Saturday, September 30, 2017

Carpenter Bee @ Shikisai-no-oka (四季彩の丘) in Hokkaido [Japan]

Had been insanely busy with work, baking and being sick that i have totally neglected the postings for my Hokkaido trip! It's still not a full fledged post for my first flower field at Shikisai-no-oka (known as 四季彩の丘) but at least it's something....

I first noticed the buzzing sound when i walked past the patch of pink flowers and although this evoked bad memories of what happened in Bandung, curiosity got the better of me. 

And it's a bee! Thankfully, i had been paying attention in meetings (can't help it as a minute-taker) and i do recognise this particular bee species! 

A carpenter bee which seldom stings unless provoked and that's restricted to only the female carpenter bees! Hence, i muster up enough courage to inch slightly nearer for a better close-up photograph. Pretty, little fellow, ain't it? 

However, the pain of the sting in my head and finger remained unforgettable and till this date, i would shake my head whenever i hear a buzzing sound; just in case a hornet / wasp / bee mistakes my head of hair for a nest again! 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bali Apollo Dive & Water Sports - Parasailing Again! @ Bali Nusa Dua [Indonesia]

Before i embarked on my trip to Bali, i excitedly told Alex that we could finally make use of our  EasyBreath snorkeling masks as the island is famous for its beaches! p.s. Alex's last snorkeling trip was to Perhentian Islands in 2015.

Alas, i didn't do much research and assumed that when i mentioned snorkeling, the driver would bring me to a beach where we can do as much snorkeling as we could at the beach. The reality couldn't have been further when our entourage of six persons were brought to Bali Apollo Dive & Water Sports at Nusa Dua.

It wasn't the white, sandy beach i thought it should be and even though i could likely snorkel in the water, there were just too many boats near the shoreline. 

Alex was rightfully upset and that's not even the start of his disappointment. For snorkeling, it was available but we must pay 475,000 rupiahs per person for an hour long activity at another location!

Now, that's almost 50 dollars and for Indonesian standard, expensive! However, let's not compare as we are free to leave if we want to. Alex's Korean colleague jumped in at this point and successfully bargained with the salesperson for a better deal! 

I was obviously unhappy but this appeared to be a common business practice in Bali. So for those who have the intention to go for water sports in Bali, bargaining is expected and if you need a price reference, i would share them at the end of this post.

Since the rest were keen to sign up for a few of the activities (banana boat, dive, parasailing etc), i decided to suck in my displeasure and sign on the badly-worded terms and conditions for just one activity; parasailing as i enjoyed it so much back at Sabah's Sapi Island!

As we needed to wait for the boat to bring us out, i did what i would usually do when there's time to spare; explore the surroundings! 

There's a long stretch of path bordering the shoreline and i couldn't quite decide if i should go left or right as we were not given a specific waiting time and i couldn't venture too far out. 

Decision; turn left. 

Someone was having a go at Flying Fish! If you ask me, the flying fish was a lot more frightening compared to Banana Boat as the former would soar a few feet above water for a short moment of time! 

Stretch ahead of me with the beach and sea beside me; dark clouds had congregated on the left and i was praying that rain wouldn't hit us as it would mean a total abandonment of any activities on the sea.

Another water sports centre; albeit a much smaller one. Pricing wise, it was similar to Bali Apollo Dive & Water Sports. 

Please be assured that the dog was merely sleeping in the nice, windy weather. 

Parasailing boat - i actually didn't realise until now that it would be the same boat i would be boarding later on! 

Random photographs taken along the stretch; honestly quite a nice place to chill out and there were hotels along the coastline for those who prefer to relax by the seas. 

Count the number of parasailers in the above photograph! 

"Cavin" - a loud and resounding voice reached my ears and i rushed back as it's time for us to take on the activity that cost us 300,000 rupiahs per person. Darn, i do sound like a dog returning to its owner who called for it. 

Taking the speedboat.

The range of water sports is quite standard across regions and countries although i haven't tried most of them (like jetski) for one reason; i find it hard to part away my hard-earned money for just that few moments of exhilaration! 

Of course, you can also argue that i am still throwing money when i opted for parasailing.

However, i look at it differently; parasailing brings me up to the sky, thrills me given my fear of height, gives me a bird's eye view of the surrounding, relaxes me with the wind, entices with a lower probability of getting wild and i don't have to use much energy! 

Bet these people at the pavilion were waiting for their boat to arrive. 

After a wait (yes, another wait which was a total waste of precious overseas time) of about 15 minutes, the speedboat finally brought us closer to the parasailing boat.

Time to do passenger exchange.

Rope that would and should give us the assurance that it's strong enough to withstand the weight of the parasailers and the force of the wind! 

Two very, very important men on the boat, whom our lives depend on. 

Waiting once again for our turn!

Six of us broken up into three groups of two and mine was the first one to take on the challenge! I wasn't grouped up with Alex; instead, i would be soaring into the sky with Alex's Korean colleague. 

Thinking of letting the pictures do the talking as i believe i had already described a lot back in my post on the first parasailing experience in Malaysia (Kota Kinabalu)

Last two photographs seemed to create a false illusion that we were closed to the surface of the sea but we were really quite high up!

Maybe because we were two male adults, the staff appeared to bring us higher with significantly higher sharp turns compared to the rest! 

The above was considered as secured?! No, panic attack didn't strike me as i believe in sucking lemons should life gives me nothing but lemons. Okay, i admit i was a tad nervous. 

Back to the boat! 

More random photos as we had to wait for more people to finish before the speedboat would come and pick us up. I understand the need to cater for a minimal number of passengers as it made sense from an economical angle.

Do be aware that due to regulations, kids undertaking the parasailing activity can only soar up to a specified, albeit shorter, height, and there weren't the usual twists and turns that adult riders were subject to.

Flying fish again!

With quite a number of operators offering parasailing and other water sports, i wonder if the proximity is too close for comfort. Take the case of parasailing, what if a sudden change in wind direction result in lines being tangled up? Maybe i am thinking too much! 

This looked so cool! Known as fly board (or jet blade), this would set you back by 1,100,000 rupiahs (S$110) for 15 minutes, before bargaining for discount. 

Speedboat had arrived! 

One of the hotels by the shoreline. Guess i don't have to travel that fair when Bintan is just an-hour plane ride away from Singapore. 

Another person playing the fly board; this activity is actually available in Singapore but its initial pricing was a staggering S$228! However, i am unsure on its duration! Interested? Check out the website here

Reaching shore - by the way, most of the photographs were taken using the waterproof Olympus TG3 camera! This time, i made sure that all the batteries were fully charged!

I think i was a bit too excited to leave the speedboat as i jumped down before being told to do so. Unlike me, the rest were patiently waiting for instructions. *shrugs*

Seagrass? Seaweed? Doesn't matter but i am sure not getting into the water.

As the rest of our travel mates had signed up for other activities, Alex and i spent time eating the Tim Tam i smuggled in my backpack and having a nice local Indonesian lunch with the local beer at the water sports centre while waiting for them to return.

Lucky for them as dark clouds took over the blue sky just as they returned! Although Alex and i didn't do much, it's actually quite nice to do nothing actually. Haha.  


Tanjung Benoa, Jl. Pratama No.70, Benoa, 
Nusa Dua, Kabupaten Badung, 
Bali 80361, Indonesia

Price List
As above.