Monday, June 28, 2010

More Diving

Unquestionably underrated, the island of Manado is possibly home of one of the most diverse and astounding dive destinations-Bunaken Island. Spending a short 3 days and 11 dives there, I was lucky to see the huge napoleon fish, green sea turtles, white and black tipped sharks, and so much more. With the dive sites generally being "walls" (dramatic drops in depth on the ocean floor), it was interesting being able to ride the currents that flow along them. Staying at the La Rascasse dive resort, our daily dives started bright and early at 7 for breakfast and leaving the docks by 8.

I really never expected to see the sights I saw on this trip. I've been lucky enough to travel a large portion of the world in search of pristine reefs and exotic sea life but I don't think much of what I've previously seen stands up to this trips sights and experiences. I've been to Manado once before and definitely thought it was one of the earth's greatest hidden gems in terms of diving already but had never been blessed to see the elusive and seemingly royal Napoleon fish as large as I had seen this trip. It's always somewhat of an unreal and unsettling feeling watching big fish (big as in bigger than you) swimming towards you 60ft or so underwater. I was blessed this trip to come across 2 pairs of Napoleon fish (Napoleon fish apparently stay with its mate for its entire life). The first pair was really quite startling, just about the size of 1/3rd a honda fit and 124lbs each I suppose my slight anxiety was warranted. The fish seem to almost swim with a sense of pride as they glide past turning to glance at the 7 divers in our group. It was really an amazing experience as it is quite rare to see them at such sizes with the poaching problem iin the area. We saw these fish on 2 seperate dives with the second pair being much smaller. As I stated earlier, seeing big fish is always an interesting experience.

On a later dive I was able to swim in what looked like a cloud of fish. You'd be amazed at how disorienting it can be when everything around you is in constant motion. I was really disoriented when the entire school shifted suddenly and below me was a black tipped shark larger than any I've ever seen. Sharks generally don't bring out such a sense of panic as they've mostly been small and never really hang around but this one was different-it was huge. Around 5 or 6ft long, it was definitely one of those OH SH%T! moments. Luckily, as fast as I saw it coming at us it left in the same fashion. The green sea turtle also being a native species to the region, I was lucky enough to have seen not one, but 4 this trip.

I keep saying over and over how lucky this trip has been but I really can't emphasize how rare it is to see such uncommon and really just spectacular sights none the less see this many in a row. We came across a few sea turtles as previously stated this trip but one definitely stands out. I can't fathom how old this one must've been. We were able to catch a glimpse of a smaller turtle earlier in our dive and followed it around a bend in the wall which were were exploring. As we lost our line of sight with the first turtle, our dive master held his arms out as if there was something massive just around the bend. What I was about to experience was pretty much what can be best described as unbelieveable even to me so I'm expecting some "pic's or it didn't happen" thoughts running through your heads. My father and I swam around the bend and sleeping as if it had little or no concerns was a turtle roughly 4.5ft long, 3ft wide, and 1.5ft thick and was probably around 500lbs. As if this wasn't spectacular enough, the divemaster decided it would be a good idea to awaken the behemoth (no idea... Don't even ask). Awoken from its slumber it left its nook in the reef and swam into the open waters. Immature as I am, I couldn't resist but hold on to its massive shell as it swam away and yeah-I can say I rode on the back of a giant sea turtle before 60ft underwater now.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just 1

1, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Teaser of my next batch of uploads. Here's one of the waterfalls we hiked to.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

it's been... interesting

I'm now headed towards the airport for my flight to the island of Manado. It's a 3 hour flight from Bali and it's a bittersweet goodbye I must admit. I absolutely love balinese culture. The best way I can describe it would be a fusion of traditional Hindu beliefs intertwined with modern day technology and a closely knit community. With a lively, westernized, Southern side and serene Sawas (rice fields) up North, it's strange to find a more culturally and naturally diverse place.

We started off our stay in Northern Bali exploring numerous Balinese temples and shrines along with my father and I's seemingly endless search for picturesque sawas. 3 days into our stay, our first scheduled dive of the trip had finally arrived and it was, well, an experience. My day began with the sound of my dad banging on my villa door telling to grab my camera and filter's in a hurry to shoot the sunrise. You don't really ever see sights like that back home. Local fisherman up before dawn to cast their nets into the depths in hope of making their daily catch to sell, things just move at a slower pace here. We had a light breakfast of fried rice (which is pretty much all I've eaten every morning for the last 9 days) and headed for the dive center where we would take a 45 minute boat ride to Menjangang Island where we had 2 dives planned. Our boat was newer looking and quite large which was initially quite the relief. The four of us, along with 12 others, now headed for the first dive site had little idea of what was in store for us in the next few hours.

Diving in Indonesia is always quite the experience. You can't find color and ocean life like that at home that's for sure. The first dive went well and we docked on the island for the required break between dives to prevent the dreaded NITROGEN NARCOSIS (cue omnious music) which is basically caused by nitrogen bubbles boiling out of your blood and blocking veins resulting in a handfull of bad things to happen, along with a light meal of, you guessed it, fried rice FML. We boarded the boat following the break and meal then headed for our second dive location. We got our suits back on and changed our air cylinders since we were about 5 minutes away until the unimaginable happened. Ok, what I'm about to write about is going to sound really farfetched but bear with me as its all factual. Going back to the story, just as I got one leg in my suit I noticed the water level rising along the boats sides but didn't really think anything of it. Continueing on the divemasters asked us all to move the front of the ship to possibly alleviate the overburdened rear. The problem ony got worse. The boat took in more water and the inevitable order to abandon ship was called. I thought it was a joke until I saw my brother jump as well. Luckily we were only about 75 to 100 meters from shore and the swim wasn't too bad save for my panicking mother who I had to return for after swimming 3/4ths of the way to shore. The captain stayed with the ship and steered it to shore where its engines fully flooded and hull rested on the coral below. We now raced to move the 30 or so air cylinders and assortment of other equipment to traditional fishing boats who came to our aid. We were then split into smaller groups and were ferried to mainland Bali where our adventure ended for the day. What an experience.

The following day, failing to learn our lesson, my father, brother, and myself decided to go ahead with the planned dives. These dive's luckily didn't include the unplanned "wreck dive" that we experienced the day prior.

Friday, June 18, 2010

North Bali - Arrival

First is first, HELL YES GO LAKERS!!
Wow, what a long drive. Although the island is only 80km tall and 140km wide it took about 4 hours to go from south Bali to the North Western section of Pumeteran, which translates to twisty or to turn in Indonesian. With a few photo stops here and there, I really started appreciating the island of Bali more than I ever have although this would be my fifth time here. We passed a few of Bali's large inland lakes and was able to see the sunset on a bluff overlooking the lake and villages below. I really can't wait to post process and upload the pictures from this trip. After a long and pretty incredible drive, I'm finally at our hotel that can be best described as, well, down to earth yet aesthetically pleasing. It's an semi-open air villa with an outdoor shower and I fear that I will be consumed by mosquitos tonight. This possibly being my final post prior to catching malaria, I have to admit I am plagued by the bittersweet effects of homesickness. Although that's not to say I'm not enjoying my vacation, I can't say that I don't miss certain aspects and person(s).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Far away

Sorry for the lack of updates. Don't worry though it's definitely not becuase I haven't been shooting :D. I'm currently on the island of Bali, Indonesia and wow there's been a lot to shoot. I'll post up an update as soon as I get a chancw to post process and upload but for now I'm just gonna blog about my trip thus far. The weather here has been pretty extreme heh. Pretty damn high temperatures and hunidity makes it seem like you're in a sauna 24/7 but it's nice being away from everything. Tomorrow we leave Nusa Dua, the southern portion of Bali, for Purmuteran in the North. From there we're taking a boat further North to an island to reach our diving spot where the fun really starts.

Selamat malam,

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wustefest 2010 100/365

Wustefest 2010, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Great weekend!

Las Vegas Blvd 99/365

Las Vegas Blvd, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

"What happens stays in Vegas... except herpes"

The Ring 98/365

The Ring, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

One day I'll drive a sub-8 minute lap around The Ring.

Plans 97/365

Plans, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Caught Staring at the pretty girl in class 96/365

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SdotSolis 95/365

SdotSolis, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Burt's Bees 94/365

Burt's Bees, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

The daily driver.

Modern Day Bonsai 93/365

Modern Day Bonsai, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Bokeh garden to the right.

Kodi 92/365

Kodi, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Love in her Eyes 91/365

Love in her Eyes, originally uploaded by wtfclem.



Light Speed, Homeward Bound 90/365

Light Speed, Homeward Bound, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

One of the long drives home from work with Chris

Ikea Adventures 89/365

Ikea Adventures, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Spontaneity at it's best. Enough said.

Bokeh Sunset 88/365

Bokeh Sunset, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Sorry for the little hiatus. I'm back though.

Huge update incoming!

It was a really nice day. I don't think I can honestly say that I've been able to enjoy feel like a kid again as much as this day.

Serious Business 87/365

Serious Business, originally uploaded by wtfclem.

Random adventures really are pretty awesome

See ya 86/365

See ya, originally uploaded by wtfclem.