All the pictures below are geotagged, so you can click on them to see where they were taken
This was our 3rd trip with Waow, this time we boarded in Maumere and the boat took us to some dive spots on the way until we arrived in Komodo where we dived for a week, including South Komodo (with colder water) to see the Manta Rays, and boy did we get lucky with those dives, we saw plenty of huge mantas. Sadly, I have to mention that some motherfucker in Maumere Airport managed to steal my travel pouch with my wallet, passport, international drivers license and all my travel documents while I was waiting for my luggage. Worse, the low life son of a bitch didn't even have the decency to ditch my papers somewhere that lost and found would find them. Not counting the money lost, losing almost all my credit cards, passport, and more, sucked big time. Bali is a fine place to visit (pretty safe, people genuinely nice, great food). The rest of Indonesia not as much as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway back to diving, we really lucked out. 10 days, 34 dives, and many were between great an epic. The amount of things we saw in those dives was only equalled by a prior Waow trip, gems of alone through the banda sea.
The water was unseasonably warm, usually around 30C, and it went as high as 33C (!), although that's actually bad for coral which can bleach and die when it gets too hot, and we saw some traces of that in one dive site.
We did a few land excursions during the trip, the main one of course was to go to an Island to see Komodo Dragons:
Komodos will eat monkeys if they can get their hands on one
Another day, we happened to spot them on a beach when we were on the boat, so we took a dinghy to go see them:
And a few days later, we went on an Island to climb its peak and have some snacks and drinks on the beach as the sun set:
We lucked out this time, the boat was not very busy, and we got upgraded to the master cabin, which was ridiculously roomy :)
But anyway, we were there for diving, so let's focus on that. A few pictures of us:
We saw many scorpionfish:
A fair amount of octopuses, more than I had seen in a single trip, including 2 big ones not shy to be out during the day and making nice colors and shapes for us:
This octopus is worth watching. First it made some displays for us and tried to stand tall to look impressive, and then it went hunting:
And we got so lucky with cuttlefish, from babies to pygmy to 9 full size ones that got together dazlle one another with colors and mate:
this little guy was learning to hunt. It wasn't very good, but a lot of fun to watch
it changed to yellow before going to pounce on little fish
it tries to dazzle them
While this video of the little guy is a full 5 minutes, it's so much fun to watch to see what it does, that I recommend it:
Then, we got the incredible chance to stumble on 9 cuttlefish that clearly were in the same place because they meant business of some kind :)
And more mantis shrimp than I had ever seen:
A few sharks:
A few turtles:
Plenty of triggerfish and clown triggerfish:
A few nice Napoleon and Humphead wrasse:
A few crabs of varying sizes:
orang outang crab
Most of the night dives were incredible:
hairy frogfish, awesome
we saw a pygmy seahorse
and one big one
nice colorful crab
this cuttlefish kept running into my camera and was trying to slide under it
I chased a squid to take pictures, it wasn't happy :)
a somewhat rare cat shark
On the 6th day, we went south of Komodo to Manta Alley. Water was a comfortable enough 24-25C when it can drop to 19-20C, and we got super lucky with many mantas, some came to swim around me to check me out when I surfaced. They came close enough that I could have touched the tip of their wing, but they skillfully bent it just enough so that it was slightly out of reach :)
we got some huge black mantas
Not counting Mantas, some other rays:
a single eagle ray
A rare torpedo ray?
nice spotted ray
By the 9th day, we had left Komodo and started sailing towards Bali. We stopped by a volcanic island and had two dives there. On one, we could see the methane coming out of the ground:
Lots of nice shrimp:
pretty sea urchin with 2 small shrimp
nice cleaning shrimp
Gobi and digging shrimp
I always like sea snakes, fun to watch when they go around hunting while totally ignoring you :)
one of our dive guides :)
a few fish :)
batfish are often quite tame and curious, they kept swimming around us
on one of our 2 manta dives we were also rewarded with huge humphead parrotfish
Pictures from the boat:
our partners in crime
Our last day, we had a nice BBQ, and the crew celebrated their upcoming month off after 5 months of work:
I'm very glad we got almost 5 days to visit Singapore. There was a lot to see, and we didn't see it all.
It's a very modern city, I'm impressed with how well things are running there. The weather was of course tough, you end up drenched in sweat after 10-15mn walking outside on many days, or you end up in a severe downpour of rain. That said, what we saw was great, and it was super easy to get around with cabs and uber (they were so cheap that it really didn't make sense to take the MRT most times).
I'm impressed with how Singapore managed to get people from different cultures to live together, all with their own language, and English as a common language. I was less impressed to see some poor muslim women with a full body (and face) burka (i.e. you only see the eyes), which I find barbaric and medieval. It was also probably bad luck, but I was very not impressed with how our hotel caved to the muslims (only 15% of the population in Singapore) and made the buffet that was supposed to be for everyone, Halal. In other words, they're letting Islam and Shariah law decide what's ok for the rest of us to eat and effectively let a single non majority religion remove food items from everyone. That, I found very unacceptable, I'm not ok with allowing a non majority religion to set their standards upon everyone else (if they are majority, I consider that part of the culture and then have the option of not going to see the country if the culture is offensive enough to me). I hope this kind of poor judgement from the hotel (Marina Mandarin Singapore) is not widespread.
Putting that aside, we did have a very good time, sweat way too much, and didn't get enough sleep :) We were sightseeing up to the last minute by touring all 3 terminals of the airport.
I'm glad we got to go there. Thanks to the people who helped us out with tips and suggestions.
For our last day, we took a bit of time going around our hotel and checking out its amenities. Also, after I complained that I thought it was BS that a hotel in a country with only 15% of muslims, allowed said muslims to take over the breakfast buffet for all their guests by making it Halal and removing all food not allowed by their religion, they took us to the premier guest breakfast location, which was not restricted:
they had nice singing birds you could hear in the entire hotel
swimming pool on top
We then headed out and went to see the Ritz Carlton next door for its pieces of art all over the hotel:
From there, I was hoping to go to Changi War Museum, but google maps had a totally wrong location for it, so once we arrived in a totally wrong place, we just aborted that plan and went to have a quick look at little india next door:
Next, I elected to go back to the Art Sience Museum by Marina Sands, they had a future art expo and one on jewelry:
Next we had a look around before heading back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and go to the airport:
indoor skiing, looked cool :)
we took the subway home one stop, just to take it :)
The Singapore Changi airport is awesome, it's worth 1.5H to visit at least, which is what we did:
the butterfly garden was great
they had a movie theater, nice
a swimming pool on the top of the airport, awesome!
in Sciencemuseums, Singapore2016, Trips
Since we had just finished the Japanese and Chinese gardens during our 4th day in Singapore, and we were sweating like pigs already, instead of going to the bird park under heavy rain, I elected to go to the science museum next door. I figured we'd only spend an hour or so while the rain subsided, but it was actually a good science museum and we spent closer to 3H there:
For the 4th day, I had planned to spend most of the time outdoors between gardens, bird park, zoo, and night zoo, but we got a bit of a late start, and by 11:00-ish it was raining pretty hard when we had just finished the gardens:
you could tell the weather was starting to turn already
awesome, we got to find a water monitor
love the tongue
friendly birds :)
Next, we went to the Science Museum, report on its own page
Due to spending so long at the science museum, we only arrived at the bird park just before 15:00, much later than I had planned. Thankfully that was just enough time to see the bird shows at 15:00 and 16:00 and see most of the park before 18:00 when it closed:
mouse deer, had never seen one before, looks like a big rat :)
cockatoos are great at noticing that I have seeds for them :)
The highlight for me was seeing and feeding the friendly birds :)
they were friendly with one another too ;)
happy customers :)
then I got myself a parrot with some bird seeds I had :)
Getting from the bird park to the zoo was kind of a mess. This is the one place where getting an uber didn't work out so well, there were none. So we had to stay in the taxi line for 30mn+ before we got a ride. We had dinner at the night zoo, and did a tour on foot first, and then did the tram ride. It was interesting to see the animals at night, especially the fishing cat:
Not many pictures from the night zoo since it was a bit hard. After we were done, we were beat and went back to our room for some sleep.
After diving in the main tank the previous day, we went to the Aquarium to go visit it the next day. It's not the best aquarium we've ever seen, but it was ok. The mix with a half maritime museum was a bit weird :)
By the 3rd day, I was mostly managing to take a picture from our room without my lens all being fogged up by the high humidity and high temperatures :) next, we had a nice breakfast again (except for the BS that it was halalh and Shariah law approved, pretty sad in Singapore with only 15% muslims).
We then went to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which includes a museum on buddishm, quite interesting:
Next, we walked through Chinatown and the food market:
Next door was an indian temple, which we were able to visit, both quite a contrast and quite interesting:
Next we went to a Neko café:
And from there, we walked to the national museum and made it just before a torrential rain came down:
in Aquariums, Diving, Singapore2016
We had never gotten the opportunity to dive a nice aquarium so far, and while in Singapore, I figured we should give it a try, so we did.
After heading to Sentosa Island, we went directly to the SEA Aquarium's neighbour location, Adventure Water Park, and entered the aquarium's main tank from there. We had a photographer/dive guide with us, and sadly they would not allow me to take my gopro during the dive, even after paying a fee and dipping it in a bucket of bleach to sanitize it. The other unfortunate part was that I was told we couldn't use/bring our masks, and turned out we could. Sadly, their masks sucked and fogged up constantly, despite my having tried to treat mine before the dive, that made the dive much less enjoyable than it could have been.
Nonetheless, it was a cool experience to be on the other side of the glass window :)
we used their diving gear so as not to contaminate their tank
On Day 2, we started by enjoying the view from our room with premium view :) and a good breakfast there:
Then, we took the long-ish way to Sentosa Island, Singapore's Hawaii for activities there:
we rode in that later :)
then took the monorail
We finally arrived at Adventure Cove where we checked in for our dive:
More pictures on Diving the Singapore SEA Aquarium Main Tank page
Since we were at the adventure cove park, and had paid for a ticket, I figured we might as well take advantage of it :) Amongst other things, we did a ray feeding, which was a hell of a lot of fun. Those rays were very eager and were climbing on us :)
We then went to do the rest of the park:
Next, we went to wavehouse, which had artificial wave machines. This was hard as hell. Each time I fell the water swept me up and threw me at the top. That twisted my neck pretty badly, but still, interesting experience:
the instructor was trying to help me
but on my own, I wasn't doing so well ;)
other people there were experienced and did well:
then there was that machine, very cool
sucks when you got swept up
The instructor tried to help me. Despite being a snowboarder and a skateboarder, I had a hard time:
But then, I got a tan with the sun, and so did Jennifer, and did better :)
That was their other wave thing, also interesting:
After this, we went by the beach, and did some luge, just like in New Zealand:
poor Jennifer was sad that the race boy in me passed her every time we went down :)
Even if the elevation change was smaller, it was still fun. I love sending Jennifer ahead, and doing my best to catch up with her :)
So it wsan't quite the plan, but I knew that Santosa Island (Singapore's Hawaii), had a Joël Robuchon. Honestly, I didn't really think we could go there due to lack of proper clothing, and no reservations.
Turns out the day we were at Santosa, I gave them a call out of the blue, and they had room for us, so we went to l'Atelier. I naively assumed that we'd never be allowed in the real restaurant. But turns out the Atelier actually had a very good tasting menu ($200 with tax and stuff), so we took that. Honestly, it rivalled many fine restaurants we had eaten at:
It was an excellent dinner, we barely managed to get home from there :)
Now, the more interesting part is that I was talking with the French staff, and they told me that the main restaurant has a pretty lax dress code: no shoes, no shirt, no service :) (this is actually because weather in Singapore is truly unbearable and after 10mn outside you'll be drenched in sweat in your clothes, even at night).
So, we made plans to go back the next day for the restaurant and their even fancier tasting menu. It had flights of dishes that came in 3, and that was a very good idea (also sped up the service and turned a 4H+ dinner into a more manageable 2.5H one).
The menu was not any fancy molecular gastronomy, but it was a very good list of dishes, one after another. We were quite impressed:
so yeah, we didn't dress for the part, sorry
fancy some bread?
we got some :)
this half foie gras half beef smoked was fantastic
room for cheese? :)
Then came time for dessert. It was painful by then :)
It was an excellent meal, and apparently cheaper than the Vegas location (although still a steep bill :) )
As soon as we arrived at the airport (a bit early even), we went to drop our luggage at the airport (the room wasn't ready since it was only noon), and we went to the Singapore Flyer, one of the tallest ferris wheels in the world. A full rotation takes about 30mn. We got there just in time before the rain made the view bad and lightening shut down the ride.
the Marina Mandarin Hotel Lobby was super nice
view taken later (from garden by the bay)
not crowded on a wednesday early afternoon, nice
gardens by the bay, where we'd be going next
By then, we went to Flight Experience Singapore where I got to fly a B737 simulator again (did the same thing in Auckland and Perth). This time I just took a 60mn flight and focussed on doing landings, including 2 at Hong Kong's Kai Tak airport, one of the most difficult in the world (not replaced with an new airport, the one we happened to have stopped at on our flight in a few hours earlier.
I didn't do great, but I did ok enough considering that I had just come out of an 18H flight myself :) By the end I was a bit better than when I started, so that's good :)
Jennifer waited for me there, she was happy to enjoy the AC and rest a bit (we walked 15mn to that location and realized how stupid and foolish that was in Singaporian weather, where you lose half your weight in sweat every half hour, or something :) Right after the flight experience, we went to a foot spa with the little fish that come eat the skin off your foot because it's good for you they say :)
after you get used to the small fish, you graduate to the big ones with bigger teeth :)
You can watch the unbiased review from Jennifer:
From there, we got a cab to garden by the bay, not a huge walk, but we cabbed it this time. The garden by the bay were very nice, well worth the visit:
Marina Sands Hotel and banana boat on top thingy :)
By then, we took a cab to go to Google, and snapped a few shots as the sun was going down:
Since we were going to Bali for diving, this time David from Cranky Concierge got us a nice award flight through Singapore with Singapore Airlines (91K miles, and $325 for first class, not bad). This was of course more miles than our return business flights with Eva air for only 120K miles in the past, but we didn't need to go through Taiwan again, and Singapore First Class is beyond outstanding.
The first class seats on Singapore were big enough to sit 2 people, and you could even sleep 2 people per seat. And just to make things even better, we had a row of 4 seats to ourselves, so the flight attendants setup 2 seats as bed, and we left our 2 setas as seats, and it was easy to switch back and forth between them without having to reconfigure them. Needless to say that it could not have been much better :)
The movie system was alaos extremely good. I had a visual console where you could see the movies and control the selection on a visual screen:
The food was excellent too, from a very good menu. We got caviar and bottomless cocktails, don perignon, and very good wines:
We flew over Japan on the way, and landed in Hong Kong for refueling. We had to deplane and sample the local first class lounge for a 2nd breakfast (after the 1st breakfast in the first plane, and before the 3rd breakfast in the 2nd plane :) ):
The 2nd flight was in the same plane, so we got our seats back and finally arrived in Singapore:
It's one of the biggest trading ports in the world, lots of boats:
Eventually after a long flight, we arrived in Singapore. To be honest, the flight was so nice, for a while we didn't even care about where we were going anymore :)
Before leaving for Singapore, I Emailed my coworkers in Singapore to see if some would be willing to have lunch or dinner with us, and several nicely replied. Hana Do invited us to meet her in the office on our arrival day in Singapore and got out to have dinner with her and a couple of coworkers.
Jennifer and I arrived a bit early, and walked through the 4 floors to take some pictures
Then, we headed out with Hana for some chicken rice, a local specialty: