June Eating House

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Quite a few friends highly recommend this place, so we thought to take my parents her to see what the fuss is all about. We ordered most of the stuff that friends recommended (thank goodness for facebook!) and had a look round the other tables for ideas too. The food came pretty fast, but the mosquitoes in the open air area got to us faster! Bring mosquito repellent if you do go.

The first dish was the pumpkin prawn, an interesting take on the now-typical salted egg prawn. The prawns were first deep-fried in a light batter, then slathered with a thick savoury pumpkin sauce, full of curry leaf and some salted egg. With fresh, plump prawns, and a great sauce, it was hard to go wrong. If eaten early on, the prawn is crispy enough to be eaten whole, shell and all.

IMG_3898

We saw other tables happily eating the long beans fried with dried shrimp (hae bee) and followed their good example. The beans were done with a deft touch, still crunchy and going incredibly well with the salty, fishy dried shrimp.

IMG_3900

Salted egg crab came next, again done very well. It was first deep-fried and then coated in a dry salted egg sauce. Some bits of the crab were fried so well that you could chomp bits of it down, delicious shell and all. I licked up all the salted egg sauce and the sweet, fresh crab meat inside the shell.

IMG_3901

We couldn’t help but also order the pork trotters. My dad liked it so much that he whacked most of it, leaving the rest of us to quickly take whatever bits we could before he finished off the crispy outside, tender inside pork. The sour chilli sauce cut through the richness, making us hanker for more.

IMG_3904

A reasonably priced zichar place that does deep-fried food very well. Watch out for the mosquitoes though.

June Eating House
315 Tanjong Katong Road
Tel: +65 6345 0301

Back to Tulamben: Crustaceans

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

There were a whole load of crustaceans around in Tulamben. Considering that we hardly did any night dives, which is when they typically come out to play, it is again a testament to the great diving at Tulamben that we saw so manyof them.

Here’s a brightly coloured coral crab under its anemone house. It’s a wonder it doesn’t get eaten that easily, its colour is so vivid.

IMG_2681

Even more brightly coloured were the peacock mantis shrimp, its inquisitive eyes jutting out quizzically.

IMG_2687

It’s when the mantis shrimp is in side profile that one understands why it’s called that, for its tail has the pretty colours of a peacock.

IMG_2685

We revisited startling specimens such as this orang utan crab, something you wouldn’t typically expect of something underwater, let along a crab.

IMG_2756

It’s almost impossible to bring one of these into sharp focus, as it’s so hard to tell whether the fuzz is caught sharply or not.

IMG_3036

There were also plenty of shrimp, like this imperial shrimp. It’s amazing how transparent its body is.

IMG_2787

I guess the transparency is how it camouflages itself, especially when young. Check out how the young one is so much harder to spot than the full-size one.

IMG_2856

There’s another type of mantis shrimp, the smashing mantis shrimp that hides in its hole waiting for unsuspecting prey to go past.

IMG_2768

Here, I admire the bravery of these hingeback shrimp. They’re so close to the smashing mantis shrimp’s home that it’s impossible for the bigger one to catch the smaller ones. Nothing like being too close for comfort here!

IMG_2913

Then again, these little shrimp are so tiny it’s hard to see how they’d make a dent in any sizeable creature’s stomach.

IMG_3018

Still, they are very pretty and it’s fun to get in close to catch a good shot of this attractive orange shrimp.

IMG_3039

One of my favourites, as regular readers would know, is the harlequin shrimp and again Tulamben didn’t disappoint. We saw this adorable pair posing as orchids.

IMG_3085

It’s really cute how they strutted and posed about.

IMG_3086

There were also some lobsters and these were incredibly well-camouflaged amongst the featherstars. Check out the yellow one here…

IMG_3067

… and the red one here.

IMG_3101

It’s hard to believe how sharp Wayan’s eyes were in spotting these.

IMG_3105

Easier to spot but much harder to spot were the goby shrimp, who spent their days pushing sand out of burrows guarded by gobies. At any movement at all, the goby would dart back into the hole, and of course the shrimp would dart in at the first twitch of the goby’s tail.

IMG_3107

Last of all in this series of crustaceans is this shell of sorts. I have no idea what it is. If anyone can identify it, I’d be really grateful.

IMG_2876

Back to Tulamben: Of Coral, Crevices and Cleaning Stations

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

There was plenty of very healthy coral in Tulamben as usual. And there was occasionally very blue and clear water.

IMG_2771

We were lucky to catch a small school of razorfish passing by…

IMG_3013

… and were even luckier to discover an electric clam in a crevice on one of the walls of the wreck. Check out the blue-white lines on the clam – those are the electric bits. I wouldn’t advise putting a finger anywhere close!

IMG_2564

Other things in crevices included this octopus that didn’t make any attempt to conceal itself.

IMG_2705

All it did was to curl its bulbous head in a bit more to look like a giant, doleful nose.

IMG_2709

Another one was far less gregarious. I wouldn’t call this one shy, given its evil eye peering malevolently from its hole.

IMG_2805

Cleaning stations had plenty of crevices too. Here, many different types of shrimp were proffering their services, including this one coming right up to my hand. It tried to give my glove a good clean, but in vain.

IMG_2863

Others had more business with this giant moray eel, giving it a good dental check up.

IMG_2618

Some were so zealous about their job that they went into the jaws of the eel quite fearlessly. And the eel never bothered trying to eat it.

IMG_2865

The shrimp obviously had to be quite smart in getting out before the eel’s jaw closed, just like this one making the eel look rather foolish.

IMG_2866

Wayan did a reprise of the last trip and demonstrated how the shrimp would even go into his mouth with sufficient coaxing. Here’s an incredible action shot of not one but two (!) shrimp making a beeline for his lunch leftovers.

IMG_2624

And here they are making sure they’re doing a thorough job. Wayan kept at this till he could hold his breath no longer.

IMG_2625

The show was over and we went on to the next cleaning station. Here, a shrimp took a breather atop a coral grouper’s head before going back into its mouth for more dental action.

IMG_2641

And a midnight snapper waits its turn, mouth open in anticipation of the cleaning to come.

IMG_2894

A Good Brunch at db

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

We’re not sure how it happened, but one Sunday I found myself at Daniel Boulud’s swanky cafe at Marina Bay Sands with DC, Shinta, KK and Eeyore. We opted to share some starters and then proceeded to our own main courses. The first appetiser was the quail ballotine en croute ($22), basically a baked pate of quail and foie gras enclosed in a pastry shell. It was well executed and tasty. Maybe I’ve had too much airline food but this reminded me a lot of the stuff you get on the plane if you eat just the quail part. But with the foie gras centre, things are all good and yummy. I quite liked the pickles at the side, especially the bit of shiitake pickle – a refreshing change to the usual carrot and cucumber pickle.

IMG_3624

The spicy tuna tartare ($23) was good in that the ingredients were impeccably fresh and flavourful. The chef had a very light hand in the spices as it was hardly spicy to my palate, yet paradoxically heavy on the salt. Perhaps he was going for the cured salmon style while I was expecting more sashimi salad.

IMG_3626

The chop chop salad ($15) cost more with shrimp ($21). We counted 4 shrimp, making them $1.50 each, which isn’t too bad considering that they were, as is the standard at this restaurant, fresh. What I enjoyed throughout the meal was that every ingredient in each dish seemed to burst with freshness and was pretty much picked at its peak. I normally tolerate bits of wilted salad leaves here and there, sometimes even at the best places, but at db, it seemed like they did a proper freshness QC. Very good! Here, again, the salad was very tasty and fresh, though nothing inventive or mindblowing. $15 for a fresh salad with watermelon, sweet and juicy though they were, seems a bit steep to me.

IMG_3627

For mains, DC went for the piggie burger ($24) which had a beef patty topped with pulled pork. My tasting portion of beef patty was well seared on the outside and nicely juicy in the outside. I didn’t taste much pulled pork and think the patty is delicious enough to have on its own. Maybe I’ll go for this one next time.

IMG_3628

KK and Eeyore both had the original db burger ($35), which had braised short ribs in the middle of the meat patty and foie gras on top. I didn’t find my tasting portion very special and didn’t even notice much of the short ribs. One thing though was that the foie gras was tiny and I was very lucky that the piece KK cut for me had a tiny sliver that barely caught my attention had it not fallen onto my plate. But the fries at this place are da bomb. I think they’re probably the best fries I’ve had in recent memory. These are definitely twice fried, they’re super crisp on the outside and somehow slightly waxy and moist on the inside. I wouldn’t call it fluffy, but somehow the texture worked really well. The flavour was great too, and they salted the fries just so. I wonder if they put beef or goose fat in the oil to make it taste that good.

IMG_3630

Shinta had the barramundi grenobloise ($34), again an impeccably seasoned dish. My tasting portion of fish had a lovely crisp crust of skin that really added to the juicy fish. Excellent.

IMG_3634

Finally, my dish. I went for the grilled yellow fin tuna ($36), which I felt was the weakest link of the main courses. The tuna was of decent quality. I’m belabouring the point here, but the produce offered at this restaurant is faultless. However, the flavour of the tuna somehow didn’t sing and I felt that the corn fricasee was a tad too stodgy despite being lifted by the spicy, mustardy watercress. Plus, I could hardly taste the hedgehog mushrooms that I ordered the dish for (yes I put dishes with mushrooms at the top of my order list). While it was a decent rendition of tuna, it was sadly very forgettable.

IMG_3632

For dessert, we were stuffed and none of the other desserts appealed to us, so we went for the warm madeleines for the table to share ($8). Considering that the rest of the dishes were fairly pricey, we were expecting no more than one madeleine per person in that portion. We were very happily surprised that the madeleines came piping hot instead of warm and there were plenty to go round. Even Shinta, who was on a no-carb diet, dipped in and there were so many that no one fought over the last piece (a rarity in this crowd). I liked how each delicate little cake had almost crisp edges of darker golden brown that really added to the tender texture of the morsel. The subtle orange peel flavour added to the yummy ending to the meal.

IMG_3639

I like db Bistro Moderne and think it’s got good, fresh, well executed food and efficient, attentive service. Price-wise, it’s not cheap as we paid $66 per person for all the food above plus a glass of wine and a fruit punch (don’t order the fruit punch, it tastes just like the type you get at post-event buffets). However, I’d say it’s quite worthwhile, as opposed to truly value for money, as the produce really is fresh (there, I’ve said it yet again!). I’d return, though probably for a chi-chi splurge than for a regular work-night dinner. Oh yes, and I’d return for the fries!

db Bistro Moderne
B1-48 The Shoppes Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688 8525

A Quick Trip to Redang: Night Dive

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Our night dive was where I finally figured out how my strobe and camera worked together and I very merrily went round taking a tonne of photos. Sadly, not a great deal of them turned out well as I didn’t have the chance to linger. We had a big group with us and it was tough to stay in one spot undisturbed by other divers for a while. We revisited the black-finned snake eel from the last time, but didn’t manage to get in a better shot.

IMG_2241

There was a pretty little juvenile raggy scorpionfish, not quite so well camouflaged amongst the coral. I spotted it easily from its eyes – they look so much like Starlight mint sweets.

IMG_2234

Next up were the crustaceans that tend to only come out at night. Can you spot the transparent shrimp here?

IMG_2354

Then there was this uncooperative coral crab saying “look Ma, no hands!” It refused to come out and show itself topside up.

IMG_2226

And finally, after much frustrated snapping, I have a picture of a very shy saron shrimp. Isn’t it beautiful?

IMG_2238

For a dive trip to a place full of coral bleaching, and with general low visibility, this trip to Redang was pretty fruitful!

September in Bali: Menjangan Island

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I was in Permuteran to dive two very different locations. The first was Menjangan Island, also known as the island of the deer. To get there, we had to abide by a whole bunch of rules. I like multi-coloured signs like this and I especially liked the rather paternalistic exhortation to make sure all your diving equipment was attached securely to your body.

CIMG3453

While the diving at Menjangan Island wasn’t quite as spectacular as the other places I’d dived for this trip, it was very relaxing as there weren’t any challenging currents. The water was beautifully blue as usual and while there weren’t as many pelagics, there was still the odd gem or two. This yellow-spotted trevally was one of them.

DSCF1846

Here also was the second time in my diving career I saw a school of squid in broad daylight. The last time I saw a school of squid, it was my first dive. It took more than a hundred dives to see them again.

DSCF1560

Closer to the reef were plenty of longfin batfish. Here, they seemed almost excessively friendly, changing quickly from their day colours…

DSCF1554

… to night colours as they came in close, as they did when wanting to be cleaned.

DSCF1553

For some really odd reason, one of them swam right up to me, as if it was expecting me to do the cleaning honours for it.

DSCF1813

There were plenty of parrotfish around. I’m surprised how little photographed these fish are. I think it’s something to do with how shy they are and how they just don’t stay put in one place.

DSCF1793

There were others like this grouper that I can’t find in my fish ID book…

DSCF1496

… and more familiar ones like this Indian doublebar goatfish hovering over some coral.

DSCF1786

Some of the fish came in schools, like the two-spot snappers in their brownish grey raiment.

DSCF1792

Others were more solitary, like one of my all-time favourites, the juvenile harlequin sweetlips. I can’t get enough of its unique polka dot pattern.

DSCF1829

Some fish lived in crevices, like this yellowbarred jawfish emerging in search of prey.

DSCF1504

Others like this fire dartfish seemed to simply hover in one place posing for the camera.

DSCF1545

There were other fish that lived in crevices, and some of these you won’t want to get too close to. This fimbriated moray eel is one good example.

DSCF1770

Some were small and really difficult to get close to, like the goby. I can’t tell for sure whether this is a common ghostgoby.

DSCF1820

I think this is a large (!) whip goby but as usual, I can’t be sure.

DSCF1653

Other fish are much more easily identified, like these panda clownfish, also known as Clark’s anemonefish. They were so at home among the stinging anemones…

DSCF1500

… as was this anemone shrimp.

DSCF1510

Rather camera-shy was this hermit crab, which hid its face swiftly under its shell as the camera clicked.

DSCF1471

And then the ones that didn’t seem shy at all – the nudibranchs. I saw a white flabellina that seemed to mimic the coral it was on.

DSCF1466

There were others that were even more unidentifiable, like this strange blue one with an orange and white strip outlined by deep blue running down the middle.

DSCF1851

I tried to take some nudibranch portraits, some not quite coming out as I’d like as the flash refused to fire.

DSCF1804

And others came out much better, with a pensive, slightly lonesome feel that seems quite at odds with the experience of being a nudibranch, perhaps.

DSCF1509

September in Komodo: The Critters

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Komodo surprised me by throwing up plenty of critters. There were plenty of nudibranchs, as usual, eggs included.

DSCF1251

Some of them I still can’t identify though I see them occasionally.

DSCF1250

Others, I think I know the names, like this spanish dancer (I think).

DSCF1274

And then there are the ones that I’d seen for the first time in Komodo, and had no idea what they were.

DSCF1432

There were some that were plain bulbous and gross. If anything can tell me what this is, I’ll be quite grateful. I think this is more of a sea snail of sorts because I think our guides said something about the shell being on the inside and the soft stuff outside.

DSCF1353

There were also much prettier ones with delicate tendrils.

DSCF1466

Then there were the crustaceans that lived in the delicate tendrils of corals, like this coral crab.

DSCF1373

Others, like the orang utan crab, lived on cabbage coral.

DSCF1246

And there were the hard to find whip coral shrimp, which was a beast to photograph. I remember this little critter took me 10 minutes and a good 20 bar of air to get a not-great photo.

DSCF1451

And the highlight of the critters was Oscar the smashing mantis shrimp. This fella lived in a hole and whenever we’d visit, our guide would knock at the entrance of his hole. Before long, two little fish would rise out of the hole, smartly realising that the safest place would be in the cosy hole where Oscar couldn’t extend his smashing pincers.

DSCF1463

Check out how Oscar would come out and peer at the outside world.

September in Bali: Crustaceans at Tulamben

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

You may have noticed that I didn’t have anything about crustaceans in my last post. This one is dedicated purely to the group of incredibly diverse and fascinating creatures. Tulamben is home to many crustaceans that, a hundred dives on, I still haven’t seen in such abundance, and in some cases never again since. Case in point is the soft coral crab below. It’s amazing how it just blends in with the coral. Look carefully at the centre of the photo and you’ll see it.

DSCF0023

Again, it was thanks to Wayan’s amazing eyesight that I managed to capture these shots.

DSCF0229

Then there was the delicate hairy purple crab that lived on barrel sponges.

DSCF0536

And there was the typical porcelain anemone crab that showed up fearlessly in broad daylight.

DSCF0347

Harder to spot was yet another weird species of crab, the wispy looking orange utan crab.

DSCF0337

Then there were the lobsters, like this one living on feather stars.

DSCF0374

And yet more living on sea pens, like these squat lobsters.

DSCF0174

And there was this tiny bizarre-looking lobster that lived on sea whips.

DSCF0486

Next on the list were the mantis shrimps. The larger ones were the smashing mantis shrimps that carried sudden attacks to catch unsuspecting fish that passed by its hole.

DSCF0075

Prettier was the peacock mantis shrimp that came out to hunt in its full regalia of colourful armour.

DSCF0629

In the shrimp family were Coleman shrimp that sat pretty on thorny sea urchins. They made space for themselves by snipping off bits of sea urchin spines, forming a clearing of sorts for their home.

DSCF0171

There were little shrimp that lived on bubble coral.

DSCF0734

And others that lived on anemones.

DSCF0770

There were also plenty of cleaner shrimp. Put your hand close enough and they’ll clean your fingernails for you. Put your mouth close enough and they’ll clean your teeth for you. Here’s Wayan demonstrating.

DSCF0270

And here’s one of my dive buddies showing off the new trick too. Cool eh.

DSCF0273

July in Vietnam: Eating My Way Through Hoi An

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Back in Hoi An, a great deal of colour and eating beckoned. The colourful Chinese lanterns dotting the streets and the relaxed way of life really charmed me. Here, there were few motorcycles and a lot of people got around either on foot or by bicycle.

00169

I spotted some amusing sights on the way, like this couple trying very hard to relax for their wedding photo shoot…

00175

… while their costumed wedding party awaited.

00176

And just before dinner I spotted this restaurateur picking his nose outside his very empty joint. I wonder why no one patronised his cafe.

00178

I headed on towards the market where lots of yummy sights and smells awaited. The sheer variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs made me yearn for a kitchen to whip up some food inspired by the local produce.

00180

I settled with having their local snacks instead. First, there were these odd little pancakes, reminiscent of the Indian appom. The tiny cakes were small enough to pop into the mouth whole and were crispy. The greasiness was countered by the shredded vegetables and herbs and the whole ensemble completed with a spamstick and a mystery-meat ball. It was a very satisfying starter.

00170

A short wander away was this version of bun. The thick rice noodles were bespattered with thick sweet sauce a bit like the stuff at home that’s put on yong tau fu, just quite a bit more savoury. It was much nicer with the hot sauce and the hotter yellow chillis.

00172

Yet another odd dish was this plate of assorted steamed dumplings. I wasn’t particularly impressed even though the guide book said something about “white rose” which was supposed to be shrimp encased in rice paper of sorts and steamed. It was more like soon kueh with slightly drier skin. Not bad when hot but not much more than not bad.

00173

Wandering away from the market, I ducked into an alley along the quaint streets…

00214

… and found myself in a little porch with a bowl of cau lau in front of me. This is a Hoi An specialty that involves flat yellow noodles being smothered with braised pork and topped with lime juice and the usual herbage. It’s finished off with crispy fried rice paper bits and tastes really yummy, though very much reminding of what I do at home with leftover braised pork.

00164

The best dish I had in Hoi An was the chicken rice, thankfully not featured in the guide but chanced upon on the street. The rice was cooked with chicken stock, just like Hainanese chicken rice at home. Unlike the stuff at home, it was topped with a whole variety of oddities like boiled pork, beansprouts and herbs. Not to mention, the chicken was just the shredded type torn apart with fingers. The flavour was amazing. It was an epiphany to have incredibly aromatic, chickeny rice matched with herbs like coriander and laksa leaves. It was definitely a step up from Hainanese chicken rice.

00227

I’m sure some of you must be wondering why I hadn’t mentioned Vietnam’s national drink yet. The coffee here is thick, strong and incredibly sweet and milky with added condensed milk. And that’s the only way you should have it. Ask for ca phe sua da and you get a tall glass of ice to cool it all down with. It’s wonderful on a hot day. When you’re done, chase it down with the green tea provided gratis.

00224

I first noticed this coffee place because of the many men perched on red plastic chairs watching TV in the morning. They disappeared by midday and I only ventured there in the afternoon to get a mobile plan top up card and a glass of coffee. After the first sip, I was hooked. I spent every afternoon there enjoying my ca phe sua da, playing with the very cute puppy called Remain, and chatting with the proprietress about Hoi An, Vietnam and Singapore.

00226

Layang Layang: Reef Life and Macro

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Don’t think that Layang Layang is only for the pelagics. There’s plenty of macro to be found here, it’s only that sometimes the currents and the wall can be a bit challenging for finding those critters and also getting the perfect shot of that tiny little creature. There was a lot of reef life here, such as this rather surprised looking tomato grouper.

IMG_1318a

I was also quite pleased to see one of my favourites, a juvenile black snapper with its characteristic black and white stripes and dots.

IMG_1295a

Then there were the fish that insisting on posing for a picture, like this slightly constipated looking pennant bannerfish.

IMG_1260

There were also bottom dwellers like blue-spotted stingrays.

IMG_1325a

They always seem to stare up so malevolently at us.

IMG_0610

There were also other fairly amusing fish, like this doublebar goatfish. They like to rest on coral and pretend that they are not there, innocently spacing out, as if if they can’t see us we can’t see them!

IMG_0930a

Others showed off their colours beautifully against the coral, like these panda butterflyfish and peacock grouper.

IMG_1181

DC is obsessed with the pufferfish family, just like I’m obsessed with hawkfish. His favourite shot of the whole trip is this seal-faced puffer that he cornered in a coral niche. It’s cute, isn’t it?

IMG_0578

Not so cute is this giant frogfish that has its mouth open in wait for unsuspecting prey. In a split second, it’ll pounce and the prey will be in its belly.

IMG_0892a

Far less grotesque were pretty nudibranchs slowly making their way across the coral gardens.

IMG_0986

They were surprisingly hard to spot among the colourful backdrop of coral, but once found, a joy to photograph.

IMG_1219a

Far harder to photograph were the pink anemonefish, who were so skittish, this is probably the only decent one I got amongst the tens of shots I took.

IMG_1210a

Going down to the seriously macro-level, I found some large whip gobies on a sea fan and thankfully this one wasn’t as shy as my next subject.

IMG_1268a

The Denise pygmy seahorses were such a pain to photograph. My camera had great difficulty focussing on the tiny creatures smaller than my fingernail. This one is pregnant and had the tendency to swim to the underside of the sea fan, making it impossible to catch on camera.

IMG_1033a

DC got this picture that’s far superior to mine, it’s so beautiful how he managed to capture the eye and its almost serene expression.

IMG_0616a

We had some good luck on sandy patches at the house reef at night. There was a flamboyantly coloured Spanish dancer.

IMG_0520

There was also this strange blob of a sea slug oozing its way along.

IMG_0539

Much prettier was this variation of a reeftop pipefish that wiggled its pretty pink tail and didn’t seem to mind the many flashes from our cameras.

IMG_1144a

Then there was the bizarrely shaped longhorn cowfish that seemed to have difficulty navigating its way out of this patch of seagrass.

IMG_1163a

Back on the coral reef, there were other oddities like this leaf scorpionfish with its glassy white eye staring out at us while swaying back and forth in the water pretending to be a leaf.

IMG_1101a

In the anemone were some porcelain crabs, which were quite shy. This one kept scuttling towards the underside of the anemone and it was really hard to keep up with it before it disappeared from sight.

IMG_1066a

A rare sight in the coral was this peacock flounder. Normally associated with muck diving, I was thrilled to see this one swim along and then try to rather unsuccessfully camouflage itself on some maze coral. Its googly eyes and patchy colouration gave it away immediately!

IMG_1055a

There were also quite a few shrimp and other crustaceans hiding out in crevices. Here’s DC trying to get a good snap of some shrimp.

IMG_1226

They were some kind of orange cleaner shrimp that I have yet to identify, very pretty though!

IMG_1224

Other cleaner shrimp like these commensal shrimp also hung around the same area. Both kinds would come out onto my hand and pick away at dead skin. I suppose it makes good eating for them. And round goes the circle of life!

IMG_1221a

There were also these spiny rock lobsters in another hole. I was so tempted to pull them out by their feelers but of course resisted. It’s a pity they were so shy though!

IMG_1330

Back on the surface of the coral reef, we were happy to see the bigger fish thriving. There were plenty of sweetlips about, including these adult harlequin sweetlips that seemed to love giving a mirror mirage by going in pairs above and below the coral.

IMG_1354

Then there was this emperor angelfish that came up to pose for a picture on my last dive. Such an obliging creature!

IMG_1337a

And last of the fish, there was this white mouth moray looking out for prey.

IMG_1284a

Unfortunately, as this video shows, it’s a bit of FAIL because it got slapped in the face by a passing fish. So much for being a lean, mean predator.

The nicest finale to our dive was getting up close to this turtle. As we approached, the green turtle was facing us and knew full well of our approach. Somehow it didn’t swim away.

IMG_1369a

DC got in close enough for a really macro shot of it.

IMG_0678

But then we noticed something odd about the way it was rocking back and forth.

We realised that it was stuck in the coral! For the sake of this turtle, I broke one of the laws of diving – don’t touch any creature – and tugged it gently out. It got free and immediately coasted up towards the surface for a good breath of fresh air.

IMG_1370

It was such a lovely feeling to end our successful series of dives by helping out a stranded turtle.