Over half a year ago I put all my coins in one basket and learned to freedive. Partly those learned skills encourages me to come to Kaikoura with the intention of seeing what lies under the ocean surface. Kaikoura, which literally means ’meal of crayfish’ is a small town build around a small peninsula in a valley between the mountains.
New belongings, stuff, has started accumulating on an exponential rate during the first month in New Zealand. It all started with a wetsuit and a surfboard, then a tent a bicycle and now a car. The most recent purchase was literally weights. Those pieces of led came with a belt to help me stay underwater more effortlessly by getting close to neutral buoyancy. While at it I bought a speargun and a catch bag. And best of all I made two new friends.
Next day we went spearfishing together with the previous owner of the gear. It was a gloomy gray day and slight mist was falling of the sky due to gravity. After gearing up for the task ahead we started swimming around the reef where the crayfish were hanging out. The borrowed hoodie, socks and extra rash guard came handy since the water was quite chilly that day. I have some more shopping of stuff ahead since my surf wetsuit is not enough for long underwater fishing sessions… The visibility wasn’t very good but it was enough to see fish swimming around us.
My dive buddy was quick to start searching for crayfish and in no time started surfacing with those strange creatures in his hands. While he was fully engaged with the choppy ocean I was still trying to load the gun. Rolling waves and the constant movement didn’t help but I got the hang of it. Without enough time and perspective of underwater life I ended up shooting couple of fish that were from the smaller end of the legal size limits.
The bottom of the ocean was full of kelp and all kind of seaweed. Everything kept moving all the time. It was quite disorienting. Relaxing to stay underwater for longer periods of time was a challenge. Senses were on overdrive while I was observing the ocean bed. Just feeling the swell, staying out of shallows filled with rocks and relaxing my breath was a mission in itself. Finding crayfish that time proved to be too much of a challenge for me. Just trying to catch one small one was hard and it got away before I could bring it to the surface. Thin gloves protected me a little but still the sharp shell cut holes to my hand.
Eventually coldness creeped in and I could feel an old finger injury telling me my body temperature was getting too low. It was time to get out of the water, get dressed as fast as possible and head towards a hot cup of tea. The whole session was a great experience and a lesson I couldn’t have learned without a more experienced fisher alongside. I got to shoot a couple of fish and saw how to catch crayfish with bare hands. Those Rock Lobsters are fast and strong as!
Then inspired by the last months experiences, past and new friends I got enrolled to a IRATA course. If and when that diploma is in my hand I hope to start working for one of the companies that do rope access work. There will be less free time to surf and dive but I believe other challenges will surely be just as rewarding.
As old dreams and ideas loose their power new ones emerge.
I flew to Bali with only one thing in my mind. That was to become a better freediver. I made my way to a town called Amed where I decided to try to get to Fusion Freedive school to become a certified Master Freediver.
The coming weeks would be physically and mentally challenging with quite a few ups and downs. The underlying fact would be that I learned a lot and had a blast! Nicholas Kouvaras (instagram) was my main teacher and Kevin the best freedive school (instagram) boss imaginable. I highly recommend the school for anyone in Bali wanting to dive down a rope or go spearfishing (which is Kevin’s greatest passion).
This post will basically list my daily practice diary where I kept track of all the exercises I did. Perhaps it can be useful to you. I had to prolong my course quite a bit due to repeating ear infections. So, keep your ears clean and practice consciously and you can probably avoid the mistakes I made during my training. Enjoy!
Freediving Practice Diary
-2 day: Assessment day 1. Water session
Static diaphram breathing
2 warm up dives to get used to the contractions
1 dive to practice finning
1 dive to 20+ meters CW
1 unsuccesfull dive due to pain in sinuses
-1 Day: Assessment day 2. Static pool
• Static Apnea
– short effortless inhale followed by relaxed long inhale
– 4th hold the longest
STATIC HOLD IN WATER 3:54min
• Few dynamic apnea tries
2×16 meters (EASY)
4×16 meters (COMFORTABLE)
4×16 meters = 48 meters (TIRED)
END OF EXERCISE
DAY 1: Static CO2 Practice in pool
LAST TIME 3 minutes
DAY 2: Dynamic Practice in pool: Sprints
Interval training. 4 Sets with 4 repetitions in each. Free recovery time between sets.
NOTES FOR NEXT TIME:
• Eat something before
• Warm up legs
Goal Time (seconds)
Success / time
yes / 40
no / 39s
no / 40s
– / 40 s
Fast and Slow. 1 pool length as fast as possible. 2 pool length as slow as possible.
Free recovery time.
DAY 3: Rest
Visiting relatives on the next beach. A lot of food, pizza and bread. 😃
Theory + coaching static apnea + streching with empty lungs and full lungs.
NEW ACTION: STRETCH WITH EMPTY & FULL LUNGS
STATIC PRACTICE ON DRY LAND:
LAST TIME around 3:15 minutes.
LAST 5 Statics 3:05 – 3:15 min.
LAST Static 3:15-3:20 min
Squads and elastic strength training for legs
side – left
side – right
(easy style push-up)
(easy style push-up)
Ear infection. Morning was easy but the pain returned at night. Jaw muscle and ear are very sore.
Yoga 2h, Pranayama 30min, meditation 1h.
Yoga 1.5h, pranayama 30min, meditation 1h.
Ear Infection day 5.
Wim Hoff breathing exercise (Not instructed by the coach)
I DID THE PRACTICE WRONG. I FORGOT TO EXHALE, hence the long holding times. 🙂 NOTE: Wim Hoff uses hyperventilation in many of his exercises. All major freediving organizations teach not to hyperventilate when practicing freediving due to the dangers it involves. Biggest reason being that you will not realize when you are about to pass out (which is not good underwater). For more information ask your freediving instructor. This piece of information was for me the major decision for leaving behind the teaching methods of Apnea Total.
Deep breath – let go exhale
exhale, inhale, hold 15s
1 hour of meditation – 10 third eye, 50 min vipassana
Walking apnea on the beach
Walking backwards for 45-50 seconds.
Ear infection: day 6.
Wim Hoff breathing exercise with exhale at the end (Not instructed by the coach):
Deep breath – let go exhale
After last breath exhale all.
long exhale, inhale,
1 hour of meditation – vipassana
Ear infection: day 7. Changed to new ear drops.
Went to listen to some music in GRIYA. Finnish owners at a luxury hotel.
DAY 10 (30.4.2017)
Ear infection: day 8. Light yoga and meditation.
Saturday. Dinner at local restaurant with divers.
Ear infection: day 9. Drops working. Jaw not hurting anymore. Still blocked.
First water training.
Static Apnea. New PB 4:30
Program on the left. Funny detail and a typo when holding time jumped from 3:00 to 4:00 and then back to 3:45.
Pool session. Strength training with noodle on the surface.
Fastest time on the 1:40 training.
Practice in 16m pool
Accessories: Noodle (floating device)
8 x laps warm-up with noodle
1 set normal tempo, ends with fast
2 set fast tempo, ends with max speed
EVERY LAP FASTER THAN THE PREVIOUS
1. Set: 4 x 2 laps (ends fast speed)
2. Set: 4 x 2 laps (ends Max speed)
REST after 2 laps:
4 Laps slow ( recovery )
4 x 6 laps
Every 1:40 min start new set.
Go fast = rest more
8 Laps Any style ( NO FINS )
Ear infection: No pain, just little bit of liquid in the outer ear and soft vax. Slightly blocked ear canal.
Resting day. Vipassana. Evening yoga.
DAY 14: Diving with a blackout
Ear infection: No problems.
8:30 morning dive on 50 meter line. Andy, Becky, Val and me.
Really strong current. The first 10 meters of the line were in 45 degree angle.
• 2 warm up dives to 10 meters. Trouble equalizing my right (the ”good”) ear.
• 3rd dive to 15-20 meters. Strong ocean made it strong experience. Hard to relax.
On Val’s 3rd dive she came to visible part (15-20meteres) kicking very fast, shoulders tense, on the sides.
Between 5-10 meters she exhaled bubbles out of her mouth.
At 5 meters Andy met her. That is where she blacked out and had seizures. Andy brought her to the surface, took of her mask, said ”Valerie breath” and blew on her face. She recovered after twitching and very uneven breathing.
Andy took her to shore.
I did my last dive and returned to the beach with Becky.
Ocean was strong but with respect approachable.
• If I (as a safety diver) see a person tense while coming up I will dive down immediately to meet him / her.
New thing I learned today !
• When I turn up at the bottom I am suppose to yank the line to let the safety know I am heading up.
• As a safety diver that is the signal for me to dive down.
DAY 15: Diving
• warm-up dives
• 3 x 30 meters
Equalizing too strong. I kept making noise, using too much force.
The last dive I did not equalize properly the last meters so pressure accumulated. No strong pain but i didn’t want to dive more since my ear felt tired.
DAY 16: (5.5.2017) Static Apnea
Static training in pool. PB: 5:30 min
Slight samba at the end but able to recover, take of nose clip and give “OK” sign.
Slight samba at the end but able to recover, take of nose clip and give “OK” sign.
DAY 17: (5.5.2017) Dynamic Apnea
Same table as on day 2. Unlimited break between sets.
FILL THIS AGAIN:
Goal Time (seconds) /
40 / 42, 40, 39, 40s
35 / 39, 38, 37, 35s
Max / 35, 35, 35, 36
32 (2 laps)
First Max & second Slow as possible
DAY 18: Return of Ear infection
In the evening it felt strange. At night there was slight pain. At midday it’s blocked again, up to the jaw.
Searching for antibiotics.
DAY 19: (9.5.2017) Antibiotics
Strong pain. Started eating antibiotics last night. Topping it all up with new round of ear drops.
100th Trash hero Bleach Clean-up day. Went to collect some straws and other plastics from the beach.
DAY 20: Rest
Less pain but still hurts toward the evening.
DAY 21: Visa run to Malaysia and back
Wrooom! 22hours of traveling. Motorbike to airport. Flight to Kuala Lumpur. 4 layover and back.
Returned to own bed at 5 a.m
DAY 22: Planning and learning
Ear infection: water plopping inside. I think the ear drops turn ear wax into liquid so the whole ear is ’plopping’. Still occasional sharp stings of pain. Today I try to be the last day with ear drops. Antibiotic pills were finished yesterday morning.
Learning about SEO and having visions how to improve Fusion website and create a strategy around their social & business content. Kind of enjoyable, imagination and then hard work. It remains to be seen if I ever get to the work part.
DAY 23: Light training
Last day of antibiotic drops.
Some leg training: Squads and rubber band.
DAY 24: 13.5. Walk apnea
Ear still plopping. Stopped using drops. Slight pain. Fuck
Hold & walk time (min)
Walked each time further.
1st hold: 1,25 laps
last hold 2,5 laps
DAY 25: Resting day (sunday)
Cleaned my ear slightly with a cotton bud.
DAY 26: Resting day (monday 15.5.)
plopping stopped But pain returned. Not strong pain but pain.
Started eating chicken and fish to give body new ways to recover.
DAY 27: Resting day
Ear: Slight pain.
Static apnea: Lying on the floor.
DAY 28: Resting day
Slight pain in the ear. small plopping.
Toworrow I want to go for it. Do I get to do what I want remains to be seen.
Morning yoga, vipassana and chanting.
Evening breathing exercises and shoulder exercises with an elastic band
DAY 29: Resting day
Resting. Lower right side of back muscle is jammed. (Lack of iron and magnesium)
DAY 30: Diving
2 warmup hangs.
1 x 34m PB
2 practice dives. Finning and body position not so good. Leaning forward a lot.
DAY 31: Rest
Back muscle jammed. Hard to sleep and breath.
DAY 32: Sunday: Diving
Back still quite painful.
FRC training. Deepest 8,5m.
FRC + 1 mouth fill. 14m (?)
DAY 33: Diving
Back a little better.
Finning training. A lot better than before. One side stronger, probably partly due to back issues.
1 FRC test.
DAY 34: Diving
Back kind of stuck ___.
Safety dives for Andrew.
Leg workout in the evening. TRX and Squad jumps and calves on a block.
DAY 35: Rest day
Ear a bit funky. Back getting better.
Legs stuck from training.
DAY 36: Dynamic Apnea PB
Back ok, legs sore.
Static Apnea warmup:
20 meter pool
• 2mm wetsuit
• 1,5kg weight on belt
• 3 kg on neck
—> Perfect buoyancy
DAY 37: FRC training
Trying to figure out how to do it.
Got about 8m with exhale
and 14 m with 1 mouth fill.
DAY 38: Rest Day
DAY 40: 20 m rescue Diving
Trained rescue dives from 20 meters and with 1 one fin from 15 meters.
After these dives one student got lung squeeze so we returned to beach.
DAY 41: 20m 1 fin-no mask, FRC, Squeeze and blood
I learned that I am not suppose to do more than one mouth fill when training FRC. I had forgotten that from my theory books. Well I learned it the hard way when on the swim to the beach I spit blood out of my mouth.
Other student was seasick and started puking after the session.
I did dive up from 20 meters with 1 fin and no mask so that pretty much means my course is complete. I am master freediver with a squeeze on my throat. Not really a winner feeling. 3 days of rest from ocean.
Running out of days in my visa. Don’t think I’m going to extend it.
DAY 42: Rest
Nick, teacher, told 1 week of rest for the squeeze. That means my course is done. Might have time for few gentle dives just before flying out but that’s it.
Frustrating but undeniable fact is that was it, for now.
If I fly out of the country on the last possible moment I have time for 2 days of diving!
DAY 43: Rest
DAY 41,42,43,44,45: Rest
DAY 46: Dive with Nick
15m hang, blood from sinuses – Nose.
20m hang finning up – Blood.
dive attempt. Fail to equalize.
25m CWF. Pressure in sinuses, right size. Turned back. Blood.
NOTES TO SELF: Technique good on the last dive
• Relaxed duckdive
• slightly moving hands on the way down
• Turned because of building pressure in sinuses
• Strong finning back up. Hand relaxed.
• Hardly out of breath on all dives.
Kick strong without arching back and loosing power by lacking range of motion in kicks.
NOTES: NEED TO BUY NEW MASK. The current one is pushing to my skull just above right eye.
Probably last day pushing the body. Trying to dive tomorrow just because it will be the last chance. With no intention of trying to push it. Just do safety for Andy and enjoy the ocean.
This time body’s physiology didn’t allow me to go the the depths my lungs and mind would have allowed. It is a bit of a shame but the facts and science remain.
DAY 47: Dive with Alex and Andy
≈ 20m Free imersion + finning up
≈ 25m CWF
≈ 20m long hang
Blood started coming out of my nose again after visit to 20 meter.
Second dive I felt fine but just didn’t trust my sinuses so turned back.
Last hang was my favorite dive. It felt good to be down there looking and listening to the ocean. I felt very relaxed and stayed there for 2-3 minutes. At the surface and back at my place I felt euphoric and very relaxed. I thought it would be my last dive but tomorrow I get to dive one last time for now, for real. After that a night flight to Australia.
DAY 48: Dive with Alex (SWE) and Carolina (AUS)
10m hang 2:45 min
15m hang 2:30-4:00 min
CWT pressure on sinuses at 15m
20-25m hang 2-3min, very relaxed
Lost my snorkel into all the other plastic that was filling the ocean. Last night it rained a lot. Visibility wasn’t too bad, maybe 15-20 meters but the surface was full of leaves, branches and a lot of plastic. Swell must have been big on the surf side of the island since it made it’s way to Jemuluk bay. Complete opposite to yesterday condition.
During the last dives I felt tired and coughed a little. I had no urge to push my dives. Just hanging. Later Nick told me that is hard work for body as well which would explain why I feel very tired after the session.
Time to back up my bags and soon take the overnight flight to Sydney.
Thank you Fusion Freediving, Nick, Kev and the rest of the crew!
To put the idea simple and short: if you eat any animal products you would need to kill x amount of farm animals every month.
Depending on how much animal based food you eat you might have to kill a chicken or perhaps a whole cage full of chickens and perhaps a cow every 3 months and the occasional pig if you’re into bacon and such.
If you eat fish that would require you to whack a few farmed salmon in the head and gut them.
All killing would be related to your consumption. All this would be a law set by the government. Quite simple.
Ok, so vegans and vegetarians would be required to do some weeding and spraying Round-Up to local community gardens just to even things out.
The idea is loosely based on the idea of consumption based taxing. If you are consuming in a manner which is scientifically proven to do damage to this planet you should not get away with it with the swipe of a credit card or separating plastic wrappings from cardboard.
Is the idea feasible?
I think so.
How could this work in practice?
You local producers could organize a ‘killing day’ once a month. Costs of that time lost for the producer would be included in the products market price.
Before you start applying coating to vertical corner post remember to round the sharp edges and splinters with f.ex sand paper. This way at the bug nets will stay in better shape for longer.
Place the wooden poles to each corner and center of the short edges. Screw them to the frame using screws and L-brackets. I dig small holes for the vertical posts and buried them 10cm deep. Stomp the earth tightly around the poles.
Drill hole to the corner where you wish to have the water outflow of the wicking garden bed. First drill a bigger hole for the plastic nut and then a smaller one for the hollow plastic bolt.
We found that by placing an extra plastic nut inside the frame the overall pipe system felt more solid. Like any phase of the project there are many ways of doing things. This one seemed like a good idea.
The drill sizes I used were slightly too small so some tweaking was required for the overflow pipe to fit the hole.
Cut pieces of geo-textile large enough to cover the bottom of the frame. I used staple gun to attach the textile to the timber. It made other phases of the project easier to do. The idea for geo-textile being on the bottom is to protect the water reservoir from getting punctured by small stones or roots etc…
Placing the plastic water container / reservoir takes time and is quite annoying. It helps to draw lines where each side is suppose to go and mark the corners to make this part of the job more straight forward.
Cut a hole through the geotextile and plastic tarp so the water outlet reaches the inside of the water container. Clean the gaskets, the plastic and glue everything together. Apply just the right amount of tightness so that everything glues together nicely. Who knows how tight is ´just right´…
Fill the plastic water reservoir with 6mm river pebbles to the top level of the first long edged timber. Almost a 1m3 of pebbles was used for each wicking garden bed (20cm height).
Try to avoid letting the pebbles fall into the drain pipe and overflow pipe.
Cut the excessive plastic away and level the pebbles.
Install a new layer of geo-textile on top of the pebbles. Try to cover all the spaces between timbers. This way the soil will not accumulate so easy between the timber. I used quite a few staples to put the geo-textile nicely. You can also use short nails.
I filled the frames with fresh and old hay, mushroom compost (1m3), soil that was removed while leveling the ground, old chicken poop soil and coir. What is your weapon of choice?
If you have any questions of comments you can write on the ‘comments’ section.
I visited the garden some months later and this is what it looked like.
Free people are everywhere and they judge no one. The place to find them this time was Koh Phangan. Surpisingly writing about what happened would do no justice to your own explorations and experiences. The island is full of love and to navigate it you just let go of comparison, be happy and go partying.
I met beautiful souls on the ferry to Koh Phangan. They gave me roof over my head, fed me and showed me smiles. When leaving the island I felt in debt, humbled. There were lessons all the time. Actually they were more like blessings all the time. The island puts you into a common wave length with it’s occupiers.
Weeks rolled with no breaks, only love and unity with a human twist. Every moment was a chance to grow if you let go of the assumption of knowing. Where you grew was up to you but when surrounded with loving souls the knots in your ego started dissolving. Call it telepathy or mind reading or what ever – it seemed to be everywhere.
Surely all this sounds a bit over the top crazy, and that is the point of all of it. There is no particular reason why you would want to go to the same beach every sunset to enjoy the atmosphere. There is no point to partying without sleeping. Yet all that and more seemed like the perfect thing to do when the time and place aligned.
The island is mostly known for it’s Full Moon Parties. That is just the tip of an upside down iceberg. Different kinds of parties are everywhere.
Music and people give you energy. Applying that energy to external efforts allows creation of new things and ideas. Koh Phangan has many yoga retreats, workshops and temples where to slow down, listen and breath.
Visa days on my passport were running low and change was in the air.
Bus to the other side of Thailand was an easy option. I had heard of a place that was great for climbing. Physical exercise was indeed a complete opposite to the previous place yet people were as open and honest as before. Dancing is liberating but climbing required discipline and that was exactly what was missing from Koh Phangan. From free spirits to body control on high walls. Life is beautiful.
Holding on to a small piece of stalactite or letting the music take over are two sides of the same coin. Being in total control yet adapting to the external stimulus and finding the harmony that keeps shifting. I tried climbing hard routes lacking the strength and the experience and quickly realized how hard the climbers needed to work.
After weeks of climbing the skin on my fingers started getting harder, grip stronger and fighting against gravity turned into working with it. It was Tonsai at it’s best ( some parties included).
People had talked about Mandalay and I wanted to leave the place behind before I had even arrived. I thought I’d be happier that way. I was sitting on a bus from Bagan to Mandalay. The driver was pushing the throttle a bit too much.
The dusty and dry air in Bagan lead me to think that a big city like Mandalay would not be any better. It turned out I was right but there where other things that caught my attention. After buying a train ticket to Hispaw I had half a day to explore the streets of the city.
I don’t feel at ease when I walk from an ice cream bar to a shack town. Only questions without answers arise when looking at people using the murky river to wash themselves after a long day. This wide river bank was their toilet, backyard, playground, workplace and home at the same time. I tried but could not find the photo I was searching to do justice for the feeling I was experiencing.
I was passing through on this random search for sunsets and beauty when most of the world was looking to feed their families and stay healthy in conditions where the odds where not in their favor. A stone throw away from a shack town an amusement park was being build. Roller coaster and karaoke bar with neon lights across the street was too strong of a contrast for me to digest.
What is a tv but a modern day altar that we worship by giving it our time and attention. There is no interaction only pre filtered exposure to our senses.
Barcelona or some other big European football team was playing at 3:30 a.m local time. The teahouse in the outskirts of Mrauk-U was packed with young men staring at the screen. When our bus pulled over the men rushed to ask if anyone needed an accommodation or a ride somewhere and then returned to watch the game. The +12h bus ride had been one of the most painful ones I could remember. Stretching first body and then mind with milk tea and moving frames felt like heaven.
The teahouse in Pyay was full. Myanmar Idols was starting. I pointed my chair away from the screen and started watching faces while listening to the voices of the future. The proven concept broadcasted it’s gospel from the LED altar. People from all ages were glued to their seats sipping tea while the busy road behind kept spreading the dust and gasoline fumes.
On the hills close to Hsipaw the the sun was still behind the horizon when the villagers started walking up the hill. At the top is a buddhist temple where people pray each morning for 40 minutes. Many return there to pray several times a day.
So which altars and tv shows are good for you and which are bad? The question seems irrelevant. Maybe what matters is what we do after this single focused attention. To which direction do we point our thoughts, words and actions? What was learned at the altar? Time was given so something was received.
You can refill you water bottle almost anywhere, leave your belongings unguarded and trust the words spoken. You can also practice hackling, negotiating and skepticism or even distrust but it doesn’t seem to be part of the culture. Myanmar, as many kept telling me “is not corrupted by tourism, yet”. The leaders and military might act differently but I met none of them. On the streets there is trust.
Booming city with Indian and Western influence
Foreign money is pouring into the country and not just from the pockets of travelers wanting to see beautiful sunsets and pagodas but from big corporations and governments wanting to invest. Yet Yangon is still a chaotic city where skyscrapers are kept at bay by street vendors selling fake smart phones and 20 cent milk tea. Downtown is full of markets, temples and people spitting excessive beetle juice from their mouths. Walking anywhere feels safe and smiles are returned from strangers.