Monday, February 24, 2014

Phare: Cambodian Circus

To kick off our recent trip to Cambodia, we decided to hit up a show in Siem Reap on our first night: Phare, the Cambodian Circus.  We'd heard good things about it and it seemed like a fun night out for a good cause (supporting a non-profit founded by refugees and supporting arts and education for the many impoverished kids in rural Cambodia).

The show we saw was "Preu (Chills)," which was about a group of school kids facing their fear of ghosts and spirits.  There was tumbling, balancing, juggling, dancing, acting, whatever you call that thing where people twirl around on large swaths of cloth dangling from the air (aha: a quick Google search ['twirl cloth acrobatics'] informs me this is called "aerial silk"), music, group bicycle riding...  

The spirit descends on the sleeping children...
Two spirits performing a tricky balancing act.
The whole thing was very Cirque du Soleil, but totally Cambodian style.  It was really fun- the performers were working their butts off, frenetically running, tumbling, balancing, throwing each other.  Their comic timing was pretty awesome, too, despite the language barrier (the show was done in Khmer language, with English and French subtitles on a screen).

How many people can you fit on one bicycle?  That would be at least 6.

Climbing up to bring props down.
The aerial silk I mentioned:

Some serious balancing on a stack of chairs:

More impossible balancing... note that several of the tubes are laying on their sides in different directions:

Pretty amazing!:

This little guy in the orange shirt was a champ- he got tossed around all night:

I would definitely recommend Phare if you're ever in Siem Reap... a ton of fun!  They have several different shows, too, so you could go multiple times and not be bored.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Liveaboard Life

Just some above-the-surface shots from our Andaman Sea liveaboard...

Beautiful islands:

Our boat looked something like this one:

Scuba gear, ready to rock and roll:

Everything on a dive boat is always wet:

The view from our cabin... not too shabby:

Offerings on the front of the boat:

Dolphin!  Or a whale... we couldn't quite tell:

Super cool rocks:

Super cool sunsets:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Diving the Surins: Final Day

Koh Tachai Bay: The Night Dive

I don't have any photos or video of our night dive here, but it was pretty nice. The photo above is a shot of the bay from the surface.  Anywho, this dive redeemed my interest in night dives after I had a few not-so-great experiences.  

We saw some cool stuff:  
  • A massive moray eel in his little cave, not super happy we spotted him with our flashlights
  • A decorator crab, which is kinda like a hermit crab, but he just sticks all sorts of stuff on him back
  • Thousands and thousands of tiny shrimp, some too small to see, some skittering around... little red eyes peering out at you from every crevice! 
  • Sea urchins of all varieties, on the move and eating (like so)... normally they're kinda just tucked away on the reef, but at night they literally open up and come alive
  • a big old black-blotched porcupinefish, just hanging out

Koh Tachai Pinnacle

The next morning we dove this pinnacle, and man, the current was strong!  We had to descend and ascend on the boat's mooring line and I still have some rope burns on my hands from gripping as the current pulled me, regulator flapping.  Once down on the reef it wasn't so bad, but we still occasionally had to swim against  a current to stand still.  It was worth it, though, because of what we saw!  (Please excuse the shaky video... blame it on the current.  Also, it was pretty dark on the site because it was so early morning)

First: Octopus!!!!  I had seen one before, in the Gilis, but he was not active, just tucked into a hole.  This time, two octopi, one just chilling, barely visible at all in real life, blending perfectly into the rock, not visible in the slightest on my low-light video.  The other, though, moved around a little bit, shifting from one rock to another, wrapping his tentacles around the rock and briefly changing the color of his skin- flashing white.  You see it again when a fairly clueless diver swims into frame (and right over the static octopus), pointing at the more active octopus.  He flashes white again to express his displeasure:

The rest of the dive was pretty nice, too:
  • Skunk anemone fish
  • A big longnose butterflyfish (0:05)
  • Some snapper and a trumpetfish (I love their feather-like tails) at 0:14
  • Beautiful sea fan at 1:05
  • Some of the video at the end is a bit crazy, although you can see the nice coral. I can't tell if I knew I was filming or not, but I know I was fighting the current to get back to the mooring line

Koh Bon Ridge

This dive was really pretty.  We were hoping for manta rays, but no dice.  That's ok, because we saw some other nice stuff, including the beautiful blue, sea green and purple pastel soft corals like the ones in the photos below:

Cool texture, eh?:

Here are the video highlights:
  • Big porcupine fish
  • More schools of glass fish (0:45)
  • Crazy pastel colored soft corals (1:15)
  • Beautiful emperor angelfish (1:25)
  • Stalactite-style soft corals (1:48)
  • Tim, creepy staring (2:11)
  • Crescent-tail bigeye, also creepy staring (2:15)
  • Nudibranch! (2:35)
  • Pineapple sea cucumber (2:45)
  • Tim + pufferfish (2:50)
  • Cool coral, cool rocks
  • Tim (3:50)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scuba Diving the Surins: Third Dive at Richelieu Rock

Our final dive at Richelieu Rock...  another great dive.

Two-spot snapper, all over:


Finally!  The only clear nudibranch shot we got.  This one's the pretty common: the swollen phyllidia:

Can you spot the skunk anemone fish? There are two visible in this shot.:

Ok, that was just a warm up.  Can you spot the scorpion fish?  He's tough to find, although not as tough as the one I posted from our dives in Komodo:

Sooooo pretty... that is basically 90% anemone, waving in the currents:

Here are the video highlights:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Scuba Diving the Surins: Second Dive at Richelieu Rock

Dive #2 at Richelieu Rock and the sun was shining, bringing out all the purples:

A blurry nudibranch photo.  Both Tim and I are officially awful at taking nudibranch photos.  This one was the best in Tim's bunch, and it's pretty bad:

Tim caught these cute banded boxer shrimp hanging out on the reef, right below a big old oyster.  You can see their white antennae and bold, striped arms:

This video below is so sweet... peacock mantis shrimp!!!  Remember him?  One of the divemasters on our boat described the mantis shrimp as being skittish because "if your eyesight made it seem like you were constantly on an acid trip in which you see thousands of colors, you would be easily freaked out, too."  I was so excited when Tim told me he thought he got it on film since we've seen it many times, but haven't been able to film it since it moves so fast.  Tim said he saw it, but it quickly hustled back into its hole.  Tim waited quietly for a few seconds, and sure enough, it popped back out to take care of business:

Other highlights: These pickhandle barracuda hunting on the edge of the reef: amazing!  They're so sleek.  And a bit menacing when you turn around and see them hovering behind you.  They're pretty damn big:

Cuttlefish!!!!  These beautiful and mesmerizing cuttlefish were hanging out at the top of the reef right where we descending for our dive (some of the video is from our third dive, during which we saw them again):

It seemed like the biggest one was macking on a female, while the other two were trying to sneak in and snag a piece, too.  The big one was having none of it, though, chasing them off with tentacles flared.  Eventually one of the secondary suitors ended up retreating and bopping around just below me on the reef for a bit.  He seemed a little... put out.  Or maybe just regrouping for another go:

Beautiful glow they have, no?

Here's the full dive video: