Archive for November 2011

Seeing more of where we live   Leave a comment

What a great day.  We had the opportunity today to explore more of Townsville and the surrounding area courtesy of our house mate Alana (she has a car).  What a beautiful area it is, however it is getting so hot here.  Today was 32 C.  Instant burnage without suncream.  We explored more of the Strand (and had an ice cream) and some of the Town Common which is a huge nature reserve full of spectacular views and birds (when we didn’t frighten them away).  On the strand we saw sea turtles bobbing up for a look around now and again. \It’s really common to see them in Townsville.  I think the locals wondered why we were getting so animated and excited by the site. Despite my best efforts I was never quick enough with the camera to capture a shot of them.  We got some spectacular views from the top of Castle Rock which over looks Townsville and Magnetic Island beyond.   Just for good measure we ventured back up there at dusk for more shots of the city.

The Strand Video.  Click here.

To top off the day…..a BBQ of course and a chance to observe possums in the Mango tree in our back garden.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer

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How to become a Scuba DiveMaster   Leave a comment

I have now been studying for my Dive Master certification for four weeks. If you have been following my posts, you will know I’ve been to the nearby Pelorus Island on three dive trips assisting instructors conducting Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver courses. I have also assisted in many pool sessions as well. O2 administration and first aid courses have also been completed (see info dump post here).  I thought you would like to see to exactly what the whole course involves.

Here goes……….

* Knowledge Reviews 1-9.
* Exams 1 & 2 based on knowledge Reviews.
* Emergency Assistance Plan.
* Stamina Exercise 1 – Timed 400m swim.
* Stamina Exercise 2 – 15 Minute Tread Water (last 2 mins with hands of of the water).
* Stamina Exercise 3 – Timed 800m Snorkel.
* Stamina Exercise 4 – Timed Tired Diver Tow.
* A Full Diver Rescue With No Mistakes.
* 20 Dive Skills at Demonstration Level.
* Skill 1 Mapping a Dive Site.
* Skill 2 Equipment Exchange (Under water of course and sharing only one air supply)
* Skill 3 Dive Master Conducted Programme #1 Full Discover Scuba Diving Course.
* Conduct Discover Snorkeling and  Discover Local Diving courses.
* Conduct Scuba Review or Skin Diving Course.
* Leadership Evaluation.
*5 Confined Water Training Sessions (pool) Including 1 Open Water.
*5 Open Water Training Sessions (in the sea) Including 1 Open Water.
*1 Supervisory Situation With Certified Divers (lead a dive).

Basically by the end of it I will have developed gills and webbed hands and feet. Anyone remember the 70’s TV series called The  Man from Atlantis?  That will be me. We plan to leave Townsville on the 5th January…so lots to do before then.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer

The Vietnam Seaside   Leave a comment

We stayed in Nha Trang for a week, diving, swimming, dodging the rain and generally doing very little else. It’s a nice little resort frequented by mainly Aussies, New Zealanders and oddly Russians cos it’s so close to home (like Brits travelling to Spain). The bay we sailed out of to get to our dive sites was fantastic. There is a pleasure park on an island opposite the main bay called Vinpark accessed by cablecar. A new shopping mall provided me with the opportunity to buy new sunglasses. The town planners had the forsight not to overcrowd the beach area. As a result there are only two bars (both with their own beach/lounger areas). The rest is lovely green gardens. A nice buffer zone with the main road, masking all sound. A leisurely breakfast overlooking the beach on our none dive days was great, even with the rain.  One evening we ate fresh crab on the beach prepared by a Vietnamese family.  It was amazing.  The family were friendly and grateful for the money.  It was nice to help real people make a living and not the corporate entities for once.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer

Posted 25/11/2011 by Stefan Palmer in Vietnam

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Stars   Leave a comment

On completing my second night dive I surfaced from seeing many wonderfuls sights to see another. It was 19.30. The sun had long dissappeared and it was pitch black apart from the one dim light we had left on in the cabin on the boat. As we surfaced, settled on our backs for the brief swim to the boat the stars were out. Not just a few but a whole totally amazing sky full. You know when you look at the stars and the more you look the more stars you see, well it was like that the instant I looked at the sky. The more I looked the more mind boggling the heavens looked. It turned into a very slow leisurely swim to the boat. It made me think…isn’t nature brilliant, what a wonderful planet we live on and an amazing universe we exist in.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer

Siagon   Leave a comment

The city of Siagon conjured up images of exotic mystery. Does it live up to the hype? We arrived in Siagon at 05.00 after a seven hour over night train trip, in which Kerry attempted to sleep and failed. I edited photos. For a major city the streets were surprisingly empty. Immediately it struck me, even in the early hours, the city was for more affluent than Hanoi. The streets looked cleaner, there were more skyscrapers, more shopping malls and the residents were better dressed. Our hotel was smack bang in the centre, in district one. The street we were located on had shops of every possible variety. Barbers, hair salons, art shops, clothes, every conceivable resturants, books, stationary, gifts and electronics. It reminded me of a UK high Street 25 years ago, before out of town shopping centres took all the trade. The street sellers in this city shuffle and mubble around trying to sell fake lonely planets and cigars/cigarettes. Scooters were again in abundance…..everywhere. The French influence is evident is some of the older architecture. It was a welcome surprise to see a classy colonial style residence amongst the standard Vietnamese concrete construction. We stumbled across a very British feeling church while trying to find a coffee shop complete with neon halo. From the outside shot you can just see one of the huge shopping malls in the distance. Did Siagon live up to the hype? Yes and no. It was an interesting fusion of France and Asia with some American influences thrown in for good measure.  However more and more I see cities around the world becoming standardized, even westernised with familar global tech, food and hotel brands all available. I’ve seen this even in my short 20 years of travelling the world. What a difference our parents and grandparents must have seen in thier lifetimes of travelling! It was a welcome break to get out of the town to visit the Chi chi tunnels. It is only when we travelled out into the sticks did we see the real countries.  Not many photos on this post due to heavy rain again and when you’ve seen one mall you’ve seen them all.  I did get a stunning shot of the sunset as we flew over Vietnam en route to Malaysia though.

 

Stefan Palmer

Posted 19/11/2011 by Stefan Palmer in Vietnam

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Tailors shops, taxi boats and a little less rain   Leave a comment

Hoi An, Vietnam.  Our next stop after rain soddened Hue.  Unfortunatley we were greeted by more rain here and on the journey.  The air con was leaking on our bus and dripping the whole journey.  Well it dripped on whichever one of us was sitting next to the window.  After an hour of the trip Kerry demaned to swap places to dry out.  I therefore rigged up a rainproof shelter acrosss of seats using a broken umbrella, my water proof and 4 of Kerry’s hair clips.  All much to the amusement of our fellow passengers.  Despite a few odd looks it was very effective.

Hoi An was a lovely town with its main attraction being the vast number of tailors shops.  It is also a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  We seem to be racking these up on our travels.  Here you can have, shirts dresses and suits all made to measure in a day.  It was tempting to get something made, however again, we had no spare space for anything.  The town was a great place to stock up on replacement t shirts and shorts all at bartered down next to nothing prices.  Due to our itineries matching we met up with Chris from the China trip.  He had continued with Intrepid into Vietnam and who we last saw him on Cat Bar Island in Halong Bay, two weeks ago

It still kept on raining.  We did have some fine weather to check out the river front, chat to and photograph the people who run  boat taxis up and down the river.  It was a nice chilled out town.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer

Posted 19/11/2011 by Stefan Palmer in Vietnam

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Spookiness at 10 metres.   Leave a comment

Drafted on 11/11/2011

Tonight for the first time ever I did a night dive.  I’ve wanted to do one for ages and been so close on a couple of occasions only to be disappointed due to lack of divers.  Tonight I was not disappointed.  Our merry band of divers started to kit up at sun set and entered the water just as the sun had disappeared below the horizon.  With our torches on we striding stepped into the water and descended down the anchor line to the bottom at 10 metres.  It’s a whole new world down there in the dark.  I swear the fish look sleepy and the coral waves less!.  There are some additional things you have to do when night diving.  You ensure your hand signals are performed in front of your torch been, otherwise your buddy as no idea what you are trying to say. You also need to keep an even eye sharper eye on your dive buddy otherwise they will be lost to the darkness.  If that happens its pretty much dive over.  You do a standard one minute search, then surface if you can’t find them.  Being in a larger group and because neither my buddy or I knew the dive site it would have meant dive over for the night.   The group of six struck pretty close together.  Even so we still didn’t see all the same things.  Some saw a fleeting glimpse of a shark, others didn’t.  Some saw a lazily cruising sea turtle….others didn’t.  At one point I was bringing up the rear of the group.  I took a look behind me to see nothing but darkness.  It was spooky and eerie, but very very very cool indeed.  I got back on the boat buzzing from the experience and inside shouting to myself  “again, again!”

In a way night diving, in Oz, is like day diving in the UK.  The visabiliy is zero and you need to use a torch to see anything, however in Oz a night dive is lovely and warm (I wore a wet suit not a dry suit) and there is so much more to see.

A selection of my favourite images from this blog are available to buy at stefanpalmer.photium.com

Stefan Palmer