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Lessons from 2018

  • Eat well: a whole food, plant-based diet and avoid processed foods
  • Love: the healing process of communication, staying true and connected to all close relationships
  • Power of the Mind: overcoming the self and unleash the potential
  • Move: exercising more

2018 had proven to be maybe the most important year of my journey in life. In this year I: learned to freedive, discovered the power of mind, and started the journey inwards; went vegan, exercised more and became even more conscious and informed on well-being; had amazing explorations and expeditions, saw magnificent ocean giants and wonderful tiny critters; stayed more in tune with nature, started a brand new cause; asked and reflected more of the ultimate questions: purpose of life and how to find fulfilment; stayed true to myself instead of seeking acceptance of others; spent more time loving and being loved.

In 2019 I hope I continue to get inspired, challenged, and grow; stay nourished by nature and live more consciously, sustainably; keep upholding the standard and do better work; find my drive, my purpose, my fulfilment.

Mozart in the Jungle

“The music is not in the notes,
but in the silence between.”
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.”
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“When I am ….. completely myself, entirely alone… or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.”
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.”
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place.”
― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Garden City

With skyrise greenery and world class gardens, Singapore’s lush verdant city landscapes showcase a nation with foresight and a deep abiding passion, not only for its natural heritage but also for the spirit of its people.

I’m proud it call it home. (For now😉)

Macro Experiment – Raja Ampat

An almost impossible experiment to shoot the creatures without built-in Image Stabilization hovering in water – for fear of damaging the corals.

Hovering + macro + video + lots of backscatter + no IS – not a good combination. Definitely not recommended and I will never do it again!

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker, Op.71: No. 12c Character Dances: Tea (Chinese Dance)
The Nutcracker: Scene XII – Divertissement, Dance of the Mirlitons

Common name of the creatures, in order of appearance:

Banded Shrimp Goby
Robust Ghost Pipefish
Spinecheek Anemonefish
Porcelain Crab
Ribbon Sweetlips
Decorator Crab ×2
Bobtail Squid
Decorator Crab
Spiny Lobster ×2
Ornate Ghost Pipefish ×2
Shrimp Goby & Snapping Shrimp (symbiotic relationship)
Striped Eel Catfish
Translucent Gorgonian Shrimp
Black-saddled Toby
Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (smallest known seahorse in the world) discovered in 2008
Chromodoris Nudibranch
Barramundi -juvenile
Many-spotted Sweetlips -juvenile
Baby file fish
Blue Ring Octopus
Loch’s Chromodoris
Blue Velvet Headshield Slug
Squat Shrimp
Ghost Goby
Cleaning Shrimp
Pigmy Seahorse
Algae Shrimp
Mobula Ray
Moray Eel
Slender Pinjalo
Wobbegong Shark
Barred Moray
Silver Sweetlips
Eggs of Spanish Dancer Nudibranch
Skeleton Shrimp
Pikachu (Thecacera) Nudibranch
Pigmy Seahorse
Orangutan Crab
Cuttlefish ×3
Pigmy Seahorse
Commensal Sponge Shrimp
Electric Clam
Skunk Anemonefish

Chasing Coral

Just watched this new released documentary from Netflix called Chasing Coral. It’s about how a group of filmmakers and scientists try to capture the global coral bleaching on cameras. It also tells your a lot about the coral and the whole ocean/ planetary eco system. In the end it’s nothing most of us divers don’t already know, but I think it’s important for people who don’t dive or know much about the ocean to see. And I think that should be EVERYONE. The corals and reefs really come to life and it’s so awesome and moving. This is what I want to do as well as a cause, to call for action and help chip in to turn the tide around in terms of saving our ocean. I completely related to all the people in the film, and can’t help but cried through the whole 2nd half. 😭😭😭

They also have very well thought-out call-to-action on the film website where you can pass the message around. You can also encourage the people around you to watch it as well.

The fight is down to us now. The diving we love, the food we eat, the life we are living, it all depends on you and me. And the corals – they don’t have much time left.

Beginning of the End

There’re a couple of events I have had the privilege of attending that I really felt like I was at the right place at the right time. And this year’s ADEX was one of them. Meeting and listening to Dr. Silvia Earle, Nobel peace prize recipient and 2nd president of East Timor José Ramos-Horta, and people like Brazilian filmmaker Cristian Dimitrus, gave me more than inspirations. It is after time like these I really feel like I learned like a sponge and grew like bamboo.

It’s either a coincidence or the editor of this month’s AsianDiver was following my social media interaction with some filmmakers. 😂 As all this talk about shark fin consumption and sustainable seafood has exactly been my focus for the past few months.

“腹下有翅,味并肥美,南人珍之” (明代李时珍《本草纲目》) There is this sentence mentioning shark fin consumption by “the southerners” in Li Shizhen’s Compendium of Materia Medica all the way dating back to Ming dynasty (1500s), southerners at the time being current Guangdong, Vietnam & SE Asia.

Shark fin consumption, however, has come a long way from being just a Chinese problem. In fact if you go to China now you don’t really see it that much any more. I myself have seen more restaurants in Singapore serving shark fins in one month than in all my 26 years living in China combined. Chinese traditional medicine, like many other traditions, is going through a really tough phase right now in China. There are constant debates going on amongst intellectuals regarding its harm over its value. As for shark fins, with negative media portrayal and celebrity endorsement, it has become a symbol of corruption and has been disapproved by most mainland Chinese. And that’s been for almost 10 years now. (In Guangdong province it is a different story. The list of animals that has been on their menu is even appalling to the rest of China.)

Yet shark products consumption is now epidemic worldwide. The situation is especially bad in Southeast Asia. Go to any Chinese styled restaurants in SEA, Singapore especially, chances are that shark fin soup is a dish proudly listed on the menu, sometimes even as a star dish.

This product, together with manta ray gills, are now mostly marketed to overseas Chinese decedents, among whom the “traditional heritage” is still alive and strong. After living in Singapore and Southeast Asia for over 2 years, I formed a habit of constantly comparing everything with China. It occurred to me that Mao forcing China into cultural revolution and the destruction of Four Olds decades ago might turn out to be a blessing in disguise after all. (Many other gems of heritage destroyed during that time is another topic for another day.)

In some western countries the shark cartilage supplement pills are also widely available from big supplement brands, from which the source being covered up but no-less questionable.

But the worst of all cases are the HK/Cantonese immigrants outside of China, US/Canada/Singapore, serving shark fin soup on wedding and banquet tables as a status symbol still to this day.

To address the issue we must find it’s real source. Instead of blindly blame “China” for shark fin problems, the video in the link below perfectly explains the problem in US. And thanks to people like Shawn Heinrichs and @sharkgirlmadison, more truth can be unveiled.

With all this being said, at the end of the day, when I look at the piles and piles of dead sharks in all these videos, I also know that we are draining the ocean of all its fish. Even if we leave the sharks alone, they might not even find as much food to sustain themselves any more. As with the prediction of many studies, by 2048 we would’ve emptied the ocean with all its abundance. We have much much bigger problems to worry about than just sharks.

But as a great man once said: All great journeys start from a single step.

A Wave of Change

A movie I just watched over the weekend, A Plastic Ocean, tells the story about how plastics decompose in a million year life cycle and in the meantime how they keep disintegrate into smaller pieces until every species have it in their food & blood. It’s just daunting how few people really cares about this issue. Are we really that short sighted?

But the truth is maybe we are. Like Leo said in Before The Flood, people usually tune off when you start to talk to them about the environment and conservation. But few realise that, the things you are busy dealing with everyday, the things you work hard for, won’t be there any more if we all choose to ignore this warning.

Not long ago I watching Rob Stewart’s Revolution in Asia Dive Expo. Apart from the cute baby flamboyant cuttlefishes coming out of their eggs, the ocean didn’t really stick in my mind after first viewing. Instead, an aerial footage of Canada’s ancient forests being eaten up and polluted by the tar sand oil mines shocked me.

Alberta forests eaten up by tar sand mines (Screenshot from Revolution)

Canadian forests being polluted by tar sand washing (Screenshot from Revolution)

I could not believe what I was seen. It looked almost unreal.

I think if everyone can watch this film then the problem will be solved. Here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes of what’s in the movie:

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Unfortunately the good die young. Rob Stewart sacrificed his life for the cause, his life’s devotion to ocean and environment conservation, at the age of 37.

I also read something thought-provoking recently, that I’d like to share:

The environmental problems we have now is really nothing compared to the long geological and biological cycles of earth’s evolution. Millions of years from now on, the planet’s carbon and ecological imbalance will return to normal. Life will thrive once again on earth. But we won’t be the ones writing that part of the story. In fact we might not even last pass the end of this century, if we continue to live the way we do. The earth does not necessarily need our saving, but we really need to save OURSELVES.

It dawned on me: conservation is really just conserving our own species’ future. When our generation is gone, our children will be the ones questioning “why didn’t they do anything back then?” The whole film of Revolution revolves around how people from all over the world protest against environmental issues, among them the youths especially. The young people, the next generation kids, are are ones caring about the future, when WE are doing nothing about it. In the film there’s this 9 year old German kid Felix Finkbeiner who founded a worldwide organization to plant trees and campaigns passionately about it. It gave me hope.


Just finished some upside compilation of the last 2 years’ aerial and timelapse footages.

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Accidentally Anilao

An accidental macro diving trip in Anilao, Philippines as a result of a last minute cancelled liveaboard trip.

Wide angle shots were mostly around Isla Verde.

Works best with proper sound: stereo/earphones etc.

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Wise Humans

So while I was researching diving places I found this photo of the world’s deepest blue hole in South China Sea, and I was shocked that they put a sign directly on the corals, just to claim ownership. (The sign reads: “Blue hole of SanSha city” I made a comment on Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) saying “Only a ignorant foolish country would put ownership sign onto a beautiful natural wonder.” A few days later I found out that it got 15k views and I was viciously attacked by Continue reading