Tag Archives: beach
October 24, 2012

Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand, and Siem Reap, Cambodia

Diving in Phuket

Phuket, Thailand - Beachy stuff, scuba diving and underwater photography. I got to do my first wreck dive on the King Cruiser wreck. That’s me jumping in the water above.

Fair warning. Lionfish may not let you use the restroom on King Cruiser!

Bangkok, Thailand – Jarisara and Tsvetan’s wedding at the Mandarin Oriental.  We also went wat-hopping and did other touristy stuff.

Siem Riep, Cambodia – Fun times on Pub Street. I also walked into a Buddhist temple’s attached dormitory and helped some young monks with their English homework.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia – A spectacular ruin of one of the largest pre-industrial cities in the world. That’s me at the bottom of the first image.

Posing with friends in front of ruins at Angkok Wat.

December 16, 2011

US Virgin Islands

I went to the US Virgin Islands to get my American Sailing Association 101, 103 and 104 certifications that would enable me to bareboat charter a up to 50 foot yacht in coastal waters. We mainly sailed between St John, St Thomas and Culebra, Puerto Rico, learning all the required skills over 9 days on board a 46 foot Island Packet bermuda-rigged cutter, although we sailed it like a sloop, never using the staysail (second headsail).

I was at the helm for 14+ foot high waves which was quite a ride – enough to make me reconsider my aspirations to do an Atlantic crossing. But who knows? Maybe some day.sail


September 25, 2011

Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)

This was a 10 day road trip along California’s famous coastal highway in a convertible.

San Francisco – Met up with old Capital One friends, Tsvetan and Jarisara, for lunch, took my cousin Alizeh, a freshman at UC Berkeley, to dinner, and did some tourist stuff again.

Carmel – I love the vibe of this town, relaxed and happy, a great place for the low-key kind of Dolce Vita.  It was also near Pebble Beach, which was cool to see.

Hearst Castle – This may be the coolest building I’ve seen in the US. The beauty and opulence of this mega-mansion is something to behold and crown jewel for m was the pool, maybe the most iconic in the world.

Pismo Beach – Just a stopover, nothing special.

Los Angeles – LA is a fairly known quantity so not much to say. At Colleen’s behest, we took a TMZ bus tour, which was the corny guilty-pleasure type fun you’d expect it to be. I also rode a mechanical bull for the first time and did miserably.

San Diego – Nice city by the bay. Highlight here was a shore dive into the kelp forest off La Jolla. It was my first cold water dive so I was wearing a 7-9mm wetsuit with hood, gloves and shoes. The hood confused a playful seal (photo below) who initally though I was a giant awkward seal, but even after he figured out we weren’t seals, he still hung out with with us for several minutes. But the oddest thing was being 40-50 feet under water and seeing birds swimming by you like rockets. Cormorants seem remarkably at home under water for a flying species, and the amazing thing is some Cormorants can dive to three times that depth!

February 18, 2011

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898 when Spain lost it to the US during the Spanish-American war. Keeping this history in mind, one of the coolest things you’ll see in Old Town San Juan (the capital) is the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, an ocean-facing 16th century fort with super-thick walls (as thick as 18 feet / 5.5 meters) and cannons for defence against seabourn attackers.

We also got our ATVs on in the rainforest, which was not very far at all from San Juan. Really most of the Island has rainforest-like topography so this is not too difficult to find.

We had rented a car which made moving around the Island all the easier, and we recommend doing this because it’s relatively cheap, the roads and traffic are easily navigable and it affords you flexibility that is especially precious on short trips (4-5 days in our case).

A rental car was especially useful to make it to the famous bioluminescent lagoon which is in Fajardo, nearly 40 miles from San Juan. We kayaked in the lagoon which is full of dinoflagellates, tiny plankton that emit light when the water around them is disturbed. This meant the water around your kayak oar appeared to be full of glittering diamonds as you rowed through the lagoon. It also meant you could see fish swimming through the water even in pitch darkness! I’m a fisherman so when I saw these submarine comets flying all around our kayak, I was ready to fish! Alas, no rod rental facility was available so maybe next time. You could even tell the size of the fish based on the size of the underwater comet! Sigh! On another note, kayaking is hard! Definitely requiring better synchronization than canoeing.

All through the trip, we sampled pretty decent food at the more-hyped restaurants of San Juan and did alot of strolling. I brought fins and a snorkle so took in some snorkling, launching from the beach in front of our hotel. With the exception of a lone stingray, I didn’t see anything exciting but at least there were fish. Puerto Rico receives strong and consistent Northeastery trade winds so I got my basic Kitesurfing certification over two days, issued by IKO. We also took a tour of the Bacardi factory.

November 28, 2010

Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Port Douglas

While Sydney and Melbourne were great cities, the highlights of the trip for me were all experienced in Cairns and Port Douglas, namely:

- Eating kangaroo, crocodile and barramundi
- Diving and doing underwater photography on the Great Barrier Reef

- Catching a magnificent 92cm long Barramundi

- Driving the twisty road between Cairns and Port Douglas and back. Our Vauxhall hatchback may have not had much horsepower but it was lightweight, the wheels were close to the corners and it had a stick-shift, all of which added up to a ton of fun barreling into corners along this beautiful coastal road. To top it all, any time we turned off the road towards the ocean, we had a beautiful stretch of beach all to ourselves! Only problem being you couldn’t go into the water because saltwater crocs were supposedly everywhere.

April 8, 2010

Yucatan, Mexico (November, 2009)

Mexico is at war with its drug cartels which are outfitted like modern armies and are ruthless to Tarantino movie levels.

However, of all the places in the world I’ve visited, just about the only one I’m willing to go back to at the drop of a hat is Cancun, not because I don’t like any other place, but because I don’t like going back to something I’ve already seen when there is so much out there I’ve yet to see and experience.

Cancun gets to be the exception because it combines exceptional service, I mean the hotel staff will bend over backwards for you with a smile, and a smorgasbord of activites on-site or very close. Things to see/do:

- Deep sea fishing - I’ve caught amberjack, barracuda, African pompano and sailfish here.
- Mayan ruins – Tulum is closest and its coastal setting is magnificent, but the big dog without a question is Chichen Itza, a new wonder of the modern world, first settled in 800AD. While not as exciting as Tikal in Guatemala, it’s still very cool.
- Scuba diving and snorkeling – I’ve done some great drift dives here and seen great sealife up close.
- Sailing and kite surfing – Good winds = fun times. Our hotel allowed us to take their sailboats out free of charge whenever we wanted, so Colleen and I got to try our hands sailing Sunfish and Hobie Cats.
-  Supercars – There’s a track in Cancun where I drove a Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Murcielago, Mercedes SLS and Lotus Elise. Shockingly the Elise was my favorite – no electronic meddling!
- Beautiful beaches, great food, great weather, and it’s very easy to check out the resorts towns of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel as they are both nearby.

April 23, 2008


A great fun town although we both decided we liked Nice better. A little touristy but with nice beaches and good if overpriced shopping. I saw a 120,000 Euro watch in one store! We walked around for a few hours, stopping every now and then to sit by the shore and enjoy the sea.

April 21, 2008

Nice is nice!

Great weather if a bit windy in Nice. Unfortunately, airline lost my bag so have to make do with samer clothes tomorrow. Found out there is Tennis being played in Monte Carlo so we are looking into that and may see a match if the draws look promising. Walked about on the beach and went to a flea market outside. We also passed Nice’s city hall where film crews were at work getting ready for a scene for a new French movie.