The Biggest Scuba Expo in Indonesia - Tips on what to buy

Hard to believe it’s that time of year again.

The largest scuba diving expo in
Indonesia is happening again

When I discovered scuba was my passion, I naturally attracted a welcoming community and a sense of belonging.
— allsmilesthao

2018 was my first scuba expo ever, so why not go big on your first time?!

During my Fulbright research, I needed to meet with a very important person from Wakatobi National Park, who will essentially be my contact person. He is a national government employee, who also happens to be one of the most experienced cave diver and instructor in Southeast Sulawesi.

He was flying from Sulawesi to Jakarta for the scuba expo. He was the key stakeholder in my research…So I do what I naturally would do….BOOKED A SOLO FLIGHT TO JAKARTA.

The map above shows how far both of us had to travel. Did you know Jakarta is about the same population density as Los Angeles? 10 MILLION people who live in and around the city.

TIP: Indonesians are some of the nicest people ever. They have it deeply engrained in their culture a true sense of community. EVERYONE knows someone who is connect to another person who is almost always willing to help anyone in any situation.

Which one did I choose?

What to buy at the scuba expo?

  1. MASK - one of the first gear you should buy for scuba diving is your mask. -Before I started investing into equipment, I invested in getting Lasik eye surgery because I didn’t want to have to worry about contacts. (this was when I didn’t know they made prescription diving masks). Your mask is your only window to seeing underwater. I chose the Hollis because a trusted dive master has the same exact one.

  2. SWIMWEAR - I scored a long sleeve one piece swimsuit made by Roxy that’s made from recycled nylon. It was so slick and kept me warm on night dives in Wakatobi. I also bought a bra like top piece from TUSA and it’s one of my favorite items to bring on a dive trip. It doubles as a bra like item and an extra piece to keep warm on night dives.

  3. DIVE PACKAGES - There were so many discounted prices for Raja Ampat, Wakatobi, Banda Islands, Alor, and basically all the magical places in Indonesia. Their deals were incredible for anyone who wants to take the stress out of planning.

1st picture - TUSA Indonesia, where I bought the swim wear

2nd picture - Sea Gods Wetsuits, they’re based in Bali where they make custom made wetsuits. When I say custom, I mean everything down to color of the stitching. They are an Indonesian company, who also incorporates Indonesian batik patterns in their wetsuit creations.

3rd picture - Wanita Selam Indonesia, translation: Female divers Indonesia!!! Must stop by there to chat with fellow female Indonesian divers because community is everything.

HOLLIS for the win because red is my favorite color.

HOLLIS for the win because red is my favorite color.

Before this scuba expo, I had about 30 dives under my belt. All the other times I went diving…I rented everything. I didn’t want to be bothered with carrying anything because I wasn’t diving regularly. However,I was getting ready to go to my dream dive locations: Wakatobi and Raja Ampat. If there’s one thing about diving, you’re much more calm and safe when you’re diving with your own gear. You know exactly what features in your equipment and you know how to use it in the case of emergency. Comfort is queen and SAFETY reigns supreme.

This scuba expo blew my mind. (not because of the unfortunate sexual referenced name) I was at HOME with all the vendors, the people, the energy. I was so excited to talk to like minded strangers. I got so much practice with my Indonesian as well. It was fun talking to Indonesian vendors and they mistaken me as an Indonesian because of my looks because my language skills definitely blew my cover. At the point, I had the vocabulary of an elementary kid. I still put myself out there and learned so much!

This Hollis mask has firm silicone texture yet super soft and isn’t slippery on your face.

If you’re in Indonesia right now, the Deep and Extreme scuba show is happening NOW! April 4-7 2019.

Travel Essentials for Southeast Asia

After living in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam, I often found myself needing certain items with me at all times. I’m not particularly travel anxious, but these items made traveling so much more comfortable.

  1. Paper products: paper towels, tissues, and most importantly…..toilet paper!

ANYTIME I would find a place with paper, I would stock up my bag for the plenty of times when none were provided. I stuffed them into jackets, backpacks, purses, pockets, I made sure I had a napkin with me at all times. Many Asian food stalls, street vendors, and hole in the wall places will have some of the most delicious food, and that’s all they’re required to focus on. (no argument there) This is your western warning: bring your own napkins!

2. Oh SNAP, ‘I got you’ bag: miscellaneous small essentials for any situation

This bag was a requirement to go anywhere for me. It has all the small essentials for any situation. Unfortunately, I have some delicious blood and fragrant pheromones…aka mosquitoes LOVE me. This bag has 3 different items for those annoying, but ecologically important insects. On the other hand, I am quite lucky I have a strong stomach. no dietary restrictions, no allergies, etc. BUT, just in case…I had a few stomach and pain relievers for the two times I did have issues.

3. Sharper Image travel memory foam pillow

Being abroad for over a year, meant that I needed a comfort item that helped when I missed home. Since stuffed animals are not considered “mature” or “#adulting”….I found the next best thing. This memory pillow I’ve bought 3 different times now because 1. I am a forgetful human being 2. Other people want to enjoy it too.

I spent nearly 2 months trying to find a replacement upon coming home. I finally found one at Ross, but an upgraded version with a snap button loop!

4. Reusable items for food & drinks

DISCLAIMER- I am not perfect. I still drank out of water bottles while living in Southeast Asia and I didn’t recycle every single one of them. I did my best to minimize consumption, but yo girl needed to also stay hydrated.

I still carried a water bottle everywhere I went just in case there was a place where I could refill it. The items are the bottom are ones damn near the same ones to the ones I carry with me today!

My research partner cares about the environment as much as I do. She has one of those super fancy reverse osmosis machines for her water consumption. She then uses the excess water to wash clothes or dishes. YES! to no waste!

My favorite everyday bag: THRIFTED PATAGUCCI


This bright pink Patagonia bag was thrifted for $10 in Jackson, Wyoming. (I prefer red, not pink) This is my first and only Patagonia purchase. Now I understand why this brand is coveted and trusted. This bag has lived a life before me AND held up across Southeast Asia.

Background story: I got my master’s degree at the University of Wyoming for Environment and Natural Resources & Political Science. While in the ENR department, I noticed that everyone was wearing the a sort of uniform of same brand names and outdoorsy clothes. Patagonia, Northface, Columbia, etc. I didn’t feel like I belonged. Not the right race and not the same socioeconomic background. Imposter syndrome in higher education is no joke. Luckily I made some super supportive friends, who helped me feel more included and learning how to build my own community.

Thrifted Patagucci chillin in PhuQuoc beach, Vietnam

BONUS: My personal necessary items


In addition to all of the above, I always travel with a

  • light hoodie

  • Hello Kitty eye mask

  • iPod

  • ear plugs

  • blanket

  • planner, journals, pens

As I get older, I am becoming more introverted or just needing more time to recharge. I spent a lot of time writing, journaling, and planning. When I’m not scuba diving, I was out taking pictures or reading a book on the beach. I also travel with a. small fleece blanket, even though I am near the equator and it’s feels like 100 degrees.

This was fun. If y’all want more info about what to bring to Southeast Asia…comment below!

Thanks for reading ^_^

Did you know the hours of afternoon nap time in Vietnam?





  1. an afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate.

Similar to siestas in Spain, Viet Nam is very serious about their naps and avoiding the sun because colorism is ubiquitous.

Pros: many tourist attractions like the trending #goldenbridge (hand bridge) in Da Nang will be nearly empty

Cons: it's the hottest time of day, most food stalls will be closed

For me personally, I would take the heat over crowds.

I was just in Phu Quoc and decided to skip the cable car, fish sauce factory, and the pepper farms because that was too touristic for me.

Instead, I went diving and chatted with the dive instructors. #traveldeeper I wanted to know things like: how did they pick Vietnam/ Phu Quoc? Where's their favorite dive site? What's their fav sea creature to see?

WiFi Passwords in Vietnam

Simple WiFi passwords in Vietnam


Many businesses in Vietnam aren’t creative with their wifi passwords. Many hotels, cafés, etc. typically have very easy passwords, so even they don’t have to remember something difficult. Thus, making it quite easy to guess the password of a place.

Now a days, if you’re staying at the hotel or buying a coffee at a café…many will have free wifi for paying customers. I’ve been to a few places where the password was 12345678,88888888, or 99999999.

So if you’re too lazy to ask, try these numbers because many places aren’t that creative with their passwords.

How to save on books while traveling

NERD ALERT: I love reading


No shame in my nerd game. I to read.. In Indonesia, I would spend 3+ hours in Gramedia. It’s a bookstore like Barnes & Noble, except most books are wrapped in plastic and you can’t read it. You can ask an employee to open one for you, but sometimes I get nervous about them saying no. I am obsessed with buying a new book every week. (Even if I didn't finish reading the one I just bought).

Most people know that traveling with a kindle or any e reader saves a ton of space and weight. 

I love the feeling of holding a physical book or paper to read. However, I learned the lesson the hard way, when I tried to ship those books back to the US and lug more books to Vietnam. I admit I paid an unnecessary amount of money on over-baggage this past year. 

Casper, Wyoming Public Library

Casper, Wyoming Public Library


Instead I found a better way: U.S. Public Libraries

Some Americans have forgotten their tax dollars pay for libraries. I am taking full advantage of my Wyoming public library card now. My library in Casper, Wyoming has movies, video games, cri-cut machines, CDs, computers, etc. Now public libraries are embracing the digital age. 

The digital library saves me a ton of money! I've read over 10 books on the Overdrive app and listened to more than 5 other audiobooks FO FREE. I didn’t even know I liked audio books until I was able to listen to them FO FREE. The only down side is some books are so popular that the waiting list is like 2 months. For example, there was no way I could get “Crazy Rich Asians”. Current wait time is 9 weeks!!!!

Currently Reading

As an avid reader, I saw that Michelle Obama’s release date was set for November 13. I am pretty proud of myself for being the first to place a hold on it because there’s only ONE copy and 21 other people now waiting.

The Overdrive library allows for 2 weeks rentals for audiobooks and ebooks. It really pressures me to set aside time to read it before it gets automatically (through wifi connection) returns the book.


I’m not here to sell you an Audible subscription for a free audiobook or even an Amazon reading list. You’re already paying taxes for these services. USE IT! Then you can save more money for traveling (like I do).