Friday, June 18, 2010

Discovering tranquility in Hong Kong

When we visualise Hong Kong, most of us would say "large city, tall buildings, fast paced, mix between new and the old, pollution" and so on. Others who are more familar with Hong Kong know that there are hidden treasures surrounding this part of Asia.

Today, I believe I have met the tranquil side of Hong Kong. Our journey today took us to Stanley Bay (HK Island) where any form of transport must bustle through the luscious green hills to get to the other side. We headed to Stanley Beach which was much smaller than expected, however, it was free from all the pollution and and most of all, some of the scenery/landscape reminded me of Sydney. If you continued down Stanley Beach away from the main area, you head to a lonely little beach called Hairpin Beach.

Hairpin Beach is a private pebbly beach away from the crowds. Apparently the lifesavers stopped patrolling this beach since 2005 and left it alone. I am not too sure if the absence of lifesavers repel the locals from visiting this beach or maybe it is due to the pebbly beach, but as you can see the pictures below, it is most certainly serene.

I do not know what aquatic life I expect to see here and to tell you the truth, I do not think there is much to see here, but the water was warm and it would just be bliss to go for a nice swim. Unfortunately I don't have my snorkeling gear here in Hong Kong. Either I invest in a new set or have my gear posted from Sydney. I will have to have a think about it.

 View from the Hairpin Beach

 Clear, pristine waters..

 Reminds me of Sydney except Sydney has beautiful sandy beaches

There is limited snorkeling/diving information in Hong Kong and it seems like you learn the ropes when you join an association or group of some sort. One website/blog I have found which provided good diving/snorkeling/nature information of Hong Kong is called Hong Kong Outdoors ( 

After looking at this website, one specific site I want to visit is Sharp Island. Apparently this site is favoured by scuba divers and snorkelers due to its pristine/clear waters and its aquatic life. Below is a picture borrowed from the Hong Kong Outdoors website. 

Sharp Island (Source:

Now that I think about it, I need to get my gear here ASAP! Hopefully my next post would be an actual snorkeling post and not about my snorkeling desires. In the meantime, I think I will have to continue searching for new areas to control my itchy feet. 

Till then.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Learn to dive for free in Sydney

Once again, a little birdie has whispered into my ear and advised me of the wonderful contribution a group of marine biologists are doing in Sydney. They have created a website to educate the public about the conservation of the marine ecosytem by offering education, training in marine conservation and biology. To add the cherry on top, these dedicated marine biologists also offer free training on the Open Water Diver course (certification) which allows one to dive anywhere around the world. 

From what I can see, they are a non-profit group and are purely interested in the preservation and conservation of the aquatic life in Sydney.

For those that are interested, their website is:

You can find information about their free Open Water Diving Certification at:

I would like to add that I am in no way affiliated with this group and have posted this information purely because of my admiration of this group.

I will definitely sign up for this class when I return to Sydney :P

Bye for now..


Beauty at Menjangan - Part II

I couldn't resist to put more pictures of my unforgettable snorkeling experience at Menjangan Island. This time, I can describe my experiences by showing you a map of Menjangan Island.

Our first dive was at Pos 2 which was the from the beach. This was where our boat was moored and also had our authentic Indonesian/Balinese lunch. Our second dive was from Cave Point where I felt was a better dive spot than the first. Due to the strong tides and the unpredictability of the weather (cloudy with forecast of storm), our guide played it safe and chose these safer and covered options.

I was informed that the Anchor Wreck is also an enjoyable snorkel (I cannot imagine how much better!) but we would have to save it for next time.


Below are pictures of myself, my partner, and our tour guide. I couldn't resist putting more pics of our snorkeling session and have posted a few more for your viewing.

Me: Need a weight belt!

My partner in crime :)

Snorkel guide: underwater photography fanatic


Wedged in between coral

The picture below was taken by my partner. Boy does she have a keen attention to detail to find a heart-shaped coral amongst an entire civilisation of life. The flash has increased the colour intensity (brightness) of the coral to give it its contrast amongst others. 

Could be a nice spot to put a ring?

Amazing colours

Amazing aquatic life

Lot's of yellow

Since I enjoy underwater photography and keeping records of my snorkeling experiences, I am beginning to think if I should invest in a better camera with the proper underwater housing. I acknowledge it is an expensive investment but is it worth it? I will need to ponder on this.. 

Until then..


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beauty at Menjangan Island - Bali

Just last week, I was lucky enough to visit Bali from Singapore for a few days. During our 4 day stay, I managed to sneak in a day of snorkeling at Menjangan Island. From what I have researched, this place was less frequently visited by tourists due to its distance. I believe I made the right choice! Unfortunately I could not visit the other popular areas such as Nusa Dua, Lembongan, and the Blue Lagoon due to our busy schedule but I must articulate the beauty experienced at Menjangan Island. 

The tour (for 2) commenced at 6:00am and it took about 3hrs to get to the ferry to Menjangan Island. It took another 30 minutes to get to Menjangan Island. Below are few pictures of the boat ride to the Island. 

The boats we took
A Silhouette of Java Islands

The local crews were amazingly friendly and was an experience to remember. A picture of them below:

Just before arrival, we were briefed that we will be visiting two sections of the island. One from the beach and another from the boat. We were also told that the reefs were 3 metres from the beach and to my astonishment, it was true. The reef began almost immediately. The water was warm. Warmer than the Great Barrier Reef. I only had my skins on and did not feel cold whatsoever. The total experience was just amazing.

About 20 metres from the shore there is a massive dropoff which was quite frightening. This was my first encounter with such a dropoff and I was told that there are amazing aquatic life down there which could only be experienced through scuba diving. Maybe next time?

Due to my lack of knowledge of coral names and tropical fish, I am unable to identify (name) most of the fish in the pictures below. I took almost 500 pictures but below are few of my favourites.

The group of fish (below) did not have any qualms approaching us snorkelers and seemed quite curious of what's going on. Maybe they thought it was feeding time?

Feeding time?

Beautiful coral and the community it supports

 A view I only have imagined seeing.. or through documentaries :)

Our tour guide, who is an avid snorkeler and underwater photographer knew where some of the more popular species inhabited. One species in particular was the famous Nemo (clown fish) which was about 4-5 metres deep. I was able to reach the clown fish (2) but was unable to get a good picture as I kept floating up. This made me realise that I need weights! Maybe next time I will be more prepared. Anyway, you can see this image better if you click on it.

Do people have 'clown' fish phobia's?

Another coral(?) that caught my eye was the one below. It had a beautiful blue tinge and was quite sparse in this area.

Blueatiful Blue..
 Some more coral..

This was the dropoff I described earlier. You can imagine the depth through the deep blue.

 Edge of the reef

 Scattered millions of blue green damselfish

 Close up of the scatter millions..

 Yellow Mellow

Common reef species: Blackback butterfly fish

 Nemo's mentor: Moorish idol

 spotted marble

I know my blog was supposed to be my snorkeling experiences in Sydney but I think having a variety spices up your life :) 

Snorkeling at Menjangan, Bali was my first snorkeling experience outside of Australia. Having been to the GBR, Menjangan Island provides a different experience due to its charismatic boats, local Balinese people, and its isolation. I hope to visit this site again and hopefully it will not lose its charm.

I wonder when my next snorkeling trip will be?

signing off..