Thursday, April 29, 2010

I stood in front World Cup Stadium 2010!

Short note: I'm flying to Langkawi tomorrow! Yay!! Westin Langkawi here I come!


I saw it!

I really saw it!

Yep. Seeing it live in my face. I was in South Africa to witness the actual World Cup Stadium 2010!

at world cup stadium south africa


When they stopped me in front of this building, I didn't realize the significance of it until, well, until I came back from the trip.

nicolekiss in south africa


Told you I was blur then.

We saw the old small ugly stadium next to the newly built World Cup stadium and they were halfway demolishing it when we were there. But didn't get to snap a quick shot at the old stadium.

stadium 2010


The stadium were among of the 12 stadiums located all over South Africa. Pretty impressive, seeing that it can accommodate 69k audience compared to the old stadium which could only accommodate 18k audience.

You could imagine what it would be like when the actual FIFA World Cup day arrives.

So a note to all visitors to the World Cup this coming June....

prohibited items


Make sure your wines and micro-cameras are well kept hidden upon entrance.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arriving in South Africa

On previous post: Turns out the No S sign means No Stopping in South Africa.

One of my Facebook followers posted a link on all the South African sign posts. Haha. Genius.



Slightly less than a month ago, I was given a once in a lifetime chance to travel all the way to South Africa to experience 8 days of adventures! for free! on Singapore Airlines!

In fact, I was going along with 20 other winners from Nestle Drumstick campaign contest "Holiday for the Brave" where you eat their Drumstick ice cream, join the contest, and wait for someone to call you that you've won the greatest adventure of your life!

Till now it still feels like a dream while I'm typing this.

But going through all the photos and writing up the next few posts is going be another journey for me again down the memory lane. It felt like yesterday when I landed myself in the rainforest of KLIA airport at 8pm in the evening.

klia rainforest


We did a transit over at Singapore Changi Airport that lasted for 4 hours before boarding a 12-13 hour flight to Cape Town, South Africa.

It's been a while since I last took Singapore Airline. So I wasted no chance in ordering the infamous Singapore Sling cocktail even when breakfast was being served.

singapore sling


though the glass could have looked a bit more sophisticated than a... plastic cup.


It wasn't easy to sleep on the plane, by the time 10 hours was gone, I looked like the undead rising to walk the earth again.

on the plane
If you think this is bad, think about how my dark-circles look like before the photoshop.


After what felt like ages of twists and turnings on my window seat, the view of South Africa slowly seeped in below us.

south africa from the plane


Then, I wasn't all excited and crazy about it when I landed in Cape Town's airport.

Probably because it didn't hit me yet that I was in South Africa. Not sure the cause of that but feeling wasn't there.

It didn't hit me when I was posing with FIFA World Cup 2010 Mascot Zakumi (that's his name) at the airport.

me and fifa world cup mascot


It didn't hit me when Niki Cheong (the other reporter and blogger who was invited to travel with us too) crashed in to grab poor Zakumi's left nipple in an attempt for a duo cam-whore with me.

niki and me


It didn't hit me when we had a group photo of "The Spirit of Adventure" banner with Nestle Drumstick's winners.

group photo


It didn't hit me when I got on the van and on the road and saw people getting into the world cup fever on fields.

south africans football


It didn't even hit me when I was passing by squatters and shacks that could have stereotyped how South Africans lived.

shacks


Which by the way, is a very bad way of stereotyping South Africa. No they do not live like that, not all of them anyway. :p

(See more of South Africa in the next few posts)


And nay it didn't hit me either when I saw kids in the squatters playing under an electrical tower, aka pylon.

kids playing around electrical tower


and again, not all South African kids play like that.

In fact, I was so blunt to the point that the fact that I was in Africa continent at all did not sink in until 24 hours later!

I knew then that I was in BLOODY South Africa when I was submerged in freezing cold water and came face to face with a great white shark!




The things I need to go through to knock some senses into me.




Readers! Welcome to South Africa!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

No Shit Sign?

What does this sign say?

I spotted this South Africa and has been curious of its meaning. Does anyone know?

s sign



There's an S on it. A slash across it means NO. So.... No Shitting?



no shit sign


What? *acts innocent*


South Africa posts next!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Beauty Secret - Collagen

*update* this is not an advertorial

A few people have asked and emailed me after reading my previous post on me drinking collagen.

Questions like:

"Does this work?"

"Let me know if this works, I'm tempted to buy."

"Which brand is better? I saw brand xx and xx selling in xxx places".


So I decided to share my so called... beauty secret. *cough*
To answer all questions at once.

I'm drinking this brand called Fabula - CollagenMax.

fabula collagenMax


I've been drinking it since November 2009. But like most people in the beginning, I don't drink it very often like it suggested (once every 3 days) because these beauty drinks are really expensive! RM158 per box which can last me for a month.

But then as vanity striked (birthday approaching then *more coughing*), I started drinking more frequently mid-January onwards. About the time I came back from Europe.

It's very soon when I finished my second box.

empty box


I know these sort of things don't just show overnight or in a short period of time. So I kept at it, for a while more. Thinking to myself see how this goes.

By the third month of drinking, people started commenting on my skin.

According to them (and I shit you not), my skin (face) started to glow.

Not in a crazy alien sort of way of course. But in a healthy glow. I was really looking.... good.

No more puffy eyes, dark circles were mostly gone, I don't always look like I'm dragged out of bed all the time (believe me, sleeping the way I do at odd hours, I do look like I'm half-dead most of the time) and not sure if this is the effect of the collagen or just pure stress...

But I was losing weight. Gradually.

I credit the effect to half stress and half collagen. (Stress that were coming from certain people who don't think I can afford a trip to South Africa, which btw, it was sponsored. *stick tongue out*)

So I got hold of more of the products.

new parcel


By that, I meant I ordered one year supply of it.

:D

new parcel 5 box


new fabula box


If this goes well, I will be drinking this every month throughout the year religiously for the rest of my life. Yes it might stretch a bit on my wallet but hey, it's worth it! See it as an investment on my skin. And I have never found a better investment than these!

new collagenmax

take one out


And by the way, I actually have another secret too.

Hehe..

Will share it next time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wreck Dive - Journey back to World War II

I know I've been raving on diving like forever on this blog.

So this shall be the last one.

And the best one at that, well, base on my own experience anyway.


In this post, I am going to post about my first ever Wreck Dive.

Shipwreck - Mawali Wreck (a second world war sunken cargo ship located in Lembeh Strait).

mawali wreck


Now I don't know about you. But I'm crazy about shipwreck. Something about a piece of lost history hidden beneath the sea that's waiting to be uncovered really excites me.

wreck reef


Ever since my first encounter with the movie Titanic, I've been fascinated by wrecks for as long as I was fascinated by birds and the bees.


Now I have compiled a documentary video on my journey down to the deep unknown. I have not done a documentary voice over video for a long time and if you're as curious about this dive as I was the first time, you would definitely enjoy this video.

Just a bit of a fact about the wreck, the giant is over 60 meters long and it's located down to 30m below sea level.

submerging to the wreck


That's a long way down for any new diver. Visibility isn't great but the fun part of the dive is the penetration.

Yes you heard me.

PENETRATION.

diving in darkness


In this video, you will see how me and a few other divers penetrating the wreck. Now not all wrecks can be penetrated, and usually it's dangerous to do so without proper guidance and research. Imagine the wreck crumples and falls on you.

There will be complete darkness. 30 meters below water. Confined in a sunken ship.

Oooohhh.... exciting.

Okay enough talking. Here's the video.




Here are some photos to share inside the wreck. I have to tell you this, it wasn't easy having a torch light on one hand and a camera recording in the other. But.. well.. the things I do for my readers.

lobster in the wreck
oo... lobster. *shine at you*


It's easy to spot a few lion fish hidden in Mawali wreck, away from the current and in the darkness.

lion fish in the wreck


lion fish


And because it wasn't easy to take photo inside complete darkness and confined area, this is perhaps the best shot I had in my entire photo album.

prawn
A shrimp.


The whole wreck is tilted in a way that the bottom is facing upward (if you look at the marker drawing white board again in the first photo), so there is plenty of surface area for artificial reef to grow and fester.

propeller
Camwhore with giant propeller


Some fish.

fish on wreck


Corals.

bubble coral


The first dive master I met called this a boobie coral. Cause it's so soft and nice to touch, just like boobs. o.O

boob coral


Rubbish.

rubbish underwater
tsk tsk... pick it up when you see on underwater will you?


While swimming along the bottom surface of the wreck, I came across this vast forestation of corals. It's incredibly beautiful.

beautiful forest of corals


I know the photo doesn't do it justice as to how vast this is. But believe me, it's like looking at a lavender field and you couldn't help but gasp at the sight.

forest of corals


And when you touch them (my dive guide showed me), they will retract their "tentacles" like so.

suck in
Looks like a pot of flower now.


Some of the other retractable corals.

coral before and after touch


So with this, I shall end my series of diving post.

I hope you have enjoyed my diving experience as much as I have spent diving and writing them.

coral and sea


I just can't wait for my next wreck dive. ^^

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Muck Diving - The Deadly Flower Urchin

I learnt about Muck Diving when I was in Lembeh, a term created for dives done in muddy or mucky sea environment.

Most of the time you find only sand, or mud, along with dead corals and more sand when you go for a muck diving.

nothing but muck


Technically speaking, muck diving is a rather boring dive, especially for amateur divers. And can be the worst form of dive to take your first ever dive experience (discovery scuba - for people who have yet to get your first diving license)

Before you think it's complete lunacy for me to fly cross the sea just to land myself in some secluded god forsaken place to see sand underwater, keep in mind that muck diving does has its own attractiveness.

Basically, the common motto of muck dive: Not all is what it seems.

fish hiding among muck

Do you see anything? Almost making it out the shadow outlining the sandy bottom?

What thing is that weirdly shaped camouflaged thing?


Look closer.

i'm a fish


Muck diving is like going on a treasure hunt with a tank and mask, except you don't know what you're looking for.

scorpion fish


There are abundance of juvenile creatures and exotic organisms living among the hiddens. It's almost a thrill when you're able to spot one.

scorpion fisn lembeh


Most muck diving are done in South East Asia because of the rich marine lives on offer, so if you're an avid diver and you live here, it's insane not to do at least a muck dive trip in your life.

Some of the common living things are colorful nudibranch (a.k.a. sea slugs) or sometimes, colorless shrimps.

clear shrimp


Which are quite easy to spot when you scout around the singled-out coral on the sea bed.

invisible clear shrimp


Well, almost quite easy.


A coral such as this is like a oasis in a dessert - they're not very common but when there's one, it's a sanctuary for all. So usually there are more than one living things hiding amongst it.

tiny fish


clown fish family
clown fish family


The other reason why muck diving can appear very dull is because the marine lives in the muck are able to disguise themselves very well.

Almost too well for some.

rope or fish or worm


From far you might just think that this is a rope, stranded sea grass or worm at most.

But if you know your fish well, you know it's actually a bloody worm-like fish!

fish worm


It looks like a rope, acts like a rope, but it's not a rope.


In this case, assuming we're all newbies, following a local guide is the best way to spot unusual underwater creatures.

coral or crab

Looks like a common coral or a rock?


NO!

Meet... the decorator crab.

decorator crab


Here's a video of how camouflaged a fish can be at the sandy bottom of the sea.

Click on the video and look closely in the beginning 2 seconds if you can spot anything at all.





Poor bugger was being chased by me all the way.

well hidden fish


Until it lifted its spike in the end feeling threatened before I left it alone.

Scary!

can't see me fish


Among other fish, I also stumbled upon a few more odd ones.

fish with head spike
Colorful with a really long spike on its head. Reason why this is the closest photo I have of it.


fish looks like a moth
some moth looking fish.


waspfish looking towards me
a common fish to spot during muck dives - waspfish!


Personally I like this fish a lot. Reminds me of leaffish. (click here for leaffish photo)

waspfish


Not all unusual and exotic are marine lives though. Corals can be pretty quirky here too.

coral
Looks like a bunch of condom balloons.


I always had a penchant of touching things around me (bad habit of mine last time, note: past tense :p). But for some reasons I wasn't too keen in touching that one.

Oh, about that. Here's a little tale of mine that almost took my life during this dive. *drama*

You know corals are fun to touch as long as you know you don't do harm to it (for critics: corals don't die after you touch them, they only die when you pick them up from the ocean and they harden and die, or when you pluck them from their habitat, they might die; but the common corals WON'T die if you just gently brush your finger along it just to feel its texture).

Though common knowledge is, don't touch what you're not familiar with!


So I was smart when I come across a coral-like urchin on the sea bed.

long-spined urchin


The warning statement "DO NOT TOUCH IT" flashed across my mind like a neon banner on a Casino in Las Vegas.

Like duh! Who would touch such a dangerous looking thing?! That.. that THING looks like it has a thousand needles protruding out in all possible direction, ready to penetrate and injure anyone that comes pass it.

poisonous long-spined coral


I thought I was smart to just leave it alone and not get too close to it.

But what would you think when you come across something like this?

flower urchin


I was feeling all proud of myself being cautious and all when I came upon this... this.. pretty "pot of flowers"-looking coral? Which I later found out was a Flower Urchin.

Sweet name, yes?

NO!!


So basically what happened was, I felt attracted to the pretty little thing that I swam up to it and was observing it up close, tempting my finger to touch its pretty little "petal"... closing in... closing in...

When my dive master appeared out of no where. Snap my hand so hard I was thrown back in water and looked dead to me in the eye...

and did one signal no diver would ever want to see.

'He swept his hand horizontally across his neck.' - indicating.... DEATH.

(or out of breath if you're talking about oxygen left in your tank)



When I returned to the lodge after the dive. I immediately sat down and looked up flower urchin in the dive books most dive lodge have.

This was what I found - the Flower Urchin is "extremely dangerous", it can be very deadly despite it attractive outlook.

Multiple times MORE DANGEROUS than the long-spined urchin I saw and avoided earlier.

flower urchin close up


The pretty petals on the flower urchin are actually venomous pincers able to cause paralysis or even death!

According to this page about Flower Urchin, if you don't die from the sting, "The sting results in intense radiating pain, prickling or numbness, abnormally low blood pressure, respiratory distress, and muscular paralysis all of which lasting anything up to 6 hours."

So that means you would also drown from the sting, which could also result in death.

*Gulp*



Right. From this day on, I will never ever ever ever... touch a coral ever again!

*touch no evil*


Well, maybe just the corals Nemo swims in. :p

(nah just kidding hehe)