Category Archives: dive

In Transit

The flight from Dallas to Japan was long. So long, I started writing a morbid entry about experiments simulating jet lag on rats that didn’t end well for the rats. On the other hand, I was really glad to have P’s company. It’s nice to be able to share your thoughts as they occur. The cross-pond flights get pretty lonely, and I just sleep/work through them.

I’m still digesting my thoughts of what I’ve seen in Japan. Aside from the tasty food (even from the convenience store in the hotel), I’m most impressed that everything works – everything in the airport to our inexpensive transit hotel. Nothing was broken. At home, there are usually little things that break or are in need of repair. Perhaps we’ll see more broken things when we return to Tokyo on the way back.

Back to the long transit. We’re going to the Wakatobi Dive Resort, on a remote part of Indonesia. Our journey consists of a flight to Narita (with an overnight), then Bali (with another overnight) and finally a turbo-prop to Sulawesi. I call out the turbo-prop since I hate small planes with a vengeance. I may fly a lot on jet planes, but small planes just make me nervous. I’ve been dreading the 4 hours on the turbo-prop more than the long haul to Japan.

Speaking of long haul flights, I just had the best experience on one. Garuda Airlines has immigration on the flight from Tokyo to Bali. Instead of waiting in a long line once you arrive to get the passport stamp – immigration officers are on board to review your passport and papers while you’re sitting around on the long flight. It’s such a distinctive offering that it creates a preference for Garuda Airlines over other carriers to Indonesia. (Also, they gave us ice cream before landing!)


Arrived at the hotel in Bali. The rest of the group doesn’t sleep on planes, so they crashed. I’m still jetlagged, so I’m wide awake. Went to the gym (which probably didn’t help), ran a few miles (I really need to get back into running!), and now I’m trying to figure out what else I can do.

One strange thing that I noticed – the hallways here at the hotel (a swank Holiday Inn) smell just like the hallways of the EQ (Equatorial) in Penang. It’s something combined with the ocean air and the 95% humidity – it’s a smell you don’t get in the Caribbean though.

Catching up…

It’s been a while since I posted to this site, so I guess I should catch everyone up to date.

May, Gulf Coast Road Trip

Back in May, P and I rented a car and drove out to Panama City Beach, Florida, so I could do the Gulf Coast Triathlon and do some diving. It was a long drive out there, and we made the 12-13 hour drive in one go. We meandered our way back to Austin stopping in Pensacola and New Orleans.

We dove the Oriskany, an aircraft carrier sunk off the coast of Pensacola. The visibility wasn’t great that day, so we couldn’t see the flight deck. However, I did swim through the flight control room and through the smokestacks. In the New Orleans, we stayed in the French Quarter and just walked around during the day. Food highlights of the trip:

  • PCB: J Michael’s. Good fresh, local seafood.
  • Pensacola: Blue Dot Burger. Best burger I’ve ever had.
  • New Orleans: Couchon Butcher. Best Banh Mi I’ve ever had. I think the Head Cheese set it apart from other Banh Mi.
  • Baton Rouge: Coffee Call. Beignets and beignet fingers. Can’t really go wrong here.

June, Round the World


I’m a product manager for a global transactional tax system. If you make a purchase from the company and see taxes, the system I work on may have calculated the taxes. (I say *may* since we’re still working on the global part.) Before this summer, I’ve been able to do my job with a lot of late night/early morning calls and a yearly trip. With the onset of our India launch, all sorts of issues come up and I’m summoned to Penang, Malaysia last minute. I’m also summoned to London for another workshop, so I decide to make it all in one go.
The Penang meetings go well, we figure what we need to do, and I head off to Hong Kong for the weekend. As a coincidence, Regan’s (my college roommate) brother was vacationing in Hong Kong from DC that weekend, so it wasn’t difficult to convince Regan (who’s an expat in Taiwan) to also fly in.

It was good to hang out with him and to eat some really good food. It’s a given that food tastes amazing there. I also managed to do a morning run by Victoria Peak – nice to get back to nature and solitude, just minutes away from an urban jungle.


Before the London workshops, I took the train over to Brussels to watch Stage 2 of the Tour de France. (Cancellara was in yellow that morning.) Also stuffed myself on chocolate croissants in Brussels. The London meetings didn’t have the same urgency as the Malaysia ones, but they’re good for direction going forward. Got to run around Hyde Park a couple of times.

July, India

Nineteen days in India. The launch happened, and straightaway, there were high priority issues left and right. It was a lot of work and stress. There were some down times, and the people who could, drank. Most of my memories involve working, calls in the middle of the night to work on an issue, and more work.

August, Brazil

This globalization thing is happening faster than I thought it would, so on the heels of India (gratefully with three weeks at home), I head to Brazil to gather tax requirements. Awesome meetings – great brain dump of the taxes we charge and why. I’ve come to the conclusion that countries with federated states with taxing authority have the most challenging taxes.

Great country, good food. I got food poisoning on my first night, so I wasn’t able to pig out at the churrascaria. It was a bummer to get sick in a hotel room away from home, but when the stomach cramps were bad enough to call a doctor, the hotel got some EMT folks to come and fix me up (with an IV) in no time. I also got to see my first Brazilian football game with the local team, Gremio. The hardcore fans do an “Avalanche” (above) when their team scores a goal.

September, France

I head off this afternoon to Montpelier to support a big launch and to do some training. I’m scared of the scope of the launch, so we’ll see if it’s all work or if I get a breather and get to see some of the city/countryside.


We spent the first few days of the trip diving in Cozumel and then went over to Playa del Carmen for the cenotes.

I made an unplanned, massive system change at work right before leaving town, so I spent the first few days of the trip supporting the change. The weather and water was also colder than last time, so the diving conditions weren’t as pleasant in Cozumel. This lead to few dives in Cozumel, and a lot of time in the hotel room supporting the changes.

Mid-week, work calmed down, and we moved over to Playa del Carmen. We did two dives in the Dos Ojos cenote, and these were my favorite dives of the whole trip. Amazing clarity in the water – in the photos, you couldn’t tell we were in the water without the dive gear or bubbles. The rock formations also made for an interesting dive – I see the allure of cave diving, but there were also some claustrophobic moments. We also dove in the halocline (where salt water and fresh water meet) – it made the water seem unusually blurry/fuzzy.

Coral Garden

My favorite dive so far has been the swim between Coral Garden to the Lakes. Lots of ledges and fish. The Lake we saw (one of the four) looks like a stadium with walls of coral surrounding it. Hopefully, we get to dive the Lakes today.

Pete’s taken some great pictures with the big rig. He’s figuring out how to use it (top photo is his.) It’s my turn with it today – I’m just hoping for a shot or two in focus.

Crab inside a conch shell

Diving in Grand Turks

View from our balcony
Three Legged Hawksbill Turtle

I feel like a poser when we go diving with our “fancy” camera gear. Granted, the cameras inside are pretty old or entry level, but you can’t really tell with the massive housing and strobes. I look like I know what I’m doing with all the gear, but I don’t. I take a bunch of shots and hope for the best.The pictures from our trip can be found here.


Family dinner in Bongabon after visit to cemetery

We arrived in Manila on All Saints Day. On this day, the custom in the Philippines is to return to the provinces and visit the cemetary of your ancestors. So we took a 4 hour drive to the town of Bongabon, where Pete’s grandparents are buried. The local cemetary had throngs of people milling about. People spending time with their ancestors and then walking about and seeing the tombs of other ancestors.  It was also the only time of year that most of the families all gathered at once.

Pete’s very gracious cousin, Omi, was our amazing host for our short time in Manila.  She showed us what she could of Manila as we drove from and to the airport, and she explained a lot of the Filipino customs as we came across them.

Jane and Omi at Tito Vic’s home in Bongabon