Friday, April 23, 2010

Pygmy seahorses in Tulamben, Bali

Sipadan Water Village (SWV) is probably the resort that we enjoy most thus far. 
The touch of the hardwood floor and walls, the absence of sand flies, the delicious food, the friendly staff... all these have led us to put our dream of going to faraway Maldives for the time being... paradise is at our front door, why go far away to search for one? 
Some time ago, the dive guide suggested that we go see the pygmy seahorse at Seaventures dive site, which is just off SWV. Why not, we thought. 
Now, Seaventures is a dive resort made up of an abandoned oil rig dragged in from somewhere.
From the wooden comforts of SWV, one can't help noticing how ugly the structure is. 
Down under the oil-rig-turned-dive-resort lies that pygmy seahorse, and as we already knew from our earlier dives there, very strong currents. 
Very, very strong, I mean. 

We back-rolled and descended immediately, holding on to a rope tightly buoyed.
The currents literally made us hang perpendicular to the rope, very much like the 'kois' flying perpendicular to the flag poles in early May (Boys' Day) in Japan. 
Maneuvering the currents, we took turns to ogle at the creature. 
I managed to snap a few pictures but can you figure out how to shoot a subject the size of a flea (OK, I am exaggerating a little) while trying to stay still in strong currents? No way...
My missus and I had to signal the guide, figuratively slitting our throats, 'out of air' as we ascended, again in perpendicular position to the rope. Wooh... no joke, both our air gauges showed zeros...

Fast forward to our trip to Tulamben.... the so-called world's easiest wreck dive site, the Liberty...

Reviewing my pictures, I was surprised to count 5 different specimens of pygmy seahorses, all documented in photos. And no strong currents a la Seaventures... 

This shot is probably the 'best' one of them all. 
Size was probably about one centimeters or so. 
Pretty cute little thing, don't you think?

The dive guide was very excited to see this cutie. 
I wondered why. 
He grabbed my camera and kept on shooting excitedly. 
He later told me how lucky we were to be able to see 
a pygmy seahorse frolicking in a fully opened gorgonian fan. 
Hmmm, how true, and lucky we were, I suppose. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sakuras a-blooming

Sakura blooms normally last about a week.
This year, due to the rather unusual cold and rainy weather, it was reported that blooms stayed on for up to 15 days.
The sakura tree in our compound normally begins to bloom a few days 'late'.
So we get the pleasure of seeing the flowers even after the other sakura trees shed their petals.
This last weekend, we took a walk in the woods on the east side of our house.
It was actually the first time for me to walk over there.
And the view of the sakura tree and our house from there was quite magnificent, I must say...
We paused for a while to enjoy a view of the hamlet...
Kites (top right) are very common here.
Was 'lucky' to see two of them copulating just meters away from my vegetable garden the other day.
It was over in perhaps 30 seconds. 
Meanwhile, planted black soy bean seeds, sweet corn seeds, and sponge gourd seeds. 
Some of the seeds I planted last week are already sprouting... wooh...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Tunicates at Bali

Although I have not posted any underwater pictures recently, I have been scuba diving about twice a year with my missus all these while. 
We dived Tulamben, Bali, in August 2008. 
Until I dug them out a few days ago, the pictures have been in cold storage since the trip.
And, hmm, I must say that the Canon G7 is quite capable of recording some decent pictures although I was disappointed with the Canon housing. 
That thing leaked and ooh, it was not a good feeling to see so many wonderful creatures coming into view but you are not able to record them.
I have always been fascinated with tunicates and the ones in Tulamben are probably the most pretty and vibrant ones I have ever seen.
I particularly like observing the vein-like patterns of the barrels.

Scientifically, they are defined as 'any of various primitive marine chordate animals of the subphylum Tunicata, having a rounded or cylindrical body that is enclosed in a tough outer covering. Tunicates start out life as free-swimming, tadpolelike animals with a notochord (a primitive backbone), but many, such as the sea squirts, lose the notochord and most of their nervous system as adults and become fixed to rocks or other objects. Tunicates often form colonies.' ( 

Apparently, they feed on zoo-plankton and minute animals, opening and closing the mouth somewhat like an underwater Venus fly trap, perhaps?

Size was about three to four centimeters, I think. 

Sunday, April 04, 2010

24th wedding anniversary

Boiled burdock with bean curd, potato salad, sashimi

Read that April 3rd marks the first anniversary of murder-suspect (in the eyes of the Malaysian public) Najib as prime minister.
Uh, who can forget that episode many moons ago, when Gobind rightly accused him straight in the face of being such (murderer of the Mongolian model).
He has still to respond to this very public accusation.
Besides this murder episode, this man has yet to explain to Malaysians about his seditious statement mouthed as the youth leader of that racist party, of wanting to bath Chinese blood with the kris.

Most importantly, he has to explain to me why he is tainting this beautiful April 3rd day by marking it as the starting day of  his ever corrupt and incompetent cabinet.

For, to me, April 3rd is an auspicious day in more ways than one.

Twenty eight years ago on this day, my work-superior introduced a lovely girl to me.
Twenty four years ago (or four years after that fateful day) on the same day, that girl and me became husband and wife...
Exactly a year after we got married, I arrived in Japan on 3rd April as a foreign student.

April 3rd 2010 was a warm 14 degrees, slightly windy, but very comfortable.
I spent the day digging the soil, preparing the beds to plant some gourds and cucumber.

We concluded the day with a simple meal of assorted sashimi, burdock, Japanese knot-weed which we picked from the hills, potato salad, fresh vegetables, fish curry, with a glass of red wine.

I look forward to spending more precious time with my sweetheart... and we are already contemplating on going to Vietnam to celebrate our silver anniversary next year...