Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blue hole and Lighthouse Atoll

5:30am!!! The boat picked us up to go out to Blue Hole. We had half a papaya each for breakfast, so we had to get up at 4:30am. We went out with Aqua Diver instead of our regular Ecologic Diver. We were told that they have 17 last night. But by the time our boat picked up all the guest in Caye Caulker, we had 30 on board. As soon as we got outside the barrier reef, we entered the open ocean, and thing became rough very quickly. Some swells were probably 6-8ft. The boat rocks left and right and we had to climb the waves one at a time for 2.5 hours. It was treacherous! We came prepared with seasickness pills. Peisun took 1 before we got onto the boat. But it already expired in 2006. Turned out the papaya that we took didn't help. Peisun had to puke during the journey. And I did not do that much better. It felt like the papaya was almost coming out a few times. We drove passed Turneffe Reef on our way there, that offered us some shelter for 30min before rough sea was upon us again.

The first dive wass the Blue Hole. It's 130ft deep. We decided to skip this dive as we are beginner. Instead we just did some snorkeling around around here; nothing really to brag about here. Heard from some divers that the blue hole dive was very cool, people enjoyed it.

The next stop was Half Moon Wall. This is a dive which starts at 40ft on a sandy patch. While we swim outward through some coral canyon, we came across this steep wall that plunges into the ocean floor beyond the visibility allows us to see. There are huge sponges here, and many other type of corals. We could dive down as far as one can see, but we stayed at most at 60ft. It definitely beats the diving of Ambergris Caye.

Then we stopped at Half Moon Caye for lunch. Lovely little island, there is some bird sanctuary that we got too lazy to walk. After lunch we dove in a place near Half Moon Caye called Eagle Ray Wall. Somebody saw 2 eagle rays, we didn't. It was a fun dive too but visibility wasn't as good as the earlier dive. Probably 60ft. This was the last dive for the day. Long day, we came back around 6:30pm. Took a shower, went for dinner , and wrote this post.

A few thoughts, I think this journey was long, diving was great. Is it worth it, I think that depends on how hardcore you are. For snorkeling, definitely not worth it, some places are just too deep. Another dive shop called Amigos Del Mar, has a bigger faster boat which might be more comfortable, we never tried them so don't know.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Best meal so far

Lobster kebab and lobster with coconut cream! Usd16 each!


Yipee, we passed our scuba lesson. On our 3rd and 4 dive, we went outside of the reef where it is deeper... We start at around 50ft and gradually swim deeper. It was pretty scary at the beginning as the ocean floor seemed so far away, but gradually we made it down to the bottom. the formation is pretty cool, it is made out of canyon that formed by rock and Corals, between the canyon are sandy area. That's where we do our skill tests. At the beginning it is harder to concentrate on the surrounding, instead just focus on scuba diving and where the divemaster and buddy is... On the subsequent dive, we got better at the bouyancy and more comfortable.

After that we signed up for our 1st dive after we pass the class. Because of the peak season, many dives are booked so we sign up for a night dive. I think it's the octupius that sold us.

Since it's a night dive, we got some time to checkout the island, we rented a golf cart to drive up and down ambergris caye. Drove south to checkout a bunch of resorts there. Our favorite is called Victoria house. It's the nicest down south of san Pedro. Then we venture north cross a bridge. The road became much worse with deep puddles. And the golf cart don't have the beat suspension. To put it lightly it is a bumpy ride. It's more like pei sun cursing at my driving the whole way up. We wanted to checkout a resort recommended by lonely planet called Capricorn. But we didn't make it! Our cart couldn't start after I stopped to check out an iguana by the road. Eventually it started after I use the choke. Scared by the pptential of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere and puddles are turning onto pool, we abandoned the mission and returned to San Pedro. Bought ourselves some fruits and then return to the motel for a bit of rest before the night dive....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

When Madonna sang about San Pedro in the 80's, we could see why she calls it la Isla Bonita. Although there is plenty of facility these days, the coral reef is still in decent shape... Better than Pulau Payar! The people over here very Eco conscious.

In general Belize is still a pretty poor country. The so call highway is just a regular 2-lane road. Another surprising thing is the Chinese writing on shop fronts... Not sure if it is because of Taiwanese influence or what?

Then there is the food... I think the classic dish is rice and bean with chicken or fish. It actually tastes pretty yummy. The rice is cooked with some bean and coconut milk. Stewed chicken tastes a bit like curry, fish is red snapper, yummy!! We also had other seafood here like shrimp, lobster, and conch fritters. All are very well prepared, either the Jamaican jerk style or some local Belizian style. The only gripe is we have to pay American prices... :(

Speaking of American, we are probably the majority here. And within that 70% that we met are from sf!

Well, time to go scuba, gotto go!


It has been raining like cats and dogs since the night, so it became a
lazy day and enjoy some pineapple

Going for our scuba diving class in the afternoon... After that we
graduate, yeah!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Xmas from la isla Bonita

Merry Xmas to all! Took our first scuba class, was great! Saw 2
stingrays and some fan corals

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beijing Nov 09:Miscellaneous

How I wish this happened just today!
-Our welcoming dinner, hosted by Dominick.
This is a nice courtyard restaurant called 花家怡园 in 簋街.
The original name of this street was 鬼街( Ghost street ), as any time of the night, you will find someone eating here.
However, this sounds crude. A more appropriate word 簋, which sounds exactly like 鬼, was used in stead.
Every restaurant along the street is well decorated with Chinese lanterns.
Oriental atmosphere is very strong.

Served the Best Peking Duck, as voted by the Tan family :)
Well, very good, but portion was a little too small lah ;)
Ok Ok, that's because we ordered so many other dishes.

One interesting activity, especially for HK, is shopping, as China made goods today is of reasonable quality.
This place is called Guan Pi, a whole sale market, 官员批发市场
The exciting part was watching how Dominick used his charm to sweet talk all the 美女to agree selling us at very cheap price:)
2 years in Beijing had made him street smart, and ???hehe.
This is an instant changing room in the stall ;)

Interesting walk in this very old, well preserved lane, called 南锣鼓巷.

A peep into a courtyard house, cozy.

Interesting to see they have a letter box for newspaper and mails,
and a separate white box for milk
A visit to the old residence of 宋庆龄, the wife of Dr, Sun Yat-Sen.
It has a nice garden.
Had tea in this place called, 9 meng xiao zhi
九门小吃 (北京小吃)
Experienced local Peking food, and also halal
Chinese Muslim food.
Sorry to say that they did not dance to our taste buds.
Lamb innerts were supposed to be a local Muslim delicacy, but not for HK, me and Julie.
Dominick consumed almost the whole bowl ;)
Read from the Internet that 香山看红叶 is such a beautiful sight.
This is the main entrance to take a ski lift up 香山
We were so excited!
Riding this ski lift was equally thrilling.
However, we were 2 weeks too early, despite this excursion being arranged till the last part of our Beijing visit.
Leaves were just beginning to change their colours.
Most trees were still green ;(
This was the only autumn leave experience we brought back ;p
The second most popular Beijing tourist spot is now the 'Bird Nest'
So we went......
As we walk nearer, we could only see these huge steel bars.
Our impression: huge, strong, solid but nothing much to offer.
It's just another modern engineering display.
Perhaps 2 thousand years later, people look back, and say, " Interesting over - designed project.
where the hell did they get all these steel those days?"
The cube, where Olympic swimming competitions were held
The world famous Peking duck.
Any visit to Beijing will never be complete without eating here:)
We went at 12:00+, and the formal restaurant only had vacant tables available at 4:00pm!
So we opted for the 'only duck' section.
Well, it's OK, after all, we came here only for Peking duck.
We ordered half a duck per person, yummy!
Still the same old good taste as we had 5 years ago.
Sorry I remembered to take this photo after consuming half a plate of duck ;p
This famous little eating street in Beijing was different from what I saw 5 years ago, more organised.
and the scorpions were all alive and moaning in pain!
Still did not gather enough courage to eat them.
Yet, this place was still packed with tourists
Dinner at this Hubei restaurant was an interesting experience.
江湖一家 (湖南湖北菜 )
especially this chili fish head with mee made from tofu.
Surprised to learn that near to Beijing, there is this limestone cave
This cave is huge, and 7 levels deep underground.
So far we could only go down till level 4.
However, as we had a number of similar cave experience, it was not so fascinating for us.
I think the colour lightings made the cave looks artificial....
A visit to this flea market in 潘家园古玩.
There were so many antics being sold there, real?
Ended up buying the set of 4 chinese paintings on the 4 prettiest ladies in history. 中國四大美女。
Huge place.
Walk till my left leg almost broke!
Had to sit down for some exotic and expensive coffee.
This is one photo keep sending my saliva dripping.
3 layered pork well marinated and prepared to the right softness. Yum yum!
This was taken in a Shanghai Restaurant, 圆苑 (上海菜)
The most impressive was their male toilet.
It has 4 LCD panels displaying various channels: CNN, Bloomberg, sports and news.
Couldn't help taking this memory back to share with all.
This is one place near Beijing which I could never expect-龍慶峽.

龙庆峡 - 既有南方的妩媚秀丽,又有北方的雄浑壮观,被人们称誉为“塞外小漓江”、“中国小三峡”
A long escalator moving in the dragon's body brought us up to the dam above, and we boarded a boat for the river cruise.
Scenery was so cool.......
Looking up, a lone gazebo sat on the mountain cliff.........
We then took a cable car up to the top of the mountain, and in this little bell tower, we hit 10 times, citing some verses, bringing peace and prosperity to the whole family, friends, and the whole world ;)
We did some hiking......
This place is supposed to be so high that we could admire clouds below, and listen to rain drops passing by......
A further climb towards the peak brought us to this highest plateau of the mountain.
The gazebo could be seen higher up.
When I shot this picture, HK whispered," Sau Kuan, how I wish you are here :~("
On our way down, we need to pass through this narrow gap, which allowed only 1 person to go through at any one time.
This is how it looked like inside.
We came down at about 12:30pm, and entered this nice big restaurant, rejecting many restaurant promoters who volunteered to chauffer us to their restaurant lower down.
We discovered that we were the only customs in both the first and second floor!
Grill fish was good, but the egg plant was so salty that we requested for 1 bowl of hot water each, soak the egg plant for a while before they became edible, or rather tasted good!
See how thick the water became.
Price was cheap, but service was bad!
Later, we found out that this was another government operated restaurant.
No wonder.......!
Every good thing must come to an end.
This was the last dinner we had in Beijing, an excellent Korean BBQ, in this popular restaurant, 火炉火, selected by Zane.
Shaun and Zane has grown up, yet still remain so handsome :)
Dom's mum is an excellent cook.
We really enjoyed her cooking.....
It was a pity MeiLing could not join us, as she had to go for another compamy outing.
By the way, we missed all those home massage by Dominick's angels a lot.
As I cannot send my love to them, let me redirect our love to Lily .......the new addition to the Tan family :)
Thank you, Dom & Karen.
See you in Penang soon.....