Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Coconut 5 RM, 200 logged dives

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

There is a tradition in the diving community to celebrate dive number one hundred by diving naked. My hundredth dive was my instructor exam, so it was quite out of the question to let it all hang out… Since I didn’t do my hundredth dive naked, the idea was to do it for number two hundred instead, and that dive was this afternoon. I had two divers with me, Justin was doing his fourth and final Open Water dive for his course, and his friend Bryce joined us for a fun dive. When we arrived at the dive site this afternoon, and I saw that there were no other boats at the site, I asked the boys what their thoughts on nudity were, and whether they were easily offended… 😛 Being quite liberal and easy-going guys, they thought it sounded like good, clean fun. We started the dive with Justin doing his final skill practice. When we headed out for a tour of the dive site, I took off my board shorts, and spent the next 45 minutes diving in my birthday suit. At the safety stop at the end of the dive I put my shorts back on, and we ascended to the surface as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. 😛 Although it was a bit strange to dive naked with two other people who were not, it was an altogether liberating feeling, and an experience I wouldn’t mind repeating in a somewhat more private setting.

The coconut tree that grows up through the dive deck where we de-kit and rinse our equipment has been heavily laden with coconuts lately, and a few days ago one fell down as we, the Sunlight staff, were sitting around having a cold after-work brew, and crushed Mike’s can that sat right next to him… It became abundantly clear that the heavy nuts needed to be taken down before someone gut hurt or killed, and today we finally managed to convince Nick, one of the staff at Moonlight, to brave the tall trunk and the stinging ants that live in the top of the palm tree. Legend that he is, Nick spent the better part of an hour perched in the tree top with a cleaver, cutting down the bunches of coconuts and lowering them down with a rope. I’ve drunk my fill, and eaten so much coconut that it feels like it’s going to come out my ears, and that was just from one nut! We’ve probably got over fifty liters of coconut juice, and several kilos of delicious coconut flesh, so Nick, ever the businessman, has put up a cardboard sign on the huge pile of nuts on the deck:

COCONUT RM 5!

First diving course, lunch in Thailand, visitor from Norway

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I am currently sitting on a bus on the way to the airport in Kota Bharu. I’ve spent most of the day in buses, going to Thailand for lunch, and then back into Malaysia with another 90 day visa period. My cousin Gaute is arriving soon, and together we will race to Kuala Besut to see if we can make it in time for the last boat to the Perhentians!
In the last few days, I’ve been teaching my first courses, an Open Water course, an Emergency First Responder course, and started a Rescue course. My OW students were two sweet and laidback Danish girls, maybe even a little too laidback, as the course took 5 days to complete instead of 3 and a half… 😛
I am currently carrying too much cash for comfort, as I have withdrawn cash from six different cards, to bring back to people on the island. Fingers crossed that I don’t get mugged before I’ve handed off the cash, 7500 RM is a lot of money!
I’ve worked long days and had little sleep for a bit too long now, so today was a nice change, a dry day spent snoozing on various buses. When I say dry, I mean that only in the sense that I haven’t been diving, though, ‘cuz on the boat to Kuala Besut this morning I got so soaked with sea spray that I might as well have been… I dried off soon enough, of course, in this heat that’s just a matter of minutes, but I’ve spent the rest of the day caked with sea salt. 😉
Now I am really psyched to recieve my first visitor from the old country, can’t wait to finally show somebody from home how I live!

(Aargh, why is this bus half an hour late, at this rate we won’t make it in time for the last boat!)

Uncle Travelling Gjerulf to become uncle again!

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

The days roll by here in the Perhentians, and the FIFA World Championship is on. For about a week I’ve been coughing and coughing to empty my lungs of the stubborn phlegm that just won’t go away.  was really cold one night, and the resulting chest cold is as stubborn as is to be expected in a tropical climate.

Most of my days are spent sitting around the shop, or out chatting to people to see if I can recruit some divers.  It’s quiet here, so I’m not diving quite as much as I’d like to. I guess it’s a combination of the economic recession going on the third year, people’s irrational fear that all of South East Asia is unsafe due to the unrest in Thailand, and perhaps some apprehension about buying expensive air tickets to Asia and then getting stuck in an airport due to volcanic ash from Iceland…  Now that the volcano has calmed down, I have high hopes for July and August, the high season here in the Perhentians!

This is an interesting place for watching international football, because there are almost always someone that has some  connection to one of both of the countries playing. As you probably know, I’m not exactly a big football fan, to put it mildly, but I have actually watched a couple of games, and that says a lot about the mood surrounding the matches! It also makes for some rather bizarre experiences, like one night in the beginning of the group play when I got up in the night to go to the bathroom, and saw two grown men and a lifesize inflatable kangaroo in Australian supporter get-up in front of the TV in the lounge…

In more important news, the oldest of my little sisters is pregnant with her second, and I will get a niece in November!! 😀 Congratulations to Jenny and Tom!

I am also really looking forward to my first visitor from home, my cousin Gaute, who I’ll go to meet after my visa run to Thailand on 6 July!

We’re open for business!

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

It’s been waaaay too long since my last update, but we’re now finally up and running. Most of my time in the weeks since I wrote last were spent getting things ready, but it has now all paid off.  🙂 The new deck is beautiful, compressor works, we’ve got the staff we need, and we’re ready to go in the water! Our webpage is also up and running, although it needs a bit more work. Check it out at sunlightdivers.com!

Whenever I’ve not been working, I’ve been hanging around not doing much of anything… We got one more employee a couple of weeks ago, Becky from England, and yesterday Mike came over from the Perhentian Besar to be our manager, like last year. As I’ve been writing this we also got our first customer. 🙂 Now I’m REALLY looking forward to finally getting in the water and start teaching.

I don’t know how often I’ll be writing while I’m here, because after the novelty wears off, it’s limited how interesting it will be to hear about my days: get up, eat, dive,  dive, eat, dive, dive, eat, socialize, sleep,  get up, and so forth and so on… However, I’ll go a little bit more in detail about the place here.

I live just upstairs, above the dive shop, so it’s not really a long commute to the office, in fact the office is closer than the toilet and shower… The toilets are the western “chair” type, not squatters, but they have no flush, instead you flush them with a scoop that’s placed in a bucket of water next to it. The showers have quite limited water pressure, and only cold water. Hot water is not something I really need, as the climate here is warm enough that only modesty and social norms create the need to wear anything at all. It is nice to have a hot shower every once in a while, though, because you feel a lot cleaner after a hot shower than a cold one. Thus, when I met a couple of girls from Bryne (near Stavanger in Norway) a few weeks ago and found out they were staying in the fancy Bubu Hotel, I made sure to borrow their shower before they left…

My meals are normally taken in Moonlight restaurant, which is just next to the shop, in the same building. The food is good, but I miss not being able to cook my own food. What I miss the most in the way of food, however, is Sørlandschips, the bes potato crisps ever… If anyone from Sørlandschips or their owners, Valora Trade Norway reads this, please send me a crate of Sørlandschips with sea salt! 😀

I work from 8am to 6pm, and we have a rotation between us deciding who gets up to open up shop at 7:30, and who closes up at 8pm. After a late dinner, I sometimes head up the beach to the shops for necessities, or the bars for a beer and socializing. Last night I spent some time with a cool group of people, a girl from Arizona travelling with her roommates gay lover, two girls from Brighton, two Swedish brothers and a couple from Norway, one of whom used to live across the street from my old house in Misjonsvegen, the other one in Våland! Small world…

My room above the shop is quite simple, but I have what I need: a bed, a fan, a mosquito net, a bookshelf and some pegs to hang my clothes from.

The climate here feels like what I was made for: temperatures during the day normally peak out between 32 an 35 degrees, and sink to 28-29 during the night, while the water is a constant 30 degrees. Most days are sunny with a bit of haze because of evaporation from the sea, and every once in a while we have a day or two of strong winds, torrential downpour and thunder and lightning. The greatest hazard around here are falling coconuts, but we also have some monkeys that can bite if teased (never even saw one) scorpions (never saw any of those either) and the occasional python. The mosquitoes here don’t carry malaria, but they are quite annoying around dawn and dusk.

Okay, now you know a bit about my life here. The everyday life sets in here too after a while, but then I look out at the white beach and the blue sea, consider the fact that I COULD be spending my days in some dreary office, and I’m fine again.  😉

Precious precipitation pouring over Pulau Perhentian

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Deserted beachI’ve been in the Perhentians almost two weeks,  and I’m still hanging around waiting for equipment, boat, compressor and stuff. It’s been mostly lazy days, beach time, socializing and chilling, but we’ve also had some longed-for rain! The fresh water supply was dwindling, and for a few days we were almost without water for showers and washing. The downpour this week was therefore very welcome, at least for those of us who have more than a few days here!

Rumours are running wild up and down the beach about what’s happening with Sunlight Divers this year, so it’ll be good to get back in business, and settle all the speculation. 🙂 As for the diving, I’ve reached the point where I’m about ready  to go and pay to get in the water…  Luckily Moonlight has this year invested in wifi, so I don’t have to go anywhere to get online. The drawback is that the ISP is a bit unstable, so while I sometimes get a near perfect connection, at other times it switches on and off like the old fashioned flickering disco lights in the beach bars. Someone told me today that they’ll be doing maintainance on the underwater cable in mid May, and that they’re hoping that’ll sort everything out, but mid May on Malaysian time I’d say is probably closer to September… 😛

Anyway, as my days are pretty much divided between eating, trying to go online and socializing, any more regularity in my updates would get rather repetitive. Mike is back on the island, and is trying to get a job at Spice divers, but has a job with Arwana on the big island lined up if that doesn’t work out.

Coconut 2On a final note, here’s me with a coconut and a straw. Recipe: take one coconut that falls out of a tree, hack it open, drink a little of the juice, fill up with ice, stick a straw in it, then sit down and enjoy a cold refreshing drink. 🙂

Return to Paradise

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I’ve been nagging about this in my last three posts, but just to confirm it: I’m back in the PERHENTIANS! I came on the first boat this morning, and I’ve settled in above the dive shop, in one of the three rooms upstairs. Three of the people who were here with Sunlight last year were already living there when I arrived, Wan, his brother and another fellow I haven’t met before are sharing one room, Emma and Bob are sharing another.

On my way here from Bali, I had two nights  (or rather one and a half) in Kuala Lumpur. My plane landed at twenty past midnight, and by the time I found a guest house, Reggae, it was 2 am. On the first floor of Reggae Guest House was Reggae night club, but luckily they turned off the music by the time I turned in a little before 3. It was a little expensive (and a lot loud…) so I moved the next morning, down the street and out of earshot, to Wheelers guest house. The price was about half, but it was definately not worth it, as it turned out the place had bed bugs. 🙁 My suggestion: never ever stay in Wheelers guest house in KL.  I had a nice day before, though, as I met up with Ali and Sundar again, same as last time I was in KL. We spent the day around Bukit Bintang where Ali lives, and went out to eat at an Irish pub.  (the Beef and Guinness Pie at Finnegan’s is brilliant!)

Yesterday my flight from KL to Kota Bharu was delayed, so I didn’t make it to Kuala Besut in time for the last boat and had to spend the night.

I went over to Panorama today, where Emma is working as a divemaster this season. She was out diving, so I was just hangin’ around until she came back. When she arrived, I was sitting with my back turned, behind a one of the pillars supporting the deck above, and one of the other Swedish girls there told Emma in a serious voice that some very weird guy had been asking for her. Her expression of utter bewilderment turning to recognition as I peeked around the pillar was priceless!

There seems to be a little challenge to overcome before I can get started in setting up here, but I hope it’s nothing big. Sunlight has three years left on the lease of the place, but there are some details of the agreement we need to go over with the owners of Moonlight and the owners of Sunlight divers, and then the real work sets in. 🙂 I am itching to get started, so I hope it won’t take too long. I’m waiting to hear from Richard before I start contacting the people that need to be involved, don’t want to step on any toes and blow up possible deals in my first days here… 😉 It feels good to be back, though, and I do hope the good feeling about working out a nice deal here will prove to be right!

Luxury in Tulamben

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, Jon and I arrived in Tulamben around half past four. The others were there already, lounging lazily in the lovely open livingroom of our huge villa. We had a nice little pool, a fantastic lawn, and the sea just beyond. We joined them in the good life until we were picked up for the dive at six. We entered the water right after sundown, and had a wonderful dive on the Liberty. At first sight of the wreck, there was a group of massive bumphead parrotfish, and the dive was filled with life from end to end. Before we went up, the last skill we had to demonstrate, was a 3 minute lights out while kneeling on the sand. The amount of luminescent algae was impressive, and being the total geek that I am, I was gesticulating and casting “fireballs” the whole time…

After dinner, we were driven back to the villa, where we emptied the minibars, joked and laughed. This morning there was breakfast next door, and then I had a long HOT shower in the classy roofless bathroom… 😀

We did two dives today as well, just for fun. The first dive was on the wreck, and the second one in Coral Garden. Now we are on our way back to Blue Season, and I’ll spend my last night in Bali at Leo’s.

IE – Instructor Examinations

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Since my last post, I’ve been a busy little bee…

iphone-031As you know, I’ve been working hard on becoming a scuba instructor. A definite highlight was this Sunday, when we went to Nusa Penida for an Adventure Diving Workshop. The first of our two dives was a dive to 39 meters, practicing teaching deep diving. We all had different tasks, like showing the difference in colours at that depth, showing the effect of pressure on a closed plastic bottle of air and a tennis ball, having people perform a timed task at depth and on the surface, and breathing from a pony bottle. My timed task, pointing at randomized numbers from 1 to 25 in the right order on a slate, took me 36 seconds at depth, and 24 seconds on the surface. I didn’t feel like the nitrogen was affecting me, but the numbers speak clearly of increased problem-solving time due to nitrogen narcosis! Our second dive was a shallow one, max depth a little under 12 meters, but really beautiful, drifting over a gorgeous coral reef. On that dive we practiced leading Discover Scuba Diving customers, people with no training in diving whatsoever, which means I as the instructor have to do everything for them.

Tuesday and Wednesday we did our Mock  IE, and Wednesday was the last day of my IDC, Instructor Development  course. After finishing off our presentations, we went to a restaurant on the beach for dinner and beers, compliments of Jonathan Cross, our Course Director.

Yesterday was my second day off since I came to Bali. This time there was no enforced rest, so I headed out to find a rash vest. Eeva from Finland also needed to do some shopping, so off we went to do a round of some factory outlets outside Kuta. I was disappointed with the selection, even in the Billabong factory outlet, but I found a decent one that wasn’t too expensive. We also padded around in Kuta for a bit, had lunch, and went down to the beautiful crescent beach there to have a look. I rounded off the day with an hour of relaxing traditional Balinese massage, priced at a friendly NOK 33, or about 4 Euros.

Today was the first day of our Instructor Examinations. We met up at Blue Season Bali around ten a.m. to go through some paperwork, and a little past one we went to Hotel Parigata here in Sanur for the theoretical part of our examinations. It started with a briefing on the logistics of the three days of examinations, and then we dove right into the written exams, first 5×12 questions on general dive theory with no reference materials in an hour and a half, and then 50 questions on PADI Standards and Procedures, open book exam in another hour and a half. My results ended up being:
Physics 11/12
Physiology 12/12
Recreational Dive Planner 12/12
Skills and Environment 12/12
Equipment 11/12
and
Standards and Procedures 49/50

The lowest passing grades are 9/12 and 38/50, so I was in the safe end of the spectrum. I’ve generally not had problems getting passing grades, although in the Physiology part of my Mock Exam I had four mistakes. Still, I’m happy with my results, but curious about what the three questions I missed were…

After the written exams, we went back to Blue Season, to prepare our Knowledge Development Presentations for tomorrow morning. I’ll be “teaching” the rest of the crew, who’ll be posing as Open Water students, about how to find minimum surface intervals, using the eRDPML (electronic Recreational Dive Planner, Multi Level)

After those presentations, we’ll head back to Blue Season again, to prepare for our next presentations, and tomorrow afternoon we’ll be in a pool in a hotel here in Sanur, where we’ll do our Confined Water Teaching presentations. My assignment is to once again “teach” four of the candidates, once again posing as Open Water students, how to establish neutral buoyancy, using the low pressure inflator.
After a skill circuit in the pool, demonstrating Regulator Recovery and Clearing, Breathing From a Free Flowing Regulator, Alternate Air Source Use (stationary), Neutral Buoyancy, and Controlled Emergeny Swimming Ascent (CESA) it’s back to home base at Blue Season to prepare the last set of presentations, which will take place in open water on Sunday.
Early Sunday morning we’ll  head out to sea, and my presentation to my “students” will be Alternate Air Source Use (stationary) and CESA. The final task for the examinations will take place immediately after our Open Water Teaching presentations, when we’ll all do a rescue presentation, towing an unresponsive nonbreathing diver to safety, while removing scuba gear and giving rescue breaths.

And VOILÁ, I’ll be an Open Water Scuba Instructor!

Liftoff

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

When I returned to Norway in October, I stayed for a while on my friend Hallgeir’s couch in the basement, and then on a camping bed in my friend Oddi’s living room. Since then I’ve lived cheaply (for Stavanger) in a loft, paying NOK 3500 per month, wi-fi included.

I temped as a kindergarten assistant for three weeks, until I managed to land a job as administrative director in Varden church in Stavanger. It was demanding and challenging, as I’ve never had the responsibility of being anyone’s boss before, but rewarding as well, when I got things done.

On Wednesday I managed to gather a surprisingly large group of friends at The Irishman to say “screw you guys, I’m outta here.” Thursday I packed the rest of my stuff and headed to my parents’ place in Vanse, and Friday morning we drove to Arendal, where I’ve spent the weekend with them, my two youngest sisters, my grandparents and my aunt, uncle and cousin. My oldest sister took her husband and son to Paris this weekend, and tried to robb us of a 1-year birthday party, which we still celebrated, without the guest of honour! 🙂

Right now I’m on a bus on my way to Torp airport, where RyanAir is hopefully flying me out to London Stansted at 13:55. I’m supposed to be there at 14:50 local time, and my AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur is scheduled for 23:20. I arrive in KL tomorrow night at 20:20 local time, spend the night, and leave again Thursday morning at 10:25. Arrival at my final destination, Bali, will be at 13:25 local time. My Instrucor Development Course (IDC) starts on Friday. Wish me luck!

This is posted from my iPhone, because I’ve managed to mess up my eeePC so it’s stopped working, in my attempt to reinstall XP. 🙁 In the desperate attempt to fix it in my sleep deprived state in the wee hours of this morning, I just made matters worse, by fumbling a format of the thumb drive I was trying to install from, and instead accidentally formatting my external hard drive… I saw that I’d entered the wrong drive letter a fraction of a second after I’d pressed OK, and would’ve wept a river if my eyes hadn’t been all dried up after hours of futile labour…

Nevertheless, I greet all those who remain in the frozen, snowy hell that is Norway with a wide grin and a hearty “SO LONG, SUCKERS!” 😀

Kuala Lumpur

Monday, October 5th, 2009

On Wednesday, my first morning in Singapore, I went sightseeing with a dutch girl I met in my hostel. We went to see the biggest fountain in the world, and were a bit disappointed… What was cooler was to actually see the tracks from the F1race the weekend before, and some of the huge stands for the audience that had been rigged up around the place. In the evening I went to Singapore zoo for the famous night safari. It was nice to see a zoo where the animals seemed to have a decent life!

The next day I had the most expensive cup of coffee of my life, in the City Space bar on the 71st floor of the Swissotel Stamford. The next point on my agenda was to have a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel Long Bar, where the drink was first invented. I got there though, and it was filthy. You get free peanuts with your drinks, and there were peanut shells EVERYWHERE. It was crunching under my flipflops when I walked in, it crunched under my bum when I sat down, and the tables were so full of peanut shells that there was barely room for glasses and when the waiters were clearing the tables, they just shuffled it all down on the floor… It was not very nice, and the service was extremely slow, so I flung the whole idea of a Sling out the window.

In the evening, I went to dinner and drinks in Little India with a bunch of couchsurfers. After a late night at the Singapore couchsurfers’ usual hang out, I was talked into staying another day, and go clubbing with Nikki from Singapore, and we asked Glenn from Norway to join us. Hence, on Friday, instead of going to Kuala Lumpur, I went out and bought a pair of dress shoes for 10 S$, and was then ready for the clubs. The rest of the daylight hours I pent walking around Fort Canning Park, and learning about Singaporean history from the information boards along the historical paths.

In the afternoon I met Simin, a schoolmate from my Italian days, for dinner, and she came along clubbing as well. We went to a fancy club called “Attica” on Clarke’s Quay, where we (to Nikki’s disappointment, I think) dropped the dancing, and sat talking into the small hours of the morning, and shared a bottle of Moet, courtesy of Glenn. I had a great time!

The next morning it was time head out to Kuala Lumpur. After about three hours of sleep, I got up around nine, and took the subway to the border, and a bus across. The border crossing was intensely crowded and took forever, but I finally arrived at Larkin bus station in Johor Bahru on the Malaysian side, and immediately got on a bus for KL. I’d been texting Seth with regular intervals since that morning, but since I didn’t get any reply, I assumed I’d written down the wrong number. When I arrived in KL around 6pm, I sat down somewhere that had WiFi, and looked up the number, and it turned out Seth had given me wrong instructions as to what to do with the area code when adding the country code. When I got it sorted out, he gave me directions to his place, and I got in a cab and went over. The evening was relaxed but fun. We went over to Ali’s place, another diver I met in the Perhentians, and who lives in the same apartment complex as Seth, and played Rock Band on his PS3. To round up a good evening, we went around the block to one of the best night spots in KL for a couple of beers before bed.

Yesterday I bought some clothes, cuz the ones I had made in Nepal are getting worn out, and today I’ve had lunch in KL Tower. It was a bit costly, but worth it for the view, just like the coffee in Singapore. (and it was only about twice the price of the cup of coffee anyway, for an eat-till-you-drop buffet…) Today I’m hoping to meet with another friend from the Sunlight Divers for tea, but I don’t have his phone number, so it’s looking bleak…