Adventure Nomad

Adventure Nomad

Friday, October 13, 2017


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Batu, East Java.  One of the trails we rode on this trip.  Photo by Nina FiztSimons

I made a second trip to Mt. Bromo, Java, Indonesia last week.  Unlike the first trip, where we went at the end of the wet season/beginning of the dry season in April, this trip was made smack in the middle of the dry season.  Although the trails were dry, the tradeoff was the dust, and that Bromo Classic trail, which rides across the sea of sand, was too soft to ride.

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Another one from Batu, East Java.  Photo by Ramang Kristian
This trip, most of the riding we did was cross-country, adventure-biking, done downhill style.  Short downhill sections, followed by a vehicle transfer uphill to a different trail.  After our 3 day trip though, we all felt that we spent too much time in the car for the amount of riding we did.

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5cm Trail, Mt. Bromo.  Photo by Ramang Kristian

Unless you like riding a lot of downhill and don't mind spending time in the car to be shuttled uphill, a better way to do it would be what we did the first trip (see the video below).  We stayed in a primitive homestay at Cemoro Lawang (not recommended, try to find a hotel or upmarket homestay), and on some days, either started the ride from the accommodation, or ending there.  Transfers on the vehicle were far less than on this trip.  Best time to go would be the April-May, which is the end of the wet season/beginning of the dry.

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Stream crossing, Batu, East Java.  Photo by Nina FiztSimons
Stream crossing, Batu, East Java.  Photo by Nina FiztSimons[/caption]
If you are wondering why there are so many photos of me, and none by me, it's because the memory card on my Sony RX100 crapped out and I didn't bring a spare.  Duh!

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Coffee, Java style!  Photo by Ramang Kristian

Here's the video from my previous trip to Mt. Bromo:

Riding Mt. Bromo from Kenneth Koh on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

PaddleBoard Krabi

KEN_0816_1Inflatable SUP in Krabi

Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) is the fastest growing watersport in the world and an is a fun an challenging way to get a full-body, core-centric workout.  It's great for touring, since you can get great views standing at full height, and Krabi, with it's warm weather and sea cliff scenery, is a great destination to SUP.
By Krabi, I really mean the Railay Peninsula.  The beaches of Railay East and West, Ton Sai and Phra Nang are great places to launch or stop for a break, or some food.  There are numerous little caves, inlets and islands to explore in the area.

Season
Best time to visit is after the New Year Holidays from January to March, although the dry season extends from December through May.  After the new year holidays, it gets a little less crazy, a little less crowded and a little less expensive.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWading out to catch the long-tail ferry boat from Krabi to Ton Sai

Getting There
Krabi is the main airport to the region, although it is possible to take a ferry from Phuket. From Krabi Airport, depending on where you choose to stay on Railay, it's either a long taxi to Ao Nang, followed by a 10 minute ferry ride to Ton Sai or Railay West; or a short taxi and long ferry to Railay West.

Where to Stay
Probably the best, and certainly the most expensive option, is to stay at the Rayavadee Resort, but that is outside my budget.  Second best would be one of the hotels on Railay West, which is also expensive, but it has a great beach, and great views of sunset.  Railay East is set amongst the mangroves, and has a range of accommodation and restaurant choices.  Ton Sai is the low budget option.  Unfortunately, your choices there are limited to the hotels closest to the beach.  Be aware that there is a wall running the length of Ton Sai which means that access to the beach is limited to either the Ton Sai Bay Resort or the Ton Sai Jetty end.  In any case, wherever you choose to stay, it is key to ensure your accommodation of choice is close to the water, and there is room to store your SUP.  We stayed at the Ton Sai Bay Resort, which was both close to the water, and had enough space in the room to store our inflated SUPs.
IMG_3656The Ton Sai Wall separates most of Ton Sai from the Beach

Bring Your Own Board
At present, I don't know of any place on Railay that rents SUPs, so you will have to bring your own, and given the challenges of bringing a hard board over, the only realistic option is to bring an inflatable.  We bought our Naish One Inflatable SUPs and 3-piece paddles from Rachel at www.RachelCharis.com in Singapore.  It comes in a bag that also has room for the included pump, paddle and your clothes.

Other Things To Do
The are a few shops, massage places and pubs, but it is mostly outdoor activities Rock-Climbing, hiking, snorkeling, diving.  On this particular trip, we did bring our climbing gear as well, so I got a few days of climbing in.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What's Up With Coconut Oil

Photo from Gizmodo: Please Calm Down: Coconut Oil is Fine
Should you stop taking Coconut Oil?  A recent article citing a 25-page study released by the American Heart Association say you should. The study itself doesn’t say much about Coconut Oil specifically, but rather looks at scientific studies from people who replaced saturated fat with other things in their diet, and how it relates to risk for Cardiovascular Disease.  The study states that if you replace saturated fat, like coconut oil, with refined carbohydrates, like white bread or pasta, you actually INCREASE your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Since I have replaced refined carbs, like bread, for breakfast, and substituting that for a tablespoonful of coconut oil in my coffee (aka, Bulletproof Coffee), this study was of interest to me.
Note that the study does not differentiate between ‘refined’ coconut oil, which is mainly used in countries like Malaysia, which is one of the reference studies quoted, versus ‘virgin’ coconut oil.
This article from Gizmodo takes a more balanced look at the subject. My own take is that since I am replacing refined carbs, like bread, for breakfast, and substituting that for a tablespoonful of coconut oil in my coffee (aka, Bulletproof Coffee), this is a healthier option.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Goodbye Blogger! We Have Moved to Wordpress!

Goodbye Blogger!  We have moved!  If you have been following me, please update your subscription and join me on Wordpress.  See you soon!

http://adventurenomad.wordpress.com/

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How to Edit a Photo on Snapseed in 5 Easy Steps

Snapseed is a powerful, easy-to-use, photo editing app that's available on both IOS and Android.  Best of all, it's FREE!  Here are 5 easy steps that could benefit just about any photo, that you can easily accomplish in Snapseed in 5 minutes or less.



Below is the original image of me on a slackline captured on an iPhone 6 Plus by my wife, Laura.  It's a great shot!  Laura captured the moment perfectly, but the image could use a little help from Snapseed to really make it 'pop'!  Above is the final image after editing in Snapseed and uploading to Instagram.  Wow!  It only took me about 2-3 minutes, and in only 5 easy steps!  Here's how I did it:


Step 1: Straighten and Crop Tools
Straighten the image using the Rotate tool if required, and then crop.  For this image, I cropped in tighter, removing excess 'clutter', kept the sun in the image, and had the end of the slackline run out to the bottom right edge of the frame.


Step 2: HDR Scape Filter
This is a powerful tool to adjust exposure.  You could adjust the exposure with more control using a number of different controls, but with just one step, this filter will brighten the shadows and bring back some detail into washed out highlights.  You can also brighten or darken the overall image.  Of the 4 settings: Nature, People, Fine and Strong; I tend to use Nature unless there are people in the shot.  But I'll run through Nature and People to see which one works better.  Most photos can benefit from a little use of this filter, but be careful not to use overuse it, otherwise your image can come out looking too flat and fake.  In general, I don't exceed 50% with this or any setting.  I used +40% of the Nature setting here, with brightness set at +50%.



Step 3: Drama Filter
This is where the magic happens.  Like the previous filter, Drama accomplishes a lot in one step.  Drama adds local contrast, sharpness or 'pop' to an image.  There are a number of different filter settings at the bottom, and clicking each will give you a good idea of what it does, but the default setting is way too strong and the saturation too low, giving the image a 'gritty' feel.  You can adjust to suit your taste, but for me, less is usually more.  I generally use Drama 2, but dial the effect down somewhere between +10 - +50%, and then I raise the saturation up until it looks normal.  For this image, I set the filter strength at +25%, and the saturation at -15%.  Toggle the before/after selector on the top right to see how far you have taken the effect.


Step 4: Selective Tool
We are almost done.  Go over the image and have a closer look at the details.  Faces are one area that require special attention, and in most cases, could do with a tiny bit of brightening.  I used the Selective tool to make a little circle around my face, and then I brighten it just a little.  In this case, I used +10% brightness.


Step 5: Vignette Tool
In most cases, I add a vignette to isolate the subject.  Some images look better with it, some look better without it.  In this case, the bright areas to the right are distracting, and I used a vignette and moved it over the left center of the frame.  The default Outer Brightness of -50 was fine, but I raised the Inner Brightness to +10.  You could use some of the other filters, such as the Lens Blur to do it as well, but that look is a little harder to pull off.

The final image, as uploaded to Instagram, is on the top the page.  I use these same 5 steps in about 90% of the images I upload to the web.  Below is another before and after example I shot with my Sony RX100 of Laura at the National Mountain Bike Championship.  Check out my Instagram feed for more examples!