May 2012 - Hong Kong, Maldives, Bali

Purpose of the month:
1) Build business in Hong Kong
2) Dive with whale sharks in Maldives
3) Recharge spirits in Bali

Hong Kong is crazy and really productive, up at 6 am every day, and working a lot. Took the train in to Shenzhen one day for new product sourcing with Milton and the new guy, Gallant. So far, really pleased with him. He's enthusiastic and speaks English well.

Have been to this same market in Shenzhen so many times now, I've built up relationships with a few suppliers, and know my way around. Right off the bat, found a cool new product for $2, which could easily sell for $20.

This market is a noisy, crowded mess. While negotiating, noticed someone screaming, grabbing their pant leg, and stomping the ground. A large rat scurried out from their pants and ran off into the abyss.

The place I'm staying in Hong Kong is in a great location, in a small village surrounded by green hills, and a bay full of boats. Yet only a 15 / 20 minute taxi, or minibus ride to the office.

Nearby, found a Sri Lankan restaurant, plus a coffee shop that serves the famous Kopi Luwak for about $20 a cup. I enjoy the more exotic tastes not available on Maui, but miss the abundance of healthy food.

Went into Central for breakfast at the Four Seasons a few times, and they of course remember exactly what I like - the bircher muesli. Almost as good as the real stuff from the Dolder Grand in Zurich. Will be in June. While in Central, went to the Russian embassy and applied for a transit visa.

After going non-stop for five days, I'm about at my breaking point, so really need the escape to the islands. Easy flight from HKG to Kuala Lumpur, except for a really painful filling that must have some air trapped between it and the tooth. Hope it doesn't cause a problem while ascending on scuba dives.

I think this is my third time passing through the Kuala Lumpur airport, it always has a funky smell for some reason. The Malaysian Air lounge is nice though, and I have a massage + shower before a four hour flight to Malé.

The Maldives is a stunning paradise, just like in the photos. Its hard to imagine the rest of the world here, where its just water, dotted with the idyllic white sand and palm tree coral islands.

The diving is unlike any I've seen before, and I've dove in a bunch of cool places: Monterey, Hawaii, Japan, Indonesia, Cyprus, and a lake in Africa.

The live aboard boat is really luxurious, with a jacuzzi and massage room. About 20 guests + a big staff, and separate dhoni that follows along to carry all the dive equipment.

I did a night dive in Hawaii a couple times, and it was cool, but this was wild. So much more fish activity, 29 / 30 degree waters (warm!), 100's of white tip reef sharks, red snapper, turtles, some iridescent blue fish. Down to 20 meters, for 40 minutes, and a bright orange moon to greet me just after surfacing.

Got a quick course on diving with Nitrox (mix of nitrogen / oxygen), which needs more precaution, and is best suited for dives to 20 or 30 meters.

On the 4th dive, always up by 5:30 am for sunrise, 6:30 briefing, and in the water by 7:00, got down quick, and with a fairly strong current, held onto part of the reef at about 20 meters overlooking a short drop off. About 5 to 6 grey reef sharks quickly came over and we spent about 20 minutes there just watching them circle back and forth, at times coming as close as 2 feet from my mask. They put on quite a display, coming in closer and closer as they got more comfortable. These are pretty harmless, but look like a smaller version of the great white. Very mesmerizing, watching these beauties patrol the water. Blue fin tuna, and 1000's of little fish in the background.

After my run of good luck, decided to skip a dive, and get a Balinese massage.

We anchored near an uninhabited island and snorkeled around the reef. Beautiful, crystal clear water. And a full on feast BBQ on the beach under the stars.

The 7th dive in the morning at 7:00 am was pretty intense. Was looking for mantas, but got hit by a really strong current, and it was fun for a bit, "surfing" it along the edges of the reef. It got too strong, and was hard to control buoyancy. Ended up kicking and breathing too hard, and using up air too quickly. Had to surface in just 35 minutes, and because of the extra exertion got a bit of CO2 toxicity, and a headache for a few hours.

Its all good though, because later I got to swim with the largest fish and shark in the world, the whale shark. This one might have been about 20 feet long, but they can get up to 40 feet. Such a beautiful creature. Really no risk to humans since it just wants to swallow big gulps of plankton.

Up at 5:30 again for sunrise. Its nice opening the day with a sunrise, and closing it with a sunset. Up on the top deck of boat. Did the morning dive, mostly a drift dive down to 16 meters max, but mostly about 10 - 15 meters. Saw a lion fish which was really cool. Some small spotted eels, an eagle ray in the distance, but still no mantas. Still consuming lots of air, so will try losing a few KG of weights since I'm overweighted. Really tired after dives still, and sat out next two dives of the day, and instead just napped / chilled / worked on spotty internet connection.

Back in Hong Kong, another new guy, Wallace starts as a technical engineer.

I can only seem to handle about 5 days in Hong Kong at a time, so after just 4 full days of work there, I'm on a flight down to Bali. This cycle seems to work well. About 5 days of work in HK, jet off to somewhere nice in Asia for at least a week, and then back to HK. I'm thinking about hiring a driver for Hong Kong. While the taxis and minibuses are fine, they aren't always readily available, so it makes for a much more stressful commute.

Don't have any plans for Bali, other than just chill. Might go to the Gili's, or maybe just stay on Bali.

End up spending just 3 days in Bali. Attempting to surf in Seminyak beach, sunset drinks & beanbag chair lounging at W hotel. Massage at nice spa. Working all day from Bali Buddha cafe in Ubud.

Fast boat to Gili Air island, and hanging out for just 4 days. But really relaxing, paraside island. Still getting a lot of work done, and enjoying the crystal blue water.

Back to Bali for a night, and jet-skiing in Sanur. Tried a great resturaunt in Seminyak, La Lucciola.

Then its back to HK for another 4 days.

On June 1st, heading west to Mongolia for 10 days. Moscow, Copenhagen, London, luxury Seabourn cruise, Switzerland, maybe France, and 6 countries in southern Africa in July + 2 weeks Cape Town in August. Got 2 weeks to kill, end of August. Might go back to the US for 2 weeks, or maybe back to HK, or maybe Europe. But back to Bali by mid September. Then Maui for 2 to 3 weeks Oct/Nov, and back to Bali Nov - Dec, onwards? Maybe back to Cape Town in early part of 2013.

Hong Kong