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Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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Dive Tales

DIVE THE DREAM 2010

27 Apr to 17 May

Another adventure organised by Golden Boot Travel

 

Intrepid adventurers:

Posh lot: Paul & Sue Bussey, Paul & Sue Coxon, Dave & Annie Lester.

 

Plebs: Clive Bennett (tour guide), Stuart Thornley, Gary & Milly Howard, Len & Rita Sumner, Sibilia Quilici, Gill Seels, Fiona Ravenscroft, Amanda Radley.

 

27 Apr

So the adventure begins on a sunny, cloudless day as the group crawl from their various beds at the crack of dawn to travel to Heathrow. Volcanic ash from Iceland had threatened to delay flights but it hadn’t dared to incur the wrath of HWSAC.

 

First surprise of the trip:

Len & Rita, outside Bridges café in Heathrow, bumping into Sarah Thompson, a comrade on a previous Golden Boot Travel trip to the Galapagos and Peru. Having finished her world trip some time before, she was now off to Oz for a few months. Except for the volcanic ash, she’d have flown out a week earlier.

 

Luckily this is the 21st century so mobiles are used and we all meet for a coffee, croissant and chat. The hugs, conversation and laughter so intrigued a woman nearby that we had to explain who we were and where we were going. HWSAC conquers the world!

 

Trouble-free flight with Singapore Airlines to Singapore, although a couple of plebs (Len & Rita) did manage to get seats on the Upper Deck with the Posh Lot. Super aircraft – everyone had their own individual screen to watch their own choice of entertainment.

 

28 Apr

Then change planes and onward to Manado ………………..and it’s raining.

 

Annie says it’s ‘special monsoon rain’. ‘Big Blob Rain’ ……….. So that’s ok then!

 

Second surprise of the trip:

Bumping into Duxie and Shelley (from Underwater Cameras) at a welcome drink get together at Tasik Ria Resort near Manado. Duxie had given a talk to HWSAC on a Big Tuesday a year or so previously. So obviously there was a lot of catching-up that meant dry throats so a beer or five was needed. Oh, and the cocktails.

 

Next day, late breakfast then into the pool for a swim, and refreshments at the bar sitting on stools with our feet in the pool.

Annie: ‘I’m well oiled’.

Gary: ‘Decadence is falling off the bar stool without hitting your head’.

 

No one liked to point out that the alternative would be a possible drowning as the bar stools were in the water.

 

Of course some, (the Busseys, Gill, Stewart, Sibilia and Clive), were sensible and did a weight check dive from the shore. Clive dropped his fin coming up the steps (but Sue found it otherwise we may have needed to resurrect the Golden Boot Award again), Stuart lost his snorkel and Gill almost went diving without a snorkel. Gill NEVER dives without a snorkel. Would this set the tone for the trip ……………? Len, Rita and Annie went snorkelling and saw a moray, neh neh ne neh neh!

 

At dinner, Annie raised the game. ‘Who’s the clean-cut, handsome, blue-eyed chap that played German baddies? It was 40 years ago so he could be dead’. We never got an answer to that. Second question: ‘What was the horror film where a house was built over a cemetery, a family moved in, and was haunted?’ No one knew, but many brain cells were killed thinking about it. As the General Election would be held shortly we also discussed politics – bad move.

 

Another late breakfast, this was the R & R before the gruelling dive trip to come. (If you believe that, you’ll believe anything). After breakfast we saw two sea-horses under the wooden pontoon near the jetty. Much excitement. Unbelievably, there would be a time when we said ‘Not another bl—dy sea-horse’.

 

Lunchtime – well we needed to build ourselves up for said gruelling trip – and more intellectual conversation led by Annie who still wanted the name of the horror film. We were put out of our misery by Dan Green, the manager of Tasik Ria, who had a web-enabled phone. Answer for those remotely interested: ‘Poltergeist’.

 

Other conversations.

Annie: ‘Do you remember Gentian Violet, used on wounds’. Stuart: ‘Yes, it was used for VD’. (That’s Venereal Disease, not Victory in Europe Day, another concept altogether, although possibly the two could be linked).

 

Gill, talking about spliffs, ‘Steve elegantly rolled me one’. Well we think she was still talking about spliffs. Also, can you get organic hash, certified by the Soil Association?

 

30 Apr

Time to leave Tasik Ria, the staff assembled on the steps to give us a send-off, singing traditional Indonesian songs.

 

The reputation of HWSAC had obviously travelled fast. The conference guests turned up too and joined in. Not only singing but also accompanying on a piano/organ. And an encore! Perhaps they were just glad to see the back of us. Little did they know – we’d be back.

 

One of the Indonesian conference guests had red hair and very pale skin. He didn’t look, or sing, like Mick Hucknall but may share some distant ancestry!

 

Slight panic when we got off the coach, no boat in sight. Sigh of relief, it was parked up around the corner.

Another panic when we saw the entire luggage piled up on the, very small, transfer boat. However, all was well and we were soon aboard the MV Liburan and choosing our ‘luxurious’ cabins.

 

Intellectual conversation resumed: French automatic WC’s and the difficulty of using in a hurry. Apparently they look a bit like a clam opening. Or a pearl in an oyster.

 

Drinks on the sundeck, watched glow worms, then Paul B went ashore for a memory card and the crew went for tonic water.

 

More conversation, not repeatable, about whether something was a misnomer – ‘it depends how skilled you are’. Gary: ‘I’ll never know’. Everybody else: ‘Not necessarily’

 

At last ………………. Diving.

 

Dive Guides: Harris, Charles, Andri

 

1st May Bunaken Island – Fukui 26m (aka Stingray Point), a sloping coral reef (EcoReef, snowflake ceramics to form an artificial reef). Giant Clams, schooling Fusiliers, Manta Shrimps, Sweetlips, Banner fish, many different corals.

 

Bunaken Island – Lekuan II 29m Wall dive

Many canyons and cracks in the vertical walls. Chances to see banner fish, damselfish, pyramid butterfly fish, sea snakes, large emperor fish, groupers, lionfish and scorpion fish, Napoleon wrasse, turtles and sometimes white-tip reef sharks. The reef is filled with feather stars, gorgonians, black corals, giant sponges and ascidians.

Turtle, Commensal Shrimp, Bumphead Parrotfish

 

Bunaken Island – Depan Kampung 17m Wall drift dive

Turtle on shelf with two Ramores, Napoleon Wrasse, Box Fish, Lion Fish in the coral, Parrot Fish

 

Pancakes with jam or chocolate provided sustenance before the night dive. The surface interval also gave time for incriminating photos of Len and Milly on the sundeck. Not to mention a stunning photo of three bottoms (Annie, Sue Coxon and Len) looking over the back of the boat.

Bunaken Island – Alung Banua 12m (night dive)

 

 

2nd May Rita had serious problems with her sinuses so did no more dives from the liveaboard. Boo Hoo. Didn’t do the famous muck diving in Lembeh Straits.

 

Lembeh Strait – Batu Kapal 35m

This is the best big fish dive in North Sulawesi. Species such as dogtooth tuna, barracuda, big-eyed jacks, giant trevally and rainbow runners well represented. Turtles, white-tip and grey reef sharks as well as eagle rays are also common.

Bunaken Island - Barracuda Point 24m

The reef offers sponges, whip corals and soft corals. Surgeonfish, groupers, triggerfish, parrotfish, banner fish, snappers,fusiliers, jacks, tunas, bump head parrotfish, sharks and schools of black fin barracudas.

 

Sempini Point 8m

Good for cuttle fish and nudibrachs

 

Dave Lester’s birthday, time for cake with candles and the crew singing Happy Birthday.

 

3rd MayBangka Island – Batu Goso 37m

Highlights include: White Tip & Black Tip Sharks, Turtles, Groupers, Yellow, green and red soft corals.

Bangka Island – Batu Sahaune 31m

 

Bangka Island – Tanjung Sahaune 21m

Lembeh Strait - Critter Hunt 17m

 

4th MayLembeh Strait – Coral Garden 36m

Lembeh Strait – Teluk Kembahu III 19m

Many different types of pipefish, also in the sand stargazers and devilfish have been seen.

 

Lembeh Strait – Jahir Point 20m

Another great muck site with lots of purple-heart urchins, home to the beautiful Zebra crab. Ambon scorpion fish are regulars along with tiny frogfish and many eels.

 

Annie, Rita and Sue Coxon decided to shower in order to be fragrant for when their men returned. Rita made an extra effort and wore a skirt rather than trousers. Even the crew noticed!

 

Later Gill, a vision in white top and trousers, bent over causing a comment from all ‘Nice lacy thong you’re wearing’.

 

Dave Lester had another massage. He was beginning to like having his body caressed ………. shame the masseur was a muscular man.

 

This time it was Sue Bussey’s birthday, so more cake with candles, more singing Happy Birthday.

 

Unfortunately, the guide Andri had to leave as his grandfather had died. It would take him six hours to travel home.

 

 

5th MayBunaken Island – Batu Mandi (Tanjung Pulisan) 26m

Soft coral, many sea fans, Angler Fish, Lion Fish, Ghost Pipefish, Crocodile Fish, Scorpion Fish

 

Tanjung Tarowitan (Tarobitan) 22m

 

Unknown 19m

 

Our last day on the boat and as usual the food was delicious. We had fruit salad, noodle soup, spaghetti bolognaise, rice and chicken.

 

The soup prompted a food discussion. We usually had soup for breakfast and dinner but not lunch. Pineapple at breakfast and dinner, but papaya at lunch. One day they confused us by serving pineapple for breakfast and lunch, papaya for dinner.

 

Had tasty fried bananas as a snack between dives.

 

On one dive Gary dived without his cylinder turned on. [Buddy check?] On another, Len tried to stand up but was still strapped in.

 

Trade mark of the zimmer divers – pointed stick.

 

Before we left MV Liburan, we posed for the obligatory group photo. The crew were superb and it was a shame to leave but we had more adventures in store.

 

Back on dry land, headed back to Tasik Ria, via an ATM. Len’s card ‘apparently’ wouldn’t work so Rita had to withdraw one million Indonesian Rupiah. She looked pale and had to lay down in the dark to recover.

 

Annie: ‘I’m a neoprene groupie’ [She likes zipping up Stuart’s suit]

 

Clive re-appeared at 10.15 after a massage – 95% of his body massaged to destruction. Only his ears remained untouched (according to Rita). Not sure if this was on the Liveaboard or at Tasik Ria as he indulged often, as did others.

 

At Tasik Ria, Rita had Long Island Iced Teas x 2, couldn’t understand why the door to the hotel room was

a) locked, b) on the left not the right. Answer: Because it was the back door and she was on the wrong side of the building!

 

6 May

By now Amanda and Fiona had flown in to join the merry band. Up and about at the unearthly hour 7.30 am, for a trip to Manado to see the local sights including a large statue of Jesus.

 

We viewed it from an upmarket housing development ‘Citraland’ where the governor’s son lived.

 

Onward to a market in Tomohon where locals were buying their provisions. Apart from many vegetables there were various sources of protein to be had: fish, pork, snake, fruit bat (with their wings cut off) and dog. The latter were in cages outside waiting to be chosen. You really can’t beat fresh meat.

 

According to the guide, they weren’t family pets but just wild dogs. Well you’d be wild if you were kept in a small cage.

 

The people were incredibly friendly and no-one objected to photographers getting in the way.

 

At 10.30 am it started to rain and we headed to the volcano Mount Mahawu, passing Japanese cucumbers growing in fields on frames, like grapes.

 

Walking in the rain to the crater, the noise from the cicadas was almost deafening. At the top, Annie gave the order ‘eyes ahead’ in order to admire the view …… or it could have been because she and Rita needed a pee stop.

 

The rain continued; the view into the crater disappeared . Some intrepid souls tried to walk around the rim but gave up as it was too slippery.

 

Onward to a restaurant near Lake Tonando, 600m above the sea. It had various decks made from bamboo, enclosing pools containing fish. Food cannot get much fresher.

 

We had little cakes of shredded fish with a chilli dipping sauce, fried fish, corn fritters, greens, rice, meat (chicken? pork? dog?) in soy sauce.

 

As we sat there, we could see the rain moving across the lake like a mist.

 

Travelling on, there was an altercation between the coach driver and a horse and cart.

 

The horse, frightened by the noisy coach, almost bolted. The cart driver just managed to get the horse back under control. The coach driver phoned his boss, spoke to the cart driver who then drove off. The coach caught up, driver tooted his horn to frighten the animal again and HWSAC, as one, shouted NO.

 

Calming down, we headed to Lake Linow, renowned for its changing colour. The rain had eased so we walked round looking at the sulphur springs and the bubbling lake. Downpour resumed so time for coffee or tea at the lakeside café, eating macaroons and fried banana with sugar whilst looking at the raindrops bouncing off the tables and floor.

 

Next stop the village of Woloan to see Minahasan traditional houses being built. These were amazing built in ‘knock-down’ style, on stilts and with intricate carved woodwork, and could be re-constructed elsewhere. At USD 10,000 they were a bargain but costly in excess baggage charges. Also contained a huge beetle.

 

7 May

At breakfast Clive asked for Immodium, which Sue B thoughtfully provided but wasn’t sure of its ‘end date’. Stuart said the end date would be after obvious symptoms had disappeared!

 

Clive: ‘This is my first waffle’ (meaning breakfast choice).

Stuart: ‘Oh, no it isn’t’. Not sure exactly what he meant by that.

 

Next excitement – White Water Rafting. On the way, Milly saw a yellow penguin by the side of the road. No she wasn’t drunk (this time), it was a badge on a grey waste water system. The things that Gary teaches her …..

 

When we arrived the rafts hadn’t been inflated so this gave time for faff-factor, the first so far.

 

Annie got locked in the loo, cue chorus of ‘Oh, dear, what can the matter be …...’.

 

Eventually we all were kitted with hard hats and life jackets and given a dry demonstration. We even ran through an elementary SEEDS, in true BSAC fashion, but as ever the ‘D’ was mainly ignored.

 

It was supposed to be a grade 3, the same as a previous experience in Peru. BUT, due to the heavy rain it was upgraded to a 3/4.

 

The experience was amazing. Each raft had 2 experienced crew and in the main, 3 passengers. If that was a grade 3, then Peru must have been a 2. Not only was this longer but also was faster and had more bends and boulders in the river.

 

The crew were well trained and when things got really hairy, we were all told to hunker down in the rafts rather than sitting on the tubes. Danger over, back on the tubes again.

 

There were casualties of course. Rita, being on the slow side occasionally, didn’t duck her head quickly enough and got caught in the face by a whiplashing branch. Milly dislodged a contact lens.

 

A raft overturned, throwing Clive, Annie and Gill in the water but the crew safely recovered both them and the raft. Oh what a shame.

 

They did look a bit shell shocked though and Clive later sported a huge purple bruise on his inner right thigh, from knee to groin. Although it could have been from getting out of a small dive boat.

 

A lunch of rice, fish on the bone, greens, cucumber, chilli sauce, raw onions / peppers / chillis in water / lemon juice / oil soon put things right. As you can tell, food isn’t very important to us.

 

In the bar later, we chatted to a couple of nice Americans from California and to the manager Dan Green. Dan kissed Annie (the floozy!), was going to kiss Gill but thought he’d better be careful as she was damaged (from the WWR).

 

Gill replied ‘Only down there’. Dan went white and retreated.

 

Later we were entertained by students from a local elementary school performing three dances. At least one was a traditional Minahasan dance thanking God for a good harvest; another was a Poco Poco dance popular in Manado.

 

Sibilia informed us ‘Les carrots rendent aimable’! It means ‘Carrots make you nicer (more polite). Not sure why the comment arose but Rita vowed to buy carrots by the sackful in future.

 

8 May

Revenge of the WWR whiplash branch: Rita’s eye is almost shut due to swelling. Highly inconvenient as we are leaving Tasik Ria for a more isolated island. Doctor travels from Manado and prescribes antibiotics, anti-histamine, pain killers and eye cream.

 

Airline sleep mask utilised as an eye patch – very fetching! It was suggested that we find a crutch, a label for begging and a parrot squawking ‘Pieces of Eight’ to complete the ensemble. Luckily, by the time the plane took off from Manado at 3.30pm, the swelling had gone down a little.

 

Next stop, Hotel Sankika at Makassar (aka Ujung Pandang). Makassar is the largest city on Sulawesi Island and is the provincial capital of South Sulawesi. For those of you old enough to remember, Makassar was the origin of a type of hair oil, hence the advent of ‘anti-macassar’. Not many people know that.

 

Food again – some went out searching for a recommended fish restaurant. The more sensible (knackered) ate in the hotel however a few were surprised to find out that as the steaks were flown in frozen from Australia, it wasn’t possible for them to be served ‘medium-rare’.

 

Amanda indulged in some synchronised storm-drain diving on the way back from the restaurant. Was alcohol involved? As if …..

 

9 May

Another flight: Ujung Pandang (aka Makassar) to Sorong on the Papua Province of Indonesia (formerly known as Irian Jaya). At the airport we met Emily, working for UNICEF in Jakarta but originally from Vancouver, and her partner. He is a PADI divemaster and hails from Amersham. Small world.

 

Time to brace ourselves for a 2 hr boat trip to Kri Island, Raja Ampat. Unlike the return trip, this was uneventful with the luggage on one boat, passengers on the other. In a civilised manner we dropped the Posh Lot first at Sorido Bay and the Plebs journeyed around the corner to Kri Eco.

 

Raja Ampat (meaning Four Kings) is the global epicentre of marine biodiversity having a recorded 1320 species of coral reef fish and over 540 species of hard coral. That’s 70% of all known coral species.

 

The islands cover 4 million hectares of land and sea off the far North-Western tip of the Papua Province of Indonesia. The native people had little contact with the outside world until 1950’s and still travel primarily by canoe / prahoe

 

The resorts, Kri Eco and Sorido Bay, were founded by Max Ammer of Papua Diving around 1994. He mostly employs only indigenous Indonesians as dive guides and staff. Max is passionate about stopping the destruction and pollution of Raja Ampat, and was instrumental in the implementation of the Raja Ampat Marine Park.

 

After meeting Max, Dr Gerald Allen canvassed Conservation International for Papua to be included in its conservation programme, achieving this in 2001. By 2007 the Raja Ampat Marine Park was in place, charging an annual tourism fee of Rp 500,000 to visitors. Part of the fee goes to community development, conservation and enforcement. This covers both marine and land based activities, such as logging and mining, plus healthcare for mothers and children, also improved water wells and chlorination.

 

The two resorts were very different. Kri Eco had over-water bamboo-constructed bungalows on stilts. Each bungalow had a verandah with hammocks for lazing, beds with mosquito nets. It was very hot and humid at night, lots of sweaty bodies. Even the men thought they must be having menopausal hot sweats.

 

Len and Rita, jammy souls, were allocated the only ‘detached’ bungalow. All the others were in ‘semis’ with only a bamboo partition wall separating them. Pl-e-e-e-e-e-a-se don’t let the neighbours snore. Or anything else.

 

Indonesian bathrooms, called Mandis, were nearby. Easy to use, water was in a large container, simply scooped up and tipped over the head and body. Amazingly refreshing.

 

The kitchen, food preparation and dining area was alongside the beach, over the sea – a wonderful view of fish (pipe fish, black tipped reef shark, parrot fish etc) and sunsets reflected in the water. PJ wine – crisp, clear, perfectly chilled - was served with meals. [Note PJ = pre Jesus, i.e. water.] Other wine was very expensive so the alcohol of choice was beer.

 

No shoes were worn; all the pathways were sand. At the end of each wooden walkway to the bungalows, was a basin of water to wash sand from feet.

 

Sorido Bay had Western comforts in traditional Papuan setting. The restaurant had a choice of 3 meals daily. All the brick-built thatched bungalows were on the water’s edge and had bathrooms with running water; the pathways were wooden decking. When the Plebs visited, they looked in puzzlement for basins to rinse their feet!

 

It also featured a pet lizard (about the size of a basset hound) and a never-ending supply of cashew nuts.

 

The Posh Lot and the Plebs only met up occasionally, the resorts being apart by a 10 min walk around the bay at low tide. However there was a memorable meal together in the Sorido Bay restaurant on the last evening.

 

Papua Diving limit the divers on any site, so we often had differing experiences of the same sites. The Posh Lot dived together; the Plebs split into groups. Clive, Stuart, Gill, Sibilia, Amanda and Fiona dived together – the A team. The Somehow team (Len & Rita Sumner, Gary & Milly Howard), dived together along with a Belgian couple, Thierry and Violane. They also dived with Hans.

 

Thierry and Violane were friendly and great fun. They had only started diving recently: start at the top of dive experiences and work down! He worked for the EU, based in Jakarta and was soon to be posted to Malawi.

 

9 May cont’d

After dinner a tired contingent went to bed early. Hot & sticky, Rita awoke at 11.30pm walked to the Mandi and toilet. Returning, she noticed that Len’s sandal had fallen from the jetty. Ever the dutiful wife, by moonlight she waded into the sea to find it. But couldn’t. Len awoke, got torch, found said sandal underneath the step not in the water.

 

10 May

Typical breakfast of cereals, noodles, juice, coffee and tea in Kri Eco. Posh Lot probably had that too, but with knobs on.

 

Two dives before lunch and one after. This was the usual timetable with an occasional night dive. Between dives was chilling time on the jetty, in hammocks or in the sea. Clive’s contingent, The A team, was alarmed to have a boat engine fire, but all was well. Almost at the dive site, Stuart realised he hadn’t got his computer.

 

After the 3rd dive, Amanda, Clive, Gary and Milly walked along the overland trail to Sorido Bay to report back on facilities. They were so overcome, they had to get the boat back.

 

11 May

More problems for The A Team’s boat: the engine mis-fired and broke down again. After the 2nd dive, they changed boats. Amanda let air out of BC to descend, went to clear ears, hadn’t got reg. in mouth. [Note: air in jacket, hand over mask and reg. ……]. Rita almost forgot rash vest (needed because wet suit rubbing neck).

 

Cleaner fish from Manta station nibbled Len’s, Gary’s, Clive’s and Stuart’s ears. Len ascended with his hands over his ears. Will this start a trend?

 

After the Arborek dive, the Somehow’s walked to the Arborek Tourism Village before having a picnic lunch on the beach.

 

Time for the Posh Lot to join the real world – the engine almost fell out of their boat.

 

12 May

This was the day the Somehows dived Sorido Wall, no current, very bland.

 

The Posh Lot had already dived it – a different experience altogether.

 

Quote: One other memory I have (as someone who usually avoids anything above a gentle drift) is of one particular dive in Papua with a teeth-rattling current, being thrown up the reef wall where I grabbed onto a piece of rock and hung on for my life. Paul eventually found me there and had to prise my fingers off the rock. After that we hooked onto the reef and hung onto the rope as the current tried to rip our masks from our faces, while the barracuda nonchalantly hung there without even a flick of their tails, watching us from the corner of their eyes. Even the guides apologised for the current when we eventually surfaced, so I was reassured that I wasn't just being a wimp.

 

After the 2nd dive the rain set in and continued through lunch. At night it rained so hard that the bamboo shutters had to be closed over the glassless windows, and the sliding bamboo doors shut to keep the rain out. The Posh Lot probably hardly noticed.

 

13 May

The Somehow’s went whale watching on the way to Mike’s Point. Max Ammer flew over their boat in his seaplane, landing nearby. He’d spotted whales, agreed to find them again then circle overhead. The boat set off in pursuit, changing direction as the plane did. Two whales were seen but the boat couldn’t keep up so a snorkelling opportunity was lost.

 

Vicki Billings had to drop out at the last minute so a postcard was bought for her. She was sorely missed, especially for her marine knowledge. Without her, the divers themselves had to pore over the books, looking at photos. ‘It’s a spotty fish’ just wasn’t going to suffice.

 

Clive kayaked over to Sorido Bay, mistakenly believing that Stuart had snorkelled over the day before. He hadn’t: the current had been too strong. Naughty Stuart to tell porky pies.

 

14 May

Gary cut his finger quite deeply today. He was also having hot flushes and lots of pink, fluffy moments. Totally unlike Gary! Septicaemia or menopausal? Hard to tell but definitely not terminal.

 

Len had moment of epiphany on the jetty. The noise he thought was a chain saw was actually the compressor.

 

The tour leader (Clive) was counting the total number of dives (375). Rita had the least, due to a sinus problem on the liveaboard.

 

Clive: ‘It’s not a competition’. Len: ‘Yes it is and Rita came last’.

 

At 9.00pm a downpour started, accompanied by a lightning show. Didn’t auger well for the next morning early start bird-watching trip.

 

15 May

Some brave souls left at 4.30 am for a Bird of Paradise bird-watching trip on a nearby island. It was muddy underfoot, misty and that particular bird proved elusive.

 

At Kri Eco it was time to investigate under the jetty – spectacular. Some dived first thing, others snorkelled. Rita, snorkelling, was startled when Sibilia dived in just ahead. Sibilia maintained that she was a ‘fashion fish’.

 

Interesting note: When younger, Clive got bored with training for swimming; changed to water polo so he could play with his balls. No chance of boredom after that!

 

Plebs met with Posh Lot at Sorido Bay for dinner in very smart restaurant. Our tour leader, Clive, was presented with a stunning photographic book, signed by all the others: ‘The Raja Ampat through the Lens of………….’.

The Raja Ampat Through the Lens Of:

Food and company outstanding but very hot and stuffy: Annie and Rita went to lie on the jetty and look at the stars. Others soon followed. Back to Kri Eco on a small boat, holding a hand torch to light the way for the skipper. H & S eat your heart out.

 

16 May

Breakfast then chilling in hammock. Icelandic volcano still blowing: Spain. Ireland and some of Europe closed for flying. Would we get home or would we have to stay longer? Lunch, more chilling.

 

Journey home: First part boat trip to Sorong, three boats in all. On we got, sitting inside on bench seats. The luggage was also inside, piled up against the rear doors. Some of the resort staff were sitting outside, just the other side of the rear doors. No one mentioned it, but each was planning their own escape route in event of an emergency. It involved elbowing others out of the way to get out of the small hatch at the front, next to the skipper. Women and children first? Not a hope.

 

As we left it was comparatively calm: that soon changed. Wind, rain and waves picked up, we were bouncing up and down on the bench seats, holding on for grim death convinced we would be six inches shorter by the end. Two hours, a whole 120 minutes is a long time!

 

When Annie arrived we thought she was the ‘before’ in a Tena Lady advert. Allegedly got soaked by the leaking windows.

 

Dinner was a set menu at Hotel Meridian, as it finished at 9.40 pm the downpour and lightening began.

 

17 May

Woke at 6.00am, breakfasted 6.30 am, ready to leave at 7.15 am, left for airport at 8.00 am. OMG, HWSAC was ready ahead of time. That must be a first.

 

Annie: ‘Haven’t washed my face all holiday, its self cleansing’.

 

Took a flight from Sarong to Manado, flying over Kri Island on the way. Lunch for some was Nasi Goreng (with egg). Because of airport taxes, some had no money – Stuart kindly paid. A reasonable usary charge was levied later no doubt.

 

Volcanic ash still blowing but not toward London so no chance of a few more days in Indonesia or Singapore.

 

Luggage checked in for the flight to Singapore and on to Heathrow. Len tried to blackmail Rita, after boarding plane to Singapore. Unless Rita was nice to him, he will not give her the boarding pass for next part of trip. He will PAY for this! Plane took off in downpour but landed safely 3 hours later.

 

Chaos at Singapore airport about whether to ‘do’ city. Organised tours had finished and all were tired and tetchy (3 weeks is a long time to be together). Possibility of flight being delayed, apparently airport was closed but now possibly re-opened. Airport staff thought there wasn’t time to get into, and out of the city.

 

Confusion reigned. Sue B had visited Raffles before so she and Paul opted to stay in the airport. The others split into groups and made their way to the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel. Rita changed her ensemble before venturing out and discovered she had extremely smelly feet. Wet wipes were brought into action, behind closed doors, and all was well.

 

Drinking Singapore Gin Slings, eating monkey nuts then tossing the shells on the floor was fun, but not cheap. At £12.50 each, with a group of four, £100.00 was soon spent. Hey ho, soon be back to Blightly and living on fish and chips.

 

After Raffles, a quick walk around Cathedral Court before getting a taxi back to the airport. Still got some money left? Better buy prezzies then. Or eat icecream. Or both.

 

Long flight back on Singapore Airlines, still with excellent entertainment. What to watch? The Last Station? Hair Spray? Crazy Heart?

 

18 May

Touch down safely at Heathrow. Phew. Need a holiday to recover now.

 

Dive Guides at Kri

Edison, Wawan, Malky, Yange and Rina

 

Dive sites at Kri Island (water temp 29 – 30 degrees C)

 

Cape Mansuar, Manta Point 24m

Manta Ray, octopus, pygmy sea horse, leaf fish, yellow tailed barracuda, small nudibranchs etc

Otdima 28m, strong current

Schooling sweetlips, stonefish, sleeping shark, barramundi cod (large spotted grouper), crocodile fish etc, pygmy sea horse

Sleeping Barracuda 22m

Barracuda, dancing shrimps, pygmy sea horse

Arborek 19m

Barramundi cod, crabs (blue/white striped), pygmy sea horse

Manta Sandy 17 m

Settled on the bottom to watch Manta Rays at a cleaning station, pygmy sea horse

Koh Reef 21m drift dive

Wobbegongs (up to 3.2 m, most 1.5m), pygmy sea horse

Friwenbonda 21m Overhangs

Pygmy seahorses

Mios Kon 20m drift dive with overhangs

Wobbegong sharks and lots of critters, pygmy sea horse

Sorido Wall 20m (One group: strong currents, scary. Another group: no current, bland)

Crocodile fish, pygmy sea horse

Blue Magic 23m

Wobbegongs, mantis shrimps, sharks, pygmy sea horse

Mike’s Point 23m

Whales, wobbegongs, scorpion fish, lots of coral including gorgonian fan coral, sea snake.

Cape Kri 30m

pygmy sea horse

Sardines Reef 22m

Batfish, black tipped reef sharks, barracuda, moray eels, pod of dolphins, pygmy sea horse

Surgeon Fish Slope 20m

pygmy sea horse

House Reef – Kri Jetty 19m

Cuttlefish, crocodile fish, stonefish, small shrimps, large pufferfish, large turtle, black tipped reef sharks, pygmy sea horse

 

NB May not have seen pygmy sea horses at all those sites but it certainly seemed that way. As Titi (Thierry) said: ‘Not another bl**dy pygmy seahorse’. That’s expurgated as he was Belgian and may not have actually sworn.

 

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