La Paz Sea Lions Scuba Dive Is World Class –

la paz sea lions scuba dive diving isla islotes

La Paz Sea Lions Scuba Dive

My last post showed a video on the pretty healthy fish life of La Paz during scuba diving in the Baja region of Mexico.  Specifically, these dives were in the Sea of Cortez.

The main reason why I chose to travel to La Paz in the first place was for the sea lions.  There are not many places in the world where you can scuba dive with sea lions in the wild and they were next on my list after the awesome experiences I had scuba diving with manta rays last year in Hawaii.

I knew that the travel to La Paz was going to be rough and the cost of scuba diving would be at a premium compared to many other dive destinations around the world.  But I was willing to put up with the three flights from Toronto to La Paz and spending about 50% more on scuba diving compared to your average dive destination just for this unique opportunity.  And I was not disappointed!

There are two sea lion colonies near La Paz with the main one of about 300 sea lions at Isla Islotes, an isolated island about an hour boat ride from La Paz.  I did two dives here.  The other sea lion colony is smaller at about 100 sea lions at San Rafaelito, a even smaller island about 30 minutes from La Paz.  I did one dive at San Rafaelito and it is small enough to actually circumvent the entire island during a dive.

The colony at Isla Islotes is the main attraction in the area for sea lion observers.  Boats go out there to watch the sea lions with snorkelling and scuba diving options.  It’s usually the younger sea lions who are the most curious with divers as the older ones usually stay in the background just to oversee things.

We were told in advance that the younger sea lions would not hesitate to get right you our faces and maybe even start nibbling at our fins, masks, and anything else that sticks out.  Fortunately, I arranged with the scuba diving operator, Trevor Brown of Baja Connections, that we get my dives with the sea lions on video.

Here are the best moments we captured from the Isla Islotes dives and as you can see, the sea lions are like puppies.

We start our dives at Isla Islotes checking out the marine life in the deeper areas before venturing back towards where the sea lions hang out which is only about 15 to 20 feet in depth. As a result, we were able to stay down in the water for about an hour at a time.

After the first dive, we were able to spend additional time snorkelling as our surface interval in between dives. This got us even more time watching the sea lions.

On my final day of diving La Paz, we did the dive around San Rafaelito to check out the smaller sea lion colony. Here, the ones who came around to check us out in the water seemed to be older sea lions and therefore a bit larger than the ones we saw at Isla Islotes. But the encounters we had at Isla Islotes were a bit better as the younger ones came up closer to us. Maybe it was just timing and there were less younger sea lions at San Rafaelito but it was still worthwhile diving there.

Overall, the scuba diving with sea lions at La Paz is definitely world class. I know that there are other places in the world to dive with sea lions like the Galapagos Islands but you have to spend a fortune for those dive trips. I don’t know if the sea lions down there get as close to us as the ones at La Paz do. So definitely for any scuba divers (or snorkelers) who want to get sea lion encounters, I would recommend going to La Paz for sure.

By the way, I saw a new line of 2017 calendars featuring ocean marine life themes which all fans of the underwater world will find interesting.

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Why Not Scuba Dive If You Can Swim? –

scuba dive swim scuba diving marine life mexico

Scuba Dive If You Can Swim

In my last post, I showed you a very inspirational moment I had while scuba diving in La Paz, Mexico.  It was a video showing you my best ever sea turtle encounter.   In this post, I will show you another video I produced from that trip.  This one will show you some of the typical marine life fish I saw in the water during my dives in the area.

As you will be able to see from the video as well as the photo above which is from the clip, the marine life is very healthy down in the La Paz waters since it is a protected marine park.  Lots of fish as well as other marine animals.

As I was reviewing the video footage and then watching the finished, edited clip, what came to my mind was asking why would anyone who can swim, not want to do this?   If you can swim, why would you not want to scuba dive so you can see and experience a similar ocean scene like I did.

Many people who saw this video and the photos from my trip were in awe of my experience in the ocean.  They saw it as something like they would see in National Geographic or some ocean documentary.  But the fact is, if they can swim, all of these experiences are actually accessible to them.

They just have to learn how to scuba dive.   Before I get into more details of what is involved, enjoy the video itself here first.

Scuba Diving Certification

To many people out there, scuba diving with all of its equipment, seems to be an extreme sport or activity. The fact is that recreational scuba diving is not extreme. It does however require professional training in new skills used in the water as well as knowledge about physics and physiology related to the body and the ocean. There is also a lot of safety factors and skills that need to be learned.

All of this is learned through the scuba diving certification courses provided through training agencies such as PADI, SSI and NAUI. These courses can be either a very intensive weekend or over a few weeks, one night per week. Time in the classroom as well as sessions in the swimming pool will take up most of the scuba diving certification.

To finish off the complete certification, one will need to demonstrate the skills learned in the pool but in an open water scenario which means in a lake, river or ocean. A written test is also required to be passed to demonstrate the knowledge learned in the classroom.

The only prerequisites for taking the scuba diving certification course is being able to swim and not have any medical conditions that will disallow an individual from scuba diving. All details would be available at your local scuba diving shop.

So as I enjoy this video again and eagerly plan my next scuba diving adventure trip, I once again ask, why would anyone who can swim, not want to do this?

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Inspirational Scuba Dive With Sea Turtle In La Paz –

inspirational sea turtle scuba dive la paz diving

Inspirational Scuba Dive

I went on a trip to La Paz located in the Baja region of Mexico recently and my main objective was to scuba dive with the sea lions. This was a long planned trip to a rather pricey destination but it did not disappoint.

But in addition to the sea lions, I ended up with several very inspirational moments including one very special one during my final dive day in La Paz. This was a dive where I had my best sea turtle encounter ever.

I have seen sea turtle before on previous scuba dives elsewhere but they are usually at a distance and they don’t stay around for too long. On this particular dive, one of the other divers in my group caught my attention after spotting a sea turtle that was almost right underneath us as most of the divers in our group initially missed it.

I immediately grabbed our divemaster’s fin to alert him since he missed the turtle as well. Then I approached the turtle and laid on the ocean bottom. To our surprise, this turtle did not swim away upon our approach. Instead, it just stayed in place watching us for a few minutes.

Afterwards, it did finally swim up to the ocean surface probably to get a breath of fresh air as our divemaster caught everything on video as shown below.

Need Commitment For Inspirational Experiences Like This

This sea turtles encounter was very inspirational for me since it was a close up experience with nature at its best. I felt honoured to be there and it reminded me that not very many people in this world will ever get to experience what our group just did in real life.

However, inspirational experiences such as this sea turtle encounter is accessible for many more people out there. One must make certain commitments to get there.

If one is not a scuba diver yet, then a certification course is required in order to become a certified scuba diver. Then one must make the commitment to go on scuba diving trips to dive waters where such beautiful creatures live, irregardless of whether any of your friends or family members are interested in diving or not.

And if you cannot swim, then obviously a big commitment is required in order to learn how to swim which is a definite prerequisite to taking the scuba diving certification course. So it’s really a matter of whether you are willing to make such commitments or not. If you want inspirational experiences like this which most people in this world will never get, you have to do what is necessary in the form of big commitments in order to get there.

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New Fall Season Fitness Program 2016

Fall Season Fitness Program

I had my final outdoor swim workout so this always signals the end of my summer fitness program and the start of the new fall season one.  Since the pool workouts are so effective for me, I’m going to retain them for one day each week for my fall season but of course I’ll have to go to an indoor community centre pool instead.

So here’s how my fall season fitness program will look like;

Mondays – martial arts & stretching

Tuesdays – martial arts weapons & stretching

Wednesdays – swimming pool workout

Thursdays – weights strength training & super stretch

Fridays – martial arts & stretching

Saturdays – martial arts weapons & stretching

Sundays – weights strength training & super stretch

I will also do a short abs set four times per week just before lunch.  Personally, I like to do these as a totally separate thing from my other workouts.

In addition to the above, there will also be two walks/hikes most weeks with my groups, usually one midweek and one on the weekends.  So my strength training sessions on Sundays sometimes might get shifted to the Saturdays if I feel it is needed.  Same thing with the Saturday weaponry session as they can also be shifted to Sundays, depending on how I feel.

This will be a good fall season fitness program for me to help me prepare for my winter ski season.  Extra exercises are always done during the strength training workouts for my legs as pre-ski season training.

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Never Too Old To Learn New Skills (Swim Flip Turn) – Motivational WebTV #87 –

swim flip turns swimming motivational videos clint cora

Never Too Old To Learn New Skills

So like many others, I was glued to the Rio 2016 Olympics this summer.  I just loved all the action and stories behind the different sporting events.  The swimming events were particularly interesting especially with Michael Phelps of course but also with the success of our Canadian women swimmers like Penny Oleksiak.

One of the things that the Olympic swimmers did which caught my eye was how they did their swim flip turns at the end of each lap.  It was amazing how they flipped over and pushed off the pool wall each time.  Believe it or not, I wanted to learn how to do this even though I’m twice as old as the average Olympic swimmer.

But I wanted to prove that it is never too old to learn new skills including a swim flip turn.  I do not expect to do it at an Olympic level but just to be able to do a flip turn which enables me to change direction in the pool would be good enough for me.

Learning How To Do A Swim Flip Turn

At first, I just could not figure out how the swimmers did it as I could never turn around in the pool.  So I watched a few YouTube videos on how to do a flip turn and continued to watch the Olympic swimmers.  Then I realized that I was trying to turn upright too soon as the swimmers usually pushed off the wall upside down.

During my first week of attempts, I could not flip over right around.  I got caught halfway inverted each time and was stranded in the water.  After a week, I was finally able to flip all the way around but I lost my sense of direction.  I was completely disoriented as I did not know where the pool wall was and therefore failed to push off.

After about two weeks since I did not want to give up and there was still time left in my outdoor pool season, I finally did the flip turn well enough to push off the wall and swim in the other direction.

Here’s the video which is the first Motivational WebTV episode I’ve produced in over a year, which shows my flip turns in the pool.

So my experience learning a swim flip turn proves that you are never too old to learn new skills. Imagine what new things you can learn to do no matter what your age is.

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My Dumbbells Strength Training Exercises –

Dumbells Strength Training Exercises

As requested by those who participated in my Strength Training With Dumbbells workshop, here are the different exercises I use.

Chest: bench press, side flys or a combination of the two

Back: pull ups while leaning over (one side at a time)

Shoulders: side raises, front raises, shrugs

Arms: bicep curls (standing or seated), tricep extensions

Forearms: wrist curls (seated), reverse curls (standing)

Legs: squats, lunges, calf raises

I currently do each exercise using weights that I can comfortably do ten repetitions each and I do two sets of each chest, back, arms and leg exercises while for shoulders and forearms, I do just one set.  I do strength training twice per week for most of the year while during ski season, it’s once per week.

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How Foreign Languages Helping My Swimming –

fitness foreign language sheet cheat

Foreign Languages Good To Know

Most of us agree that knowing at least one foreign language is a good skill to have.  Never did I ever think that foreign languages would ever help me in my fitness program.

During the summer, I’m swimming in my pool about three to four days each week.  My pool workouts are a big component of my summer fitness program particular for the cardiovascular element. But one thing I have a hard time with is keeping count of my pool laps.

Swimming Workout Involves Laps

My swimming workout has been doing 70 laps in the pool plus threading water.  I love the fact that I can get a great workout without sweating since I’m in the water.   But since like many other types of cardiovascular exercise, boredom can set in especially if movements are repetitive.

I frequently end up daydreaming while I’m doing my laps and as a result, I lose count.   To ensure that I get enough laps in when I do lose my count, I’ll do extra laps.

Counting In Foreign Languages Help

So what I started doing this summer in the pool is instead of keeping count of my laps all in English, I decided to count each set of ten laps in different foreign languages, specifically, Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French in addition to English.

Before you get all impressed, no, I cannot speak five different languages but I do know how to count from one to ten in these specific foreign languages.  And what I am finding is that if I focus on counting from one to ten in these foreign languages, I do not lose count of my swim laps.

Here’s how you count from one to ten in each of these foreign languages;

English: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Cantonese: yut, yee, saum, say, mmm, look, chut, baat, gow, sup

Mandarin: ee, are, sum, se, oo, leeoh, chee, bah, jeow, shur

French: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix

Spanish: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez

 

So if you get too bored when counting out your exercises or laps and end up losing your count, try counting in foreign languages and see if it helps.

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Chinese Dim Sum Lunch Not Just For Asians –

chinese dim sum asians

Chinese Dim Sum Lunch

It’s amazing how far Chinese dim sum lunch has come over the years.   Although dim sum is still unheard of in most North American cities and towns, if you go to any city that is big enough to have a Chinatown and/or sizable Chinese population, there will be dim sum.

In Canada, cities that have dim sum restaurants include the Greater Toronto area including many where I’m based in Mississauga, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal.  In the USA, New York, LA, San Francisco and San Diego will have dim sum.

What exactly is dim sum?  Well it’s a type of lunch or brunch that consists of many different types of little dishes of dumplings, rolls, buns and other smaller portions of Chinese delicacies that were invented in Hong Kong.   So dim sum does not originate from main land China but instead, it is a Hong Kong Cantonese tradition.  Typically, it is served only during the daytime hours.

Not every Chinese restaurant has dim sum.  Most of the better Chinese restaurants that do serve dim sum specialize in it, ie, their daytime business hours are dedicated to dim sum.   Many of the bigger dim sum restaurants have servers pushing carts filled with different dishes throughout the dining areas and customers just select what they want.  Other restaurants do not use carts and just rely on customers ordering from menus.

Dim Sum A Cantonese Tradition

When I was a kid growing up in Toronto, I remember that most weekends, families would go to dim sum for brunch.  Indeed, this Cantonese tradition continues today but I’ve noticed that there are many more dim sum establishments in the area where I live.  Of course this growth is related to the growth of the Asian population.

One really good thing to see is that there are more non-Asians seen in dim sum houses these days.  With the growing diversity of many communities, non-Asians have been gradually introduced to Chinese dim sum, usually by somebody from the Chinese community.

At our social Meetup group GTA Free Spirits,  we have been doing our part in introducing newbies to Chinese dim sum as well.  We usually get together for dim sum every other month or so and we do a circuit of the best dim sum houses in Mississauga.  There are currectly eight such restaurants that we rotate through just in Mississauga alone.

Quite often at our dim sum events, there will be a newbie or two who have never experienced it before.  So they will join our regulars for quite a feast since with a table of ten people, we will be able to sample many dishes.  Indeed, skipping breakfast is well recommended for that day.

Here’s a goofy but fun short video showing myself with one of our regular non-Asian dim sum fans enjoying one of our recent outings.

So if you have never experienced Chinese dim sum before, you really don’t know what you are missing. Get yourself to a city with a sizable Chinese population (Cantonese speaking) and visit a dim sum house.

It’s probably best for the first time to recruit a Chinese friend or colleague who can accompany you to help identify the different dishes for you in order to ease you into the dim sum world, which can be a bit overwhelming (but tasty) when you first walk into a busy venue. The popular dim sum restaurants often have lineups waiting to get in during the weekends so it’s best to go early if on a Saturday or Sunday. Our group meets for 11 am for any of our dim sum outings.

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Stranded Overnight At Airport – What I Learned –

stranded overnight airport travel

Stranded Overnight At Airport

What was suppose to be a quick fly in-fly out day trip to Washington DC last week turned into a really bad travel experience for me. A company considering on having me as their keynote speaker at their big meeting later in the fall wanted to have me come down to meet with them in person.  The plan was to fly in during the morning, meet with them for a few hours and fly back home at the end of the work day.

When I boarded my 5:15 pm return flight, we were told that here would be a slight delay to wait for a lightning storm to pass by.  After awhile, we were told to deplane and wait inside the terminal.   The latest news came after 8 pm when they told us that other lighting storms are coming in and all outgoing flights north to Canada were cancelled for the rest of the night.

So I had to wait in this extremely long lineup for United Airlines customer service to rebook my flights for the next day.  The best that they could do was to rebook me for a 9:45 am flight with Delta Airlines but instead of a direct flight, I would have to connect through New York JFK, which was fine by me since the next available United flight was not until 10 pm the next day.

At the same time, I was also told that all hotel rooms within a 25 miles radius of the Washington Dulles airport were completely booked.  I confirmed this with a call to one of the hotel chains I use.

It was already about 10 pm and instead of having to deal with ground transfers to hotels located further away and back again to the airport to catch my morning flight, I made the decision to stay put for the night.  So effectively I was stranded.

Sleepless Night At Airport

The airport chairs, while comfortable for sitting, are not great for sleeping.  I for one cannot sleep while seated and since the arms of those chairs are fixed, there’s no way to lie down on them.  There was a ventilation grill behind the chairs where some other stranded passengers laid down.  As soon as I tried to sit on one of those things, I could feel the cold air coming out of those vents.  So for me, that was not an option.

Although it was quite peaceful at the airport terminal overnight, it wasn’t exactly quiet.  There was music on the PA systems, although not loud, which played continuously overnight.  There were also cleaning staff with their equipment doing their duties as well.

A few people actually slept on the floor but it would be too hard for me and I was still wearing the same business suit too.  So I sat around to listen to some music, go on the internet using the airport’s wifi and walked around like a zombie for the entire night.

At about 5 am when the security gates opened up again, I went through the security check and proceed to my gate.  There was about an hour delay at JFK for the flight to Toronto but I finally made it back home at about 4:30 pm the next day.  This was about 22 hours late past my original scheduled arrival back home the day before.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I was mainly worried about my two Lhasa Apso dogs.  I had forgotten to turn on the air conditioner for them although I did leave windows open.   They can stay on their own overnight like they did for my vacation trips but I had a pet sitter come in to feed them and check up on them twice per day.

This time around, I did not give any notice to my pet sitter since I was expecting to be home the same day.  And even if I did contact my pet sitter from Washington DC, there’s no way she would have gotten into my home anyway since I had one set of keys on me while the other one was hanging in my closet.

But when I finally got home, both my dogs were just fine even if they missed two meals and their daddy for one night.  My neighbours later confirmed that they did not hear them bark at all even when the windows were wide open.

My dogs did not leave any mess at home either since they are both indoor dog litterbox potty trained.  They don’t have to go out to do their business since they have a designated spot right inside the house which they used.

Lessons Learned From This Travel Experience

I did have a few lessons learned from this travel experience which I will list below.  I’ll use these if I go on another day trip that involves flights.

  1. Bring toiletries and extra change of clothing
  2. Have numbers of major hotel networks on cellphone
  3. Prepare for best alternative internet connections in case airport wifi fails or not for free
  4. Leave house keys with pet sitter just in case

Any future day trip that involves flights perhaps should be regarded as likely overnight stays and if I happen to get home within the same day because flights happen to run on time, then it should be considered a nice bonus!

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Summer Fitness Workout Program Starting Early –

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Summer Fitness Workout Program

There are four different seasons here in Canada so I have four different fitness workout schedules that make full use of the outdoor elements whenever possible.   This year, my summer fitness workout program will be starting a bit early as it begins with the opening of our outdoor swimming pool here at my townhouse complex.

Although it will likely be a bit cold water swimming until the summer temperatures really come, I’ll simply do what I always have done in the past and that’s to wear my scuba diving wetsuit in the pool.  The swimming workouts have been extremely effective for me in both cardio and trimming down to the leanest physique that is practical for me.

This summer fitness program is similar to past summer programs I’ve followed but this year I’m going to push up the stretching even more because I’ve noticed that the minimal stretching I do during the winter does set my flexibility back a bit.  So I’ve had to use all spring to catch back up.  I would like to eliminate this up and down cycle and even try to increase my flexibility even at my retired from active martial arts competition older age.

So here is my planned day to day summer fitness program;

Mondays – swimming plus stretching

Tuesdays – martial arts forms plus stretching

Wednesdays – swimming plus stretching

Thursdays – weights strength training plus super stretch

Fridays – swimming plus stretching

Saturdays – martial arts weapons plus stretching

Sundays – weights strength training plus super stretch

The reason why I allocated the various days of the week to my various workout activities is that I want to avoid being in the swimming pool during the weekends since those are the days when the pool is busiest with crazy kids.

Also, the super stretch element is different from my normal stretching routines.  The super stretch is for increasing flexibility while the normal stretching is for maintaining flexibility.  I have found that the super stretch element is ideal right after my strength training with weights.

Not stated above, I’ll also do ab work several times per week usually just before lunch as a separate element from my main workout for the day.  There is no particular reason for this as it’s just a pattern that I have found to be effective in terms of actually fitting in ab work into my fitness program.

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