This afternoon I did my first dive! It was a beach dive directly off from the Lagoona Redang Resort beach. While only to a depth of 6m, it was fully guided. My group was meant to be 3 plus a guide but Frankie and Ron both aborted after a depth of about 30cm.
After all the fiddling around and briefing I forgot the GoPros
so can’t actually show you what I saw but the dive was over a reef with trigger fish, clown fish and whole host of others all just doing their fishy thing.
Day 18 (15 Oct)
After another boat ride back to the jetty where we were dropped off originally we set off to Kalaw via the caves at Pintaya.
The trip from the jetty at Inle lake to the limestone caves go through some of the most dense farmland in Myanmar. We passed small family farms growing cauliflower, pumpkin, potatoes, beans, cabbage etc all grown organically to be sold at local markets or if lucky, regional wholesalers.
Pintaya limestone caves, just like every other caves I have encountered in Myanmar – they have been converted to a Temple with every surface and grotto adorned with Buddhist imagery.
The kicker for this place is the legend that surrounds the cave. Allegedly a number of princesses sheltered in the cave to escape a storm. Little did they know a Nat spirt in the form of a giant spider was in the cave and proceeded to hold them hostage. A hunts man (a hunter not a spider) was nearby and heard the princesses screams. He used his bow and arrow and killed the spider. Why princesses were roaming the country unprotected the myth does not say. But to remind all and sundry of the story there is a reenactment in Disney style large stone characters at the entrance to the cave.
From Pintsya we stopped and had lunch at the lake where Kainnari & Kainnara ( the flying lover gods as previously mentioned ) were rumoured to live. Not a bad place to spend a day. Onward, ever onward we moved to Kalaw – if the English gardens at Pyin Oo Lwin was freakish the English cottages and large homes of Kalaw are other worldly, topped off with Pine trees make this place look like an English village deposited in the Myanmar hills.
Day 19 (16 Oct)
Today was Kalaw market day! All the farmers were out selling their wares – from veggies to batteries, dried fish to clothes it was all there. Spent most of the morning wandering around the stalls and looking at odd parts of animals and odds and ends.
This afternoon was topped off with another cave that contained…. You guessed it. Another Temple.
Day 20 (17 Oct)
Up before the sun again to head off on a day trek. Our guide assured us the night before that the terrain would be ‘gentle’ and ‘down hill’. I think today must have been Opposite Day since 7 of the 12km was up hill rising to 1404m above sea level at the high point. By not means was the walk hard, just unexpected.
The villages and their inhabitants live a truly rural existence. But the landscape was beautiful. Every second house had some water buffaloes in the front yard. Or a small child heading off to school.
The children were heading off to school on the last day before a 10 day break. Which means after cleaning the school grounds they were free to go home which they were doing when we dropped into the local school at around 0930.
As the area is totally devoid of mains power every house had a solar panel for night lighting during the dryer months and a hydro electric setup in the local stream for during the monsoon season. I was in nerd heaven.
Our guide even showed us the roadside local herbs that the farmers use for first aid – one to stop nose bleeds, which when burnt keeps the squadrons of local mosquitoes at bay, another that you put the sap on cuts and scratches to seal against dirt. Happy to report that we didn’t need to use any.
** over the past few says the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has emailed me a few travel advisory updates informing us that a number of explosive devices have been found across the country. Detonations have been confirmed in Yangon and Shan state ( the state we are in now). While the information is most welcome, it will not be effecting our plans, but I will be keeping a ‘weather eye’ on the situation **
Leaving Mandalay Airport for a domestic flight to Inle Lake we were forced to go through customs checks twice – passport handed over the whole works – IT IS A DOMESTIC FLIGHT – before you say it was to check ID, we have picked up all our tickets at airline check in at every airport WITHOUT ID.
This region produced a lot of tomatoes – all in floating beds. It was unbelievable seeing farmers tend their crops… in boats.
After a night on the town with Frankie’s former school mates it meant another early start with minimal sleep. This time a domestic flight on Myanmar’s newest airline AirKBZ, owned by KBZ bank. The new airline also has new aircraft – the new ATR 72 600. Perfect for short haul flights in comfort. With a clever stroke of marketing genius the logo for AirKBZ is the Burmese mythical couple Kainnayi and Kainnyar. Who according to legend area flying couple who were so I love, when they were separated while flying though a thunder storm for 1 hour to the lovers it felt like years.
Arriving in Bagan starts the preplanned part of our trip that Frankie arranged with a local tour agency here. He provided the locations and the dates. They did the rest. We were booked into the Bagan Thande river side hotel, constructed for the British royal visit in 1922 by the Prince of Wales.
Our room had full river frontage to the Irrawaddy river. We often sat watching the river ‘push’ boats moving up and down the river with their loads of teak and other cargo.
First thing I must point out that Bagan has more pagodas than I have numbers. They are every few metres in some cases. The first we visited was built in the 11th century. Hosting four large images of standing Buddha. Two, the north and south are original 11th century magnolia wood. These two are built in the Indian style of Buddha’s image – meaning, they are smiling and their earlobes do not touch their shoulder. The east and west images were either damaged and or stolen along with their many jewels by the Mongol hordes that invaded Bagan at this time.
This is a map of our planned travel route along with my parents who are having their own holiday, but meeting us in KL and going to Redang Island, Malaysia with us.
Download the Google Earth Link
As we are also taking our Delorme InReach satellite 2 way communicator with us too, if we can not get phone signal and find something awesome we will post here:
Soaking up the sun at the Darwin ‘beach’.
Followed by an amazing Greek lunch. I am now addicted to Saganaki and dips.
This week had been a big week for me in the fitness / jogging side.
Every night this week I have been out walking and jogging in Darwin – how could you not. The whether has been sublime. I usually run at night. Later the better. Averaging 6-8kms. The nights here don’t drop below 22 degrees C.
My fitbit flex has really changed the way I view activity. It’s right there on my wrist. It’s blinking lights shaming me into activity. The more lights the more active you have been. It has 5 lights that break your goal into 5ths. My daily goal is currently 10,000 steps ( roughly 5kms) so each light is 2000 steps. The nature of my current role at work means that I am largely sedentary (desk bound) during the day – I would be lucky to pass 2000 steps at work. But by bed time I am usually clocking up between 12000 & 16000. My walking partner who can walk to work recently scored 24kms in a single day with only a normal day activity with a night walk.
Weight wise I am still hovering between 76-78kgs. But body fat as a percentage is dropping from 26% to as low as 24% this morning.
How far do you usually run per day?
As the count down begins to the big trip (roughly 30 days) through Burma (Myanmar) and Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur and Redang Island, I am putting together my packing list.
As you will see most of my packing is actually mostly gadgets & electronics. I LOVE THEM.
Kathmandu 70L convertible ( roller with hidden backpack straps)
Kathmandu 15L Backpack ( day pack) – came with the 70L
I am still tossing up whether to get the Kathmandu 30L ‘Transit’ Day pack and use it as carry on. Additionally it has a secret compartment for my MacBook Air. The lady at Kathmandu kindly talked me out of buying it on the weekend, instead to wait until September when the 40% member discount starts.
2 x neutral coloured ‘zip off’ travel pants for comfort.
3 x T-shirts
3 x singlets
3 x shorts
1 x Swimming Shorts
7 x Underwear
2 x socks
1 x boat shoes ( these are my every day, go anywhere, comfortable traveling shoes)
1 x pair decent going out shoes (never know when a club night calls)
Go Pro Hero 3 Black
Go Pro Hero 3 Silver
MacBook Air 11in Mid 2011 128gb
Phone / Communications
iPhone 5 64gig in Lifeproof Fre Waterproof Case
Delorme InReach enabled GPS tracker and 2 way communicator
This is really just gear nerd porn, I want to be able to update my family and friends (and you through this blog) on our adventures. Also it would allow me to fire off a SMS style message to my parents who are meeting us for part of the trip, if any plans change. I am still working through some bugs on the posting map locations here. At this stage posting by email is my only option – this does not produce a ‘sexy’ post – more a quick and dirty text only post with links to an external map.
Where possibly I will endeavour to get a local sim – hopefully with prepaid data – in Malaysia this is no problem, Burma I think will be a different story.
iPad Mini 64gig in folio case
Goal Zero Guide 7 Solar panel
Goal Zero Guide 10+ AA Battery Pack with 4 x AA batteries x 2
In addition to the the Goal Zero Guide10+ I have a PLOX 6000mAh battery pack
PIXO USB Camera Battery Charger from Goal Zero – can charge the NX1000 battery from Solar, USB port or via a wall socket.
I know it sounds like a lot of power, but the guiding premise of my whole kit is that it can all be charged from the wall or from the Goal Zero Panels on the road. I am never quite sure of power availability, reliability or how safe it is (spikes). The only item I can not charge by solar from the above kit is the MacBook Air. Goal Zero does have products that could do it easily, but my budget and weight allowance doe not stretch that far this time. Their Sherpa 50 would be great with some folding panels, I just can’t convince the other half to allow me to get that one.
Have I forgotten anything? Comments ??
I am now back capturing some of my more memorable trips around the NT over the past few months. Adelaide River Jumping Crocs would have to be right up there.
Located about an hour from the Darwin CBD right on the Arhem Highway where it meets the Adelaide River.
For 25 bucks for an hour of watching these prehistoric beasts jump their body length out of the water to snatch a pork shop – I could not rate it highly enough.
The eerie sight of the crocodiles (or crocs if you are a true Territorian) suddenly appearing out of nowhere from the just below the surface of the muddy brown river water still freaks me out.
Dinner at the trailer boat club in Darwin never ceases to provide a great sunset
Recently I wanted to try my new Go Pro 3 in the water just in time for a quick trip to some warm water springs near Darwin NT.
Below are some pictures from Berry Springs NT.
I recently heard a BBC Radio 4 program about Life tracking ( they had a fancy title, Quantifying self). While listening I was thinking HOLY CRAP, thats me.. my whole life is recorded – whether pictorially through Facebook or Instagram, textually through here or tumblr and fitness wise I will go into below.
I recently have been trying to shift some KGs after hitting my highest weight without much effort! (mid 80kgs)
As you are probably aware, I am a gadget man, the first item that grabbed my eye was the new Fitbit Flex.
Basically its a Bluetooth Enabled Pedometer which doubles as a sleep tracker.
The wrist based device ‘gameifies’ the process of basically moving your body. In default setting of 10000 steps as a goal per day the device shows one single light per 2000 steps, providing vibration feedback when the 10000 is reached. The crowning glory of the divide in my opinion is back end – the app tracking and recording.
More recently I have added the Aria – the wifi enabled scale that perfectly couples with the Flex and the Fitbit app, not just measuring KGs but also lean body mass.
For the record – am now in the 70kg range.
Shot on my go pro 2 in Redang island, Malaysia 2012
As we are in the testing stage for our upcoming trip to Burma and Malaysia, I was testing our new GoPro3 Black on the weekend. It is planned that after we use our cameras (GoPro included) we would use our iPads as quick offload of photos and videos and then using FTP upload to our wireless HDD.
I managed to procure a SanDisk 64GB Micro SDXC, knowing the battery on the GoPro would die long before the card was full.
All fine and well UNTIL I plugged the card into my iPad mini. You get the following errors “Contents Unavailable. The connected storage media may be damaged” or “Contents not Available. Cannot read the connected storage media.” which as you can imagine a pain in the bum. But glad to have found it out now.
I do have Micro SDHC and they don’t suffer from the same issues thankfully but they are only 16GB.
Here is some further info:
Battery Test: @GoPro 3 Black V2.39 No wifi 960/48 1hr 31. With wifi 1 hr 16min
looks like I am buying more batteries.