El Nido’s underwater denizens

I returned to full-time work in El Nido, Palawan last September 18. Much thanks to my boss who let me fly out the day after my birthday πŸ™‚

I’m slowly returning to the swing of things, considering that I’ve been away for three years now. It doesn’t help that I don’t recognize most of the staff, which is especially embarrassing since everyone seems to know who I am *blushes*. So yes, I need to learn everyone’s names ASAP.

One of the bright spots is that I’ve already gone diving twice with my handy-dandy Canon S95 camera in its Ikelite underwater housing and got some decent shots despite the limitations of not-so-good visibility and lack of strobe. Just a reminder: despite what the gearheads say, you do not need fancy underwater camera gear in order to take great photos. The trick is to know what your camera can do and to work with (not against!) those limitations. If it doesn’t do well in low light, then focus on taking photos in shallow water. Take a white slate with you for on-the-spot white balance correction so that you don’t rely on the camera’s “Underwater” setting. Limited flash range? Take macro photos! Again, it’s all about making the most of what you have and not moaning about what you don’t.

And now, presenting El Nido’s quirky underwater denizens!

Disclaimer: since I’m studying to become a marine biologist specializing in coral reef ecology, what I find interesting may be somewhat different from other people πŸ˜›

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Yes, that is a hawksbill sea turtle. And it was feeding. And I got HD video too. YEAAH! πŸ˜€ For the curious ones, the red spots are caused by the water having lots of suspended particles. This was one of the times it would have been great to have a separate strobe but hey, I’m not angsting about it πŸ™‚

Singapore Day 2 – Universal Studios Singapore

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We left the hotel at 8:30am and got to Universal Studios Singapore at around 9:30am. TIP: even though the park opens at 10am, be at the gates by 9:30 at the latest as the lines going in can and will get longer closer to opening time. Once inside, ride the attractions that will have the longest lines later in the day:

  • Battlestar Galactica – the world’s tallest dueling roller coasters at 42.5 meters tall! Choose either the Human or Cylon track: the Human track is a seated coaster that travels at 82.8 kph but with no inversions, while the Cyclon suspended coaster goes through five inversions, including a corkscrew and a cobra roll. My sister and I rode the Cylon track first, caught our breath for 5 minutes, then rode the Human track with our brothers. Have I mentioned how much I love roller coasters? πŸ˜€ Though looking back, I would recommend a 10-minute break between rides.

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  • Return of the Mummy – a roller coaster ride in the dark. Basically it’s Space Mountain but with physical effects like fire and great set design.
  • Shrek 4D theater – a 3D movie with special effects. Nothing unusual here. There are stationary seats inside the theater for people who’d prefer not to get shaken around. The host just outside the theater doors was highly amusing.
  • Jurassic Park Rapids – a water ride with a long plunge at the end. To be honest, the only exciting part of the ride was the flume at the end.

Continue reading “Singapore Day 2 – Universal Studios Singapore”

Published, published, PUBLISHED!

One of the reasons why I’m so happy these days:

And this:

Yup, that’s one of my photos printed full page in an international travel magazine. Granted it’s a new travel magazine – this is just the third issue – but still .

*deep breath*

HUZZAH!!!

Now that that’s out of the way, I have a few quibbles. Haha. First, the photo is pixellated. Sigh. It was originally a landscape but the magazine chose to crop it to focus on the right side. Unfortunately, the camera I used was a Canon A80, a 4 MP point-and-shoot. Four MP gives you a maximum print size of 8×10, which would have been fine had they chosen not to crop it.

Second, the text. The one paragraph description of the photo started out as a 500-word article with other photos accompanying it. I’m totally fine with the severe cut, but I just wish I had been the one to trim it down instead of their editors

Sigh.

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Now that that’s done, I can go back to being happy for getting published for the first time . Huzzah! You can read the rest of my stuff here in my blog (I crosspost like crazy) or in my Everywhere profile. If you’re an Everywhere member and you like what you see, please vote for my submissions so that we can see it in print ^-^

Bliss

Bliss

This is what a vacation looks like.

This is 7 Commandos, one of the many beaches you can visit in El Nido, Palawan. It’s a “Tour A” destination because it’s near El Nido town. Just hire a boat for the day and it can either wait for you or drop you off and come back later. Lunch can be included in the package price. Trust me: the sand is just as good as Boracay. Maybe even better because there are fewer people around and less trash.

Paradise Less Traveled, part 2

El Nido Resorts spans Miniloc and Lagen Islands, with Miniloc being the older property. Starting life as the humblest of dive camps in 1985, Miniloc Island Resort retains its rustic, paradise-in-the-middle-of-nowhere feel even after expanding into a 43-room property. With Water Cottages built on stilts, Seaview Rooms with an awe-inspiring view of the bay, Garden Rooms surrounded by tropical plants, Beachside Rooms built right on the beach, and Cliff Cottages nestled in the limestone cliffs, there’s something for everyone’s inner Robinson Crusoe. Snorkelling can be done right off the pier, landing the snorkeller right in the middle of schools of colorful reef fish. Based on a fish identification survey done by Drs. Gerry Allen and Mark Erdmann early this year, El Nido boasts of 694 confirmed species of fish, with 6 potential new species. In fact, the Miniloc house reef is one of the few places in the Indo-Pacific where you’re guaranteed to see several grown giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis), a fish prized by sport fishers for its fighting ability. For guests staying in Miniloc, the famous Big and Small Lagoons are just around the corner via kayak. Just be prepared for the serious paddling involved, as touring the Big Lagoon via kayak takes about an hour.

Heading Outside Exiting Continue reading “Paradise Less Traveled, part 2”