Sorong to Makassar
At Je Meridian, we had breakfast in a huge ballroom in the hotel (which apparently used to be a car dealership) and wasted a few hours talking, sharing videos, and bemoaning our collective long flights home. Then we packed and lugged our gear downstairs. We passed more time hanging out in hotel lobby while Andy and Thorbin somehow checked in our luggage and got our boarding passes without our passports. Then it was off to the airport, where – coincidentally – no one ever asked for identification either. It was like traveling in the 1980s all over again.
Departure day. We began packing early, said our good-byes to the staff and climbed aboard the boat to Sorong.
Unfortunately, we had to take the little speedboat because the big one had engine problems, so all 16 of us crammed into various parts of the boat. The good thing was that since Evvy and I were on this same boat 10 days earlier we immediately knew that inside was terrible and we wanted to be outside. Inside was much too hot for a 5-hour boat ride. Unfortunately, outside also had a massive leaking vat of gasoline, but I still think we choose right. Even when it started to rain later.
Nudi Rock, which really *does* look like a nudibranch.
Our last dive day. We had the option of only one dive and ending the day with a trip to see some rock painting and some flying foxes. I wanted to go, but then I learned it’s a 1.5 hour trip there and 1.5 hours back, and we had a five hour boat trip to Sorong the next day. So I preferred finishing our trip with my favorite dive site and then naptime on the porch.
Dive #1: Magic Mountain
No mantas to say goodbye, but we had such a lovely dive on the shallow pinnacle. Loads of fish and coral. I took a 360 video, just because sometimes I like to have them.
The weather in Indonesia was beautiful every day, but this day was near-perfect. White, puffy clouds in the distance and smooth, glass-like water as far as the eye could see. This was a day made for polarized lenses.
We had a packed dive schedule and – because of the number of live-aboards in the area – we had to dive 30 minutes earlier to make our dive sites before dozens of live-aboarders crashed down on our heads. (This is a funny comment, since often it’s the people in this group who are the live-aboarders. But for some reason we feel superior and obligated to our local dive sites.)
Dive #1: Boo Window
Boo was amazing. The current was light, but enough that fish were absolutely everywhere. We went down to 60’ to see some grey reef sharks swimming in the blue, then we gently paddled our way around the rest of the site. I gave up on macro in favor of hovering mid-water simply to look at the hundreds of fish around. I snapped a few pictures but my camera doesn’t do justice to the image of being surrounded by gorgeous, colorful schools of fish.
Dive #1: Magic Mountain
When we arrived at the deeper pinnacle there were two mantas swimming through the cleaning station, but they both swam off when we got closer and never returned. So we spent much of our dive at 70’, puttering around and waiting for the mantas to show up again. They never did, but our safety stop was lovely. The light was gorgeous and the current perfect enough to have fish all over the place.
I woke up Saturday morning with an annoying inflammation in my left ear. It wasn’t an infection because the outer-ear didn’t hurt, but clearing my ears caused pain. And since I knew the boat would be gone all morning on a two-tank dive today and planned to see the manta rays on Magic Mountain tomorrow, I thought it best to take a day off from diving and keep my head dry so I could be 100% for the mantas. It was a great decision, since I spent the day lounging all by myself, reading, and occasionally wading into the water from our porch.
On the walkway from the dive hut to the eating area is a particular tree that swoops down from the rocks and back up again. It’s fine if you’re the average Indonesian height, but if you’re an average Westerner you have to duck to avoid it. Unless you’re Julian. Then you bonk yourself right in the head with it. He used my camera to take pictures of his minor injury which I was going to paste here, but I later realized he’d deleted them. Darn him.
In honor of Thanksgiving, I woke up to photograph the sunrise. I love how quiet and peaceful the world is at 5:45 in the morning. Everything is asleep – except the ocean. In the thirty minutes I sat perched on the porch I witnessed all sorts of fish jumping out of the water, chased by bigger hungry fish looking for their breakfast. A huge barracuda chased another fish all around the shallows under the dock.
Julian Cohen took pity on my little, flashless point-and-click and gave me a detached strobe (aka external flash) to take on my dives. “You have two weeks to improve your pictures.” Yay! A project! (more…)