Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sydney Siege Terrorist deemed not a threat except to the woman he may have killed

Sydney judge William Pierce released two murder suspects - one of whom is the terrorist in the Martin Place hostage siege that resulted in the murder of two innocent citizens. He argued that they weren't a threat to society - only to the person whom they (probably may have) murdered.

I'm not sure why there are so many crazy Australian judges who pass ridiculous sentences. I think its because they are not accountable if the person they release reoffends.

I think a law should be passed to allow victims to sue the judge if the criminal he deems as "not a threat to society" kills or injures another person. That seems very fair.

The victims should also be allowed to sue the State if they allow criminals loose who re-offend, rape, torture, murder their fellow citizens.

I'm still amazed that the judge who released that terrorist nutcase can actually accept his allegations that ASIO and the Iranian Secret Police were invading his home and claim that he posed no threat to society other than to his wife who was killed.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bluetreasure Shipwreck report - the shallow wreck - the Ofa schooner

Back in May I joined with a marine archaeological expedition led by the venerable oceanic explorer Don McIntyre this year - the aim was to search for the ancient ship wrecks sunk in Tonga.

I'm trained as a scuba diver and historian. I love studying history. I love antiques. And I love shipwrecks. Its like a mystery - a giant jigsaw puzzle. You never know what you may find. That's why I joined.

We spent a lot of time in harbor though and while we were there I did some research looking through the newspaper archives, and reading the old journals written by missionaries. Its a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. I guess that would be easy if you had a working metal detector haha.

You can glean some information here and there and piece together names of the shipwrecks. A petty journal written by a church pastor can reveal a  story about a marooned sailor which later reveals the name of an ancient ship that was sunk before they all arrived. Go to A and A leads to B and so forth til you reach Z. :)

Sometimes the search reveals poignant stories like the one of the cabin boy Narcisse Pelletier who was shipwrecked in Papua New Guinea. 

Pelletier was the cabin boy of the St.Paul, a French ship carrying 327 Chinese gold-seekers from Hong Kong to Sydney. The ship hit a reef near Rossel Island on the eastern tip of the Louisade Archipelago in 30 September 1858. Everyone made it safely ashore. The captain and nine white crew left in a boat and after a journey of some 1000 km reached Australia. They left behind the ship’s twelve year old boy Narcisse Pierre Pelletier who had wandered off alone, and was found and cared for by aborigines. Over a decade later, in 1875 he was ‘rescued’ by force in 1875 by Captain Fraser of the brig John Bell, and taken to  Somerset on Cape York, as a prisoner. Pelletier by now a young man of 30 had no wish to leave his adopted people, but he was sent back to his native France. No longer regarding himself a Frenchman, he worked his passage back and rejoined his people. Sadly, the Chinese miners, except one, were never found.

or this other news item - the famous "Elizabeth Morley".

The Union, a Snow brig, of 99 tons. Built at Barnstaple, England but registered in New York. The Master was Daniel Wright from Sydney. The ship was wrecked in Fiji, 12 November 1804. Earlier in 1804, it nearly came a more unfortunate end. The ship under Capain John Pendleton, called at Tongatapu which Captain Cook had mistakenly named "The Friendly Islands". The captain and eight crew went ashore and were killed and eaten by the natives. The Tongans were cannibals and would try and lure the crew from passing ships onto shore - where they became the main item for the feast. After killing the 1st group, the Tongans also tried to get onto the ship. But the first mate, Daniel Wright, suspicious of the captain's late return - refused entry. The natives brought out a white woman in a canoe in an effort to entice an invitation to board, but she called out that the boat’s crew had been murdered, and managed to swim to the Union under protection from gunfire from the brig. She was Elizabeth Morley, the sole survivor of the Duke of Portland, lost there in 1802. 

Interesting tales.

One of the shipwrecks that was looked at - known as the shallow wreck - didn't have a name to it. It was probably about 100 years old. There was an iron winch, a rubble heap of ballast stones, iron plating with small iron pipping similar to what you see on old steam engines, and surprisingly wooden planking just a meter under the sand. On the first dive there, I did a cursory search and found the iron pipping and the wooden planking.

This is what it looked like.

The shipwreck however has no name.

I did the archival news search and came up with a likely candidate. "The Ofa "a kauri built schooner. Ofa could mean "fathom", or if an apostrophe was used ('Ofa) - it means "Love" in the Tongan language.

Kauri-built vessels were ships made from locally sourced wood.

I think quite likely this is the ship wreck in question.  I speculate that it ran aground near the island - and bits of it got broken up and separated. Parts of the wreck got scattered on the beach - part of it sank where it is now.

There is another account of a shipwreck - a smaller schooner - the 60 ton Jiale Tafa also sunk in the same area in 1894. It was owned by Tongan royalty - the father of a Governor of Vavau. But this sort of celebrity sinking would have been remembered by the local people.

As for the "shallow wreck" there seems to be no one on the island who knows the name of the sinking of this ship. I presume it was because it happened during a hurricane - everyone hid indoors - and no one would have witnessed it crashing into the cove and sinking - what little of it was washed up onshore where it was reported in the news. I would also presume quite likely that the ship was abandoned prior to striking the island - may be it developed a dangerous list -and the crew abandoned it - and what was left of it struck the island. There were no reports of any human bodies found.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tuğçe Albayrak : Heroes Still Exist

A great tragedy has occurred. A person of brave, valiant and noble character has been killed. These are the sorts of people we should honor in our society - including the humble people who daily care for the sick and unwell unnoticed and unrecognized.

Take a moment to reflect on her courage.

Movie Review: Fury - Awful 2/5

I just watched Fury - the WW2 movie starring Brad Pitt and a Sherman Tank called Fury.

I'll write more about it later - I'll just say that it had the potential to be an epic movie. However the fight scenes were unrealistic - sometimes laughably so.

You had to be a really big fan of Brad Pitt to be able to brush aside the ridiculous scenarios.

The movie was so disjointed - there was an uneven flow through the movie, plenty of dead spots where you don't feel anything other than this is dreadfully boring, awkward, I don't have any connection or empathy with the characters.

Its suppose to be based on true stories - and also suppose to be a character study but the actors all seemed to be cardboard stereotypes - about as real as a WW2 propaganda poster.

What was good... the set design was great. The props, the vehicles (they used a real Tiger tank) etc.. all lovingly recreated.

This reminds me of those Airfix box kits I used to build as a kid. They'd have a stunning gorgeous box artwork. Then I'd clumsily put them together... wait ... I think I took more care into putting the airfix planes together. But let's say I hadn't slept for 2 nights and spent it drinking copious amount of Coca-cola - and deliriously tried to put the model kit together. Yeah, the end result is a match up to this movie.

Could have been great. WTF happened? Who Wrote this piece of crap?

I don't understand how millions of dollars can be spent on a film - but the story itself is so badly written. Is this the sort of society we've become?

Monday, December 01, 2014

Eua Island | Kingdom of Tonga

Eua island. It was really beautiful. I stayed there for a time. There was a magical tranquility about the place.

I'd like to return there again.

I swam with whales and taken some good video - this free diver - Grant Thomas - who also stayed there has taken great footage. I admire his work.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fuck Utopia

Fuck Communism, and all totalitarian states - whether they are based on religion, ideology or some idealistic utopia concept.

And fuck Oliver Stone and all the other western leftist morons for supporting North Korea.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Opposition Ward guilty of holding trade fair without permit... oh please

Yep, pretty soon we could possibly expect Opposition wards to pay a special levy for breathing the same clean air that PAP wards breathe - because as you know its Govt policy that enables the clean air.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

If you have wings why don't you fly? Confessions of a female porn star

I've always wondered why there is a double standard in society where women are castigated if they exhibit any sign of sexual freedom, or use their bodies to make money for themselves.

What I find terrible is that such women face ridicule and shame and persecution from men and also especially women, including many feminists who consider them as traitors.

Its no better than the awful Witch burning trials of Europe where many women were tortured to death on suspicion of being a witch. One method was to throw the accused into the water. If she sank (and drowned) she was innocent. If she floated, she was ... duh ... obviously a witch and had to be burned at the stake.

I hope in today's society men and women can learn to be tolerant and stop being nosy fuckers who pry and interfere into the affairs of other people.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thoughtful pleasant girls


Thoughtful, pleasant girls who like to read are gifts from God.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Back home - gardening blues

I'm back home in Melbourne. Its been about a week since I got back.

I just had a good check out of the backyard garden - and wtf - happened there? A botched landscaping job was attempted. The lawn is dug out. There is an ill-advised pebble garden path laid out. How the heck is anyone going to whipper snip that? And using pesticide has its own problems because the lavenders are next to it. Why the fuck do I get this sort of problems when I return? Always!!!!

But I should first tell you something about Asian families.

We tend to stay together under the same roof. We also tend to respect our parents and hold them in high esteem. They in turn provided a lot of financial and material support for their children. Problems arise when boundaries go over. Parents expect too much from their kids or kids take advantage of their parent's goodwill. Usually its the latter. Think of the famous book about "the Giving Tree".

In my case I've spent the last 20 odd years trying to do my best to please my mum. Ever since dad passed away she has been like a ship without an anchor. She frequently gives conflicting instructions and often does things which are totally illogical. When warned about it, she has self-esteem issues, and gets stubborn and invariably persists in doing the wrong choices. The way the family structure is I feel obliged to bail her out each time she screws up. In fact she expects me to. And no, she won't tolerate criticism.

On a very small matter, we have a large garden. Its about 1,000 square feet. The size of an apartment in total. That seems a lot - but if you manage it well, do regular weeding etc.. its easy to manage.

The problem is my mum keeps sacking the gardeners for a variety of reasons. Or if a gardener is sick or unwell she refuses to get another gardener to take over the chores.

In the past she used to do a lot of gardening. But one of her friends discouraged her and the idea had born a harvest of lazy fruit every year. All she does now is watch TV.

Gardening is quite fun once you get into it. But you have to pace yourself. Do 10 minutes here - 20 the next - keep clear of the sun -  work when its not so hot. Mum doesn't do any of this. She would get in - spent the whole day working hard at it - get sunburn - heat exhaustion. And burn herself out. And then spend the next 364 days complaining about it.

OK. Well if you don't want to do it - hire a gardener. If he's not good - hire another one.

No. She expects me to hire the gardener. Then spend her time bitching about how horrible he is and what an idiot I was to hire him. Then get me to sack him. Then she says she will hire her own gardener and promptly do fuck all.

Time and tide waits for no man. And neither does the garden. The weeds grow. The weeds have seeds. More weeds. The garden becomes a jungle and a horror to look at. No one will want to touch it then. Its something my mum doesn't seem to appreciate - sadly.

I don't understand why she prefers to spend her time in bitterness and rage, ranting and complaining, rather than getting on and fixing the problem before it gets insurmountable.

I should have abandoned her decades ago. Gone and lived elsewhere. And hung up on her each time she came with some fucked up problem of her own making.

But I love her.

And she seems determined to test my patience. I suspect she wants to know whether I really love her - so she makes stupid decisions and expects me to bail her out. And in a sub conscious way of thinking test my love for her. There was this time she lost $6million dollars on the stockmarket. I sold my two Melbourne apartments to help bail her out. But it didn't stop her.

Eventually of course I'll crack.

Then her fears about me will be vindicated and she can join her sad brothers and sisters to complain about how worthless her son is.

Its all pretty fucked up thinking. But who can understand the depths and madness of the human mind?

What I need to do now is to try and set up boundaries. Things between me and mum are OK for the moment. She seems very happy and pleased to see me. And she does small things like bringing out my favorite biscuits for me.

I also need to be careful I don't end up like her. So I try and keep active, be sociable and work hard at being happy and not depressed.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Life is...

Life is a tug of war between what you have to do vs what you want to do.

Right now I'm seriously thinking about restoring my 1965 vintage Beetle. But the cost is roughly US$20,000.

Its not as if I can't afford it - but is that what I need to do right now?

I'm at a stage in my life when I really need badly to do something significant. Getting my vintage Beetle restored is great but...

well then again I need a decent car to drive when I'm here in Australia...

Friday, November 07, 2014


Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
Groucho Marx


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

End of 2014 Bluetreasure Expedition Part 2

OK so I could complain that I spent over $12,000 and we sat around in port for 100 days, and eventually did just one wreck dive.... not to mention having my watermark in my photos for the expedition cut out + the indifference from our leader about it. But let's focus on some of the positive stuff shall we? :)

I like to go out, venture out, find stuff - that's why I joined this treasure hunting trip. I like to look for treasure.

I did some research and found the names of one of the wrecks that the earlier crew had found. I also found the names of other wrecks in the area and even the map location of one of the shipwrecks. I'm very pleased with that. I passed the information onto the captain but he didn't seem all that interested for some reason.

I'm also pleased that I made friends with Tongans - I learned some of their language and their customs like drinking kava (a ground root drink). Kava taste like muddy water - but if you can overlook that - it has a certain cleansing property that is unique and brings about a reflective mood. And that's life you know. You have to overlook or get over certain issues and try and find the good in the situation.

Unlike the rest of the crew who seem content on staying on the ship - I wandered around - I spent over a month in the main island and a month plus on 'Eua island - all days added up. When you wander around, visit places you can find interesting things - like good friends, wonderful people, and a fast fibre optic internet connection. lol. If I didn't find that telecom office which provided that service - we would have been stuck on the appallingly slow internet speed offered by coffee shop cafes in town.

Its actually not in my nature to go out. I'm usually content to stay at home and read a book.  But there was something claustrophobic about the ship I was on that made me want to get out and go. I felt like I was sitting in a car in a deserted carpark - that sort of feeling.

Can't talk much... I'm tired... but I have a date with two Japanese girls I met on 'Eua. They're coming over to Tongatapu (the main island). I really like one of them.

I don't ask for much. Pleasant conversation and a warm friendship. I hope this leads somewhere good. I wouldn't mind going back to 'Eua island. I haven't done the cave there and its suppose to be extraordinary.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

End of 2014 Bluetreasure Expedition

Well, that's it. The 2014 marine archaeological expedition is over. We spent 100 days in Salote wharf waiting - waiting for software updates - waiting for email replies - waiting for phone calls - waiting for broken equipment to be repaired - waiting - waiting - waiting.

I spent over $12,000 to join the expedition. I found the ad in Scuba Board - the promise was to look for sunken old ships and to do a lot of scuba diving. I'm a historian as well as a scuba diver. I love history and I love scuba diving. So when the captain asked me to join this year - and I had a "free year this year" - I thought, "Serendipity"!

What I didn't expect was to for the captain to keep the ship in harbor for 100 days. It takes 2 hours to sail to Eua, it takes half a day to sail to our target island in the north. Why did we wait until the very end of the season to go? And even then we only did one wreck dive. 5 months, 1 wreck dive.

I'm a patient man. And I trusted that eventually everything would work out. But all this waiting around.... I don't know about you - but paying equivalent US$12,000 (not counting airfare and sundry expenses) staying in a small ship in harbor for five fucking months is not my idea of a fun adventure.

But in life when you face a Dunkirk you gotta learn how to swim.

In the end, with nothing operational to do, I spent several weeks on the main island and over a month in 'Eua island - chillin' out, making new friends, doing whale swims - paying it out of my own pocket.

Last year I had originally planned a whale swim trip to Pangai, Ha'apai. When I signed up for the bluetreasure expedition I almost cancelled the trip. Its a good thing I didn't. I spent two weeks in Ha'apai swimming with the whales. I got some really nice photos like the one you see on my cover.

On the plus side - this year for the expedition wasn't all wasted  - the magnetometer is finally back and ready for use, the new speedboat was assembled and is being prepped for use. The captain has found a capable first mate and a web designer too.

But I'm really not sure why the 2nd hand magnetometer wasn't checked out before we sailed to Tonga or even when it was purchased. Its 2nd hand - and its not cheap costing over $20,000. I mean if you buy a $20,000 piece of 2nd hand equipment it would be a good idea to test it out first don't you think?

But it wasn't done - and it turns out it may have been broken to begin with.

The time we wasted on that equipment took over three months. One month testing it, trying to upload software for it, finally finding that its broken, then freighting it to Canada and waiting waiting waiting for it to be fixed and returned. That's three months down the drain. Not to mention the repair bill for the mag cost over $10,000.

I shouldn't have joined the expedition. I had a very bad feeling in Jan/February prior to officially signing on - something told me "Don't Go!!!!!" - I dismissed it as just an anxiety attack.

But the premonition was correct- I shouldn't have come.

On the plus side - the waiting around forced me to go outside my comfort zone - meet new people - make new friends - travel on my own. By nature I'm a very shy person and I find it hard to get out - one year 2002 I hardly went out of my home.

But as I encounter new people, make new acquaintances and friends - I discovered whole new ways of living. I met Geologists whose real jobs are as accountants - they study geology after-work - there is a University in London who catered for such people. They were in 'Eua studying a hidden underground cave system - which included a cave that was 100m in length. They took me to the cave but the Tongan guide injured his leg just as we got there.

I also met whale researchers in Tongatapu - really sweet lovely people - their main income is in the oil-gas petroleum industry doing environmental impact studies and in their off-time they work on their passion. I introduced them to the Captain - and their whale boat tour organizer Rob became friends with him and the crew.

In 'Eua I made friends with a Sydney backbacker who spent 2 months traveling it rough - camping - in Indonesia from Sumatra to Sulawesi. She's been to more places in the world than I have fingers. And she's half my age.

I also made friends with local Tongan people - got to know their culture, their language, their food and lifestyle. I think if you go to a foreign land - you are obliged to learn a bit about the people you are staying with. But strangely for the people on my ship they seemed content just to stay on board the boat - in the harbor - I found that most peculiar. Its like going on a long road trip - you finally reach your destination but instead you stay in the car, in the shopping center parking lot. I don't get that.

What I'm trying to say is - meeting new people - is such an eye opening and personal challenging experience. Personally challenging because their lives make me re-think my own of behaving and living life.

Most people want to live comfortable lives - doing things which they are familiar with - but a pig in mud is comfortable to stay there all day - do we want to do that?

They say ignorance is bliss. But if our ancestors had stayed where they were - we'd still be living in some primordial swamp.

But yeah - that's it - end of the 2014 expedition. I chose to leave it not feeling bitter or angry. I chose to go home with fond memories of the friends I made, of the lives I impacted (I saved an Australian diplomat's life after the gas bottle in her bathroom fell down and opened up - if I hadn't been there in the adjoining room in 'Eua - I wouldn't have realized there was a leak and gone to wake her up; she could have possibly have died.)

That's it- gotta go. The TCC security guard is chasing me out.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I'm not sure why I'm getting so many visitors from Ukraine - but hey, welcome.

Wishing the best for your nation and that your people can be free, prosperous, and independent.

I know that your nation has suffered much in the last 100 years from the two world wars, Hitler, Stalin, Communism, and capitalist corruption.

The situation seems bleak with Putin trying to crush you. But things were much worse under Stalin and Hitler. Persevere and be strong - your nation awaits you. Don't let discouragement or depression defeat you.

I was trying to find a drawing I saw 20+ years ago - it showed a tree stump. The axe which was used to chop it down was still stuck in the tree - and miraculously a tree sapling was growing out of the axe handle.

Neo-colonialism and the environmental movement

There's something disturbing about the anti-whaling movement and the way they are targeting the Japanese whaling fleet.

On one hand you have a ship or group of mainly white (Americans, Europeans, Australians) chasing after a Japanese ship because the  latter are killing (endangered) animals, e.g. whales.

The main reason they are doing this - as opposed to say... going after African, Russian poachers, etc.. is that the Japanese aren't going to shoot them or kill them (unintentionally). Try going into a jungle in African and confronting African or Indonesian poachers in the jungle with water bombs and see where that leads. And it also makes for good prime time tv publicity.

If you have any sense of historical perspective - the whole thing becomes a lot ... sadder. For hundreds of years, the Western powers - Spain, Britain, the Dutch, America have been exploiting, enslaving people of other races - Native American Indians, Aborigines, Africans, Filipinos, South Americans, Pacific Islanders, including Chinese (see the Coolie Trade) - as well as slaughtering entire animal species. All the wealth that the West has accumulated has been done largely through exploiting other people's lands and wealth. And now that they are top dog - they have the gall to sit on a high moral horse and dictate what other people do with their land or sea.

Of course the environmental movement has plenty of "moral" strength - but hey, the colonial powers, even America justified their march to dominance through similar moral minded values - ie. "bringing Civilization or Christianity to them".

Its all of course not all black and white. The West has done a lot of good as well. Modern medicine, modern education has done a lot of good as well.

But if I was in charge of the Greenpeace movement I'd be careful how I go about telling other people living in the third world or even Japan what to do with their animals.

Did you know that Japan wanted no part in the outside world? For over 100 years they were content to live in their own country, not venture out. But America then Europe sailed in and demanded by force of guns that Japan open up and modernize, and trade.

I'd advocate something a bit different - put a price on everything. If you value it, its worth something. If you think the forests of Sumatra or Borneo or Tasmania is worth preserving - pay more money than the Timber companies to preserve the land and pay the livelihood of the forestry workers, poachers to do something "respectable". Simply banning the trade and stopping the livelihood of people isn't going to work.

And above all - value education. Go and live in those countries you want the laws to change - make a positive difference to their lives. And bring about change that way. Don't try imposing your ideas onto other people by force of laws or guns.

Sara X Does Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”

Friday, October 17, 2014

Whale Swim Eua

Had two absolutely amazing whale swims here in 'Eua. On Monday we encountered a large mother whale and its calf plus an equally large adult male whale. The male usually escorts the mother and calf - keeping a friendly presence and probably helping the mother to ward off predators or unwelcome suitors.

Seeing the two adults ascend at the same time - with their eyes on me - was an incredible experience. They were giants - 10 times my size and many many times my weight.

But the penultimate experience happened on Wednesday when we swam with a group of 4 to 6 large adult whales. We saw them in the distance breaching many times. As we approached they got shy but we followed - and swam - followed and swam... Eventually they realized we were not a threat and began to come closer to us even circling around us. After two hours - they were swimming right alongside us - even singing. 

My GoPro battery ran out exasperatingly at this moment. I wasted a lot of battery life filming the action on the surface. And I chose maddeningly not to bring a 2nd battery which I was holding in my hand before the event. 

I had dropped my Canon on the concrete floor a few days before - and broke my 16-35mm lens. So I couldn't use it for this amazing shoot. Darn it.

But maybe the fates are trying to teach me a lesson in being grateful for blessings. And you can't have everything your way all the time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Back in 'Eua

(This is an edited excerpt from a letter I wrote to a friend.)

I'm back in Hideway in Eua. Our boat is stuck in Nuku'alofa port.

The new ship - a speedboat - that the captain ordered from America arrived last month. It took a week or so to assemble it. But the engine won't start. Repairs will take another two weeks or more. Bummer.

That will only leave us a week or two to explore our targeted sites before the ship returns to Fiji in November for drydocking. Bummer, nothing I can do about it. Meanwhile the captain is going back to Australia to receive awards - very "Steve Zissou". I think he himself is fed up like hell about this year's expedition.

Nothing to do for me - so I might as well get away. No point staying on the ship in harbor.

I'm really enjoying my time here in Hideaway. There is a peace here - a serenity that in Christian parlance - passes all understanding. I feel it. I step into it like a passenger on a train. And enjoy the
ride. I've been too busy worrying about this and that. I forgot to bring the pressurizing pump for my underwater housing and got sick worrying about it. Last week I thought I accidentally deleted 2 days
of shooting - only to realize that I had kept the SD card in a "safe place". My family is very highly strung and prone to an awful anxiety lifestyle living. So coming here is a marvelous way to disconnect from life on the boat. Not do anything. Just be.

Rather than fret and worry about what others are doing - I think its just time for me to relax and be still.

I was suppose to go on a whale swim today. But I had a tummy upset this morning. So I used that as an excuse to not go. It would also suck if I had to do a runny crap while I'm wearing my wetsuit which takes ages to take off. Haha. Imagine that!!! Yuck. But all that worrying about equipment and stuff... ahhhh.... it kills the joy. As my 5 year old niece Aila would say, "Nothing is fun anymore."

So I'm sitting by the dining room here in the resort overlooking the raging surf.The sea like a monstrous beast lashes at the reef with animal like ferocity - like a furious lion reaching for a prey that is slightly out of its reach, slinking away before repeating its attack randomly. Even here in the safety of the land - 50m away from the surf - I don't feel 100% safe haha.

I tried photographing the crashing surf - but my very presence seems  to have a calming effect on the sea. And each time I go there the sea cools down. lol. I should try walking on water today.

I like getting out and walking around. I'm actually naturally very sedentary. I could easily have stayed on the boat with the rest of the crew, and spend my time reading my Kindle and books. But things are getting awkward on the boat. I think being cooped up in harbor makes people a bit irate. One of the crew has stopped talking or even looking at me for months. And its awkward living in a small boat with such a person.

In a way it is a blessing in disguise - because it encourages me to get out and move around. I've met some interesting people like the whale researchers at the backpackers in Nuku'alofa, the Tongan Bank CEO at Pangai, the Geologists in 'Eua, and made friends with the Tongans like Tala the Tongan receptionist at *** Hotel. I meet up with her from time to time and talk to her. She's a hard worker - she has 12 hours shifts 7 days a week - a work ethic which is unusual for a Tongan.

She's an avid reader and since I wasn't  using my kindle much I gave it to her. Rather than keeping it stored in my drawer I'd prefer to see it being used and enjoyed. She doesn't own a computer and it would be very hard for her to get a Kindle in Tonga and load it with 2G of books. On the other hand, its much easier for me to buy such things.

(Trivia: There is no govt. public library and cinema in Tonga)

And I think that is the essence of living  - to enjoy life and to share what you love with people you like. She's read a couple of books already from the Kindle and its wonderful to see her enjoying it. I feel a bit ashamed now that it was sitting in my drawer for so long.

I met an officer of the Tongan Land office here in the Hideaway resort. He's here with a University geologist caving team - assisting them with their project in studying underground stalactites. There is are massive caves here in 'Eua - some of them large enough to house a 747 jet plane. The island itself is thousands of years old. There are quartz veins just a few metres from the surface - the geologists pointed out one from a drainage trench.

They also told me some incredible information. Apparently there is oil in Tonga - on land and in the sea. Oil has been seeping out of the ground, through building foundation and in the sea. Whenever there is an earthquake, the sea floor cracks and oil has been seeping out naturally. Two drilling studies have been done in the 1950s and 1970s by Shell and Texaco but with inconclusive results. A potential massive mineral lode underwater - emanating sulphite - running in the area between Tonga and Fiji. A major underwater study is scheduled for December. The Canadian company Nautilus Minerals and another exploration outfit is competing with each other for the projects. The officer passed me two documentaries on the subject. They plan to use massive robotic vehicles for the task. Wow think Pacific Rim!!!

The mining explorers are seeking for high grade copper-gold-zinc-silver massive sulphide deposits in Tongan waters. Nautilus is the first in the world to commercially explore the seafloor for high grade minerals. It currently hold more than 300,000km of tenement licences and exploration applications in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand and along the western Pacific Ocean's Rim of Fire.

The company had apparently applied for a licence to explore for minerals in Tonga in early 2000, but there was no response from government at the time. In 2007 the company filed another application for a licence to explore for minerals but this time the Tongans were eager and swiftly granted approval.

The exploration work would be carried out in the seabed area known as the Lau Basin - 100 kilometres from Nuku'alofa at the depth of about 2,000 metres.

The officer also told me that he is puzzled he hasn't heard about our expedition as it falls under his office jurisdiction. The Land office he claims has jurisdiction over sea wrecks as the wrecks are lying in the bottom of the sea - hence its land - lol. I didn't know what to make of it. But he says that a permit for salvaging should only take a month or so - and not the lengthy time it is currently taking for us. I told him to talk to our captain and assist him if he can.

Our own exploration work is roughly analogous to what the deep sea exploration companies are doing - albeit we are using 2nd hand equipment and are looking for "stuff" in shallower waters 20m not 2000m! I wonder what Nautilus is thinking of our work and whether we are encroaching on their turf? When millions of dollars are at stake - people tend to get a bit paranoid and suspicious.

The Uni geologist team asked me to join them next week when they do caving. Sounds like fun. I could do with the exercise.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Island survivors

Three friends survived a shipwreck and found themselves stranded on a desert island in the Pacific. Miraculously they found a magic sea shell containing a Genie who grants them all a wish. 

The first guy wishes he was off the island and back home with his beautiful loving wife and kids. 

The second guy wishes he was off the island to be with his dying mother in hospital. 

The third guy sits and thinks for awhile then says “Gosh, I’m lonely. I wish my two buddies were with me now.”

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sunday evening


Sunday evening. Time to be a bit reflective. Love this song by Brandi Carlile.

It holds a special meaning to me. Sometime ago I fell in love with a girl and she liked me too. But not as much as I did. One day she realized it probably wasn't going to work and she abruptly ended it. She simply stopped talking to me. Refused to speak or talk to me. Hanged me up and walked away. Very cold.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Hong Lim park protest: "All the World's a Stage"

So I'm here in Tonga and reading the news about Roy's "CPF" protest gone awry because it coincided with a special-children event. Supposedly some special-needs children got heckled by the anti-govt protesters. There was also a confrontation with the Minister who was attending the children's event. It all went horribly wrong according to some reports.

Now everyone is shooting everyone - even the venerable Mr Brown is somewhere there firing away. Its like the chaotic scene in Grand Hotel Budapest where all the soldiers are shooting each other. lol.

Hey I'm here in Tonga and I can already smell something is a bit fishy. Or maybe its because our boat has been stuck in a rust bucket port for over 100 days now. :)

So its just an unfortunate coincidence that the two events took place at the same time?

And it was an unfortunate coincidence that an important PAP minister was in the same PARK as a protest rally?? .... hah... interesting.


You already know how super kia-su our government is with regards to security, esp. with regard to the safety of our elite ministers.

Trivia Question: Guess how many SAF soldiers are guarding our Ministers homes now? Think about it :)

You have to wonder why the minister's minders didn't consider - hey, there is a govt protest rally taking place where our man is gonna be. I wonder what they thought? Did they think like a Primary 1 school girl, Ummm.... OK??? No problem??? :)

I think many people would realize that a govt minister near a protest rally is like a red flag to a bull.
These sorts of protest rallies usually attract very disaffected people with big chips on their shoulders, big axes to grind. They're all wound up. They're angry. In Australia - this usually results in a lot of screaming and shouting, plenty of coarse cursing, profanities ... and possibly a bloody riot. Its to be expected.

And there were special needs children there as well.... good grief ....

You know - most people would realize that bonfires, fireworks, and petrol stations don't belong together. So I find the entire episode ... ah... interesting.

Maybe someone goofed up.... but I doubt it.

Personally it would be very sad if there was some Machiavellian scheme happening on that day. I certainly hope no one was dreaming that special needs children would make great pawns.

You know the end result? This fracas discredits the protesters, throws the opposition into confusion - guess who wins?

You're living in the most carefully planned and engineered city in the world. You have to wonder how this could just happen.


Meanwhile onto issues of special need children... I read that a 30+ year old single mother who was convicted by killing her child has been sentenced to jail for 10 years.  Both suffer from mental health problems. I feel the greatest sympathy for single mothers who have to care for mentally handicap children. You can't imagine the horror it would be for them. On a funny note - Heck, even taking care of my active and healthy 3 year old nephew for one day and I already get a massive headache. Imagine having to care for a child who is screaming for attention 24 hours, can't clean themselves properly and has very little prospect of living an independent working life.

The poor mother should not be sent to prison for 10 years - she needs proper hospitalization for crying out loud. Counselling, psy treatment etc.. People who run scams - deliberately defrauding and cheating ordinary people out of their life savings should be sent to jail for 10 years or more - not mothers with serious mental health issues..

Apparently she had tried to seek help for her child - but got no where. Now she is facing 10 years in jail.

Meanwhile a bigtime ex-banker who was drinking alcohol and had fallen asleep in his Mercedes Benz runs down and kills a bicyclist. The rich man gets a few months in jail.

Seriously, wtf.


You know what's a good thing about dating a homeless girl? Scroll down... for answer.

You can drop her off anywhere :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday's Girl

I took this photo of a cute Japanese tourist at the famous rooftop pool at Marina Bay Sands.

Some prudes may call this lewd. But I think they are more likely green with jealousy.

A beautiful creature - woman, man, bird or flower deserves to be prized - their beauty deserves to be honored. That is about as natural as color or fragrance in flowers. It would be a very silly person to attempt to compare a flower's color to the usefulness of say... timber. But in our puritanical society some people try and put down women who are pretty. In some cultures - they want them to be totally covered up as because they are the property of their father, husband or clan.

I think such thinking is anarchic... it makes about as much sense as openly carrying a sword with you on main street.

A woman's beauty is like that of a flower. Eventually it will fade. So what I say. Are we so dismissive of a sunset, or rainbow just because it is fleeting? Are we going to detract from eating good food because it eventually turns to shit?

Some people act like they are going to live forever. Everyone is going to die. Even this planet that we are on.

What is life but something which is very temporal? Like sex. Like a Woman's Beauty. Like a man's life. Live life. Live it to the full. Enjoy it while you can. Help others. Try and share what you have with others who lack - even joy. Refrain from hurtful thoughts about other people. That's my philosophy.

Anyhow enjoy her photo. She's beautiful.

Last week of September 2014, Nuk'alofa Tonga

Listen to this.

Last week of September 2014 - our boat is still stuck in the wharf in Tongatapu, Nuku'alofa. Its been 4 months and we still haven't gone to where we are suppose to go to.

In the captain's own words - the trip has been somewhat of a disaster.

The magnotometer is still stuck in the factory in Canada - I don't hold much hope for its imminent return. It took the factory workers over two weeks to pick it up from the airport - and another week or so to even get around to opening it up. Or maybe it was more. Crikey.

My fear is that we will be stuck here in this godforsaken wharf to the end of this season.

I had a real awful, bad feeling before this trip. I dismissed it as just anxiety. Maybe I should have listened to my gut.

I'm a scuba diver. I found about this trip on the scuba diver forum. Come join us to search for sunken treasure ships!!!! WOW!!!! Hurray!!! But how many operational scuba dives have we done so far ????? Zero. Nada. Ziltch. Bugger all.

Disappointment is the hardest thing to hide sometimes.

Thankfully the captain has allowed me to travel around - I went to the beautiful island of 'Eua for three weeks - and spent another two weeks in Pangai, Ha'a'pai doing whale swims. I made friends with Tongans and I'm trying to learn their language. I can even see business opportunities here (outside of diving and treasure hunting).

Meanwhile, the ship's toilet has broken down. I think one of the crew ate too many papayas (paw-paw) haha.

I've got a phobia about using ship's toilets. On a dive ship in Thailand - I was using the ship's toilet - finished my shower, brushed my teeth, got nice and dry and clean. There was a piece of shit in the toilet bowl - not mine and it couldn't be flushed - the toilet system wasn't working because the Japanese daytripper divers had clogged up the system with paper towels. Just as I was about to get out - the toilet bowl erupted like a volcano. Fucking Krakatoa!!!! That toilet was a small room no fucking place to go except fucking out!!!! - but I couldn't get out quickly because the fucking lock was gritty rusty. By the time I managed to open the door I was covered in shit water.

I try and do my shits straight into the open sea at night. Our boat toilet does this too. But you have to manually pump it out. Thankfully the place where we are moored has few boats and people around - so for me the broken toilet is'n't a serious problem. I just take a dump off the duckboard of our boat and feed the fishies. :) Its quite liberating doing a shit and being a part of nature's cycle.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Whats your fav Classic car?


I love beautiful classical cars. Today most modern cars can go faster and quicker in much shorter times. But there is so much electronics in them that you don't feel the road anymore.

My fav car would be the Porsche 550 Spyder - the one that James Dean drove. What's your fav car?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

4 weeks jail for manslaughter for killing a bicylist

I'm reading this news about a driver who killed a bicyclist. The driver had been drinking and had fallen asleep according to the police report. Curiously no alcohol blood test seems to have been done.

In Australia they would immediately do a blood test alcohol check on a driver in this sort of instance.

Four weeks jail for killing a man however seems poor justice if you ask me. The Singapore justice system can be heavy handed - people have ended in jail for much longer times for much lesser offences. You can be jailed for up to a year in Spore for smoking marijuana.

Was the driver well connected? Did that help him get that sentence I wonder?

Part of his lawyer's mitigation plea was “was the global chief financial officer at Merrill Lynch International Bank and Bank of Singapore before he retired."

Doesn't that sound like - Hey I'm a big dude - a really big deal - you know what I mean?

It might have been better if the lawyer had said his client was overcome with remorse and had already donated a million dollars towards the care of the deceased's widowed mother. (Well, they say money talks don't they?)

Imagine how it would sound if a hawker seller made a similar type of plea...

Kan Kah Kow's plea was "he was the head cook of Huat Ah! Geylang restaurant and was the chief towkay of the Kopi Kopi Si Beh Shiok kopi tiam of Singapore and he also do charity work for the Bare White Lian Society - so please give chance even though he togo a bit and lunga and kill a luxury car driver on his bicycle. Sorry lah. He dunno how it happened cos he was sleeping."

I think the judge would have noted that he had been drinking and thrown him in jail for X years and caned him as well.

One thing is certain the world isn't fair. Maybe a better solution would have been to fine the driver a million dollars or more and donate the money to the bicyclist's widowed mother. And of course ban him from driving forever. He seems like he can afford to hire a driver or hire a taxi to chauffeur him around. Throwing the banker in jail won't bring back the dead. Taking his money and giving it to the dead man's mother for her rent, food, medical expenses and living - would at least have some positive effect.

I have little sympathy for people who are very rich and who do not use their wealth to prevent themselves from being a problem to their society.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The joys of scuba diving

I'm not feeling well lately; I think its just the after effects of a flu I suffered - and the lack of exercise etc.. I've been feeling badly affected by the relatively mild cold weather conditions. So much so that I didn't feel like going for a scuba dive at the lovely Tau Island here in Tonga.

Its your typical tropical paradise, Pure white sandy beach. Coconut trees - and sizable coral reefs with large numbers  of reef fish.

The water temp is around 26C but I really felt it. I had to wear my 5/3mm wetsuit, hoodie, and a thick rash guard. I felt the cold shock of the chilly water when I jumped in. But after swimming around for an hour I was warm. haha.

There was a few interesting swim thru - tunnel structures inside large coral rocks. 

It was a good feeling being inside the water again. Earlier the day we encountered some whales during a morning swim and I swam around a small mother and large calf for about 10 minutes. When we were doing the scuba dive however we could only hear them singing. Of course they could be miles away. But I was hoping I'd bump into a couple of them while scuba diving. It didn't happen.

But I encountered the usual suspects which please me - I never get tired of seeing the colorful butterfly fishes. They are curious but the minute you are near them they swim away. You could of course hang around the reef staying inert - and after awhile they will approach you - treating you as part of the furniture so to speak. But I didn't have time for that.

As the dive stretched pass the hour mark, I headed back to the boat. I passed more coral reefs with more colorful reef fish. Its not as spectacular as Komodo. But its worth a swim.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The power of false memories

The power of false memories

Click on the link above. The mind is an amazing thing. One of the most incredible things that the mind is capable of doing is planting false memories. Think of the history lessons, the church sermons, the news reports that we take for granted as the truth. How much of that is true and how much of that impacts on us to act against our own self-interests or in ways which benefit 3rd parties - like the rich and powerful.

Friday, September 19, 2014

In the mood

So... we're stuck in Nuku'alofa port for the last 2... 3 months... the bar across the wharf is playing some stupid music at 10 times the normal sound.

I'm trying not to think too much. "Why?" is a dangerous question. It can really fuck up your sanity. I don't even want to go there today.

So I give thanks for small blessings - like the kind Tongan woman who gave me a lift on the road and spared me walking in the hot sun. I also remember the kindness of Leta, a Tongan banker who I had lunch with today.

And also feel thankfully that I had the chance to travel to 'Eua by myself and spend a charming 2 weeks there.

And hey... I'm damn lucky for being able to go on a whale swimming tour for 2 weeks in Pangai. Not many of my friends in Australia or Singapore have this opportunity.

And I also give thanks to the Maker who gave me the ability to appreciate stuff like this.

I can harvest a whole slew of ideas from this one film. Beautiful things make me happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Girl

I took the photo of a friend at Marina Bay Sands with my Canon5DMk3. She's a very lovely person and a joy to photograph. I try and capture the essence of a person's character and their best look. We all look our physical best at a certain temporary moment in our lives - when we photograph that moment - we capture our youth for all eternity. People could be admiring your photo a thousand years from now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ha'apai, Tonga

This is a compilation of journal entries during my stay at Ha'apai. Internet was often patchy so I wrote stuff down hoping to send them later - this is it.

I stayed at Fins'nFlukes at Pangai, Ha'apai - Fins and Flukes! I'm not sure why but there seems to be a negative vibe about this place. It might be that the island still has not recovered from the devastating cyclone which destroyed it in January... or maybe its my imagination... The previous owner - an Irish expat tried to commit suicide when his business was ruined by the cyclone. His girlfriend whom he dearly loved also broke up and left him. The trip's organiser V said that Irish dude was wonderful with the whales but he had issues - OCD - example - if some guests wanted to change their scuba diving to whale watching - he wouldn't allow it even though it would have been much more efficient and easier if all the guests went whale watching. He also punched one of the guests in the morning - apparently when the guest was meditating in the garden with his crystals. Irish dude had alcohol problems.

I'm not feeling so well. I caught the flu when I got here. The weather has been unseasonably colder and windy. Temperature is around 23C. In the water its about 20C. To be honest I felt miserable being in a wet cold wetsuit for up to 6 hours a day. I kept myself warm thinking about hot chicken soup, hot chicken porridge, hot tomato soup .... and when its really really cold - ice-cream. Trying to associate cold with something I like or distract my mind makes a some psychological improvement. I also try and distract myself from my misery by thinking about some of my photos like the sunset photo at 'Eua I took of the Japanese nurse - the one with the orange ambient light. And I had to think - wow, those sun beams which could have fried everyone on Earth - had we been closer to the Sun like Mercury, Venus - come at just the perfect optimum temperature the garden and everyone is cloaked in this beautiful orange ambiance. Which begs the question: "Why Life" - why is life so beautiful, so splendid - filled with fruit trees, vegetables, amazing coral reefs and forests and thousands upon thousands of creatures while we as human beings sit at the top of the spectrum.

We had a funny dinner discussion two nights ago. We were talking about the organizer's back problem. I mentioned seeing a Chinese medicine doctor - but she said she tried everything already. And then Michael's wife said, "BUT NOT SEX!!!" hahaha Poor V has been celibate for over 4 years following a bad breakup with an abusive bf. Anyway the rest of the dinner discussion was centered upon plans to get V laid or hitched. I was touted as one of the potential candidates - lol. (I've only just met these people!!!!) Then this total stranger - a random American tourist who had been sitting behind us - a woman in her 50s - leaned over and lectured V on the benefits and joys of a "good bang" and why she shouldn't delay and waste her youth. lol. V is 35. Lol, I might get lucky :)

Funnily enough when she was telling me about her back problems - I wanted to tell her I cured mine after a good fuck. I suffered from lower back problems - and my "chi" started flowing properly again after I had good sex. .... My cold has worsen due to the cold windy weather we've been having. The whale swim today wasn't all that fun as a result - besides we only saw a shy mum+calf.. I'm going to fix up my camera now then straight to bed. Its 11.30pm I have to wake up at 7am .... I should have stayed in bed today but that's such a wussy thing to do. ....

I'm eating alone today. I just have the knack of not getting along with the group lol. The whale swim has been pretty fantastic with close encounters with the whales on all occasions. But I got into trouble with the whale swim guide (a husband and wife team) because I kept on getting separated from the group. The current is pretty strong and unless you are constantly fining you're going to get moved away. I also didn't want to stick close to the main group because sticking close means most of the photos are going to be of people's arses or fins. You get in each other's way. And its bloody annoying. So the whale guide kept on yelling at me to stick close. But I couldn't hear the guide because my head is under water and I'm looking at the whale + I got my scuba hood on. I also don't want to stick close to the group because you end up getting in each others way. You end up with photos of people's arses and fins. And i also can't help if the whale approaches me and wants to check me out. I'm sorry that the whale doesn't go close to them because they are constantly fining. Sigh... so the whale guide and captain threaten to cancel the rest of my whale swim if I didn't stick close to the whale guide. At which point, I refrained from saying - how fucking far up her arse do you want me to be? I refrained of course and blanked out.

 Meanwhile the whale guide is rushing ahead with his/her small little camera to take the photos. If she wants to take prime position and take the shot she can jolly well do it on her own damn time - not when I'm paying $3000 a week for the swim. The whale guide should be helping his customers take the shot - not taking personal photos!!!! Visibility was appalling at time - 10 - 20m - and the guide wanted us to keep to a 10 -20m distance. We were also suppose to move away when the whale was coming up. But it gets frustrating cos sometimes the whales do turn towards you and you are in a prime position to take the shot - but then I hear the guide yelling at me to get back. The end result if we had to follow the rules to the T would be I would get photos with the back of the whale fins, only side shots of the body or mostly out of focus shots - or photos with other swimmers' asses and fins in them. Sigh...

 I'm also damn annoyed that they are wasting time chasing down the occasional "illegal" - Tongans who are out on their own swimming with whales without a permit. I'm sorry for them that this is happening. But they should report it to the authorities when they are back home - meanwhile concentrate on looking for other whales. Its a pretty damn big sea. But nooo... he has to go and confront and eyeball the Tongans angrily for 20 minutes. Again, wasting my time. I brought along a (waterproof) MP3 player so that I can sit at the back of the boat, listen to my music and stare into that gloriously blue sea and sky (and look for other whales) - and AVOID being soaked by the whale guide's negativity and ranting. The other group sympathetically listen to the dude's complaints. But I so wanted to interject and say, "Y'know - this is Tonga - the brothers here have been doing this for generations. Its only one or two boats that are doing this - and the sea is pretty big. How about we go elsewhere and find some whales to swim with and NOT @#$#$$$$ WASTE my time????"

Seriously if they want to do business here in Tonga - antagonizing the locals is not going to help and will lead to problems in the future. Each time we go back to port - I see the Tongans staring at our boat - those aren't kind eyes looking back.

Mid-week.... Onto other topics - Nah, V isn't interested in me - although she jokingly said a couple of things about marriage and about me being an ideal partner. Let's see - I cook, I bake, I do grocery shopping, I houseclean, I love to travel, I love photography, I love the sea and whales + I got property. She also loves my scones. She told me the last time she was held was (awhile) ago. I immediately felt great sympathy for her - I know how it feels to lack physical intimacy for long stretches of time. Her friends were suggesting a one-night stand in front of us lol. (Who are these people????) But I don't think she wants to go there. There were no visible signs of affections.

 The whale swims have been tiring. Its tough spending 1 hour - 2 hours swimming in the cold 20C choppy sea and another 5 hours in a cold wet wetsuit. I developed some blisters on my calf-pits :) due to being in a wet wetsuit for 6 - 8 hours a day. You know, like the arm pits but in the legs. While the rest of the whale swim group go out to have dinner - I'm going to stay in and have my supper at the resort. I ordered the meal before we left and its not polite to do a last minute cancellation. Getting towards the end of the tour and its like walking around egg shells with the whale guide. There was a social faux pas when a trip to the guide's island was organized and we didn't get the memo. Then he may have got upset... then we had to fumble out an apologetic response.... HOLY COW!!!!! I came here to swim with whales not play office politics!!!! I think these people have been living on a beach island for far too long.

There seems to be a dull oppressive, negative vibe to Pangai. I don't think I will return.

Friday, September 12, 2014

'Eua island and a whale swim or two

The situation so far is that we haven't yet done one single work related dive after 3 months. The magnotometer is not working. The captain sent it back to Canada where its been stuck in customs for two weeks. The workhorse boat has not yet arrived and occasionally tempers are getting frayed (with me).

OK. I snore. Sometimes I snore fucking loud. Some of the remedies I use - the chin strap - don't work. But the fact that I snore irritates the hell out of my crewmates. The captain and electrician don't realize this so much cos they are sleeping in their own separate bulkhead room.

I also don't seem to be getting along with my two crew mates - not sure why - I think its just a personality clash. I also sometimes tend to get a bit silent and withdrawn. I read my books on kindle, drink my tea, I'm easygoing but maybe they think I'm being aloof.

Anyway we came back to the main port of Nukualofa, Tongatapu in August. I could feel things were a more than a little tense - so I decided to stay on the mainland where I met with a group of whale researchers at the hotel lodge I was staying. All white aussies. They seemed a bit friendly at the start - then turned rather WASPish. Partly my fault I guess - After three months on a boat - I'm rather rusty on the conversational skills area. You can feel the awful screech of rusty gears when I try and speak. I was hoping to get a go on one of the whale tours but no luck. Full house. One of the marine biologists on the waiting list said I'd have to fight her for her spot in the que.  I wouldn't mind :) She was gorgeous, a tall, slender and very attractive blonde.

Since I was getting bored the lodge owner suggested I go to the island of 'Eua. About 20km away from Tongatapu. The ferry ride was in this rusty old ship crammed with building equipment and over 100 Tongans - mostly women and children. I should have been terrified when the waves came slamming over the side of that rusty Ferry hulk. (The world's 2nd deepest undersea trench separates the sea from 'Eua and the main island).  But the Tongan kids seemed pretty tough and didn't look worried - so neither did I.

Listening to music helps tremendously on these voyages. A tremendous amount actually. I'm currently listening to this album a lot. "I saved Latin" - its a tribute album to the songs used in Wes Anderson movies. Anderson movies were luminously filled with music from the 1980s - and contemporary artists like Beth Orton, Brandi Carlisie, and Escondido cover them  reinterpreting them in subtle ways.

I like it here at Hideaway. It's a rustic resort - a handy row of simple but elegant timber and plywood huts painted a delightful duck egg blue color (a color more green than blue). My room has a lovely cosy feel - the windows face west, and has two cute wooden writing desks by both windows. Its spacious enough to fit three people - There is a double bed and a single bed which I use to place my camera gear on. Bonus it has an ensuite bathroom with hot water - oh wow!!! a luxury in this part of the world. I haven't had a decent hot shower in months!!! On the boat I had to wash often when it rained - and when it rains here its also very windy. I do that when it rains to avoid getting chided for using too much water. :D

The resort has its own small farm! The owners keep a two large sows to bear piglets. Its good money - one small piglet can cost $200 - the sow can fetch $1000. Occasionally some of the piglets get stolen esp during the feast days. But the owners love the sows and have nicked their favorite - Princess :) Its got pretty eyes for a pig. During meal time its ambles by looking forlornly at us for a bit of food to eat. 

The rocky shore is about 70m from my room and dinning area. A coral and granite reef lining the shore like a submerged fort wall provides a natural breakwater. The sea angrily pounds away at it furiously with an aggrieved giant.  Its as if the sea is trying to reclaim back the land which the island took from it. You can find ancient coral shells embedded in the rocks in the shore and garden of the resort - proof that the sea covered the island before.

We can see whales swimming along the coast line - most of them near the horizon a few miles away. Its been overcast and cloudy - but when I went for the whale swim last Friday the sun shone proudly for awhile. I paid $200 to sit in a wooden fishing boat and chase after the leviathans. The fisherman deftly maneuvered his small vessel close to the whales - sometimes directly in their paths and shouted "Go! Go! Go!" to encourage us to jump out. I wish I knew enough Tongan language to advice him to exercise more sensitivity.

The visibility in the water wasn't clear - about 10 - 15m - and sometimes we couldn't even see the dark grey whales at all in that dark grey sea despite being about a stone's throw away. The whales also usually descended straight down to the deep whenever we jumped into the water.

It was fun for awhile but the cold quickly got to me for some reason. I was wearing a full 5/3mm wetsuit + thick rashguard underneath. But two British tourist were swimming in their swimming trunks and saying it was ok.

A day ago I hiked to the National Park which rises toward a mountain peak. There is a small narrow cave which leads to an fissure in the side of the mountain overlooking the seaward side of the national park. It was breathtaking. You could see the entire forest - a cascading wave of green marching towards the roaring sea - only halted by the no-man's land of the white sandy beach. Huge trees looked like small miniatures models. Miles below my viewpoint a flock of white long tailed birds circled the trees.

The weather was mostly wet and drizzly during my 1st week in 'Eua. On the 2nd week it started becoming nice and sunny and it was perfect during the Agricultural show on Friday. I tried to take photos of the king but the security wouldn't let me get close. Actually no one was allowed to get close to the king. cos he's the king I guess :)

A couple of pretty NZ girls showed up on the 2nd week - I attended a kava ceremony with them. But they were drunk when they arrived and got bored quickly during the ceremony and left early.

Back in Tongatapu now - saw a lot of whales on the weekend including a close encounter with three big ones who came right alongside the boat - it was so shocking I had trouble lifting my jaw off the floor. Didn't take any photos as a result!! 

I'm going back to Eua I met a Japanese nurse working there - she invited me over for banana cake.

Dreaming the Deep Blue

I'm back from my whale swimming tour in Ha'apai.

I'm not sure where to start - but I managed to take some incredible photos and video which I'm pleased about.

I'll blog more about the experience but after spending 10 days in the water, encumbered by the flu

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space

When we conquer our fears we see a beauty that would otherwise not have happened.

Nude photography

I like nudes. I make no excuses for not liking them. The human body is beautiful.

I also think the people who object to such photography are bores, probably pedophiles, and hypocrites.

From MonsterChildren - Jennifer Stenglein

Cheerleaders are paid $125 per performance and $9 an hour????

"The cheerleaders were paid $125 a game, with no additional compensation. However, as of this season cheerleaders are paid $9 an hour, California's minimum wage, for all hours they work." 

Good grief - how come they are paid so low??? Time, youth, and beauty is fleeting. You cannot pay enough money to retain them - you can certainly hire them though. You can hire the time of accountants, politicians, consultants, even preachers. I'm not sure why there is such a stigma over hiring the time of a pretty woman (or two).


My whale swim video is up.

"Go" Heat run whale swim from Yauming Chiam on Vimeo.

One of my whale swim videos is up for viewing. It was taken last week - I used my GoPro3 Black+. video camera. No strobes. No flash. No filters. The only I used apart from the camera and the waterproof housing was a cheap plastic stick handle to mount it on.

Kiko, the fisherman's son, and Mark, a trained whale swimmer guide took us out in a long boat. We cruised around til we spotted the whale spray. The boatman followed the whales for awhile to make certain their intentions (of not breaching)  and then Mark got us into the water to swim with them.

This is one of the moments.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life live. Live it gloriously

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” — Faye Travers (The Painted Drum, Louise Erdrich)

I used to read a lot of books. There's not much to do on the boat so I'm getting a chance to read again. Its a good habit. Your get to learn things. lol. My brain is totally unmotivated at the moment - like a kite on a windless day.

But click on the link - and add them to your must-read collection.

One thing I want to add to that comment is - Life will break you eventually. Eventually we will all die. No one gets the chance to live forever. But some people go through life thinking that they will live forever. They work to no end. Our youth is also precious. We have to live now or we will never.

Live life. Live it gloriously.

Daniel Dennett - how to criticize without sounding like an arsehole

How to compose a successful critical commentary:
  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
If only the same code of conduct could be applied to critical commentary online, particularly to the indelible inferno of comments.
But rather than a naively utopian, Pollyannaish approach to debate, Dennett points out this is actually a sound psychological strategy that accomplishes one key thing: It transforms your opponent into a more receptive audience for your criticism or dissent, which in turn helps advance the discussion.

Feeling very Life Aquatic now

Awesome fan art posters of my fav scuba movie - "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"

Yeah, the expedition feels like the movie now - we even had one crew last year eaten by a shark... just a nibble only... she's ok now.