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Indonesian Dive holiday
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6306 posts
Hi, I'm Scooter. You may remember me from classic QGL Trip reports such as the Victorian High Countryand Lady Musgrave.
This is another Diving trip that I recently returned from which consisted of a month of diving over 4 beautiful locations.

http://i.imgur.com/eRaouWD.png
Part 1 - A - Cenderawasih Bay (Nabire to Manokwari) on the MSY Seahorse
Part 2 - B - Raja Ampart with Papua Paradise
Part 3 - C - Ambon with Maluku Divers
Part 4 - D - Nusa Penida & USS Liberty with Tulamben Wreck Divers

Total days 29
Total Dives: 65
Deepest Dive: 34m
Best Visibility: 40m
Worst Vis: 4m
Number of times I got Sea sick: 0 (which is a fairly surprising statistic for me)

I've broken it down into the 4 sections for the different Locations we were diving at.

Leg 1 - MSY Seahorse
http://www.indocruises.com/indocruises-seahorse-liveaboard.htm

Uploaded Album 43 Shots. (I kept 340 from this part of the trip.)

24th Aug -
6:30am in the morning, why do all my trips have such early starts? Not much exciting to write about for this day, looking forward to just shy of 37 hours worth of Airports and Flying... Flights are Brisbane > Denpasar > Jakarta > Ambon > Nabire

10:15 flight so arriving at the international drop off at 7:30ish to get checked in. No hassle for me getting through security, though one of the guys I was travelling with had his Regulators in his carry on... BCD Knife and all... woops. So he lost that one to security. I left mine at home (Have a larger, waist knife, in the checked in luggage.)

Got stuck behind a Bogan couple on the plane, playing a movie on a laptop, full noise, no headphones... I had my own playing with noise cancelling headphones so it wasn't too much of a bother for me but I could see a few sideways glances from others. The woman also insisted in having her seat all the way back, from the very start. Lasted about 1min like that and I politely asked her to reposition her seat... if possible. She complained about lack of space... I was in front of an Emergency row and couldn't tilt back at all (and even if not, I would only go back slightly, especially international flights) She wasn't tall or large either, so it's not like she needed more... finally made it

It was meant to be a ~5hr stop over, not really enough time to get out and see anything. After getting to domestic + Check-in/security etc... However, due to plane delays it ended up being an 11hr stop over, 11 long hours. Didn't see any of Denpasar, just International+Domestic airports and some place for late lunch/dinner.

http://i.imgur.com/B0VOoIK.jpg
Stuck at Denpasar Domestic Airport

Another thing we had organised was everyone to bring a different spirit so we could make different c***tails every night.Some bought Duty Free while waiting for our first flight out of Brisbane but others (myself included) thought we could get it during one of the many long stop overs... but we were wrong. Beer was semi-abundant, but spirits were unheard of. So only 7 (of 12) managed to get theirs.

25th Aug-
Same day really... at least it felt like it. Finally flew our of Denpasar about 2am. The fight itself lasted 1.5 hours (to Jakarta) which I thankfully managed to sleep most/all of, then onto another plane straight away to Jakarta. It was already boarding by the time we were landing, so we got rushed around the Airport in a Taxi bus. Another lengthy stop over (~5hrs) in Ambon with some good local breakfast and lunch so we're ready for the final flight to Nabire on a small Wings plane. Time passed fairly quick here as the terminal had free wifi and power. After we landed there was time for a quick stop at a 'Supermarket' to buy some snacks and beer. Luckily we managed to find some Vodka, very cheap/nasty stuff too, and the supermarket also had some whisky (but wanted $90 for Johnny Red...) so we opted for the vodka. Beer was ~$70 for a carton of Bintang (Think Indonesian VB) in 330ml cans. Continued to the beach behind some random house (That Seahorse sometimes uses when tides are bad for the jetty) and then after a short tender we finally made it on the Seahorse! Ready for 10 days in Cenderawasih Bay.

Crack opened a Beer to watch the Sunset while getting orientation briefing.

http://i.imgur.com/EOxEpyqh.jpg
Transport + Home for the next 10 days

http://i.imgur.com/E08wuqZh.jpg
Mandatory Group shot. (Photo by Marie)

26th Aug-
First day diving today. 4 dives total, 3 day and a night. First 2 around a small tropical island, Naburie Island. Pretty standard reef dives, most exciting thing was a small White Tip Reef Shark that sped through our group. Then more of the usual Reef suspects, Lion Fish, Nudi's, Turtle, Lobsters, Shrimp etc etc
Dive Buddy saw a Spanish Dancer but just after I had to go up (she was still with a guide) so I hope we can see another.

Motored about 8km north to Papaya Island for the 3rd day and night dive. Very impressive steep wall, lots of life. Was noted amongst us that everything is a lot more skittish over here compared to some of the regular dive sites I'm use to... but these places see a group of divers maybe once a fortnight... at best... compared to the less remote places seeing dive groups almost every day. Saw typical things on the night dive, a really bright Orange Lion fish was probably the stand out. We also saw a pretty cool flat worm doing it's thing in the water. Took some really close up shots. Got back to the boat to find out that it was actually a fire worm... dangerous, painfully so. This is why you shouldn't touch things.

http://i.imgur.com/p8eI8fxh.jpg
You could find Nemo on pretty much every dive.

First c***tail of the trip: Japanese Slipper.

27th Aug-
Just the two dives today, first at Nutabari along a pretty good wall. The second at an un-nammed section of the reef. Second area was a little sparse but there was a pretty cool giant clam. Few Gobi fish but nothing really exciting.

Had a little bit of down time between the two dives so a few of us found some high ground and jumped into the water. I climbed 1/2 way up the mast to jump down, 2 more came 1/3 up the mast but most others just jumped off the bow of the boat, which was still a good ~5m drop.

Stopped in at a local village for the afternoon. It's the fishers boats we follow to see the Whale Sharks. The Whale sharks hang around because the fishers feed them sometimes, it apparently started as a good luck ritual to increase further catches. These days they sell their catch to the dive Charters (there are ~6 Charters that visit the whale sharks, only a few times a year each.) So while we were getting shown around the village, showing good will, the DM was visiting people to buy tomorrows catch etc.

Then started heading back to Nabire to pick up some supplies that flew in a little late. Fresh Fruit/Salad/Meat...

C***tail tonight: Mandingo

After a c***tail and a beer or two the crowd thinned a bit. I went down to the cabin to grab my laptop and then heard a massive scrape and felt the ship come to a complete stop... Figured that probably wasn't good, so I went back up and found out that we had hit a reef (uncharted.) Just after we hit the reef, some of the others saw a shark (Just a mid sized Black Tip Reefie) swimming around and there was some sheet lightning on the horizon. So we were shipwrecked in shark infested waters, with lightning crashing around us, in the rain. It all sounds more exciting than it actually was though. Full noise in reverse and we weren't budging. Moved dive gear (Tanks etc) to the back and all passengers/staff but still not moving. Luckily we were on the incoming tide so we only had to wait a few hours then had the tender pulling + main engines revving and we managed to 'slip' off. Some of the crew members were peaking for those few hours though. All of us just thought it was a good reason to have another beer.

By the time we got off though it was too late to get the supplies from Nabire. Looks like left-overs for tomorrow.

28th Aug-
Whale Sharks! Pretty impressive creatures but truth be told... I got a little bored. First dive lasted 1.5 hours... I was happy for the first ~45min but was just kinda bobbing around for the last half. Still got some good pictures (I think) and they were impressive creatures to watch. Second dive with them was more of the same. Another diver and I decided to see what was to see down deeper (Whale Sharks are <5m from the surface most of the time) so we headed down to 30m. Couldn't go much further because I was on Nitrox with a Max depth of ~35m and all we could see below us was Blue. Nothing interesting so we headed back up, killed 20min at least. Next 40min practising blowing bubble rings (I'm not very good...) or just swimming around.

Whale sharks were the main attraction of the trip and while they are impressive... they're kinda boring.

http://i.imgur.com/ddUTZxxh.jpg
They are huge animals.

http://i.imgur.com/erH2jWIh.jpg
Just look how excited I am.

Third dive was on another reef. Sloping Sand/Reef wall. Typical things to see again, with one addition: Sea Cucumber mating season. So we were basically swimming through Sea Cucumber Sperm. Awesome.

C***tail Drink tonight: Alize Vodka (Flavoured Vodka, we cut with lemonade) We named it 'Blue S***' but it was actually kinda tasty.

Up on the Sun deck looking at the stars tonight. Found the Southern Cross and a few other constellations, like the Big Dipper. So worked out which way we were cruising and taught one of the boat hands the English words for direction (North, South, East and West) We were heading East and later on we heard one of the younger ones practising saying East with one of the older ones that was better at English. Over the last few days I have only learnt how to say Please. Thank You and You're Welcome. They've tried to teach us to count to 3 (Back roll off the boat on 3) but we're paying attention to dive gear etc at that point, so no-one is really paying attention to the count.

29th Aug-
Another day of the Whale Sharks, little more interesting today because there was an absolutely massive one, 11m at least. Went deep again today and this time saw a black tip Reef Shark and a whole heap of Trevally swimming around too. 20min into the second Whale Shark dive one of the smaller ones decided to relieve himself, think the day after a really big curry meal, but from a creature that's 7m long... Needless to say, we cleared that area for a little while. 3rd dive again on the Baggan (Fishing House/Boat) for Whale Sharks. 4 Hanging around this time, doing their thing again. Lots of divers still very excited by them. . .

C***tail Shot tonight: C****ucking Cowboys.

30th Aug-
3rd day of the whale Sharks and again much the same as before. No big one today though, 2 at the start but just the 1 smaller (~5m) one hanging around for the dive. I went deeper again and this time saw 2 Black Tip reef sharks shooting about picking up all the dead bait fish that the whale Shark missed. Second dive with the Whale Sharks again, couldn't find the Reefies this time so I hopped out after about 40min and did some free diving with the Whale Sharks.

For the 3rd dive today the group decided to split, 8 to a reef dive and the other 8 back to the whale sharks. Heaps and Heaps of Christmas tree worms. More than any other dive site I've been on. Few Nudibranch's and some Small Giant Clams.

By this point some people have been starting to get swimmers ear as well. Luckily I haven't had much trouble. Did use some Aqua Ear the other day as one of my ears weren't drying out, but thankfully that was only the once.

Another night dive tonight that turned out really well. Great Painted Cray, Decorator Crab, Spider Crab, heaps of Shrimp (Inc Banded Shrimp), Some other fairly large orange crab.

http://i.imgur.com/NgBuXafh.jpg
Painted Cray

C***tail Tonight: French Martini (but With Guava Juice in place of Pineapple juice)

31st Aug-
Back to reef diving today. Nice deep Reef+Rock Wall area. Plenty to see including some big Bump Head Wrasse, Little Purple Shrimps, more of the usual and some really big Fan coral. When we got back we found out that 1 of the 2(.5) compressors snapped it's Crank Shaft. Not a real big problem, still one good one and a smaller emergency one 1/2 way through filling tanks the second main compressor blew it's hose... Great. On top of all that, the water pumped croaked it! Ship is falling apart! On board maintenance man got to work on everything, patched the second compressor hose and hooked up the emergency one and then fixed the water pump (replacement spare kept on board) By the time the compressors were back on though it was already past the next scheduled dive time. Some opted to go for a snorkel (As tanks weren't ready) and they saw a lot. Couple of Turtles, Black tip Reef Sharks, squid and heaps of cowie shells. I jumped off the boat a few more times then I opted to have a snooze on the sun deck.

With the slow filling the 3rd dive time turned into a dusk dive. The way they hooked up the emergency to the Nitrox Membrane meant less Oxygen too, was ~27% instead of ~31% Not much to see in the fading light but as soon as it was dark quite a few critters came out. Large Red Slug things, Flounders, Flat Heads, Razor fish, Squids and a few small crabs.

C***tail Tonight: French Martini (Mango Juice in place of Pineapple)

1st Sept-
Boat engineer worked on the compressors while we were doing last nights dive and fixed the leakage, so back to decent Nitrox fills. Very impressive reef for the first 2 dives. Heaps of Fan corals and Massive Giant Clams, biggest I've seen. Pristine hard coral gardens at the 5-8m mark as well. A pretty large Sea Pen was doing it's thing, but that means it was just sitting there... Garden Eels, Porcelain Shrimp, more little other shrimp, Blue spotted rays and more of the same again.

3rd and Night dive was on a little Zero Plane wreck. Roughly ~12m wing span. Some Coral etc around it. Night Dive saw a Decorator Crab, Spider Crab, another largish orange crab, painted crays again and a juvenile Lion Fish.

C***tail Tonight: Caressor

Started to power on to Manokwari Bay (the final destination) for the last day of diving on 2 wrecks. Another 2 days on the boat, but we fly out early the following morning and you shouldn't dive within 24 hours (though my computer will calc residual nitrogen and therefore flight time to the min.) Which means that we will be motoring till middayish tomorrow, which makes for a sleep in tomorrow morning.

Beautiful sky tonight, clear skies and no lights anywhere means lots of stars out again.

2nd Sept-
Still moving on when I woke up so we had a lazy morning with a late breakfast. Some people used my external HDD to watch a movie on the Ships TV, others played cards, others relaxed on the sun deck and some went back to bed. I sort of just lazed about, waiting till we could dive again and sorted some photos out.

First Dive on a Ship Wreck at about 35m on the bottom. It was a Japanese Cargo Transport during WW2 that was sunk by a torpedo. Left a pretty massive hole in the side of the ship. Lots of small life swimming around it and a whole heap of empty Sake bottles still in the hold. Second Dive was on a little Coast Patrol boat that still had some depth charges aboard. Few Scorpion fish on the wreck itself and a couple of Pipe fish in the sand just next to it. As it was only a small boat we moved on after a little while and happened across a Peac*** Mantis Shrimp that was carrying around a huge Egg Sack.

http://i.imgur.com/o5rgZ8xh.jpg
Sake bottles on the wreck

http://i.imgur.com/eKdiG0r.jpg
Peac*** Mantis Shrimp + Soon to be babies.

Night dive was in the same-ish location as the coast patrol boat. Probably the best dive for the trip, perfect one to end it on. You couldn't go 30 seconds without someone else trying to get your attention to show you something else. There were so many Lion Fish that by the end of the dive you were warning people about them rather then pointing them out. Plenty of Moray Eels, Hermit Crabs, Flat Worms, Great (Large!) Decorator Crabs, Octopus, Arrow Head Crab, Sea Pen and another Mantis Shrimp (Non-Peac***) that is easily the biggest one I have ever seen. Just a really great night dive with plenty of life.

As it was the last full night/day on the boat and most of us weren't diving the next day because of the 5:30 am flight the following day (no flying for 24hr after diving) we had a 'Big' party night, Pirate style. Mostly everyone got into the spirit, some more than others, we even got some of the crew in on it. We then proceed to try and finish off what was left of the c***tail mixers. As you can imagine though, after 9 days of diving and being in the sun and on the water most people were fairly tired so the numbers dwindled fairly quickly. A few of us partied on late into the night though, finally coming to a halt around 2:30am when the laptop we were using for music ran out of juice.

http://i.imgur.com/bBLuQh6h.jpg
Yarrrr!

3rd Sept-
Last day on the boat... some people are preparing to head home and others and getting ready to head to the next location. I decided to sleep away some of the morning. Getting up for breakfast around 10. The Crew had already washed all our dive gear and hung it out. A few people jumped in for a Snorkel on a shallow wreck before lunch but I opted to avoid the sun and just relax on the boat.

In the afternoon the boat moved to it's final location and we went for a walk around the local Market place. Sad state to see all the rubbish and sludge washing down the drains to what flows into a beautiful diving location. Our group was pretty popular with the locals as this is kind of an out of the way place and they don't see many 'White' people. Back on the boat for group shot of the crew and last drinks on the sun deck. Atmosphere was dampened somewhat as we were down wind of the fish market and their standards don't require any refrigeration... There also seemed to be 2 competing Mosques across the harbour from each other, both trying to out pray the other with very large external speakers. Probably not the best final location to stop, but it has been a brilliant journey.

Packed away all my gear ready for the stupidly early start then turned in early, despite being fairly unproductive all day long.

Total Dives: 25. 4 of which were night dives. Deepest I went was 33m limited by Nitrox to go much further. Temp Averaged around 31~32° and vis was usually 25m or better, with the worst being 15m.

4th Sept-
3am Wake up to make the 5:30am flight. Persa and Manager accompanied us to the airport to check us in and see us off. Hoped on another little plane and flew back to Ambon. Said our goodbyes to those going home from there (4 going straight home and 2 having a stop over in Bali for a little) and met another who has flown out to meet us for the rest of the trip (she gets fairly sea sick and didn't want to go on a live aboard.)

Heading out to Papua Paradise to start our next Adventure!

Parts 2-4 to come.
06:56pm 23/09/13 Permalink
system
Internet
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06:56pm 23/09/13 Permalink
paveway
Brisbane, Queensland
18796 posts
Catch a boat back to aus?
07:04pm 23/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6307 posts
Nah, flew in/out/around Indo. Seahorse was the only live aboard, all other places were resort based with short trips to dive sites.

Edit: Wait, Abbott is in power now. I get the reference. Did hear something about the Indonesian Government turning away a boat full of Australian (protesters?) though, which I thought was pretty ironic/funny.
07:07pm 23/09/13 Permalink
crazymorton
Brisbane, Queensland
4491 posts
F*** scooter. Now you've given the people smugglers some new ideas!

Stay tuned for our first scuba refugee arrivals folks, if it gets reported of course.

Looks like an epic trip, nice work. Always wanted to dive, closest I got was growing up snorkelling down around Queens beach and Scarborough with my old man. We bought spear guns and all, was great fun.
07:24pm 23/09/13 Permalink
WirlWind
Central Coast, New South Wales
988 posts
Catch a boat back to aus?


What, and get turned back because of Operation Piss-off-the-indonesians-at-our-borders?
07:51pm 23/09/13 Permalink
infi
Brisbane, Queensland
20575 posts
Looks like quite an adventure!
07:59pm 23/09/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7246 posts
another epic scooter trip post :) looks like it was a blast mate! :D
09:28am 24/09/13 Permalink
Reality
Sydney, New South Wales
456 posts
awesome writeup!
09:44am 24/09/13 Permalink
Azaria
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
1208 posts
Holy s***, that Mantis Shrimp photo - blew me away.

Nice trip. I sailed around Indo a few years ago and went diving etc. Brings back some nice memories!
10:41am 24/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6308 posts
Part 2 Raja Ampart with Papua Paradise

Full Album: http://imgur.com/a/JDHQa
My Camera is a Canon A1300, one of the little ones in front, second from the right.

4th Sept-
Didn't stop moving after we landed at Ambon. Pushed through the transit area, airport security and out the departure gate. Booted the laptop when we landed so I could send a quick email home letting Mum know I was still alive. The flight from Ambon to Sorong was fairly easy with only a 1hr travel time. We were then greeted by a representative of Papua Paradise just after we landed and started to make our way to the dock. Once again stopped off at a supermarket for some supplies. I tried to buy some more Sun Screen but is was apparently impossible to find, after trying 2 stores the best they could offer was coconut oil... I imagine I'm going to run out in 4-5 days... which probably wont be good. Plenty of people willing to share though.

Made it to the dock at around 11am local time and hoped on our transit to the island, Fiberglas half cab 9m long with 3x200HP outboards on the back. ETD was ~50min. After arriving we got shown to our rooms to settle in... for about 10min when we had to lunch. I was in a triple shard with some of the group in the second farthest cabin. With others spread out amongst us. 2 Cabins to a dock and ~50m between each entrance out us at just over 340m from the restaurant... (I'm a Surveyor so I paced it on quite a few of the many trips I had to make...) And another ~20m to the reach the start of the jetty to the Dive platform, which was ~100m long itself!
So Lots of walking for the next week.....

http://i.imgur.com/BJfTeNoh.jpg
Our new homes

After lunch we had the diving orientation brief and then were able to fit in an arvo dive, it was just on the house reef and despite the coral being lack lustre, there was a little bit of life too it. Banded Pipe Fish, Nudi's, Flat worm and the highlight was a 0.5m cuttle fish that got annoyed enough with us to go through 3 colour changes.

http://i.imgur.com/SmAe6I4h.jpg
Looked like he had also seen a few battles.

All our group opted to pass on the night dive tonight. Resort has wifi (1 euro for 10min or 50 euro for a week pass) so I booted it up to make sure my Ambon email had gone through and see what the mass of emails in my Inbox were. Unfortunately (as you can imagine, being on a little island in the middle of no-where) it was pretty woeful. I think it took about 80min to check through a few (~15 I though I might need to read) emails, send 3 and make 1 Facebook (text) post. Honesty system on time used though, what I did would normally take <5min a home, but I tallied up 30min for usage. Needless to say, I won't be doing anything on the internet while here, but probably send another "I'm alive and still having fun" email off to Mum (and possibly work, it will have been 2.5 weeks) on the morning we're due to leave... Had a fairly decent dinner and turned in fairly early. Long day.

5th Sept-
Bright eyed and bushy tailed again... well after the 2nd coffee... 1 in our room and another with breakfast. Out on the boat by 8am for a double dive. Dive Master (DM) pulled the pin on the first dive site because of 'Strong' current, which is ~1/2 of the usual that we get around Brisbane... Second seemed ok so we dropped in and floated around a bit. I can believe how dull the coral is. Raja Ampart is meant to have some of the best coral in the world, better than the Great Barrier Reef but so far it has been lack lustre at best. Still, there was life to be found. Usual suspects including a fairly friendly turtle that swam through our group. Also, Hydroid coral. Basically this thing is stinging nettle, but underwater. There isn't a 1m² patch around here that doesn't have at least 1 Hydroid coral plant in it. brushed my knee across one and copped another on the back of the hand as current swung me around while holding onto a rock to take a picture.

http://i.imgur.com/SK7cniBh.jpg
All that stuff is like stinging nettle, but worse.

Dropped to an Island for our surface interval which included cake and selection of Hot Chocolate/Coffee/Tea (I opted for the Hot Chocolate) and chocolate donuts. A guy could get use to this fancy surface interval stuff. Normally I spend it trying not to get bored/sea sick on a boat. Second site reef was no better than the first, uneventful dive seeing the usual again.

Back to the resort for lunch and a pretty quick turn around for the arvo dive. Just after I jumped in I noticed a little water in my Primary reg, very unusual to happen when it was in my mouth, but not totally un heard of. It wasn't until the 3rd or 4th breath that I almost swallowed a mouth full of water... Shoved in my Occy and took a thankful breath of air and noticed some of the inside of my primary reg floating away... probably not good. Looked around and my buddy was already reaching for the front cap about 5m away from me, unfortunately though the locking ring that held it all together was no-where to be seen. Bugger! Pretty new-ish reg too, only ~1.5 years old and probably only 90-100 dives on it. Decided to continue the dive with just my secondary (Naughty I know) but I stuck a little closer to a buddy. . . It was only 3 parts, Diaphragm, Front cap and Locking Ring. Found the 2 most important (required) bits and can make a locking ring out of Zip ties that would better (well... wont fall off) than the locking ring. For now though I brought a spare Reg with me on the trip, so after we got back I switched it over. Only have smaller zip ties with me, so I could daisy chain 5 to do the job, but unless I need it I'll just leave it till I get home where I have bigger ones. Again the reef was poor... certainly not living up to expectations. At least there was a few more interesting things to see though. Electric Clams (Or Fire File Clams as I'm told by another) that look like that have lightning/electrical spark because of their colour and the way they move. Looked very cool. Also say a pretty large Octopus hiding in it's hold and once more; The usual suspects. Also 2 new/weird Nudi's One with Neon Blue colouring and the other (or some other sea slug) yellow, with tentacles. So despite the reg falling apart (and another Hydroid sting) it was a pretty decent dive.

http://i.imgur.com/IIBZ9LLh.jpg
You looking at me?

Back again for another 1.5 hours before a Dusk/night dive. Marie and Kirrily had a game of badminton, some fiddled with camera gear and others lazed about. We were doing a Dusk dive because that's the only time you can see Mandirin Fish. Bright fancy little skittish fish, just under an inch long. I ended up seeing 3. 1 group didn't see any and the other 3 in my group only saw the 1. Didn't even bother trying to get a picture with my camera low-light + Skittish + Small = not a chance. Also saw a Mantis shrimp (non-peac***) and a few other shrimps/small crabs. Back for dinner and then sorted some pictures from the last 2 days before calling it a night.

6th Sept-
Typical start, long walk to breakfast. Got ready and took what I needed (Dive computer and Camera, all other Dive gear is left at the Dive Shed) so that I didn't have to come back after breakfast. Doing a day trip today out to Fam Islands. Beautiful location, great lagoon and some actual colourful Reef! Double Dive around the island, highlight was probably a Deep Purple Octopus that was pretty large. Ducked into a hole so I couldn't get a good picture. Second coolest (and first time I've seen one) was a Pygmy Seahorse. It was maybe 8mm long, basically as long as and half the width of your pinky fingernail, and if you didn't know you were looking at it, you couldn't tell it apart from the coral it was on. Look closely and you can make it out in the pictures.

http://i.imgur.com/eTLIQ85h.jpg
Where's Wally? (It's already been cropped/magnified too)

At one point I was too busy looking for small stuff in the coral that I didn't notice a big school of Red fish in front of me. Saw the flash of cameras going off and decided to look up. There was just a Wall of Red fish 1.5m in front of me. So thick I couldn't see past them. Still had a little momentum and split the school in two. Hoping someone else got a good picture of it. Surface interval was in the lagoon, which included a shortish walk up the hill to a lookout looking back into the lagoon. In my wisdom I decided to do it barefoot... over volcanic sharp rock... in the heat of the day. Feet a little sore by the time I got back down, but no damage. Made it back to the resort 4ish.

http://i.imgur.com/qO4VfGsh.jpg
Worth it for the view? Sorta.

Only 4 of us decided to go on the night dive tonight. They told us to meet at 6, which was a little annoying because sunset was 6:40 and this was meant to be a night dive... As expected it was a dusk dive which, unless you're looking specifically for Mandarin fish, are kind of s***. Most day fish are off making bed and most night creatures haven't gotten up yet... About 30min into our dive the sun finally was far enough gone and things started to appear. Lots of JAFL again (Pronounced Jaffle, stands for Just Another F*****g Lion-Fish) pretty nice Cuttle fish and a good sized Spider Decorator Crab, that I only got one shot unfocused of... when I called a dive buddy over and the crab ducked under his rock so I couldn't try again After that was dinner then quick to bed again.

7th Sept-
There is a bit of bird life around the island, a little yellow one decided to sing us a song for breakfast today. They also offer a 4am start to see the Birds of Paradise (Very pretty, apparently) but no-one in our group is an avid bird watcher... or an avid getting up at 3:30am for a 4am start person either. Another Day trip today this to Kri. Apparently no-one bothered to check the weather, big swells and fairly strong wind meant that all the dive sites there were washed out. There was a random on our boat as well, he happened to know one of our group from over a decade ago through work, he's.. well... different. To give you an idea... the guy he 'knew' he had worked adjacent to (not with) over 3 years ago. They worked on the same floor for the same company. Never friends, never had lunch together, nothing. He saw on Linkedin that he was going to be here, so decided to book a holiday to the same place at the same time. As I was in a guide group of 3 (11 of us in total, 2 x 4 and a 3) he got assigned to us. The other 2 I have been diving with a very experienced, own gear, very quick to get ready etc. This guy, when we were all ready waiting to go in, he was still figuring out how to put his fins on..... We ended up doing a drift dive in some decent current along the edge of an island one of the crew (Non English speaking) Suggested. It turned out fairly well. Saw a few Black Tip Reef Sharks, Peac*** Mantis Shrimp, some really colourful Nudi's and some other usual suspects. Even the rocky feature of the island was pretty decent. Because of the current the guide having to take more care of the new guy (and one of my buddies stopping to take pictures) Alan.R and I got separated from the rest of our guide group but followed all safe buddy procedures with each other. After we completed our dive and surfaced (together) our guide was concerned and very relieved, not knowing that the 'Strong' current we dived in today was actually pretty normal to us. We also got told off by the head DM that "You must always stay with your guide" which is actually the wrong way around, it's the guides job to make the group stay together (i.e.set a pace that everyone can keep up with and don't swim off away from people) Didn't bother us though, I would only be upset if I found out our guide got in trouble for it. Our guide has actually been pretty cool with us, a more casual feel within a very rigid structure that has been set out for her.

Surface interval was just on the beach of a random Island. There was a tree that was pretty decent for climbing (growing almost horizontal over the beach) so I went up it. One of the boat hands saw me up there and came up to join, then climbed onto the small branches at the end, which bent down to the sand a little and he dropped the rest of the way (No more than a meter) not wanting to be showed up I did the same and dropped down with ease. Then he jumped up, grabbed the branch and climbed back up... I decided to have another piece of chocolate spiral cake instead.

No more diving at Kri because of the weather so we headed back around base to do some local dives. Cuttle fish was about the most exciting thing to see on the next 2 dives. Also took some pictures of the Hydroids to give some idea of how abundant they are in some places.

Everyone opted out of the night dive tonight, because the DM (that was upset with us for not following our guide) said it was only going to be on the 'House' reef. Which is <50m from the dive shed. Had a few beers before sitting down to dinner while listening to music on our balcony. After dinner I joined Marie and Kirrily to try and spot anything swimming around from their balcony... without much success. Star gazing apps on the iPad also came out and we looked up for a while. Sheet lightning off in the distance, but not even a breeze here. Going to be a hot and sticky sleep tonight.

8th Sept-
Actually turned out to be a good nights sleep. Probably the best I have had here so far, very pleasant surprise. Today was another day out to Hidden Bay, The Passage and the Mushroom islands. Wether much better today allowing for a smooth ride out to hidden bay. Started with a bit of a boat cruise here followed by a 1.5 hr snorkel. Going with the current on the outgoing tide made for easy swimming and saw quite a bit of life. Crocodile Fish, Turtle, a Large cod and some weird ass jelly fish thing were probably the highlights. After some morning tea we headed over to 'The Passage' for a dive. This dive is talked up as a 'Superman' dive. Basically you just fly through the water getting pushed along by very strong current... well... there was hardly any current... so it turned out to be a pretty standard dive. Started off in a pretty decent cave entrance that opened up above to the forest. There was also a small swim through exit point that I squeezed out of. The rest of the dive had plenty of big Cray Fish and lots and lots of nudi's plus a little spider crab that jumped onto a buddies hand.

http://i.imgur.com/TV4yCUMh.jpg
Islands within Hidden Bay.

http://i.imgur.com/GCTvaP5h.jpg
That b**** is Cray Cray.

On the way back we came across a huge pod of Dolphins. At least 70+ Swimming around. With them was easily 30+ Pilot Whales as well. We did a few laps of them but my camera is too slow to get any good shots of them. Hind sight a Video might have been better.

9 of the 11 decided to go on night dive tonight. Because it would have been 12 people (9 of us + 3 guides) they decided to split us up a little. So Alan R and I went onto a smaller boat with a new guide and a German couple. Dive turned out really well, though I found about 4x as much as the guide. Highlight for me was seeing a Moray Eel catch and eat a fish. I also spotted and pointed out a Yellow Angler fish, which almost made my dive buddy cream his pants. After we surfaced the Guide thanked me because that was the first time he had ever seen a Angler fish (he's been a guide here ~3 months...) The German couple also thanked me for spotting things for them. In total we saw the above 2, a Squid, 2x Decorator Crabs, A spider crab, ~3 normal crabs, Banded Cleaner Shrimp, Banded Pipe Fish, a pretty big sea snail and the usual Jaffels. The other group also had a decent dive seeing a Cuttle fish eating something and a few other critters.

http://i.imgur.com/6jPp6WMh.jpg
Angler Fish, just a silly looking fish to me.

9th Sept-
Another day another long walk to breakfast. This time it was broken up by a cool little crab sitting in the middle of the path. Trying Kri again today because the weather is much better. Got to the first site and the guide jumped in to check the current. Started gearing up and I was having a numpty of a morning. Put all my gear on before I realised I left my mask in my gear box at the front of the boat, forgot Vass so the mask could seal on my Mo, Left camera in the camera box and even forgot to set my Dive computers Nitrox mix % . . . To top it off, the guide picked the wrong direction for the current, yeah again. As a result we were dropped in the wrong spot and had to fin very hard against current to even make the reef edge. It was meant to be a drift dive, Drop in one spot, drift with the current over the reef, get picked up by the boat on the other end. We kind of skirted around the edge of the reef, missing the main parts where all the fish were and we were off the reef into the blue water within ~15min. More salt was rubbed into the wound when we got back and the 2 other groups had an amazing dive with plenty of fish Life. Marie and John even saw 8, yes Eight!, Pygmy Seahorses on one piece of Fan coral. Yet to see proof yet though :p

Second dive was hardly any better for us. Slightly more to see but nothing to write home about.

Third dive was looking to be the same... we did see a bit more fish life at the start though which gave hope. About 20min in we saw our first turtle who was cruzing in the current. Then shortly after another turtle hanging about. He struggled against the current and sat in the perfect position for photos. Saw a third not too long after.

http://i.imgur.com/OcIkipsh.jpg
This guy was just soaring in the current.

The highlight of the dive though, was easily the Banded Sea Snake. He was having fun swimming around and Alan R went in to take some photos. The snake got curious and decided to check out his camera gear. Alan R "remained calm" as he put it i.e. was too s*** shared to move. So I was able to take a pretty decent photo of it sitting there. Thankfully it moved off fairly quickly and it was time to end our dive. The vis was better today too, 30+

http://i.imgur.com/I9XZ7oTh.jpg
Makes it hard to take a picture...

Opted out of the Night dive tonight (yeah, soft I know) to have a bit of a rest... and maybe a few beers. Started raining heavily about 30min before the night dive went out. I went to try the internet again hoping it was actually useful when everyone else was out diving. It was worse. Only had connection for ~5min before it dropped out because of the rain. The rain had basically stopped before the others finished their dive. Sounded like it was a pretty good one.

10th Sept-
Woke up this morning to a lot of buzzing in my net... Killed 5 mozzies in total, each juicier than the next. Flicked one that was resting against the net and blood spatter covered about a quarter of the face of my watch...

A Double dive for the morning, first at a place called Fish Heaven. The reason you go to this particular spot is massive amounts of fish life. Most divers would know though that for lots of (big) fish you also needs lots of (big) current. It was dead calm. As a result it was dead quiet on the fish life front... Wasn't a total loss of a dive though. A few Scorpion fish including a pretty weird looking Demon Scorpion fish and another Pygmy Seahorse. Second dive actually had some current... but once again we seemed to have been dropped in the wrong side and missed most of the reef. There was a little eddy created by a bommy near the end that we hung about for a while, I must have spent 10min trying to blow a decent bubble ring. Fairly unsuccessful, I could get the ring all right, but it was destroyed as soon as it floated up .5 of a meter and got smashed by current. Alan followed a Yellow Trevally around filming it for a while, the only exciting thing to happen to me was almost getting taken out by Ruth as she fought her way across the current. Having to let go of the rock I was anchored on to flair out and drift away, her fins slicing by <50mm in front of my mask.

http://i.imgur.com/B5xxAV6h.jpg
Demon Scorpion fish, it kind of 'walks' on those claws.

3rd was after lunch, pretty uneventful, took a while even to remember it... later that evening. It was raining fairly hard with thick cloud cover. The turned it into a sudo dusk dive, where fish were going to bed and even a few crabs were poking their heads out. Usually not much to see on a dusk dive, this was no exception.

Night dive turned out to be pretty cool. Even though the guide, once again!, read the current direction wrong. That's happened at least 90% of the time this trip.... Still, heaps to see as always on a night dive, Highlight was definitely the Blue Ring Octopus, which unfortunately I was unable to get a good shot of. There was also a few flat works, 3 Decorator Crabs (one Large), Spider crab, a cool little nudi, a baby squid and a baby cuttle fish. Once again, plenty of Jaffels (JAFL).

11th Sept-
Early start today to say goodbye to one of our group that had to leave a day early. The boat left at 7am so all of us got up early to see her off.

Only 2 morning dives today, flight is mid afternoon tomorrow so shouldn't do any dives. First dive was an ok dive. Saw 2 Peac*** Mantis Shrimps but both were too far into their holes to take any pictures. Saw the usual as well, was a low current which was good to cruise along with. Te guide picked the current direction wrong again though, I don't know how that manage to get it wrong almost every single time. Second dive was just on the house reef as we wanted a shallower one as our last dive before our flight ~27 hours later. We actually saw quite a bit of life. Another Cuttle fish displaying some cool colours, some fancy flat worms etc etc. Finished the dive up around the jetty for the dive centre. More life to be found here including an epaulette shark, an Octopus, a school of swarming jack fish, Bat fish happy to pose for a photo and other little reef fish.

http://i.imgur.com/a9ozR7Vh.jpg
Under the Dive Platform

All in all diving here isn't living up to the hype, though I suspect that is due to poor site choices by the guides. It's really dependent on current direction and tide times etc as to where the fish would be. On his last trip Alan's guide would go to sites where there should be lots of life but also checked before every single dive, moving on if it wasn't teaming with life. Our guides couldn't even get the current check correct, let alone a life check... Still I have enjoyed my time, even though I know it could have been better with more knowledgeable/competent dive guides.

Afternoon was spent trying to best dry out dive gear, in between beers, and sorting belongings back into bags. It's amazing how spread out you can become in just a few days. We also had a beautiful sunset to end out time here.

http://i.imgur.com/pCsTNiLh.jpg
Not a bad location to enjoy a beer.

12th Sept-
The last long walk up to breakfast. All bags were finalised before I went up and porters took bags to the boat during breakfast. After breakfast it was a 1hr 15min boat ride back to Sorong. A few hours wait at a hotel killing time before out flight. Not much to walk to in the local area but a few went for a walk. Made it to the Airport with plenty of time to spare and the resort guide went though the (seemingly) hard process of checking us all in. Including getting a slight group discount on out baggage limits (15kg each) which are pretty low when carrying dive gear.

Total Dives: 22, 4 of which were night. Temp 29-30. Max Depth 26m. Vis ranging from ~10m all the way up to 40m, much worse then we expected. Most people only experience 25+m visibility here.

Landed back in Ambon, this time to stay for a while. Onto the next part of our amazing trip, Maluku Divers. Muck Diving!
02:38pm 24/09/13 Permalink
trog
AGN Admin
Brisbane, Queensland
37393 posts
nice one dude. that turtle photo + the sunset one are aaaaaaaaaawesome.
03:18pm 24/09/13 Permalink
crazymorton
Brisbane, Queensland
4498 posts
You may have covered this but it's a big read. Do you have your own under water camera or do you use the tours gear?

Also are you blogging this else where or have your own site where it's easier to read?
07:28pm 24/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6309 posts
http://i.imgur.com/BxrXYvEh.jpg

My Camera is(was) a Canon A1300 in an ikelite case, one of the little ones in front, second from the right.
Rest belong to people on the trip with me. Some big ones in there. Some of their camera gear is significantly expensive, mine was not.

I also flooded my camera on the second last day of diving.

No blog or personal site. Beside the occasional trip (and weekends diving I guess?) I wouldn't have much/anything to post.
08:11pm 24/09/13 Permalink
Opec
Brisbane, Queensland
7868 posts
Wow epic post, looked you had a ball!
04:43pm 25/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6310 posts
Part 3 - Ambon with Maluku Divers
Album: http://imgur.com/a/3joJZ#0

Sept 12th-
After landing we were quickly met by the manager Emily. Complete different feeling to Papua already, much more friendly and welcoming. Got to the resort and introduced around. Free Wifi and it's actually a decent connection! The router is in the restaurant area, but I can get a decent connection in the room. Uploaded some photos, send a few emails off before dinner. Smallest beer they seem to have here is a tallie... not a problem, I'm sure I'll manage.

Emily and Jo (Managers) sat down with our group at dinner, something the ones at Papua never did, and had a really good chat. Turns out that the have just started here, 10 days ago... We're also the first guests, not only for them, but for this season at the resort.

Really looking forward to Muck diving tomorrow, despite the low (26°) Temp predictions. Muck Diving is where you see a heap of weird and wonderful creatures. No real Reef or big fish life, but lots of critters, which I find more exciting anyway. Expecting poorish Vis, compared to open water dives, but lots of small interesting life.

Sept 13th-
Well expectations were met in regards to Vis. 5-6m tops. That's ok though as it's all macro diving and you're looking close up for smaller and weirder creatures. Saw our first Seahorse within 5min of the first dive. I spotted a couple of Jaffels and called Alan.R over as a joke, then he started pointing all excitedly at the seahorse that was on the same piece of leafy soft sponge coral. It was mostly a sandy bank, with some soft coral spotted about. Plenty of Fire Urchins around too. Heaps and heaps of rubbish all around as well, with some creatures making home out of tyres or bottles. Some fancy purple Scorpion fish that was fancy, apparently. A few frog fish and Morays etc. Temp wasn't too bad, my computer reading 27°. I got away with just the 3mm wetsuit, glad I didn't sent it home with Kristie. Probably could have got away with just my Thermo-Core though...

http://i.imgur.com/eVp9j4ph.jpg
Horsie, little bit too small to ride though...

http://i.imgur.com/YY1x8OGh.jpg
A Fancy Scorpian fish. It will still hurt a lit if you touch it though.

On the surface interval we saw first hand why there was so much junk in the bay. Someone with a coastal property decided to empty their rubbish bin, right over their retaining wall into the water. Not much choice I guess, no government collection at all here. Really wish there was something they could do to improve it though. That was something we noticed at Raja Ampart as well, the amount of rubbish washed up onto the shore. It wasn't really an issue on the Seahorse as we were mostly in open water.

Second dive I saw Pipe Fish, Mantis Shrimp, heaps of Morays... at least 6 within 1m², Snake Eels, Ribbon Eels, a Purple Frog Fish and a Nudi variety I had never seen before. 3rd dive was more of the same. We also did a night dive, normally on a night dive you see a heap of critters... but as we're muck diving we're already seeing the weird ones during the day so it wasn't all that different... just darker. I did find my own Bumble Bee shrimp, others had seen one earlier today but I missed it. Pretty cool shrimp, only ~5mm long. The ride back was pretty cool though, there was a heap of Bio Luminescence in the water and the wake of the boat was glowing Blue for a good portion of the 3~4min trip back.

http://i.imgur.com/k1mJLWKh.jpg
No bigger than a thumbnail, very bee like pattern, hence the name; Bumblebee Shrimp.

It is pretty dirty diving here though. The bay is like a rubbish tip and just feels dirty in the water. Pretty glad to hit the shower after diving. Had 3 so far today, 1 after the Double in the morning, one after the Arvo and one after the night. Night dive is also an extra charge here and as it wasn't all too different from the day dives I'll probably give the rest a miss.

14th Sept-
Another double dive in the morning. This time at a rock wall on the opposite side of the bay. Just as much rubbish and there was that thin dirty soap/oil/sludge layer on top of the water. Lots of plastic bags floating around etc as well. Despite all that though, just like yesterday, there was an abundance of life. It really amazes me how well all the fish/creature life seems to be doing here despite some pretty disgusting conditions. About 1/2 way through the dive we came across the head (just the head) of a hammer head shark. Looks like a fisherman has caught it and didn't want to keep the head. Very fresh, likely done last night or the night before. Heaps of Moray eels again, I think I'm going to start calling them NAMEs (Not Another Moray Eel) some cool Nudi's, again ones I haven't seen before, jaffels and the rest of the usual. Getting towards the end of the dive the Guide found a piece of fishing line and gave it a tug, the line tugged back. Pulled at it for a little while and out came a NAME with a hook in it's mouth. Used my knife to cut away the line but was unable to do anything about the hook. Wished we could have done more for it as I saw it slither back into a hole. Just after that was a little Peac*** Mantis Shrimp that was sitting in it's hole on the rock face.

Second dive was just up a little bit further, back to a sandy slope with spotted coral growing. Heaps and Heaps of leafy Sponge coral. Hiding amongst it were some really big Angler (Frog) Fish, heaps more Jaffels, some fancy Scorpion fish, Shrimps etc etc.

http://i.imgur.com/Zl7Mviah.jpg
Angler fish.

3rd was once again at a sandy slope. Bit of current this one so I was happy to just drift along. Most interesting thing was probably the Crocodile Snake Eels.

http://i.imgur.com/q93xWBeh.jpg
Crocodile Snake Eel.

15th Sept-
Started heading out for the double and was crossing some really thick algae in the bay. Reached the other side and it was so think you could almost walk on it. Looked really disgusting. Decided to head back to the side the resort is on and to a site we had been to before. Before I even hit the bottom I could pick out ~4 Jaffels and 6 NAMEs. Heaps and heaps of NAMEs plus the rest of the usual, not too exciting. The second just a bit down the bank from the first, saw a Wonderpus (a very cool octopus), Zebra Crab, Zebra stripped eel and more of the same others.

http://i.imgur.com/IUy7LnCh.jpg
Wonderpus. The dive guides had a not so very PC sign for these guys...

Third dive was under some moored trawlers. It was pretty dark under them, made it like a dusk dive. Found 2 large Reef Octopuses and some other cool critters. Got back warmed up and went to check my laptop, I had set it up to upload a few photos while we were on the dive. I came back to a windows message saying it had installed an update and wanted to restart... weird as I thought I had disabled updates... Restarted and within ~5min it locked up. Restarted and got a "Operating system failed to load" awesome. No recovery tools/disks here (note to future self, take recovery USB on travel trips)
Could still boot in Safemode, even with networking, but not able to watch movies or anything.....

Oh well.

16th Sept-
Headed back across the other side this morning. Cool little site, not a whole lot to see but a few cool Nudis, a Fire Worm and a cool little crab that had almost as many colours as a Peac*** Mantis shrimp. It was quick to hide away though and I was only able to get 1 blury shot. Surface was covered in floating rubbish. Water quality under wasn't much better. Always felt the need for a long shower after diving here.

http://i.imgur.com/xqBueiZh.jpg
Spot the divers amongst the debris.

Decided to pass on the last dive here in the afternoon. I was getting a little too cold on the morning dives. Sat back, had a few beers and enjoyed the view of the bay. I would have watched a movie or two . . . I decided to have a google to see if there was anything I could do to fix my laotop. A few posts on random forums suggested that the error is sometimes from a loose HDD on laptops, common when travelling and they get bumped. So I pulled it apart and put it back together. Didn't seem to work...

17th Sept-
Woke up this morning to the sound of a massive ships fog horn... not the best awakening on the day I was meant to have a sleep in... Rain was pretty heavy as well... going to make it hard to dry out all the dive gear...
At breakfast someone suggested we could hang our Dive gear in the generator room, which is basically a hot box, to help it dry out. Seemed to work fairly well, most things mostly dry. Once more decided to have a crack at the laptop. Windows Repair booted up and took ~45min checking Memory... but then after that loaded back into windows. Not sure what fixed it, but I was gad to have net/movies for this day.

Because of the bad weather there wasn't really any day trips we could do in the morning. Didn't really want to walk around a dirty city with poor stormwater infrastructure in the rain either, so a visit to Ambon city was out. Mostly chilled in our rooms and watched movies/wasted time on the net. Sort of felt like a waste of a morning, considering we're in a completely different country and should be doing something... but after travelling for 3 weeks without much down time I was happy for it. Weather continued into the afternoon so it became a lazy one as well. The gear dried out on the generator room, it worked really well.

They put on an 'Aussie' BBQ for dinner as it was our last night. The food here has been really good, BBQ no exception to that.

18th Sept-
Woke up stupidly early, well... it felt like it. Quick breakfast and said our goodbyes then off to Ambon 'International' airport for the fourth and final time. Took a little while to check in with what seemed like semi-organised chaos. Locals here really like to push in as well, our group alone had 6 people try to just stand in front of us in the queue, when there was easily 15 people behind us as well. Another quick plane change in Makasar, pity the airport looked really good and would actually be suitable to hang in for a while. In and out in under 20min, all that time spent standing in a 'line' or at least a loose definition of one.

Plane is going to take us to Denpesar where we will be met and taken to the 4th part of our journey, Tulamben Wreck Divers!
05:54pm 25/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6311 posts
Part 4 Nusa Penida and USS Liberty with Tu;amben Wreck Divers.
Album: http://imgur.com/a/DhEIG

18 Sept-
Landed in Denpasar and after over an hour of waiting for our baggage (seriously; the last flight leg was actually the same time as it took for our baggage to come out...) were met by Tulamben Wreck Divers resort with a mini bus ready for the ~2hr trip out. Bring on part 4 of our Indonesian trip and bring on the Mola Mola! {Insert usual Indo traffic story here} Hint: They're all crazy and there are no road rules. The best thing to happen was when going down a fairly thin mountain bit the car in front of us decided to stop, blocking all traffic behind it (inc us) and take pictures of Rice Patties. I mean really... Ok, they don't look bad but it's farmland... do Asian/Pommy/American tourists come to Australia and take pictures of out Wheat/Sugar Cane fields? Would you stop at the top of the Gateway bridge in order to take photos of Brisbane out of the car window?

Arrived at the resort and it didn't seem all that organised. The guys on staff (1 for accom and 1 for dive) both couldn't speak English well at all, apparently the people that normally check in new guests for orientation were out. Eventually sorted, after we picked our own rooms... Went to take dive gear down (as requested) and they didn't have enough dive bins, as they had 13 divers leaving today that weren't finished yet... so took it all back to the room. Everybody got different information about rooms/times/what to do so we kind of just took an average. As we're hoping for Mola Mola tomorrow we finally dragged some information out of them, which was that Breakfast was 5:30am.

A few people jumped in the pool, I relaxed pool side with a beer enjoying the soothing sound of an angle grinder they were using for construction next door. Ahhh relaxing holiday location.

The dive 'resort' has a restaurant attached that the staff suggested, it was close and easy so we gave it a go. 6/7 did not enjoy their meals. The entrees included Garlic bread was chopped (large chunks) garlic on ~3 day old dry toast and despite 1 exception things didn't improve. Alan.D ordered an Iced Coffee, which to them is Indonesian coffee (about 5mm of sludge at the bottom of a cup) made hot, left to cool, then add ice cubes... I don't think we'll be going back.

19th Sept-
Woke up really early, again, for breakfast. Truth is I was up before that because of a rooster crowing from about 3:30am... After Breakfast it was another long (1:45) drive back to where the boats launch for the Mola Mola day trips... Were rushed to hop in the cars and get going in the morning, still without any clear organisation or instruction. Got to the launch site and were told to wait in the restaurant (while they loaded the boat I guess) Who's staff hovered expecting us to buy something (the restaurant also provided lunch for the boat for the day.) Coralie bought a cappuccino which she thought was ok, as what we were served at breakfast could barely pass as coffee.

Bit of a boat ride out to Crystal Bay to look for Mola, last one they saw was 6 days ago... but we knew that going in that they're not an every day sight... reached the bay and there was no less than 30 (Thirty!) dive boats, each with 5-10 divers on them... Never mind, tried to sort gear like weight belts etc and the boat is just as disorganised as the resort. A few of us got kitted up quickly to jump in the water rather than wait for them to get organised, which was probably a mistake. As the guides took over 10min sorting out themselves before they were ready... Never mind, off we go! The temp was freezing compared to the past few weeks, just 21° with some currents bringing up water as cold as 18°

I then started sinking and notice something weird... my Camera was negatively buoyant (it sinks) when normally it's meant to be positively buoyant (float) Uh oh... Sure enough, water in the housing. Quick check shows that I have caught a piece of the lanyard in when I closed it... oh well... bye bye camera. No more pictures sorry folks! Onto the rest of the dive though. Swam off the shallow coral into the deeper wall (where you see Molas) Guide dropped like a stone to about 40m, I sat at 30 and most others were ~25. Swam against the current for a while. Eventually we turned back to head to the boat and a few min later a Mola came out of the blue. I was luckily one of the closest to it getting a clear view (good vis, but it was still off in the distance) and no sooner had I noticed it there were people and guides all over the place tapping their tanks, shaking a rattly, making as much noise as possible to say "Hey Look, a Mola!"

So, you're a big fish in blue water and all of a sudden you have a mass of very loud creatures heading towards you. What do you do? Get the hell out of there. So I saw it for a grand total of 5 seconds, maybe 10 at a stretch. I counted the divers after it went and there were 28 between me and where it shot off too, and I could see additional bubbles (which are easier to see than divers) around the location as well. But hey, saw one!

Second dive was around the corner at a place called Manta point. Saw 1 Manta Ray, same species that we get in Brisbane, so not all too exciting. Fairly barren beside that rocky without mych fish/coral life. Was again very, very cold. Third was back at Crystal Bay for another attempt at Mola Mola. Didn't see any this time, but did come across a pretty large Banded Sea Snake, was probably 2m long. It was longer than I am tall (175cm). The best thing to happen this dive was probably a bunch of Chinese divers following Alan.R. They were fully kitted out in white hire gear (not many divers have white fins) I guess to easily identify their group (when in a situation with hundreds of divers, I can see the apeal) His fins are also white though and he swam off chasing after a fish (Baracuda maybe?) to photograph and they all started to swim off after him. Thinking he was their guide!

Got up from the (also very cold) dive to find out that they don't have towels. Despite the Guide telling us that there would be towels on the boat... great. If we knew we could have all brought towels. Tried our best to dry in the sun/wind on the boat ride back. Once again back to the same restaurant on the shore to await our lifts home.

Tonight for dinner we met with some other club members (Lynn and Linton) that happened to be in the same area, just starting out on their very own Indonesian Dive holiday.

20th Sept-
Diving on the USS Liberty Wreck today. Earlyish start to avoid the crowd so we jumped in before Breakfast. It's a shore entry about 100m from where we're staying. We got kitted up and checked our gear then a staff member would take our gear down, sometimes it was a dude with a scooter, sometimes taking 3 full setups in 1 go. 2 where your feet should go and wearing the third on their back... other times it was a woman (guessing ages ranging from 15 to 60 ish) that would carry 2 on her head. 2 Full sets of gear, tank and all, on her head. Pretty nuts.

There was already a few people there, but no where near as much as we were expecting. Maybe 20 divers. Jump in and do our thing and quickly came across a decent size school of Bumpheads. Pretty use to divers so you were able to get pretty close. The Wreck is a great site. Still large sections kind of intact that you can swim into and lots of coral growth etc. The guide knew where a couple of Pygmy seahorses were, at about 32m, so we swam down to them and hung about a little while people took pictures. I was looking at other stuff in the area and a little deeper and ended up going into Deco... Swam back up the wreck a bit and found a pair of Black Ghost pipe fish, a 'Dancy' fish (Juvenile Sweetlip), Heaps of Sand Eels, nudies etc. Only saw one Jaffel on the wreck, but certainly not looking for them anymore.

For the second dive the group decided to split. Some wanted to o the wreck again and others wanted to do a bit more Muck/Coral site that was 10min down the road. Guide went with the Muck/Coral as it's a new site and Coralie, John, Jeanie and Myself jumped back in at the wreck. I was tasked with refinding the Pygmy Seahorses so I made a beeline for a marker on the wreck I noted on the previous dive (a particular sponge coral) I swam right past it and reached the front of the ship... Woops. Doubled back and found the marker, then veered off into the sand to find the fan coral with the Pygmy on it. Was looking a little bit, deep again... and went into deco again... I did find them though! Then whent back to where the 2 Ghost Pipe fish were, but couldn't see them... While looking for them though, I checked out a sponge in the area and found 2 Hairy Squat Lobsters. Slowly headed back to shallower water and worked off the deco before I got to the safety stop.

Third dive in the afternoon, back to the wreck with all of us. Coralie decided to skip on the dive and offered her camera (G12) with a strobe to me to test out as I'll be needing a new camera after yesterdays flooding... Straight to the Pygmy again as Alan.R and Matti had their Macro lenses on this time and wanted some. close up shots. I couldn't figure out why my Strobe wasn't flashing... Mattie and Alan.R both had a look at the Strobe settings and told me it was all good. So I kind of gave up on the pygmy and went back to the Hairy Squat Lobsters to try my luck there. Again, no flash... Others were quick to join me and I moved away so they could take their pics. Found the 2 Black Ghost Pipe fish and then finally realised that when you turned off the camera it reset itself to Auto Flash instead of Always Flash (Strobe needs the camera flash to tell it to fire) so set Flash on and huzzah! We're away. Tested it out on the pipe fish but really wanted a good shot of the seahorse. I went back down, and once again into deco... woops, but got some shots I was happy with. Made my way back up and once again worked out the deco just by having a slow ascent. I always had plenty of air, so going into deco isn't really an issue. Some people seem to think Deco is very bad, but it's not an issue as long as you do the right thing while ascending and plan your dive to have more than enough air supply.

http://i.imgur.com/JiXqzdIh.jpg
Little Yellow Pygmy Seahorse on my Finger

http://i.imgur.com/zyeQMkyh.jpg
Ghost Pipe Fish

http://i.imgur.com/bVoSjdzh.jpg
Inside looking out

3 awesome dives to end the trip on.

Got back and after our gear was washed we all laid it out in the afternoon sun so it could dry a bit. New place for dinner tonight, I had chicken curry... but the must have cooked it in the same pan as a fish dish... at the same time... so I took 2 bites total. Alan.R got a beef dish and each piece of beef took about 5min to chew through... Third was a pork dish, which actually turned ok... 1 out of 3 edible meals...

21st Sept-
Last day! Well, lazy morning at least, laid out the gear again in the sun, some of it still damp. Then sat around and watched a movie. After the gear was dry I packed it all for the last time.

Did an afternoon tour before we were dropped back to the airport (Our plane leaves at midnight.) Bit of a long bus ride along the coast line... most of the time which was hidden by trees, resorts or shanty housing. Then up a very steep hill for what felt like ages. Had lunch at a restaurant which is on the edge of a volcanic rim, overlooking the crater, with a crater lake and a huge wizard island. Really spectacular view. As I had no camera I was unable to record it though a few others got a shot of me so I hope to be able to get their photos. After lunch it was onto the Temple of Besakih, largest Temple in Bali. Amazing workmanship and location. Spoiled by the fact that every 5 meters you are accosted by someone trying to offload postcards, shirts, food, water or any number of other items. All throughout the temple. I think the longest stretch we went was about 50 m without being approached or shouted at.

After the temple we went in search of shops. The tour guide took us to more of a Handy Craft store, that had some silk and shirts etc but no real tourist memorabilia. The ladies in our group seemed to enjoy it though, even ending up purchasing a few things. The rest of us, not so much, waiting outside after about 2min (if we even lasted that long.) Tried to explain to the guide that we were more interested in a market type location and he took us to another spot, there seemed to be a market area on the left, but it was mostly already packed up, with a few small food stalls remaining but he turned right anyway which was to 2 other stores, not markets as some were expecting. We were in the wrong place for the tourist strip anyway. By this time it was actually getting fairly late anyway and it's clear we weren't going to get markets (and that they were probably closed) so we all opted to head straight to the Airport.

Arrived a little early and had to wait ~40min for check-in but after all the lines, security checks, departure fee payments etc etc we made it to the departure lounge and had some food and I spent what little Rupiah I had left.

22nd Sept-
Fast forward 3 hours and our plane was called, through 1 more security check, into the gate waiting area then onto the plane. Once again it seems I got the seat in front of the Emergency row... I really should pay more attention when doing the check-in... This time though the Stewardess came to us, before we even began to taxi (but after everyone had boarded) and told us that the row behind First/Business class was free and that we could move there as soon as the seatbelt light turned off. Needless to say we moved as soon as possible, which was awesome, because before I even had a chance to unbuckle my seatbelt the guy in front of me reefed his seat into the fully back position. . . . . .

Put in the headphones and fell asleep before the first song finished.

Had Mum pick me up from the Airport (Thanks Mum!) and drop me home. With her she brought, a Pack of Tim-Tams, 1lt bottle of Milk, some bananas and 1/2 a loaf of bread for my return (Love your work!). Got home and made myself a nice bowl of weet-bix as mum had a tea and we talked about the trip a little. Opened the bag so all my gear didn't smell as much... but still going to have to wash it again. Later...

Been an amazing month of diving with some great locations and great people. Big thanks to Alan R for organisation!

Total Dives 6, no night dives.
Crystal Bay (Mola Mola) Temps 18-21 (Bloody cold!) USS Liberty Temps: 27-28
Vis ~20-25 at both. Max depth 34m

Hope you have enjoyed the read, or at least the pictures!
01:35pm 26/09/13 Permalink
demon
Brisbane, Queensland
7247 posts
totally awesome holiday, writeup & pics scooter! i had a small vicarious holiday just reading through it :) cheers mate! :D
02:30pm 26/09/13 Permalink
paveway
Brisbane, Queensland
18810 posts
Scooter you should have wrote this out seperately and just kept it saved in a word document or something

When you were done with all the peices, copyand paste the whole to make the most epic post evar
02:37pm 26/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6312 posts
Even in 4 parts a lot of it became TL;DR. As one big post I feel far fewer would appreciate or read the majority of it.
04:24pm 26/09/13 Permalink
Superform
Netherlands
7820 posts
sounds like a mediocre time

how much did it set you back
07:01am 28/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6314 posts
More expensive than my normal holidays... but worth it!
06:53pm 29/09/13 Permalink
Superform
Netherlands
7822 posts
I used to DM on Mike Ball - you should try that - there is one bommy that has all the life you saw on the entire trip on it
06:59pm 29/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6315 posts
Yeah, Mike Ball is pretty good, even as a guest. I think you're exaggerating a bit (just a tiny bit) if you think you could possibly see all the life I saw on one Bommy . If only for the Mola Mola. Unless you're one extreamly lucky son of a b****.

I'm already booked in for a Ribbon Reef+Minke Whale trip next year :)
Still, sounds like you're just a little jealous mate, maybe you haven't been diving recently. Put on your Dry Suit and go for a dive!
07:14pm 29/09/13 Permalink
Superform
Netherlands
7823 posts
i'm not exaggerating about that bommy, its the most isolated bommy on the eastern seaboard, if i remember there is no other bommy or reef for 200km in all directions, and a marine biology study of it showed that it had over 3000 species living on it or near it.

its very spectacular - that fire file you talked about, it has 3-4 on it, and it has 3 of the 8 ever discovered (on the gbr) leaf fish living on it. There was schools of lion fish.. never seen lion fish school before.. easily the best dives i ever had

this is an example of the diving highlights of NL which is why i'm not rushing out to get a dry suit

http://centria.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/0271.jpg?w=490
07:55pm 29/09/13 Permalink
Scooter
Brisbane, Queensland
6316 posts
Pretty cool Stick there man! Saw heaps of fire file clams in Raja Ampart, not just the one...
09:33pm 29/09/13 Permalink
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