Ali Watters


Ali Watters

20 years of Travel Blog!

I'm a traveller, diver, photographer and techie. Currently I live in Portland, OR and I don't get to travel often enough.

Twitter: @ali_watters

Europe » Iceland August 11th 2012

7 nights in Iceland is not enough. It is impossible to loop the entire country, taking in the sites and photographing everything in 7 nights. It is impossible because drive in any direction and 10 minutes later there is something else that blows all expectations that you must stop for. This is why Iceland has 24 hours of daylight in June, so that ill prepared tourists like me can actually accomplish the impossible. I'd quickly arranged a layover in Reykjevik a few weeks before, 7 nights seemed like the perfect amount of time for this bite-sized country. I'd keep the car rental costs down, loop the country on highway 1, take in the highlights and return one day in the distant future when I have more time to tour. This is my current travel strategy, I ... read more
Hallgrímskirkja, Cathederal Reykjevik
Grey Pony
South Coast Iceland

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur May 9th 2012

I've spent most of the last 10 years hiding on islands or mountain tops, the last 3 years in Kuala Lumpur. I've avoided blogging conferences. Well maybe not avoided, but most of the conferences happen in the USA. I'm living here out in Malaysia. Well a few weeks ago I was approached by MITBCA (Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference and Awards), could we do some cross promotion, could I speak on travel blogging, would I travel to Malaysia to do this? I emailed back, well I live in Kuala Lumpur, where is your office? Over the next week we put together a plan, to be the official online blogging partner for the event. I'd bring in some speakers from the region, they'd open up the travel blog category to members, with a trip to ... read more
Malaysia Internation Travel Bloggers Conference and Awards
The View from the Stage
Enjoy Your Holiday and Talk About It

Asia » Malaysia » Wilayah Persekutuan » Kuala Lumpur April 5th 2012

TravelBlog is 10 today. Now it's a globally recognised site, with around 300,000 accounts, millions of photos and blogs. The site is improving every single day and 2012 is going to be a great year for TravelBlog, the best yet! Behind the scenes it's been 10 years of work - I've written hundreds of thousands of lines of code, designed interfaces, updated many servers, employed staff and started companies. I've never posted this story in one place, the story of the last 10 years and how TravelBlog changed my life. So here it is. 10 years ago to the day, I was working in a large corporate office for a now infamous company in London, Lehman Brothers. Six months prior to that, I'd realised that something was wrong with my life. I was 25 years old, ... read more
Travel Blog 2003
Travel Blog 2004
Travel Blog 2005

Asia » Indonesia » Sulawesi » Lembeh April 12th 2011

How many people can say they discovered a new species? At a guess - something along the lines of number identified species - which depending on definition is between 2 and a 100 million (wikipedia). Lets say for simplicity that there are 10 million species on this planet, and that half were catalogued by a handful of early biologists pre-twentieth century - and another 4 million during the twentieth century. Using this inadequate estimate - there are a million species to be found, identified and described by science this century. I want to be that one in a million. I didn't discover a new species But I saw one - only discovered in 2007 - I must be one of only a few hundred or possibly thousand people to have ever seen it. The astounding amazing ... read more
The Lembeh Sea Dragon
Beautiful Flamboyant Cuttlefish
Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Asia » Thailand » South-West Thailand » Ko Similan Marine NP February 9th 2011

Somehow I've managed to avoid the Similans for nearly 5 years, each year after hearing reports from friends I'd promise myself a trip during the next season, November to March is the best time for diving off the West Coast of Thailand. I'd then either be in South America, or recovering from dengue - I deserve a little more sympathy for the second reason. This year life has been about building the business in Kuala Lumpur, although I get a lot less freedom, it also allows for a little more stability and enables planning. This year I booked a liveaboard in advance! The gateway to the Similans is the Thai town of Koh Lak, itself home to some interesting wreck dives (next time) - and a couple of nice long beaches, and a few resorts popular ... read more
Porcelain Crab Fishing

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Ubud December 25th 2009

Blog lag means I post in April 2011 about events in December 2009. My brief excursion through Java ended with the short hop over to Bali and a few days in Ubud. These are photos taken in the "Monkey Forest" in Ubud, well worth the entrance fee and the dollars for the bananas - purely for the entertainment. These little guys will do anything for a banana. ... read more
Rice Paddies
Rice Paddies
Rice Paddies

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Ijen Plateau December 23rd 2009

Summary: If you think you have a rough job - think again. This has to be the world's worst job; Wanted - Sulphur Collector Dedicated and determined individual required to collect sulphur from the interior of an active volcano. Must be physically fit (at the moment) as you will be required to walk 16 km daily, ascending and descending a tricky slippery rocky sheer track of about 800m, whilst balancing up to 80kgs of rock sulphur on a bamboo pole. You must not be adverse to the physical disfigurement that this pole will cause to your shoulders, or the sores and lesions etc. You will be responsible for supplying your own gas mask, without it you will develop a hacking rasping lung complaint due to the sulphuric acid that condenses in your throat. Salary - commensurate ... read more
First view of the Emerald Lake
Sulphur bubbling out of the volcano vents
Sulphur Workers

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Mount Bromo December 22nd 2009

Until now - Java had remained a mystery to me. The most populous island of one of the world's most populous countries, home of coffee, volcanoes and a programming language. With only 9 days planned, a route from Yogjakarta to Bali emerged, I'd forsake diving for volcanoes, what with the rainy season in this part of the world the underwater world would be choppy and murky anyway. Luckily - I was treated to some unseasonably clear and dry weather for the volcano trips, the hawkers selling hats, scarves and rain jackets weren't having so much luck. With so little time, I joined a tour. One sold by a cheap hotel in Yogjakarta - I have no idea how it compares to other tours in Java - but it was a series of small disappointments with hotels, ... read more
Semeru in the distance, Bromo smoking in the foreground
Semeru and Bromo

Asia » Indonesia » Java » Borobudur December 19th 2009

Despite waking at 4am jumping in a mini-van before 4.30am and being at the temples before 6am - I missed dawn at the temple. The golden glowing images with silhouettes of Buddhas and stuppas stretching as far the eye could see - weren't waiting for me. Instead - thousands of bus loads of local tourists and school kids clambering around, loud speakers intermittently directing people not to climb on the fragile 1200 year old carvings. Thousands of hawkers selling every type of possible souvenir that crashed in price to below one third of the original asking price as you walked by. But I got to feel a little like a movie star by being asked to be in peoples photos, and a little less like a movie star when I realised that every western tourist was ... read more

Asia » Malaysia » Terengganu » Pulau Tenggol July 13th 2009

Whale Sharks! - Nature's Biggest Fish In 7 years of diving, I've missed more whale shark sightings than the average diver - with something like 700 dives completed, I've never seen one. I'd stopped believing. Each season on the Perhentians I'd miss the whale shark, either being on a visa run, taking a morning off, or the boat would be broken - I missed seeing these beautiful creatures time and time again. Until now. Now I believe! We'd been told that a couple of friendly whale sharks had been seen regularly at one of the dive sites off Tenggol, so we dropped in, and waited - patience is a virtue and in two out of the three dives we tried at this point - the whale sharks turned up. Saturday - 16:30 - first attempt - ... read more
Whale Shark
Whale Shark - Big Mouth!
5m Whale Shark

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