Diary from the 17th to the 30th of November 2010

Wednesday the 17th of November 2010

Leaving home at 7 am my brother Werner and his wife Sieglinde drove me to Frankfurt. Traffic was just very close to jamming all the time. Something I won't me missing. Check-In without complications. Not for granted, when you are travelling with a baggage between 50 and 60 kilograms. I couldn't get to sleep, though I watched a couple of movies and TV Shows.

This time I really feel somehow relieved to be in the plane. The last weeks, months and years left hardly any space for me personally. I will definitely enjoy every minute of this trip!

Thursday the 18th of November 2010

Landed in Singapore close to 7 am. Free Internet killed the 5 hours wait. Then the flight to Manila, which I slept through. Hotel, shower and then out with my friend Atom. It was an evening organized by the French Camber of Commerce. Not really my thing ususally, but very interesting to watch. I felt a little bit underdressed, but unfortunately I do have suit and tie in my baggage. The food an the wine were good. Back at the Hotel at 1 am.

Friday the 19th of November 2010

No special day. A little bit of shopping and chilling. In the evening I went to the Airport. I will never ever complain about traffic in Germany again. Between 4 and 8 pm the main roads in Manila seem to be a big parking lot. Besides Bangkok this is the worst I have ever seen. Arrived in the middle of the night in Palau and I needed 1 and a half hours to complete the immigration process. New record !!! There wasn't anything special. It is just that people work at very slow pace. They should give them a time limit of 2 minutes per customer. This should be enough encouragement to move some body parts a little bit faster.

Saturday the 20th of November 2010

Couldn't get much sleep. Got up at 6 am and finally at 7 am I went to town and looked for a place to have breakfast. After Breafast I bought some groceries and went back to my room. Somehow fainted and woke up at 1.30 pm. Had lunch with Robert and checked in at Sams. In the evening Dinner at the Taj an met Thomas and Natalia. They are here with a group of customers. Bed early slept well.

Sunday the 21st of November 2010

First day to dive and the weather was just horrible. Rain and I was freezing all day long. The dives were good actually. Blue Corner hasn't lost its fascination and we saw a huge Manta at German channel. Although we saw a nice conversation underwater with a Russian diver and his guide. The Russian diver wanted to chase the Manta, which the guide didn't like too much. Nice underwater show !!! Coral bleaching didn't spare Palau unfortunately. We saw a couple of pure white Corals. Water temperature drops now, so that we hope they soon recover. With all that rain I caught a little cold. Hope that goes away very fast.

Monday the 22nd of November 2010

Weather ws good today, but unfortunately the hope of improvement of my cold was in vain. Descend and ascend were accompanied by severe pain. Nevertheless I had two beautiful dives. Sias Corner and Ulong Channel. In Ulong the coral bleaching has reached a point that really hurts. A lot of corals are white and some a starting with the bleaching process. Let's hope that that they are improving over the "winter". The fish life, to my opinion, hasn't been affected, yet. If the bleaching goes on like that, I am afraid of the consequences. Lying down for a quick nap in the evening and woke up at 11. That way I am never getting rid of the Jet Lag.

Tuesday the 23rd of November 2010

Because I want to do a lot of diving on this trip, I have decided to stay out of the water till my sinuses are totally okay. I hope that this is done within 2 or 3 days. Until then I am damned to be lazy. Today I did housework, like washing and went shopping. Got my Sim Card for the cell phone and bought some groceries. Later I had lunch with Robert at the Thai Place. Somehow you manage to get through the day. Outdoor activities were difficult because it rained all day.

Wednesday the 24th to Tuesday 30th of November 2010

As I am not able to dive, at the moment, I thought I am adding up a few days. I am waiting for my Sinuses to clear up. You wouldn't believe what different advices I got to clear the blockades. Sauna, Steambath, high dosage of Ibuprofen, just to name a few. In the end it is just one thing: You have to wait. Sometimes it is hard. I can't remember when I look back the past years and I was just "chilling" for a week or even longer. Probably it has to be like that at the moment. So I go walking, to the Gym, have lunch with Robert. The days go by. We'll see what the next week brings.

Diary from the 1st to the 5th of December 2010

Wednesday the 1st of December 2010

Today I had my first lesson of my underwater video class. Interesting but a little abstract. It will be more fun when I am able to be back in the water. I am  trying the secret recipe of my room neighbor. Cut garlic into thin slices and chew it raw. Tastes a little bit strange but it seems to help. Hopefully I will be diving again on Sunday.

Thursday the 2nd of December 2010

Somehow I've have been on he move almost the whole day. Gym, Sauna and in the afternoon another theory video class with Nick. The whole thing to film underwater is a lot more complicated than you would think. We'll see how I can transfer theory into decent looking footage

Friday the 3rd of December 2010

Today homework and in the afternoon I walked to PPR (Palau Pacific Resort) and back. About an hour walk one way. The PPR is the only resort in Palau with beach. In the evening Thomas and Natalia had their last evening and we and some others met at Krämers and hat a few drinks. Before it got too wild I escaped home.

Saturday the 4th of December 2010

Last day to chill and in the evening we went to a Benefit dinner for the Belau Tourism Association. Was fun.

Sunday the 5th of December 2010

First day in the water again and it felt good to go down with no pain. Video class with Nick. We did all the techniques of shooting underwater. Most of the dives we stayed at special spots. Really interesting. A lot of things to learn. Dive technique is totally different when you shoot video. In the evening I had dinner with Jim. He is an instructor with Sams. We know each other ever since I come to Palau. Then I headed home to do my homework.

 

Diary from the 6th to the 12th of December 2010

Monday the 6th of December 2010

Second day of class. Totally nasty weather in the morning. Heavy rain and waves. Our divemaster changed plans in the last minutes before the first dive. So we ended up coming up with our boat gone. They said, they had to leave because of the waves and safety, which I understand of course. They had instructed two other boats to pick us up. If the divemaster had stuck to the original plan, this wouldn't have been necessary, though. It feels a bit awkward, if you come up and your boat is gone. Dive two and three and German channel. Third dive was almost completely accompanied by Mantas. Really beautiful.  

Tuesday the 7th of December 2010

First day of "real" diving. No pain, no class, just fun. Beautiful weather. I started to take my first videos. Some of them are totally bad, but some are getting very close to allright. The dives were nice. The usual. Sharks and all that stuff, that in other areas would be really spectacular. In Palau you can get spoilt very easily.

Wednesday the 8th of December 2010

Today we went to Ulong again. First time tht I have seen Mantas there. They say since this year they have them there occasionally. Maybe they explore more feeding grounds. The video thing is still a long way to go, but I am learning every day.

Thursday the 9th of December 2010

Nick called in the morning and asked, if I really want to go. Rain and Wind. I didn't want to. So I did theory and took it easy.

Friday the 10th of December 2010

Beautiful weather today. Big Waves on Ngemelis Island. First dive German Channel shooting garden eels and anemonies. Interesting, then the second dive Blue Corner. If you imagine Blue Corner like a bended elbow, then the hooking spots would the upper and the lower arm. (depending on the current) You hook in with a reef hook and you see the sharks come close. Nick and me went to the elbow, which means to the tip. My task was to shoot two lionfish hiding underneath a rock. With surge rocking every 20 to 30 seconds left or right, your first task is to position yourself and then put the camera down that the shots look steady. Not really easy. 

Saturday the 11th of December 2010

Today we did 3 dives. Dive 2 and 3 were really nice. In dive 2 I shot a "disco clam" or fire scallop. When she opens up you can see an electric pulse going from left to right or the other way. Because of the short surface interval and the deep second dive my Suunto ordered me 7 Minutes Deco at 5 Meters. There you hang around and wait until time is up. 3rd dive was New Drop off and the current was really strong. Nick, of course, made me stay at plateau and crawl against the current. Good exercise. I actually got a nice shot of a shool of yellow snapper. In the evening we did a review of the footage and then I hurried to get a massage. Wanted to stop at the Taj for a short one. More and more people showed up and I couldn't escape the dynamic situation. It was good fun. 3 dives and hardly anything to eat haven't been the best preparations for a party night. I got really wasted.  

Sunday the 12th of December 2010

After the tough night I took it easy today. Walked to Elilai and had lunch with Robert. Then I walked down to Sams. Total walk time about two hours. It was really hot and I was cooking even if I had three liters of water. I was good to exercise a little.

Diary from the 13th to the 19th of December 2010

Monday the 13th of December 2010

In the morning I went swimming. Big difference to do lanes in a pool than to swim in the ocean. The currents can be tricky in Palau. All easy today though. In the evening I went to the airport. Dianne (a friend of Robert) send me a wetsuit my size in 0,5 mm Neopren. Perfect for 29 degrees Celsius water temperature. Hard to get in Germany and a shorty is crushing your knees with the video taking, because you have to spent a lot of time on on stones and sandy bottoms.

Tuesday the 14th of December 2010

Diving again. Two dives. German Channel and Blue Corner. At Blue Corner I experienced something, that I have never seen before. A Napoleon Wrasse was hunting a moray eel. Accompanied by a grouper, giant trevallys, a horse mackarel and a couple of white tips. A really amazing show. I have it on video. I hope that I can put it on the web one of these days. The whole thing lasted 10 to 15 minutes. In all my dives in Palau I have never experienced anything similar.

Wednesday the 15th of December 2010

We did two dive sites today that are the usual. Virgin Blue Hole and New Drop Off. The wall outside Virgin Blue Hole is really nice. New Drop Off is an action dive. Hook in a let the sharks and the other fish come close.

Thursday the 16th of December 2010

Video class with Nick again. Makro. We were shooting garden eels at Ulong. These are the little worms that pop their head out of the sand, and when you get to close they will disappear in their hole. Patience is desperately needed !!! We have been sitting arround 40 Minutes in the sand until we had the perfect shots. First dive was Siaes Tunnel. Gorgonias and Sea ferns. Deep dive. Just before getting into deco we moved up and ended the dive around 5 Meters. Shooting small fish. The real task is, to keep them in the frame while shooting.

Friday the 17th of December 2010

Last day of class. Blue Corner twice and German Channel. We shot a leafy scorpionfish for 40 minutes at Blue Corner. He was sitting on a rock and he didn't even bother to move. Nick got jealous, because usually they hide underneath a rock. After the shot a Napoleon sized about a meter looked straight in my eyes. 30 seconds later a spotted eagle ray showed up. Not talking about the sharks. If Blue Corner would be the only dive site for the rest of my life, I probably would be still happy. The diversity is unique (to what I have seen so far). The only problem is that a lot of other people share the opinion. In German Channel we tried to film the symbiotic relationship of shrimp and goby. The task was to to position the camera and let it run for a couple of minutes. Then you can see how the shrimp is cleaning the house. Really interesting.  

Saturday the 18th of December 2010

We did two sites that are rarely dived. Ngerchong Outside and Inside. Especially Inside is really nice. On the sandy bottom they have a small patch, where leafy scorpionfish live. We saw 5. 3 green ones, one purple and a white one. Really nice. One of my clips is quite good. The more macro you shoot, the more you get into it. Istill like the big stuff, but the different aspects of the small stuff are really unbelievable.

Sunday the 19th of December 2010

Yesterday evening I went out and then today I did my sports program. Walk to the PPR, Swim and walk back home

Diary from the 20th to the 26th of December 2010

Monday the 20th of December 2010

3 dives today. Ngerchong Inside, Blue Hole and German Channel. At German Channel we were accompanied by Mantas for about 50 Minutes. Amazing experience. The dive lasted 70 Minutes. Nobody wanted to get out of the water.

Tuesday the 21st of December 2010

Ulong area today. Siaes Corner and Ulong Channel. Both without current. Full Moon today so we expected the exact opposite. Always ready for surprises in Palau. I did my longest dive in Palau so far. 82 Minutes. In the evening I made a selection of my best clips for the editing class. Worked for a couple for hours. I thought I am on holiday.

Wednesday the 22nd of December 2010

Video editing Class. You got a couple of hours video and cut it together to 7 minutes. Sad but true. I got knighted from Nick because he asked me for the clips from the dartfish for the next Sams Promo DVD.You will be able to see it soon on Youtube. I am not sure if it will work in Palau. The download of an Email with an attachment of 1 MB lasts about 20 Minutes. I am not sure, if it is a bug in Outlook 2010. Probably nobody will check compatibility with dial up connections

Thursday the 23rd of December 2010

Again Ngerchong Outside and Ngerchong Inside. To shoot Macro a really nice place. And the coral garden is really beautiful. The Chandelier Cave and then I tried to shoot Mandarin Fish for an hour. Really difficult because the creatures hate light. Even at the lowest beam of my lights they disappear with seconds underneath the next rock. Really frustrating.

Friday the 24th of December 2010

After being really worn out I just did two dives today. No current Blue Hole and then full power at New Drop Off. In the evening I had "Sauerbraten with Spätzle" at Krämers. Then we had a party at the Taj. In the end I was Playing music from the bar and my laptop charger fell into the sink. Now I got a little problem. I will see how I will solve that.  

Saturday the 25th of December 2010

Chill Out day. Reading and Sleeping.

Sunday the 26th of December 2010

Diving was easy today. A few people called off and so Daniel was just taking care of 3 people. We did Blue Corner twice. Totally different. First dive no current. exploring the plateau.Second dive, hard work with a lot of current. I had Laura, Lester and Danny on the boat. Mum, Dad and son from Washington, DC. Really nice people. We did some diving together.

Diary from the 27th of December to the 2nd of January 2011

Monday the 27th of December 2010

As expected the mass diving started today. 18 boats at German Channel and 15 at Blue Corner. That is really a lot and at German Channel the people are gathered arround the manta cleaning stations. Because of the sandy bottom, a lot of silt is kicked up and the viz is poor. Blue Hole to Blue Corner was much nicer. It is spreading m´ore because the sites arre bigger. Surprisingly I got a charger. In the evening I went to the Taj with Laura, Lester and Danny. Their last evening. 

Tuesday the 28th of December 2010

Today we went to Ulong. Just a couple of boats and roughly any current. Gave us enough time to explore. Siaes Corner the second. No corner in the beginning and then all of sudden it kicked in. We had to drive back in pouring rain and we picked up some people from a boat where the engines broke down. Two tired to do anything at night. Watched a movie and fell asleep.

Wednesday the 29th of December 2010

The classic again. German Channel and Blue corner. Poor viz at German and no Mantas for the first time. At Blue Corner my camera broke down. Just an error message and it doesn't focus anymore. Not my week with electronic stuff. Mechanically the new stuff is just poor. Electronics covered in plastic. I ordered a new one and my brother will send it to Manila.

Thursday the 30th of December 2010

First time to Peleliu on this trip. Yellow wall and Peleliu Express. At the end of the dive really "express" current. Strannge feeling without camera today. Much more relaxed and without the look "how will it appear on video". I like the video thing but I just enjoy being in the water. In the evening we started the preparations for the party at the Taj. Came home 1.30 in the morning.

Friday the 31st of December 2010

No diving today. Finished editing video. In the afternoon we made the decorations for the party. Then at night the party. Really good. Party lasted till 3, then Sam took us to Pinchers Lagoon for a swim. Night ended at 6.30 after sunrise at Nikko Bay.

Saturday the 1st of January 2011

Given the fact of the tough night, there is not much happening today. Sleeping and chilling.

Sunday the 2nd of January 2011

Two dives again. Turtle Cove and Blue Corner. Not really spectacular, but good as always. I really wanted to take it easy. But today after diving a certain dynamic was hard to escape. I am diving with a group of Australamericans.  So we had a few beers tonight.

Diary from the 3rd to the 9th of January 2011 Paau/Manila

Monday the 3rd of January 2011

Went to Jellyfish lake in the morning. The little hike was a good method to sober up. The we did New Drop Off and German Channel. Not too extraordinary but still good. In the evening we dove Sams Dock. Crocodile Fish and a lot of Mandarin Fish of course. Easy night tonight. 

Tuesday the  4th of January 2011

Ulong today. Went down first at Siaes Tunnel. Was already down for 10 Minutes when Daniel and the others finally appeared. Went through the tunnel and waited outside. Somehow Daniel and the others took a different exit. After a 10 minutes wait I did my safety stop and went up. In the the end I have been down half an hour. Shorter than usual but ... Second dive Ulong Channel. Hard to beat. The Lettuce coral field in the middle with all the soldierfisch and the red snapper. A couple of Nudybrancs and so on. I wanted to reach the end of the channel, but the current wasn't strong enough. 73 minutes isn't a bad dive. In the evening I had dinner with Christina, Tracy, Sally und Jamie (the Australamericans). Later we went to a Karaoke bar. I promised to sing "Sympathy for the devil" when they have it. Unfortunately they really had it. I think, it wasn't worse than the most. Although I have to admit that Jamie was pretty good.

Wednesday the 5th of January 2011

My last diving day. Somehow really sad. At my current state of knowledge there is no better diving than in Palau. I did 62 dives on this trip in Palau. So it adds up to a total of 180 dives in Palau. Robert wanted to come with us today, but he had a cold in the morning so he couldn't come. Michael, Iwona and Bruce came with me. The last dive at Blue corner it just seemend the fish came to say good bye. 20 to 30 sharks hunting, 2 spotted eagle rays, two schools of different barracudas (yellowfin and blackfin), uncounted parrotfish of all kinds and some Napoleon Wrasses. One of them stayed 5 to 7 minutes with me. See the picture. Sometimes no more than 20 cms away. I could have stayed down forever. It is hard to imagine that it could be much better on a last dive. On the way back we saw a Manta Ray in the Channel. We jumped in but it moved too fast. So Mars (the boatdriver) drove us next to the Manta while we were holding up to the rope on the side. We followed him for a 1 km or so. In the evening I went for dinner to the Taj with the Aussie/Americans. After they left to the airport I wanted to call it an easy night but somehow I was caught in the Taj dynamic. Spontaneous party are usually the best. In the end Jonas, Robert, Keith, Star and I went to places that are not necessarily a must see. And there are plenty ...

Thursday the the 6th of January 2011

Started to fix up my last tasks in the morning. In the afternoon Michael took me with his boat to a Marine lake called "Disney lake". Just accessible on low tide through a tunnel. The lake is full of coral. Rally beautiful. On the way there we still had rain. On the way back the sea was totally calm and you could see the beautiful reflections of the clouds on the surface. The pictures are online. The starting to pay the bills. Say goodbye to everybody at Sams. In the evening farewell party at the Taj. Robert ordered a sound system. We partied to 2 o'clock. Then we went to ATT for two hours. Alex overdid it. He tried to surf the car roof. No matter what we said. He wouldn't give in. We didn't even leave the apreking lot when the Police came and arrested him. The full monty with handcuffs and everything. It could be worse than spending a night in jail in Palau, but not all experiences are probably necessary. Then early brakfast and 4.30 I finally made it to bed. Memorable farewell party. A lot of old and new friends showed up. This is the worst part of travelling. Leaving the places and the people you love.

Friday the the 7th of January 2011

Got up at 9 and started packing my bags. The I had lunch with Lalii and later on Michael helped me to pack some stuff and bring the damaged camera on the way to Germany. The the last Tandori Pizza at the Taj. I will miss the best Indian Food on the planet. Then airport and 11 pm I landed in Manila. When I queued up for immigration Atom called and wanted to take me out for drinks, but we postponed it for tomorrow.

Saturday the the 8th of January 2011

Most of the day I stayed on the net and downloaded and uploaded stuff. The last week has been really busy in Palau and I had to catch up on some things. In the evening I went out with Atom. He took me to two clubs. I can't see a big difference to Europe, but I might not qualify as an expert here. It was fun though. Again a late night.

Sunday the the 9th of January 2011

After the short night I got up early and packed. Atom took me to family lunch. So I had the chance to meet the whole family. In the evening to the airport. My plane to Guam left 11.10 pm. The security controls are somehow ridiculous. They made me open my bag with the video housing, they didn't realize that I forgot a water bottle in my backpack. Not really building up a lot of confidence in these controls.

To be continued in the Micronesia Section: Diary