Mr Ho Geer How (in blue) with fellow NUS Overseas College colleagues
Mr Ho Geer How (in blue) with fellow NUS Overseas Colleges colleagues
Senior Associate Director
NUS Overseas Colleges

Living the adventurer’s dream

Ho Geer How managed NUS Overseas College Silicon Valley from October 2009 to August 2011 and returned to NUS in July 2016, after a short work stint in China. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie and should really write a book about his adventures.

What is life like in NUS Overseas Colleges?

We nurture budding entrepreneurs and provide innovative experience in 11 global entrepreneurial hotspots to hopefully produce more household names like Carousell, Shopback etc. I believe I’m paying it forward since I had the same opportunity at NUS when I was a student.

What was it like as the pioneer batch for student exchange?

We were the first group of students for an exchange from Faculty of Engineering to the University of Waterloo. Breaking into new and uncharted territory was an exciting learning curve for all.

Living Adventurer Dream 2

Geer How on student exchange with fellow students at University of Waterloo

What else did you enjoy at NUS?

I was on the NUS Varsity Softball team and took part in the Triennial Intervarsity Game in Hong Kong in 1994. I was also a kayaking instructor during my undergrad days. It was fun but tiring so I started looking for more relaxed adventure sports towards graduation and hence took up diving.

I understand you crossed the channel between Pulau Dayang to Pulau Aur? Please share with us this feat.

Back in 2001 and 2002 as a newly certified diving instructor, I used to bring dive groups to Pulau Dayang. Pulau Aur and Pulau Tioman almost every weekend during dive seasons. Staring out at the same channel weekend after weekend, I started to wonder if crossing the channel (from Pulau Dayang to Pulau Aur) had been done before, and if it could be done at all. Basically, I did it simply because it was there.

Living Adventurer Dream 3

If I remembered correctly, it took three attempts. The first solo attempt was a failure as I started to hesitate less than a quarter way through, so I turned back. My second attempt was with a dive buddy. The current swept us off course and we had to abandon the trip halfway and swim back to Pulau Dayang. After some careful planning and additional equipment (a pair of chopsticks per diver to help anchor us to the seabed in underwater current so that it will help us stay on course), we made another attempt. However, we were lucky that the current was mild and we never needed to use our chopsticks after all. I wanted to cross the channel again to return to Pulau Dayang, but my dive buddy had less than half cylinder of air left. We swam back halfway, and were picked up by the owner of Dayang Resort who had dispatched a small boat for us. That concluded our little adventure.

What were some of the challenges you faced?

There was an occasion when I had to handle a group of demanding French divers. Two other instructors did not show up, so I had to teach 16 Open Water Divers (OWD). To adhere to the maximum ratio, I did almost two hours per dive to accommodate two groups of eight divers.  This can be exhausting and dangerous because of the nitrogen build-up in a diver. 

Living Adventurer Dream 4

Exhausted after training 16 divers alone

What other adventures did you have?

I took bike rides through Malaysia and Phuket and one ride in the south western area of the United States.

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Living Adventurer Dream 6

A ski trip on motorcycle to Tahoe in May 2011 vs Arizona desert in July 42 °C heat

At this point, I think you need to write a book, how about your adventures summiting mountains?

I did a few hikes that were quite memorable: Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, and in China when we lost our way and ended up in a village that was totally way off our original plan by 30 km. The toughest hike I did was in Nepal, not the usual Annapurna or Everest trek, but the less ventured Gosaikund trek for 12 days, back in 1998. I can still remember vividly two experiences; one was being the last of the three taking a hot shower from a pail with a pipe hanging down. The water ran out halfway and I had to stop my shower with shampoo still in my hair and continue to trek for a few days with a head full of shampoo. The other was using a closed toilet on top of a mountain ridge, which offers one of the best views in the world. Once you reach the top, you find inner peace and fulfilment, and the pain you have felt along the way pales in comparison.

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Geer How at Genesh Himal peak in Nepal, December 1998.

A Tang Dynasty poem called Mountain Gazing by a famous poet Du Fu, best describes this feeling. 







What of the Great Mountains that hither situate?
Still green everywhere are once warring states.
The creation of sky and earth gathers here heavenly splendour,
Bearing and geography determine light and shade.

My heart expands to take in layers of floating clouds,
I look out far and wide, I see birds their homeward journey make.
May I one day surmount the absolute highest,
For an outlook that miniaturise all mountains there lay.


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