June 08, 2015

Off the Grid, Marine Conservation Cambodia

Milky Way hanging over Paul's head
One of the strangest things about working and living in Cambodia is the amount of holidays one gets in a year. Had a five day break a month ago and wanted to try diving the Cambodian coast again (dove Sihanoukville once in 2010, a three day/ ten dive adventure). Made several inquiries with dive shops around Sihanoukville and stumbled upon Marine Conservation Cambodia, a site I remember to have passed by frequently when I was new to diving (found it way cool). Sent out an email inquiry about being a volunteer photographer over the long work holiday and after a quick conversation with Paul Ferber, the founder and brainchild of MCC, found myself headed to Kep, which was now his new base of operations. Kep intrigued  me since from Paul's description, his new office was teeming with macro marine life. It also had an interesting past as it used to be the coastal town where the affluent Khmer's used to build summer homes, till Pol Pot got to power and grabbed everything... but that my friends is another story...

interacting with the local kids
Getting to Kep was an easy 3 hour, 140km ride by car from Phnom Penh. Upon reaching the Kep Pier, it took another 45 minute boat ride to reach Paul's island. The base of Marine Conservation Cambodia was a surprisingly pleasant "Off the Grid" experience. There was hardly any mobile signal save for walking to the tip of his pier. The island was smack in the middle of Cambodian and Vietnamese waters which made for an interesting adventure where upon arrival, Paul had just chased off illegal Vietnamese fishing trawlers which have been making the waters turbid as the nets plowed through the shallow sandy areas.

It was time to do my dives and tried to find seahorses, which was documented to be quite prolific off Cambodian coastlines. It was quite unfortunate though I arrived  when the Vietnamese trawlers decided to draw their nets causing water visibility to drop to a meter at best. Another interesting fact about waters around Kep is that the coasts are a flat 5 meters deep through and through. Did a 2 hour dive despite the almost zero vis conditions and found the usual muck dive subjects which were Crabs, Sea moths, Dragonets, Flounders but didn't manage to see Seahorses. Because of the turbidity, decided to focus taking images of what happens around Paul's island topside.

 young ocean explorers gearing up at the dive shack
What I found really fascinating about Marine Conservation Cambodia's operation is it provides a need which is seemingly overlooked by mainstream tourism operators. Eco tourism makes for a more interesting holiday but not everyone has the knowledge nor passion to set the stage to excite and nurture future ocean heroes. There were no Television sets, electricity was only opened from sunset to an hour past midnight but board games, interesting conversations and Paul's insane yet fun stories make for a warm and delightful stay.

When I arrived, there were ten female teens from different countries and a young guy from New York, all coming to live the island life and learn more about how to protect and keep our oceans healthy for future generations. Personally, diving took a backseat and it was back to Sea Camp for me which I found highly enjoyable. Below is a photo essay of  what its like to be an ocean volunteer for Marine Conservation Cambodia.   

gearing up is fun
Elow from MMC
Volunteer Camilla takes a breather after an island to island swim
see big camera...will pose
within the jungle, Paul's daughter left, Sinead right

sunset beach volleyball keep the guys and gals sexy

 learning from one another
a program designed for future ocean heroes
The kitchen, serving a fusion of Khmer and French cuisine
back to school
pleasantly genuine island style accommodations

fakers, stay away or Mr T will get you
see the milky way at midnight
Left: Meet Paul, founder of Marine Conservation Cambodia
(and yes, that shooting star..photo to the right... was real)

for more information about Marine Conservation Cambodia
contact Paul Ferber +855-1671-5444

May 08, 2015

Canon S100 Lens Error fix

Canon Powershot users are prone to receiving a "Lens error" message which can ruin a holiday or worst, you may find yourself in the middle of a photo competition and suffer this untimely setback.

...searching the web, found this very straightforward fix to the dreaded "Lens error" problem.
Just bring along the tiny screwdrivers and some aluminum tape all the time.. and find yourself back in the game in no time :) holiday problem solved!

the generous donor of the fix: https://www.flickr.com/photos/94292599@N02/