Sunday, August 11, 2013

Caught the SCUBA bug!

As some of you guys already know, Lydia and I love the beach and ocean - especially considering how many times we've been to the Maldives! We've just never been bothered to get certified for scuba since we already have so much fun just snorkeling seeing different fishes and even mantas and a whale shark and furthermore, the thought of "studying" during a holiday was just a turn off.

Well, snorkeling ain't cutting it anymore and we just finished our Padi Open Water Course here in Austin last week. We're now certified divers! The main motivation for doing the course now was that we're going back to Conrad Maldives in November (more details on that when we actually get to go) and we definitely want to see more of the ocean through diving.

Lydia did a wonderful job in finding an excellent dive shop (Scubaland Austin) and we had an excellent instructor, James. No question about diving or equipment was too much for both Scubaland and James. Would definitely recommend them for anyone wanting to get certified.

The Open Water Course consisted reading a book, doing some quizzes and watching a DVD before two weekends with James. The first weekend going over theory in classroom and in Scubaland's pool going over basic diving skills like safety, mask and regulator clearing and buoyancy. The second weekend was the open water section which was just diving and some skills tests similar to those learned in the pool.

We did our open water dives in Reville Peak Ranch which was a old quarry about an hour from Austin. There wasn't much to see in the quarry/lake itself with just some rocks and small fishes but the dives were more about getting control of the buoyancy. Both of us floated up uncontrollable a couple of times on the first dive but we both did improve much better on the later dives.

Reville Peak Ranch

It wasn't cheap and was probably excessive but we both just bought our own scuba gear. We figured it would be a good idea since we would be paying for rental anyway and we would be more comfortable in our own gear.

Part of our scuba "stash"
We were surprised that are our some fun places to scuba around Texas like the Comal river, various scuba parks with sunken cars, ships and other wrecks and the Flower Gardens in the Gulf of Mexico. We just go back from Lake Travis today and the visibility was just horrible but we were still happy to be in the water to work on our buoyancy.

View from the water. That's 50 feet of water missing from Lake Travis

We're looking forward to more scuba/diving adventures! We're off San Francisco on a semi-mileage run this weekend and already have plans to go diving in Monterey. The weekend after, we'll be doing our PADI Advanced Open Water Course. There will be definitely plenty of diving around Texas before that big trip to the Maldives in November....

4th July Getaway: Introduction


It was a crazy last couple of weeks with 15 hour days at work while we try to get a product out the door. Thankfully the product did get shipped and I was able to enjoy a much deserved one plus week vacation during the 4th of July hoildays. We needed to go somewhere!

One of the main motivation of the trip was to get on the currently the longest flight that was served by Singapore Airlines on their New York to Singapore route by their Airbus A345 aircraft. This was the aircraft that I first flew when I started flying for work, albeit in economy class, and what got me hooked on this hobby. Singapore Airlines decided recently that they were going to stop flying this all business class  ~18 hour flight in November since I assume it wasn't making money and I wanted a last hoorah before they ended the flight.

SQ Business Class
The vacation itself would be in Koh Samui. Since I had an expiring Hilton free night voucher compliments of the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card, we used it at the Conrad Koh Samui. It was a great value since one night here would have costs close to $1000! For the rest of the stay in Koh Samui, we opted for the KC Beach Club since it seem fun to be in a "party hotel" and it was right smack in the action in Chaweng.

After a quick stop back at home in Penang to check on things, we made a detour in Macau on the way back to Austin since we heard great things on how the Conrad Macau treats Hilton Honors Diamond members. To make the stop even more enticing, I found a good fare from Penang to Hong Kong via Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines with the brand new A380 flying us on  the Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong sector.

Our Suite at the Conrad Macau
The highlight of the final segment on the trip would be flying Eva Air. Eva Air just joined Star Alliance and we were excited to try out their business class cabin - yummy Asian food that comes with Dom Perignon! 

Hope you guys enjoy the trip report!