Il est un optimiste
- - 30.06.2010 | 1 comments | #link | rss
After all these days I had a little day off, went for some shopping. Followed by a stop at Délifrance and give a try to some apple pie. Not as good as back in Europe, but close enough to satisfies my immediate need and comfort of home.

Then followed by a little Big Mac (I know I had desert first), they also have a Double Big Mac and a Double Filet o'fish. But maybe next time, I'm actually happy that I'm eating almost healthy these days. I'm surprised it took almost two month before I went to Mc Donald's.

- - 30.06.2010 | 0 comments | #link | rss
Where has he been?

Well I have to say that since the last time I wrote something time has passed and I was a pretty busy time.
First, after my certification as a PADI Rescue Diver I went on and did many specialities.

Here the list:
• Wreck Diver
• Deep
• Full Face Mask Diver
• Underwater Navigator
• Dry Suit Diver
• Digital Underwater Photographer
• Search & Recovery
• Gas Blender
• National Geographic Diver
• Night Diver
• Emergency Responder that is part of the Rescue Diver course.

Once you are a rescue diver and have 5 specialties you can become a Master Scuba Diver.
It is more of a prestigious thing than a true new certification. But the title sounds cool and the pad for the shirt with it gold border is pretty : )

Secondly, once all this was done I was looking forward to have some fun and spend some days in Koh Chang. But it didn't work out as there was a couple of pre test and things to get ready for the Dive Master course.

So suddenly I spent most of my time reading books followed by knowledge reviews, attending theory classes about physics and decompression theories.

This was followed by two weeks of sheer terror... not wait... It was hard and I have to admit that there was one day where I wondered myself why I was going through all this. But this was followed by a day of inexplicable good mood and bell rings (all the bars here have bells that you ring for paying a round of drinks) and a couple of tequila shots later the good was completed followed by a 5000 Baht bill.

But all this ended on the 29th of June after the last skill demonstration in the pool and final exams where completed. All passed successfully. Now the PADI paper work was done and I'll get my new card in some time. So it was a good time for a party!

I only took one picture that evening, Elvis in the house!

Tomorrow, first time on the boat as dive master.
- - 15.05.2010 | 0 comments | #link | rss
So what else have I done over the last days?... I spent most of the time reading in order to be prepared for the rescue diver course. I have to say that I really had a good time and the learning was really useful.

It also includes a part of Emergency First Response. So now if someone is in need I can say; My name is Alex, I am an emergency responder. May I help? Or for the dive part; Diver diver, I'm a rescue diver. May I assist you?

But the really hard part is in the water, we spent hours in the swimming pool doing rescue exercises and another two day in the water where we applied the skilled learning in the pool.

One of the exercises on the second day was conducting a search for a lost diver. Visibility was ranging from one meter to around 30cm. And to make it even harder, there was a strong current. We didn't find the dummy body, but at least we knew what we could improve. And also it did help the moral a bit that after the training the two divers who planted the body didn't find it again either...

So we did lose some things, I also lost my pair of fins in one of the exercise where I had to carry someone up the boat on the ladder and someone lost a mask.

The only thing we did find on the way back was a group of divers where one was exhausted and lost a fin. So we ended the day with an actual rescue and brought the diver back to his boat.

The day I did all the reading I went for some nice lunch at the beach, noodles soup with chicken from one of the carts on the street; 30 Bath, so 1.- CHF... and another 27 Bath for 750ml water and an ice cream on the 7eleven.
So as you can see the food is cheap, and I have to say that these street carts sell really good food. And I'm not just saying this because it is cheap.
And then the snack on the evening:

Snack, grasshoper and frogs

So we have Grasshopper and small frogs, deep fried.
And as a bonus : )

about to eat a grasshoper

I have to say that the frog, and I don't like to admit it, really tastes like chicken... the grasshopper on the other hand. No clue, it has some taste that is familiar put can't really define it. Must have been de seasoning they used.
- - 15.05.2010 | 0 comments | #link | rss
So what is the diving like? Well I have to admit that visibility in the bay is ranging from horrible to very bad.
But ! Fantastic wreck diving on a wreck, the HTMS Khram.

HTMS Khram, image by Alex Beuchel

More info on the wreck: here

Very nice dive, first at 28 meters where we swam along the boat next to the bottom with lots of fish creating a shield. So one side the boat and on the other all the fish that was surrounding us.

Second dive was on the same spot, so this time we went on the top of the wreck with a little swim trough at on the front of the wreck. Guess that the Wreck Speciality is on my list of to do in order to be allowed to penetrate the wreck.

Got myself a little sun burn, not that bad... let's say that when I looked in the mirror the colour of my bum and the colour of my back was distinctively different... The only real annoyance was on the next day when putting the wetsuit on, it does get a bit uncomfortable on the back but that feeling disappear once in the water.
- - 07.05.2010 | 1 comments | #link | rss
So, what happend?

Well at some point I was sitting in that plane and while it was climbing I had a nice last glance at Geneva from the sky... with a jet eau and all the lights by night, postcard feeling.

So that makes you think that it is a nice place and I'll probably start enjoying it differently once/if back : )

Off from Zurich now where the flight was most of the time very smooth so the sleep with the Gin & Tonic was very good. Though the red wine on Swiss could be improved. Speaking of improving why is it that the screen on the plane have such a limited viewing angle? I understand you don't want to disturb your neighbour with light of the screen, but no good if you can't see the screen because you are too tall. This is ok when the guy in front of you is sitting straight, but obviously the one in front of me put it down almost immediately after the sign allowed it.

Crazy heart was despite the screen a good movie. And the singing is anyway more important there. Avatar would have been crap...

Well I landed in Thailand and arrived in Pattaya, can't remember much of the drive as I have been a sleep most of the time.

So what are the first impressions? Well the first reaction from my body was sweat, and only to be told a bit later that it just cooled down a bit and that we are on terrace in the shadow with a breeze.

Second impression, the road where I am living on is in construction, so it looks very messy. Not to speak from the electric work that is close to art and would make go every Swiss electrician just speechless. Haven't seen any sparks but some humming is coming from certain Pylons... Speaking of electric, I hope it is the high temperature and not the odd current that is heating up my laptops power supply.

Thappraya Road in Pattaya

On the first evening I had my first beach party for some guys who just finished their Dive Master certification. Great fun and a nice roasting pig on the bbq (and by pig I mean the whole animal)

The internet connection at the hotel where I stay is down due to the road construction. So luckily the dad of a friend who lives next to Pattaya has lent me a USB stick for the connection. Not as fast as DSL in Switzerland but still very nice. As I can sit in my room in the cool and not outside the dive shop where it simply get very very very and again very hot. While writing this I realise that I'm running at around 4 litres of water right now, and that I still should drink more... I wonder if I need more water that my body is able to absorbe.

So one last picture from my trip today, a Giant Buddha carved with laser in Gold on the cliff of Kaho Chee Chan.

Giant Golden Buddha in stone at Kaho Chee Chan cliff
- - 11.11.2009 | 0 comments | #link | rss
Wind of change, when I hear that sentence I have a few references in my mind...

I guess that for most people relate to the whistle during the song from the Scorpions. It also has strong relation to the reunification of Germany. Many images of the Berlin wall falling are shown with the song playing in background.
I was only 7 when the event happened, but I remember the images shown on TV of the wall being demolished and people climbing over it. I also remember my parents who were on the phone with friends in Germany who drove to Berlin that night to witness the event. But I didn't realize at that time what really happened and how that event 20 years ago was important for Germany and diplomatic relations in the world.

Few years later during vacations in Spain, some of my parents friends joined us. They were living in East Germany and for the first time able to leave freely and go for the first vacation outside. For me being there was normal, but for them it was an exceptional event. How overwhelming it must be for all the senses. The smell of the sea, the feeling of swimming, the culture; food and languages... Again these are things I see that way today, years have passed and my perception of the world has changed and is evolving every day.

But originally the introduction that should have been only a few sentences has become longer than expected... I wanted to write a short message that I'll be blogging again, not that I wrote that I wouldn't do it again but my last post was a long time ago.

The initial thought was to write about change in my life. At that time I was in the process of considering taking a sabbatical. I had this thought already some years ago but I didn't take any action to actually do it and my actions to move within the company to a different country weren't successful either.

At the end of the summer I sat down with a friend who is planning to take a sabbatical next year. During the dinner my original idea emerged again, it felt stronger and the timing better. I wanted to get a Dive Master certification and do it in some place warm and exotic!

This is a big change and has an implication in my career, so my first thought was: Lay down some reasons why you shouldn't do it. That shifted really quickly to what the implication would be since I haven't found anything that says; no, don't go.

There are a few areas I considered that would go into the check list for a go, or no go. As it is a dive master, am I in shape mentally and physically to pass the exams? Check. Do I have any obligation to someone; wife, children, family or friend who depends on me? 3 times no. Check. By the way if you have a pet and consider not doing it because of that, you should check your priorities in life. Do I have an employer that would allow me to do this? Luckily yes, the company I work for has an official program for taking an unpaid leave. Check. Am I in a situation where it makes sense to take a break? By that I mean, I don't believe that taking a sabbatical when you are profoundly unhappy in your job is the right thing. When you come back the probability that you job hasn't changed much is high. But you might have had such a great time you job will look even less motivating. Also if you are going to take a new challenge any time soon, I don't want to start something new and then leave for a long period right away.

I want to take a sabbatical in order to achieve something; that would be the dive master certification. At the same time, leave that comfort zone and break the routine that I have in my life today. And by routine I don't really mean waking up, going to work and... well, work. It is to change the country, city, people, activity, food, life style. All this you can experience it during holidays, but not over a longer period of time and hence, really intensify the experience.
It all seemed to be a good idea and very feasible. Over time my motivation hasn't faded and the next step was to find a location and define a possible time frame based mainly on the ability to save money till my departure to pay for all the necessary bills.

So I talked to my superiors and sent them the plan; the place; Thailand. Start of the courses on the 5th of May and be back on the 20th of September 2010. I have been very lucky because they were very supportive and able to give me very quickly their approval. So if you are reading these lines; again a big thank you.

This post has already become much longer than I anticipated but I guess that this topic is very close to my heart right now. And that I still have things that I want to say but I'll break them down in some other posts to come.

I'll promise to continue writing as this blog will be a platform where during my trip I want to lay down my experience. Take the same to write down thoughts while they are still warm and crisp, also include photographs as this is one of the few messages that don't include any.
- - 17.05.2008 | 1 comments | #link | rss
Does a picture tell the truth? What do you think of that lion on the pictures below?

Male Lion looking agresively

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- - 17.05.2008 | 0 comments | #link | rss
When you look at the pictures you have taken... You see that the subject is in focus, the colours are good, there is slight blur due to motion that give a little something to the picture... but you have to live with the fact that you just missed the perfect shot... by holding the camera in portrait instead of landscape for example...

On the other hand, I still like the picture. This out of frame gives it a special character.

Baby Lion at Tschukudu

Here some more shots taken of that little baby lion at the Tshukudu private game lodge in South Africa.
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- - 01.09.2007 | 0 comments | #link | rss
The Japanese who travel aboard really miss Japanese food. I think anyone after while miss the local dishes, but having spent two weeks in Japan I didn't really miss anything. They have a great choice, and the quality is amazing.

And the best, you can eat 24/7 : )

If you are hungry, do not continue reading this article and don't look at the pictures.

Edamame, great as appetizer instead of peanuts. Very enjoyable with a cold Japanese beer.

Nippon - Japan - Edamame - Food

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- - 26.08.2007 | 2 comments | #link | rss
I came back around a week ago from Japan, it was the first time I went there. And I can only say, hope this was not the last!

It really was a great experience, and I think that I made some nice pictures as well.

So enjoy the first two pictures, more to come:

Nippon - Japan - Flag - Tokyo

Beautiful temple in Japan - Tokyo
- - 31.12.2006 | 0 comments | #link | rss
Stroll on the beach, no one around. Only our two footprints left on the soft and white sand.

Maldives - Footprints in the sand
- - 16.10.2006 | 5 comments | #link | rss
I have to admit it is hard to be back in Switzerland when you have spent almost two full weeks on the Maldives.

I made some very nice pictures, but I'll need to process them first.

But to start with, a usual postcard picture. It should give you an idea what kind of place it was.

Olhuveli beach - Maldives - Paradise
- - 30.09.2006 | 0 comments | #link | rss
Right now I'm sitting in the Airport of Doha, nice view from the windows, lots of desert and sometimes a plan is passing by. The airport is clean an spacious and depending on where you are sitting, free wifi access.

At this point I would like to thank the travel agency who forgot to mention that I have my diving equipment with me. As a diver you are allowed to have some extra luggage, but it has to be mentioned on the ticket. Believe me that at 70 CHF per extra kilo it can make a difference in the price of you holiday.

Then in the order idiocy, my carry on luggage was also too heavy. 10kg instead of the allowed 7, easy fix here. Take the camera with the heaviest lens around the neck and there you go I just got rid of 2.5 kg and was allowed to proceed. Of course the first thing I did when I left the check-in... put the camera back in the bag.

Well can't wait to carry on my journey to Male and do some diving.
- - 03.07.2006 | 4 comments | #link | rss
no way !

There are many places I whish to discover, to re-visit...

Hong Kong is one of them...

7 Eleven, Dog, Hongkong

- - 19.04.2006 | 3 comments | #link | rss
I know that the terrorist attack in 2001 in New York was a sock for the world. But it is impressive and worrying how much it has affected the life of the people in New York.

New York Subway - Metro - United States - 1st Avenue - Houston Street

We took the subway, like most of the time as it gets you easy round the place. And suddenly there was a bang followed by the light that turned off for around 1 second. The train stopped and the light where shimmering for very few seconds. And the train moved on to the next station.

The thing that surprised me is how many people started crying and got extremely anxious and scarred. I had about the same thing in the Hong Kong subway and there almost no one was nervous about the situation.

I really feel like the United States citizens are living with a huge amount of fear all the time.

- - 19.04.2006 | 5 comments | #link | rss
I guess you can't go to New York and not see any squirrels unless you avoid all the parks.

They are know to have been used to the human contact... well let's say they know that many people like to feed them and that we, humans, are a good source for easy food.

Squirrel - New York - United States - Park - Central Park

- - 19.04.2006 | 0 comments | #link | rss
A picture from Ground Zero in New York. The place where the Twin Towers have been standing.

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- - 05.04.2006 | 1 comments | #link | rss
North Sulavesi in March is still a very rainy place to be, as we had during our transfer day from the Tasik Ria resort close to Manado to the Lembeh Strait Resort.

The picture here shows that not only the sewer system is not the best in the world around this place but also that the rain is quit heavy.

Rain on the Indonesian road - North Sulavesi

On the other hand, the temperature is always nice and the rain usually shouldn't last too long as you can see:

Sun and Clouds - Lembeh Strait Resort

- - 02.04.2006 | 22 comments | #link | rss
Lorena Bobbitt, known for cutting of the penis of her husband back in 1993 in the US... This is where the fellow here got his name:

Eunice aphroditois aka. Bobbit Worm

Commonly know as Bobbit Worm, the reason why he got this lovely name is due to the fact that the female worm attacks the male penis and feeds it to her young after mating...

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- - 29.01.2006 | 3 comments | #link | rss
Petit voyage du dimanche ; Genève, Hong Kong.

Swiss Francs (CHF) and Hong Kong Dollards (HKD)

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