby!! Arriving in Bukit Lawang (Boo-keet Lu-wang) after a very long travel day, we were snagged up by a local guide who promptly guided us off the bus, to a a hotel room, and into a jungle trek package. We signed on to leave bright and early the next morning for…

Orangutans in Bukit Lawang

Orangutans are critically endangered. Their biggest threat is the ever growing palm oil industry. Palm oil is used in countless products, in fact is very hard to avoid even when conscientiously trying to. To grow palm oil large tracts of land are cleared, by logging or often by burning, and replaced with palm trees. These trees…

Banda Aceh

Banda Aceh definitely deserves its own post.  Banda Aceh was the epicenter of of the earthquake that caused the 2004 Boxing Day Sunami – killing over 300,000 people.  Aceh took about 80,000 casualties, roughly 5 of every 6 people. Driving through the area now you’d hardly know anything happened here.  Besides the odd concrete skeleton,…

Pulau Weh Photos

Well we’re back in Kuala Lumpur and finally have reliable internet.  Here are the photos from Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia – enjoy!

North Sumatra

We’re still in Pulau Weh for one more day.  Next we’re off to search for Orangutans in Gunung Leusur National Park and then back “home” to Kuala Lumpur. Two days ago we did the best dive of our lives at Batee Takong.  To start we dropped to 45m (160 feet) to witness larger sea fans…

Safe, Sound, and Happy

Hey Everyone, The internet has been a bit dodgy.  We were completely unaffected by the Earthquakes near Padang, and equally unaffected by the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in American Somoa – which were over 600 and many thousands of miles away respectively. We completed our PADI Rescue Diver Certification last week – which means we…

It’s official….

Well, we did it! We are officially Advanced Open Water Divers. The class was not super challenging but we got a lot of good information out of it and (of course) a chance to do some awesome diving. The fish life here is so diverse that we see new types of fish everytime we are…

Pulau Weh

Finally we made it to Pulau Weh… It took a bit of work but we’ve been able to relax for the last four days.  We are in Pulau Weh, which is a small remote island off the Northwestern tip of Indonesia, just off Indonesia’s largest island of Sumatra.  To get here you must go through…