Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lau Lau Beach Dive with Missy

Grrrr. My dive buddy, Missy, has left Saipan and won't be coming back. We spent the weekend doing all the things she wanted to do before her flight home to Michigan.

Sunday we had time for one last dive. Grotto looked rough so we ended up diving at Lau Lau Beach. We ended up dropping in the swim through on the left and headed towards the coral garden. Check out this brilliant blue Saipan water. How could you live here and not dive!

It's been a tough week and diving is exactly what we needed. I almost instantly forget about everything once I drop in the ocean. We came across a Hawksbill Turtle that was perched on top of some coral. We were so close to it!

I'll miss Missy but I know that we will see each other again when I move back to the states. We're planning on going on a dive trip at least once a year. See you soon Missy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm In Love Again

Woo hoo! The Indoor Volleyball league started tonight! I love Scuba diving and Mountain biking . . . but my number one love is indoor volleyball. Our team is called the YoYo's with Gin Gridley as our captain. Mai and I have an awesome team! I felt like I was back in College Varsity again=)

The Ada Gym was packed with volleyball players as well as plenty spectators. I honestly didn't expect that great of a turn out. The roaring crowd, catching air when you are about the spike the ball, and team work are what excites me about this game. I get to play in the league every Tuesday and Thursday nights. Most of our games are at 7 pm. If you're bored come out and support us, Neh!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Brand New Year

Wow. Its already mid January! This year is going to fly by. My contract is up in September and I am going to maximize the time I have left out here. Where will I go next . . . I have no idea. Since moving to Saipan I have learned to live in the moment.

Dr. Khorram and Angelo tagged me to list 20 things I remember about Saipan. I've only been on island for a year so I can't tell you much about what landmarks have changed. So I'll list 20 things I remember about my first year in Saipan.

1. I remember Ken and Crystal Pierson, the dental clinic staff, and the SDA student teachers patiently waiting for me at the airport at 1 o'clock in the morning to welcome me to Saipan. Everyone looked like they rolled out of bed! I felt so loved.

2. I remember my first heavy betelnut case! It was like layers of tar that would not come off. The other hygienists chuckled and said "welcome to Saipan".

3. I remember my sweet Korean neighbors, Lizzie and Pastor Dewie. They often invited me over for dinner and always checked up on me. I'll never forget their kindness.

4. I remember joining the Fall beach volleyball league at PIC when I first arrived. I didn't know anyone and ended being drafted on one of the top teams that made it into the playoffs undefeated! I made so many great friends.

5. I remember seeing Moreno with the kids on a Saturday afternoons getting ready to do a hike with them. He inspired me to work more with the youth.

6. I remember singing in choir and practicing long hours for our Christmas concert last year.

7. I remember my first breathes underwater at Sugardock during Scuba lessons.

8. I remember date night with Grant, Mai, Missy, Layla, and Brit.

9. I remember watching sunrise at Bonzai Cliff and seeing sea turtles below.

10. I remember snorkeling under a starry sky with Moretti looking for coral spawning.

11. I remember dollar veggie tacos and iced tea on Oleai's terrace after diving on Sundays.

12. I remember camping at Managaha Island and bonfires on the beach.

13. I remember teaching good oral hygiene at the elementary schools. Hearing the kids laugh was worth all the work.

14. I remember the infinite pool and watching sunsets at the Mandi Asian Spa.

15. I remember tank swims with Crystal and Ken on Friday afternoons.

16. I remember paddling Tuesdays and Thursdays from Kilili Beach along the reef before sunset after work.

17. I remember Malou's tasty breadfruit dessert.

18. I remember my long walks and runs along Beach road.

19. I remember potluck lunches after Church.

20. I remember thinking I would only stay in Saipan for one year. But I am now four months into my second year.

So there you have it. 20 things I remember about last year. My second year only keeps getting better.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Wreck and Muck Diving in Tulamben, Bali

My favorite part about my Bali trip was being able to dive a couple of days in a hot spot called Tulamben.

I split from the group and went on a grueling 3 hour drive up and around the central mountains just north of where I was staying in Ubud. I got car sick but at least we avoided all the mudslide areas since it had been hammering rain earlier that week. I arrived in the evening and checked into a place located right in front of the USS Liberty wreckage called Puri Madha Bungalows for about 225,000 R ($25) a night. I could have spent way less somewhere else but I really needed a place with hot water.

Access to the wreckage from my cottage was so easy. All I had to do the next couple of mornings was wake up at 6 am for a sunrise dive, put my gear on, and do a shore entry or get in a boat. Brrr, the water was cold and the visibility was about 15 meters. I'm in love with muck diving! The best months to dive Tulamben though are July, August, and September.

I have to be honest and tell you that I was nervous going on a dive without any of my favorite dive buddies =( But my scuba instructors, Judy and Dennis, taught me well. I felt so prepared to dive solo. At first glance my dive master, Angel, looks like he is in his early teens!! He was my size, sported sun bleached dreadlocks, and was in his early 20's. I felt bad because I asked him how old he was in an uncertain voice. I hate it when my patients ask me how old I am and how long I have been in my profession because it makes me feel like they think I'm incompetent. Anyway, Angel turned out to be a great dive master. It was just the two of us. I told him that I'm on a quest to see Nudibranchs like this one called Thecacera pacifica ! I just love him cause he's bright orange and blue like my bike =)

The other dive hot spots to hit are Drop off, Seraya's Secret, and Coral Garden. I saw plenty brilliant colored soft corals, Thorny oysters, huge Bumphead Parrotfish, Anemone Fish, Racoon Butterfly Fish, shrimps, Nudibranchs, Blue spotted Rays and so much more. Too bad not all my pictures turned out. I know, I know . . . big surprise eh? So my new years resolution is to work on my underwater photography skills!

Here is a picture of a Thorny Oyster. These were in the shaded areas of the wreckage. Careful not to get to close they do bite! But aren't they beautiful?

What blew my mind was seeing these huge Bumphead Parrotfish! They were fantastic! They come out before sunrise and after sunset. I was making my way inside the wreckage and ran into one of these. It kind of scared me especially after that one Trigger fish attack I had a while back. I didn't go to close to him and cruised right by him. He seemed really friendly though. I stole this picture from a website to show you how huge these fish are!

More Nudibranchs! Overall I had a great time diving in Bali. I didn't make it to the Gili Islands in Lombok though. I'll have to save that trip for another time.