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