October 12th 2008 - Diving

October 12th 2008

Snakes and Octopuses ...

No - I am not referring to an exotic meal we had during the week, although I can't say that it couldn't have happened. This week we got to see our wildlife alive and not on a plate or covered in ice at the fishing harbor, as I described in last week's entry. But you will have to show a little patience, as it is way past my bedtime and I will have to finish this tomorrow. Please return ... I've got some goodies for you!!!

--- to be Continued ----

October 13th:

5 week days and 4 restaurant visits .... 2 for dinner and 2 for lunch, so only Monday did we get to eat all our meals at home. Tuesday evening Kossman from TGE, the company which made the basic design of our vessel, held his farewell party at Ballentines. He has been coming and going so many times over the past two years that nobody (except himself) really believes that he wont come back again ! But hey .... a party is a party and if he says he's leaving - we'll be right by his side all the way to the bar !! hehe ...

Kossmann's farewell at Ballentines

Mr. Lee, Mr. I-forget-his-name, Kossmann and Mr. Moon

We had a good night and I am sure that we will miss Kossmann's loud verbal (German) outbursts aboard the ship, among his other great qualities !

Big plates of food but small coffees. And in Kossmann's hands they look even smaller !

Wednesday we were invited for dinner at the Italian restaurant on top of Lotte Hotel by International Paint - the paint suppliers for our vessels. This supposedly Italian restaurant is one of the nicest restaurants in town. Definitely the restaurant with the best view, as it is located on the 24th floor right in the middle of New Downtown. Again a good evening ..

Thursday Mr. Oh and I were invited for lunch by a subcontractor in Onsan. We went to a nice restaurant behind Jin-Ha beach. Mr. Oh is always very concerned that I don't have to sit on the floor and that I will have some not-so-spicy food to eat !! It's pretty essential to have somebody look after you in the food department, as I am a complete Korean-illiterate, too stiff to sit on the floor and have a delicate palate ! This doesn't normally leave much choice.

Friday I went down to our subcontractors in Busan for a pipe inspection. I am normally down there once a week at the moment, so the guys there have gotten used to my shortcomings food-wise. They always take me to the same very nice Korean restaurant and I always end up eating way too much!

Busan traffic ...

Saturday morning we started off with our morning yoga with Min Joo after which I got on my bike and headed for the mountains. For the first time in a long time were we able to gather more than 2 people for a ride. Scott had decided to get some exercise, Ingo was back from the Persian Gulf and Mr. Kim is becoming a more and more regular rider. Scott threw in the towel pretty quick as he was riding a downhill bike about three times the weight of a cross country bike - in layman terms; he was screwed on all the climbs !!! And there are plenty of climbs ! The rest of us continued on a nice long ride and returned over three hours later. We made plenty of stops along the way but with climbs of more than 26° incline, you also need the time to recover.

Nice gear ... just not the right gear for the riding we do ! Scott struggling with his downhill bike.

First stop we are all still there.

Mr. Kim on one of the few single tracks of the day

In the afternoon Paula and I went to Ulsan Botanical Garden, hidden away up in the mountain close to one of our bike routes. The gardens are very nice but I suspect that we arrived about 2-3 weeks late, as the autumn is starting to show it's face now. The trees are slowly turning red/yellow and the grass has dried away. Apart from the garden there is a small aviatory and vivarium/terrarium with iguanas, turtles and snakes. One of the employees spoke english and was kind enough to show us around and tell us about the different animals.

Avast ye land lubbers! Arrr matey ...

Check out my painted-on smile !

Sunday morning I packed my dive gear, picked up Ingo and Scott and headed off to Pohang. We were heading to the same place I went diving last year, but this time we had decided to arrange the trip ourselves. I still had last years not-so successful dive trip in mind ! I had printed out a small Korean map and had a very general idea where the dive resort was located. Other than that we relied on our GPS navigation and a good deal of luck ! The second place we stopped for directions was at a fire station where we found an English speaking local (like finding a needle in a haystack) who punched the correct address in our navigation, so we made it to Aquabelle "dive resort" without any major mishaps. We were a little uncertain if we would be able to communicate with the guys there, but luckily we found enough English speaking Korean customers to help us. And in the end we are all there for the same reason - with the same needs - so it aint that difficult !!

Preparation is half the success.

Ingo had to rent a full set of equipment, which proved a little difficult due to his height. But in the end they found a wet suit and booties that almost fit him ! All suited up we jumped on one of the shuttles (boats) and was dropped on a reef at 15meters depth. We just went off on our own and had a nice relaxing dive. There is not a whole lot of life down there, but the seascape is not bad at all with big rocks and small canyons. And the sea has not yet cooled dramatically down. So a good first dive. Back on firm ground we changed our tanks and had one of our home made sandwiches (I wasn't going to eat raw sea urchins this time so I had spent the morning making sandwiches and Scott had baked cookies !), before Scott and I went for a second dive. Ingo decided to chill out on shore.

It was THIIIS big ! (Scott)

Cool Ingo !


Second dive was to a small wreck. The minute I jumped in I felt a trickle of water entering my dry suit at the wrist seal. After a few seconds of consideration I decided to try and stick it out, hoping for at least 20 minutes before having to ascent. The alternative would be to abort before even starting. So I held my arm in Napoleon position throughout the dive while feeling the water slowly travelling further up my arm, then down my chest to finally, after 30 minutes, reach my left leg. Then I had enough and signaled to Scott that the fun was over. The dive ... ? Visibility was quite a bit worse than the first dive but it was still a worthwhile dive. I have been there twice now and that's enough. If I go again I will try to stay at the reef, which I find nicer.

Heading out for the second dive

A sea fan on the wreck

Yuck - I got wet !!

Sunday afternoon = bad traffic, so it took us two and a half hour to get back. The same as on the way there, but now we knew where we were going !!

Below is a slide show with all this week's photos: