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I Found Nemo!

June 20, 2012

(From May 20, 2012)

Greetings,

It has been a while since my last mass email. It’s not that things haven’t been going on, just that I always say “I should write an email” and then all of a sudden it is Sunday night and I decide to go to sleep instead.

As I’m writing this I am driving back from Tioman Island which is off the east coast of Malaysia. I spent the past three days there completing a series of scuba certification dives. I’m now an official PADI Open Water certified diver. The certification process involves some at home learning, a day-long classroom session and day-long pool session (both of which I did last weekend) and then four dives in the open water which we did from Tioman Island. The whole process was a blast. For those who have never been scuba diving, it’s a lot like snorkeling except you’re much further underwater and wear enough gear that you look like a commando. They wouldn’t let us bring cameras onto the dives. I guess they don’t want you stealing their secret training techniques? Anyways, I don’t have a picture of me underwater but I was able to find a pretty accurate artist rendering.

The dives were a lot of fun and I look forward to doing more in the future. We saw lots of fish (including Clown Fish, aka Nemo), eels, rays, dolphins, and even a shark.

We were doing a safety decompression stop for one of the dives. For this dive there was a rope leading down to the bottom that you followed while descending as a starting point. We wanted to stop there to decompress and hang onto the rope to stay in one spot and at the right depth but there were already other divers holding on to it. So we used our buoyancy to try to stay at the same area. All of a sudden a realized I was a little bit higher up than I needed to be and was about to descend slowly when I looked at the instructor. He was looking at me and pointing up so I thought “oh it’s time to go all the way to the top”. That’s not what he meant. See as we were stopped there the current had pushed us further away from the rope. Now some of you may have asked the question of “well if there’s a rope going to the bottom of the sea, what is it attached to at the top?” A boat. I had drifted underneath the boat and was about a foot away from banging my head on the keel of the boat. I decided to descend at that point.

I did the course with another expat from Scotland and his wife. They’re good, fun people who have been here for a couple of years and also have a car so we were able to carpool to the trainings and to the island dives. We might be doing more dives or travels together in the future so maybe you’ll see them in these emails again. Our instructor was a guy named Jerry who was very knowledgeable and did a great job teaching and making the whole experience as fun as possible. He was telling us stories of some of his past students as cautionary tales. One guy ate so much that he was stuffed before diving. Well the weight of the water compresses you so he ended up unintentionally sharing his breakfast with the fishes. Jerry also has this interesting ability where when he’s underwater he can lie on his back facing the surface and blow rings of air similar to people blowing smoke rings. I need to find out how to do this. Perhaps they teach it in one of the more advanced dive courses.

Tioman Island itself was great. We stayed in a shore village called ABC. I have no idea where the name came from. It was pretty much nothing but bungalows with a few dive shops, general stores, restaurants, and bars thrown in every now and then. Everything was beachside. There’s one “road” which is really just a concrete walking path along the shore. You get in and out by ferry and mostly walk everywhere you go. There were a few motorcycles with side baskets, we called them “local taxis”, that would be used for carrying dive gear and people up and down the road. A nice little secluded place where you dive during the day then enjoy the beach and bars at night.

I downloaded that Instagram application for my phone and was playing around with it while on the island. It seems pretty neat if you’re feeling artsy. I took a picture and messed with it on the application. It was of me relaxing on the beach watching the sunset with a cool beer. I was looking for the right Instagram theme to apply to it and found it easily based on name alone. The theme was called “el hefe”. I think I just need a cool hat to go with it.

In other news, my dad came to visit a couple of weeks ago. He had been in Taiwan for a week for work then came here for the weekend. We went outside of Kuala Lumpur to a town called Melaka. This is a historical port town where the British first landed in Malaysia. Other than that I didn’t find the town itself all that interesting but it was good to get out of Kuala Lumpur and great to see my dad.

One of the things Melaka has a lot of is pedicabs. These are bicycle powered taxis and they are all over the historical district. Now the idea of a bicycle cab isn’t all that interesting, but these cabs also usually have giant speakers attached to the back and love to play a wide range of music. You’ll be walking down the street when all of a sudden you hear some slowly approaching Snoop Dog rap followed by Lady Gaga and then some techno music. It makes for an interesting atmosphere to say the least. If I ever operate a bicycle taxi service they’ll play Opera music. It’ll been an epic journey.

Now before my dad flew out here he had asked if there was anything I had wanted from the states. My aunt also asked the same thing a few weeks earlier when she came back to KL from a six week visit to the states. I asked for a couple of things, one of which was M&M’s. The M&M’s here are made differently. It seems the shells are thinner and the taste is subtly different. A few of the expats from the states had mentioned that they really miss American M&M’s so I thought it’d be a good idea to have some brought over for the next time there was a big gathering. What ended up happening is that my aunt brought a large bag over and gave me some (maybe a pound) and my dad brought a five pound bag over. So now I have six pounds of M&M’s. I’m not sure what to do with them all. I guess I should try to find some way to incorporate them into my cooking. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

I was walking to the KLCC mall one Saturday morning a few weeks ago and I noticed there were no cars on the road. Normally Saturday mornings are pretty quiet traffic wise but this one seemed a little different. As I was walking down the main street to the mall all of a sudden a giant mass of people wearing green came around the corner from the other end of the street walking at me. They seemed less than pleased. I was waiting for them to point at me and go “there he is!” and start chasing me. Undeterred I just crossed to the other side of the street to get out of their way (and to see if they followed suit and crossed to the side I was on). It turns out they were a group of protestors that were part of a larger demonstration scheduled for that day. They had signs condemning “Lynas” which my first thought was of the cartoon character from Peanuts. I later found out this was a dangerous waste treatment project they were protesting, among other things.

Last weekend was Mother’s Day. There is a wide variety of flower you can order online. Ultimately it came down to two choices for me to order. The first was a small tree in a ceramic Chinese takeout box. The second was a bouquet of flowers shaped like a dog. I opted for the second one since flowers are more in-line with Mother’s Day. I just need to find an occasion for sending a small tree in a ceramic take-out box. I’m thinking it’d be a good housewarming gift so those of you planning to move soon, ye be warned.

Ok, that’s it for my current memoir installment. I am starting to feel less-than-healthy typing this in a moving car so I’m going to sign off. Hope all is well in the Western Hemisphere.

Until next time,

-Chris

Random Quotes

Garmin GPS Navigator: Make a U-Turn and then a U-Turn

From “The Avengers”

Thor: Do you know what this is?

Tony Stark / Iron Man: Shakespeare in the Park? (Talking about Thor’s cape) Doth thou mother know you weareth her drapes?

A Family Guy character doing a report on Star Trek’s Captain Kirk

Neil: So in conclusion Kirk is clearly the superior officer compared to Jean-Luc Picard.

Teacher: Thank you Neal for that irrelevant report, but we all know Picard is the superior officer.

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