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Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 4 – Kayangan Lake

January 20th, 2016 No comments
Access to Kayangan Lake

Access to Kayangan Lake

 

The Bay at Kayangan

The Bay at Kayangan

Kayangan Lake is to the north east of Busuanga about an hours trip by fast boat.  One reaches it through a shallow and narrow passage over a reef and then by walking over a relatively steep mountain path (not more than 20 minutes walk) from the small settlement in the cove.

The lake is amazing – absolutely crystal clear water with little fish swimming around. One swims and feels suspended in the clear water – its unfortunate that I dont have any underwater shots to show this.

The top 30 feet of water is fresh and under that there is a brackish layer at a different temperature – apparently this makes for interesting dives although we only had masks and snorkels so I didnt experience that.  The lake is well worth a visit – its a unique experience and the views of the cove from the top of the walk are absolutely awesome!

On the way back we stopped in Coron which is the main town for lunch – crazy little place!

Coron main street

Coron main street

Kayangan Lake

Kayangan Lake

Clear waters of Kayangan Lake

Clear waters of Kayangan Lake

Beautiful clear waters

Beautiful clear waters

Categories: Arthur, Travel Tags:

Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 3 – South Cay

January 13th, 2016 No comments
South Cay Island

South Cay Island

South Cay is Busuanga Bay Lodge’s own private island!  Located about 20 minutes by fast boat or jetski or 40 minutes by the more traditional Banca, the island houses a bar with the most sophisticated toilet I have ever seen on an island!

Busuanga Bay Lodge runs a regular shuttle service to and from the island for resort guests and at Ph 3,000 per person including all you can eat and drink its a really great service!  Particularly when the bar (manned ably by Dante and his assistants) provides a never ending stream of fresh fruit cocktails (the mangos are amazing – Mango Daquiri is a must), beer, wine and spirits.

The Bar at South Cay

The Bar at South Cay

Lunch is typically a BBQ with fresh fish, meat and shellfish such as the local lobsters – eat as much as you can.

Activities included kayaking, snorkelling (fantastic clear waters on a coral reef), jetskiing, sailing (Hobie Cat), volleyball and generally hanging around and having a good time!

We were fortunate to be able to spend boxing day evening on the island where the resort laid on an amazing party including fire dancing, a massive bonfire, and music to wile the night away. The party developed somewhat into the later hours – not sure that was on the agenda!

The Bar at South Cay

The Bar at South Cay

Beach Volleyball

Beach Volleyball

Boxing night bonfire

Boxing night bonfire

Categories: Arthur, Travel Tags:

Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 2 – Diving with D Divers

January 7th, 2016 No comments

D’Divers is run by the amazing Gunter with his equally amazing assistant Maria.  I only did 3 dives, but all were memorable and it was great to dive again.  The dives are very organised with all equipment supplied at a very reasonable price.

The bay of Coron is home to 15 wrecks thanks to the US Airforce taking out the Japanese supply ships towards the end of the second world war. A full account of the military action can be read here.

Pearl Bay Hotel

Pearl Bay Hotel

The first dive we did was on the Okkinawe which lies quite close to Busuanga Bay Lodge.  The wreck lies with the top deck in about 20m of water.  We dived along the deck and then down at the severed bow which was broken off in the bombing.  The wreck is covered in a variety of coral with plentiful fish life all over it.

Our second dive was Kyokuzan Maru – a wreck on its side with easily accesible penetration through the open cargo holds – also in about 20m of water.

By far my favourite dive was the Gunboat at Luzon – a very shallow wreck (the one end comes above surface at low tide) which makes it a popular snorkelling spot.  Diving at 10m we were able to avoid the tourists and witness an amazing variety of fish life and coral, with some penetration into the hull where I saw my first stonefish (dont stand on these – they cause serious damage!!!).

Nearby Hotel

Nearby Hotel

D’Divers operates out of a small resort near Busuanga Bay Lodge called Pearl Bay – we island hopped to the bar for a drink one evening.

Categories: Arthur, Travel Tags:

Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 1 – The Lodge

January 3rd, 2016 No comments
Busuanga Bay Lodge from the water

Busuanga Bay Lodge from the water

Sunset over the pool

Sunset over the pool

This is the first in a multi-part series about my experience in the Phillipines at the magical Busuanga Bay Lodge resort.  I was fortunate to be able to spend an amazing 10 days exploring the resort and surrounds and have to say that it ranks as one of the most memorable holidays in my life.

The Phillipines is an island nation – many small islands often with uninhabited or only housing only a few fishermen.  It is lush and green with small sandy beaches and normally very clear waters although on our stay it was the peak of the full moon so the tidal currents caused the water to be less clear than normal. Still, in comparison to places like the med the water was clean and clear and an amazing temperature (bearing in mind that we are in mid winter!).  Busuanga Bay is on the island of Palawan voted best island in the world based on over 76,000 votes in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014.

Our trip started with a seaplane ride from the cultural center in Manila. While one can take the less expensive trip via commercial airline to Coron and then courtesy bus or taxi to the resort I would shell out the extra (about Ph15,500) for the seaplane – not only is the scenery way better lower down but its really cool to rock up and climb aboard with no wait and then climb out at the resort dock!  And where else would a 5 year old get to drive the plane?

The dock at Busuanga Bay Lodge

The dock at Busuanga Bay Lodge

We flew low over the resort and then landed in the sea close by, taxiing up to tie up at the resort dock.  Staff were on hand to sing us a welcome song, hand out drinks and take care of the bags.  We shared a waterfront twin room – I would take this again by choice – being able to sit outside in our own little garden and watch the evening creep on is a beautiful way to end the day.

Much of the resort activity (not surprisingly) revolves around the pool and the sea, with all the usual toys – jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards and boat trips on hand.  Busuanga bay and Coron Bay are also home to 15 wrecks courtesy of the US airforce taking out a Japanese supply convoy – all of which make for an array of amazing wreck dives from the shallow gunboat at to the much deeper dives where the adventurous can dive within the wreck, some at much more depth.

South Cay Exclusive Island

South Cay Exclusive Island

One can also venture inland to the local villages and via taxi or boat further afield to the main town of Coron. The resort runs regular trips too and from the South Cay island which is a private island owned by the resort – featuring a bar and lunchtime buffet, really nice beach and snorkelling and various other activities.

Our week started with a swim in the pool and sundowners while we got comfortable and got to know the staff. The staff deserve a special mention – from the manager Thomas, barmen Brian, Felix and Dante to the wait staff Cathy and her clan they were all amazingly friendly, greeting guests by name and making us feel at home.  I did prefer the “Sir” Adriaan to “Madame” Tricia (I think she felt it should be more “Lady” Tricia!).  And, incidentally, if you are wondering when you are there why you are called “Sir Adriaan Po” it is because Po is affixed to the end of a name as a sign of respect.

Cathy singing with the band

Cathy singing with the band

We watched the sun go down over the horizon from the pool level and ended the first magical day in this rare, unspoilt, paradise.

Categories: Arthur, Travel Tags:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

October 1st, 2014 Comments off

Some two and a half years ago I was, to be honest, nervous when Bwin-Party announced that their then newly acquired social subsidiary Win would be releasing a social sports betting product.  Social sports betting was, after all, the main game of 2BET2 – my sports apps business.

2bet2 for serious sportstersRoll on a few years and (more than a year later than predicted) they roll out sportster on Facebook.  Now – let’s gloss over the first obvious fact – that they purloined our tagline for their name.  We used the word Sportster from day one. Now I know its just an english word, but really – could they not have been more original?

The product is OK.  Its a flash based game and covers football.  That’s football in the European sense of the word – don’t go here expecting any sports from the American side of the pond – they don’t exist.  So be it.  Bet types are fairly simple although perhaps they get better as you progress through the game.  So far – nothing game changing.

2BET2 sports selection2BET2 Sports Selection

 

 

 

 

Compare European football with the selection of coverage from 2BET2 and you get an idea of what you are missing on Bwin’s effort.


When Bwin partnered with Nordeus I was anticipating something more in line with Nordeus’s market leading fantasy sports products but it seems this was not to be.  Honestly I think that was a mistake on their part – there has to be space in the market for a more fantasy/betting blended game.

2BET2 Turbo Bet

 

 

 

Another feature which they copied invented? was the addition of virtual sports based on real world events and odds with a “proprietary result prediction engine”.  Quite frankly an exact copy of the 2BET2 Turbo Bet option.  Yes – we take real world events and odds, schedule the events for the next few minutes, and randomise the results.

Really the only difference between the Bwin/Sportster version of virtual events and 2BET2 Turbo Bet is the name, and the broader selection of sports available on 2BET2.


I wish BWin-Party all the best with their product.  They presumably have budget to promote it and no doubt will get some traction.  God knows they need it to work – their core gambling games have been declining over the past few years.

Meanwhile we here at 2BET2 headquarters are working on the next iteration of 2BET2.  Expect something different.  Something game changing.  Something that BWin Party will take longer than 2 years to copy.  We are currently in the early development and fund raise stage for the new initiative – it’s going to be huge and that takes money – but it promises to be sensational!

Until then – adios!

2BET2 Sports Apps

2BET2 Sports Apps – the future of social sports

2BET2 sports selection

Categories: Arthur, Computers, Gambling Tags:

Musings on Bitcoin vs iCoins

March 7th, 2014 Comments off

I have been interested in the movement of money for most of my professional life, and initiated a number of businesses to ease payments in the digital world from Earthport – LSE:EPO (CTO/Founder) through to iCoins more recently.  The quest is always the same – how to move money between interested parties – whether from individual to individual or from customer to merchant – quickly, seamlessly and robustly.  By the latter I mean that transactions must settle and risk to all parties should be minimised.

This against a background of credit cards being “ruling the roost” with all their inherent flaws, unsuitability for online transactions and high propensity for fraud.  Clearly there has to be a better way.

The currency of the internetiCoins took the approach that the interfaces to the physical world could be independent of one another, and that stored value should always be underpinned by value in the same currency in any one of many treasuries (financial institutions). To a large degree this mimics the real world.  We further saw that transactions should/could be anonymous at the time of transacting, but that sufficient audit trail should be provided to satisfy authorities concerns over money laundering and the use of the system to perpetuate crime.

The system was well engineered.  It mimiced to a large degree the real world in that it left the responsibility for looking after value and dealing with end users in the hands of the existing players, but it extended the field to include not just financial institutions, but any party who acts as a source or destination for customer funds. So it was possible to send funds instantly from (say) your Skrill wallet to (say) your wallet on Neteller. Or from Pokerstars directly to Ladbrokes to facilitate that urgent bet. Contractual arrangements were put in place between all parties in a way that could evolve and grow without the system becoming unmanaged. In a way this “feature” was an achilles heel as well.

Unfortunately we ran out of funds to commercialise iCoins.  So while the systems are all completed and were deployed in a number of scenarios, the company has had to be mothballed.

BitcoinThen along came Bitcoin.  On the face of it it offers all that iCoins offers.  But it seems tidier.  End points can hook on without any contractual obligations and “money” just flows. Money is worth what it trades for – a tidy model and with the inherently limited supply of BTC a very stable model in the long term, albeit with massive volatility in the short term.  Money is stored in client side wallets – in other words wallets that are on your device be it a computer, phone or whatever.  Client side wallets in my view provide a double edged sword – while they are more secure against theft (ala Mt Gox) they are also susceptible to failure – hardware/software failure or simply lost private keys.  So with the client side wallet the currency is inherently deflationary in that coins can be lost.

Some of its features also lead to concerns.  While there is a transaction trail (good thing), there is no standard or legal identification of end points along the trail, making it tricky to satisfy regulatory AML concerns.  And the latter is a bigger problem in that there is no control over the probity of the end points, or contractual relationships with end points. Now, with the failure of Mt Gox, we see what can happen in this scenario. In many respects they behaved as an unregulated poorly managed wild west bank – placing few controls on treasury funds and allowing the bandits to make off with the money.  Arguably they would not have reached the level of insolvency that they did had they been properly regulated (although recent events in the banking world question this assessment). In any case we now see the result – the largest “bank” in the Bitcoin world is no more and gone with it are the customer funds.

Having said all that – this is no dissimilar to the US monetary system in the 19th century.  There were bank failures, insolvency and theft there too. There was volatility. The list goes on.

So – in the end – where are we?  BTC has gone through a test  phase now – has seen a significant acceptance, and is now going through the failure of an end-point.  Unfortunately that was the largest end-point which doesn’t help!  End result – end-points will be regulated entities such as wallets and the like and eventually perhaps banks.

Is iCoins a better model?  In a lot of ways yes, in that it complies with AML and provides the exact same feature that everyone likes about BTC without the drawbacks.  It provides anonymous but traceable, instant, simple, secure cross wallet/treasury/currency transactions without trying to be a currency in its own right with all the downsides of volatility and market acceptance.  iCoins can be based on any currency with an exchange rate, so we could have independent coins, indeed we could integrate BTC, but we also offer all the advantages of BTC without forcing a new currency on the world.

Too bad we ran out of steam.  Perhaps it’s time for a rethink!

Categories: Arthur, Computers, Gambling Tags:

Alex Thomson does it again for his sponsors

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

Alex has totally nailed what it takes to get a decent sponsorship – and his long term agreement with Hugo Boss is testament to this. Watch this video where he once again does some crazy stuff and in the process ruins a perfectly good suit!

These stunts are more than just fun – they are serious attempts to maximise brand awareness through social media and they work!

Kudos to you Alex!

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags: , ,

Americas Cup down to the wire

September 25th, 2013 Comments off

Wow!  What more can be said?  Thrilling racing and an amazing comeback for the Americans with 8 wins in a row.  This was the Kiwi’s cup to lose a week ago and now they face the prospect that that could happen this evening.

Let’s not forget that without the pre-race penalty of 2 races the Americans would already have won the cup.

Somehow Team Oracle seems to have found that extra boatspeed that they were lacking in the early races and its more than the Kiwi boat.  Tonight’s viewing promises to be awesome!

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags:

America’s Cup

September 20th, 2013 Comments off

Watching race 12 of this crazy competition.  I was one of the many who thought there would be tears in this race, and to be sure there were with the sad accident that lead to the death of a crew member.  But I have to say – these boats are awesome! 

I doubt there is a sailor in the world who doesnt deep down really really really want to have a go on one of these. Beautiful, optimal, supreme racing machines. Oracle looks nicer but seems to be vulnerable with less  bouyancy in the bows.  New Zealand had wonderful balance – they really seem to have nailed the issue of balancing on these foils.

I am surprised neither boat has approached or beaten the sailing speed record.  Held until now with weird asymetrical boats (with the exception of Hydroptere) that cant really sail normally, it would be great to see one of these beasts take it out.  And I think they could. Easily.  Forget the 20knt wind limit – once this cup is decided I want to see one of these teams go out there and go for it in 25 to 30 knt of breeze.  I reckon they could find the extra 10 knt.  And what a blast that would be!!!!!

Anyway – who knows where this competition goes in the future – we still dont have a winner although its New Zealand’s to lose.  I hope they continue in multihulls. Maybe a bit smaller (although these are so frigging awesome I wonder if they arent the right boat?).

Americas Cup - New Zealand chasing Oracle

Americas Cup – New Zealand chasing Oracle – Photo courtesy ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

 

 

There is much talk of cutting costs. There always is.  But this is the Americas cup. I’m not convinced its that important!

In the interim I for one am loving this series.  Thanks Larry/Russell!

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags:

The Amazing new IMOCA 60 boats

October 10th, 2012 No comments

The IMOCA 60 class has always been a hotbed for development but I have to say these latest shots from Christophe Launay (arguably one of the best sailing photographers around) are just stunning and show what a great boat the “new” Hugo Boss is.  It’s not actually new – more like revamped – but what a stunning boat!

Stunning shot of Hugo Boss on a plane - I live for sailing like this!

Stunning shot of Hugo Boss on a plane - I live for sailing like this!

But they do get wet these boats.  Around the world in these conditions?  Crazy way to have fun!

But they do get wet these boats. Around the world in these conditions? Crazy way to have fun!

 

Categories: Arthur, Sailing Tags: ,