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It’s been about 5 years since we last dived in Bali. Since then many things has happened. We moved to Shanghai then back and forth to Bangkok. Doesn’t matter how stable it is, when you live as an expat there is always a feeling uncertainty about your future. The call to pack up and move out is always in the back of your mind. That call came last year for us after living in Shanghai for 3 years.

 

Now we are back to London, I can contemplate to have a normal routine life and able to committing to get back into the hobbies I had. You know those things you love and passionate about. Luckily my normal is not quite boring normal. It’s travel, diving and photography.

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Good thing is these three hobbies can combine into one – which is travel to a tropical island to take underwater photography. Getting back into diving isn’t as big deal as we have feared. It took us 10 minutes in the pool to feel right at home and bring out the old skills we never though we could remember. But diving and underwater photography are very detail activity. You can drive a manual shift car after 10 years but lemme tellya changing gear isn’t going to be as smooth.
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For this come back trip, we tried to keep it easy and have the site accessible from the shore to test our equipments and physical. There’s always time to go full on drift or deep after we relearn to walk again.

This rig is my very old Sea&sea Dx-80 with 10.2 megapixel. I decided to take just the 10.5mm wide-angle and dome port on this trip so just reduce the time to do all the changing and cleaning. Beside we are not going to see much in a couple of dives.

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First dive was around noon. We rented a long tail boat out to an island nearby. Max depth 14m with weak current (until you pass the tip of  island). The water wasn’t very clear, lots of plankton but it means the soft coral were

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All the small critters comes out when you have the wide, of course. Here’s the pipefish that camouflage itself with the sea whip.

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A common moray eel. Usually they come out from the burrow when seeing their own reflection in the dome port.

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This reef is quite healthy with variety of soft corals, sea fan and whips. Those on a more famous site like Koh Tachai or Richelieu are not so lucky.

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On a second dive, our guide decided to show us a large cave under the island. There are many of these caves around south of Thailand but they are not so well known to divers. This particular one is well hidden with collapsing rocks on the entrance. The guide said this happened 4-5 years ago. So naturally we were a little apprehensive to enter.

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Entering cave is always a risk management decision. It is your decision and you better know about it before the dive. Is it safe. Can we get lost? Are there sediment on the floor to blind us. What if there is an emergency i.e. you lost the light. Our guide explained that the cave is very large with 2 entrances. Both can be seen from any point inside the cave. There is a large air pocket with stalactites which we can surface. No sediment. All of us have at least a torch and I brought my Reenforce arrow12 with me and it is much brighter than any small battery powered. So it seems a safe deal to go in.

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There is always a tense beginning when you enter a site like this. Knowing the cave collapsed didn’t help to settle my nerve. A few minutes after we entered, my eyes can adjust to see the very faint blue marking the other exit about 30m away and the layout of the cave, I could calm down a bit. The stalactites inside were really beautiful when our torches shone on them. Unfortunately it was too dark to take any photo in there.

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It’s good to see daylight again.

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On this trip we planned to stay on three places. So we had to do jump between and share boats to get around – from long tail to ferry.

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Amazing limestone structure on these islands.

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Finally get to the second destination. Our accommodation.

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and outdoor toilet lust like Bali.

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Ok it was a bit luxury but once in a while you need it.

We came to this island 10 years ago before there is any resort on the island. Now the whole beach stretch is full. Nevertheless, the uniqueness of this place was the gathering of large starfish. We spent the whole afternoon and morning of the next day find them.

This was taken with freedive.

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Shame we have had such a short time here and had to move again. It is a quite place despite the number of resort. The sand here is really white and powdery. We spent the rest of the morning picking up plastic rubbishes on the beach before heading back to pack.

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Surf shot.

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On a shared boat to the mainland. With the long tail boat this took us an hour to get there.

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Back to the mainland, the water isn’t as clear because there are a lot of rivers run off in this area. But the beach was quiet and there are no one in the water so I decided to swim out to a sandbar with the camera.

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This part of Thailand has not been exploit by the mainstream tourism yet. People are friendly and the nature is still intact. I really hope it manage to stay like this a few more years.

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Let’s try that surf shot again, one last time.

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More to come