26.11.2012 - 03.12.2012
Day 308 – Monday 26th November
Got up bright an early in Sorong this morning, we’ve still got a couple things to sort out before we head off back to our island in the middle of nowhere. First things first we looked around for a place to buy some plane tickets, now that we’ve decided to spend our whole 2 weeks in Raja Ampat all we have to do is buy a couple of tickets back to Bali next week when Dad has a flight to catch back home. We did eventually find a travel agent, but due to the fact that it was still only half 8 they weren’t open yet, so we sat down in a local restaurant and had a cup of coffee to pass the time. When we did go back one of the women who work there told us that the boss was ill and they wouldn’t be open today, so she chucked us in a bemo and told the driver where he could take us to find another one. After exercising my Indonesian skills with the nice travel agent woman we sorted our flights for next Tuesday, leaving Sorong in the morning and stopping of at Makassar before getting an afternoon plane to Bali and arriving at 5pm. Luckily the travel agent was right next to all the ATMs which we rinsed yesterday, and now there was a new day we could top up on a bit more, and with over 20 million in cash (sounds like a ridiculous amount) we got an ice cream and headed back to the hotel. After checking out we took a bemo to the port and arrived about an hour before the 2pm departure, so we got the best seats in the house and sat around waiting. Once we eventually made it to Waisai, we met up with a French guy who was going to the same place as us, and we all waited for the homestay to come pick us up. After waiting about an hour, they eventually came, but then they decided to go to the market and stock up supplies for another hour before we eventually got going. Plus the seas were really rough so it took us about twice as long to get back home, all in all a completely wasted day on bloody transport, so frustrating when you’ve got this paradise waiting for you and we had to spend 2 days fucking around in Sorong just to get money. All in all it was worth it though and it’s so good to be back, and after the usual delicious dinner and a bit of TV watching and paying off Raymond for the stay so far, we went to bed.
Day 307 – Tuesday 27th November
We decided not to dive this morning in order to recover from our little trip over the last couple days, so I got a nice lie in, finally. After lunch and a bit of sitting around in the hammock reading, we got picked up for the afternoon dive at 2, the French guy from yesterday decided to come with us and go snorkelling so we had to go to a relatively shallow dive site with little current, which was much more relaxing than the usual experience of getting chucked along the reef at break neck speed. On top of that, at this dive site I saw a wobegong, which in simple terms is a type of shark which can walk along the sand on its fins and is only found out here and nowhere else in the world. So it was a pretty special moment, unfortunately he was being a lazy little shark and refused to come out of his hiding hole which he was sharing with a group of about 10 lobsters. And despite Raymond poking it with his stick (not recommended protocol) the lazy guy still wouldn’t come out to give us a show. After that cool experience, we came back to base and cracked on with our books. After a usual pretty dramatic sunset, we had dinner and chatted to the French guy a bit before watching The Usual Suspects and cracking in to the large box of chocolate bars we got back in Sorong. Thankfully the French guy is leaving tomorrow and we’ll have the place to ourselves again, although one other person doesn’t sound like much, it’s the difference between having an entire beach on an otherwise deserted island all to yourself and having to share it with an intruder.
Day 310 – Wednesday 28th November
Got up nice and early as usual today, and after a couple of banana pancakes, the boat came to pick us up at 10 and we went to the dive site. After completely kitting up with everything on, I found that Raymond had forgotten to put my mask on the boat (partly my fault really should’ve checked) so we were forced to wait for one of his brothers to come on his boat and drop it off. Luckily all clouds have a silver lining and during this wait we were treated to a group of mantas jumping all over the place. I had no idea they even did this, but they swim right up to the surface and jump straight out then just land right back on their bellies in a loud crack, absolutely epic experience and they were doing it right next to the boat, show offs. After the mask eventually turned up we all jumped straight in and got going with the dive, usual story of silly strong currents and an abundance of good coral and fish. After some lunch I finally finished my fucking book, it was an epically long one on the Battle of Britain, it was really interesting and I’ve never read a history book before, plus I didn’t really know anything about the battle, but it’s just taken so long to finish and really is nice now to have it out the way! Anyway, we got going on our second dive, the underwater housing for my camera has been playing up recently and fogging up and stuff so I decided just to leave it behind for this dive, plus the current is normally way too strong to stop and take a good picture. And what do you know, it was probably our most spectacular dive so far and there was absolutely no current, fucking typical! Can’t complain too much, it’s still good to see all this shit through my own eyes, but it’s always nice to have pictures. Long story short it was probably our best dive so far, unbelievable how these places manage to get better and better! Came back home and spent the rest of the afternoon reading before having dinner and watching a movie. I decided to show Dad that Requiem for a Dream film (sure I mentioned it before) anyway it’s super fucked up and everyone should watch it, as I was the first time when I saw it he was pretty shook up as well. After that we went to bed.
Day 311 – Thursday 29th November
Sorry to be boring, but all the days are pretty much identical at the moment, and I can’t be bothered/remember to describe everything of interest that happens on the dives, so nothing much really changes. Anyway, got up as per usual and got going on our first dive of the day to yet another bloody impressive site, saw 3 turtles as well as a big school of humpback parrot fish (very rare, and I’ve only ever seen them once before). Got back here nice and early as the dive site wasn’t too far, so I had a bit of time before lunch to finish off my book, this one was a novel about some famous English painter who was a bit insane, Gauguin, pretty good little novel. Had some lunch, and once Raymond eventually turned up for dive 2, the weather towards the East (where most of the best sites are) was fucking awful so we went West and tried out a new area, the dive was OK but it was the same old story of a ridiculously strong current. If you’re going with the current it’s not too bad as it involves no effort, but if someone stops to check out something (which Raymond does all the time, and he has a reef hook so it’s no extra effort) then you all have to stop meaning swimming as hard as you can against the current. On the other hand, if you have to swim in to the current for whatever reason then you’re just out of breath the entire dive pretty much. I knew Raja Ampat was infamous for currents, but didn’t realise it would be this bad; to put it in perspective you’re probably floating by faster than an Olympic rowing boat (only example I can think of). Once we got back from that dive, I had nothing to read so I just sat around trying to stay awake until dinner, usual food tonight, but unusually a group of 3 Germans (most likely gay) turned up to join us. They’re pretty bad at English, unusual for Germans, and are here to dive, which is bloody annoying for us as one of the best parts of the diving here has been that we only ever go down as the 3 of us which makes the whole experience pretty lax and means we can go when we’re ready and not have to wake up at the crack of dawn. They said they’re going to take a couple of days off to chill out before starting to dive which is good news, although it does mean that for the rest of our time here there will be other guests stealing our private beach! After a movie and some more chocolate we hit the hay!
Day 312 - Friday 30th November
This morning we decided to go back to manta point as the last time we were there the visibility wasn’t great and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again in sunlight. After a quick stop in the local village for some fuel, we headed off, and after a bit more manta jumping at the surface we went down to the little rock they all use as a cleaning station. There weren’t as many as last time, but they were potentially bigger, plus the visibility was amazing and made for some really good pictures, except one thing my fucking camera housing decided to fog up on the lens and therefore all the pictures came out blurry, just to put this in perspective, in about 6 years of owning this piece of kit that hasn’t happened once! And if there’s ever a time when you don’t want your camera to fuck up it’s when you’re sitting there watching mantas in PERFECT visibility!! Safe to stay I was fucking pissed, silver lining was obviously that I got to see them and I shouldn’t feel too hard done by. We turned up a bit late for lunch so the Germans had already eaten and we had the table plus a lot of food all to ourselves, unfortunately these new arrivals have the uncanny national sport of stealing the best spots on the beach engrained into them and therefore there’s a severe hammock shortage. So I was forced to sit in bed and watch TV whilst waiting for us to go on the second dive. Raymond didn’t bother turning up until 5 today (3 hours late) and with absolutely no explanation, typical Raymond! We specifically went to a site with no current as it was getting late and were tired, and even if it means sacrificing seeing some of the best coral it is nice to have a chilled out dive. Even if it wasn’t the best dive here, it’s still a lot better than anything you’re going to see in the world, we’ve just been so spoilt here don’t know if I’ll ever be able to dive again! Came back and sat around having coffees and watching the sunset before dinner with the bumboys and then a movie and bed.
Day 313 – Saturday 1st December
Got up today and opened up the first day on my travel size advent calendar (thanks Mum!) still don’t really feel in the Christmas spirit out here on a constantly sunny 30+ degree beach with turquoise waters in the background. After that we got going on our first dive of the day, and what is to be our second last dive as Raymond can’t be fucked taking us diving on Sunday (bloody Christians). So we have to make up our mind on where we want our last 2 dives to be, our first choice was to go to Mike’s point, in my eyes the second best dive site we’ve been to so far. The coral and absolutely ridiculous amount of fish as well as the fact it’s a rock in the middle of the sea with loads of overhangs and crevices makes it a fucking diver’s dream. Unfortunately it’s infamous for strong currents and you have to go at the right time, and after turning up and the waters looking like a white water rapid, we figured it wasn’t the right time. So we went on to another site on that side of the bay (towards Waisai Island) where we had the same problem of dangerously strong currents, but 3rd time lucky we found a place to go. Unfortunately this was one of the worst dives we’ve done so far, and yes I have to put it in perspective as the coral is still better than any I’ve seen in the world, but compared to Raja Ampat it was a bit below par. The saving grace was seeing a sea snake, which are pretty rare to find, and something I’d never managed to get a picture of before now. After a long drive back home we had our lunch and I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in bed watching TV waiting for Raymond, who turned up 2 hours late today with yet no more explanation and asked for more money! As we’d already prepared the whole payment of what we owe him over the last week we just gave him that lump of 11 million and without so much as a Thank you we got going on the dive. For our last dive we went to the place I previously mentioned as my favourite site, and this time my camera was working and the conditions were perfect and it really was a great way to end our time in the water. On top of that a huge fucking manta decided to swim literally 50cm from us right at the end which was pretty spectacular. Sad to be done diving here, but there’s no way I’ll forget it, and absolutely no way I’ll ever see anything like it, it’s really reignited my interest in it and I gladly work as a divemaster out here (something I might look in to in the next couple of months). Came back to base and sat around watching TV before dinner, and then watched ‘Senna’ which was a really good film, such a tragic story as he seemed like such a cool character compared to the twats in formula 1 nowadays.
Day 314 – Sunday 2nd December
Today is our last full day here, which is bloody annoying, but still we’ve been here for 2 weeks and this day was always coming. After getting up a bit later than usual I spent the morning sitting in bed watching TV, not sure what’s wrong with me but I’ve sort of had a cold for the last couple of weeks and no matter how much sleep I have I’ve been waking up feeling super tired, diving all the time definitely doesn’t help so I’ll have to see how I feel once I get back to the mainland. Anyway, had some lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon doing some snorkelling on the beach in front of us, and then built myself a sand throne on the beach to watch the sunset. Sadly the sea washed it away before the sunset and I was forced to watch it in a hammock, it’s a hard bloody life. The sunsets here have been so good, another thing I’m going to miss like crazy, then it was dinner, another thing that will be sorely missed, not only has there been a lot of food but it’s been so god dam good! During dinner a group of 5 Indonesians turned up meaning that we’re leaving just in time and they can ruin the experience for the Germans.
Day 315 – Monday 3rd December
Got up pretty early this morning due to there being so many people around walking and talking all over the place, bastards! Spent the morning just lazing around in bed as all the hammocks and chairs were occupied. After packing up all my shit, we had some lunch and got chucked on the boat back to Waisai, not before being blanked by the whole family when we said goodbye. Not only has Raymond been a bit of a money hungry cunt but the whole family have just been a bit distant the whole time, especially weird since we’ve been living here for 2 weeks and people normally only come for a couple of days! On top of that the place is bloody expensive given normal Indonesian prices and they should be a bit nicer, especially considering it markets itself as a bloody homestay, meaning it’s supposed to feel like you’re being welcomed to stay with a family, I guess they didn’t get the message. Anyway that whole episode made it that much easier to leave, and after the quick boat ride to Waisai we got on our ferry with over an hour to wait before it left at 2. The ferry was pretty uneventful bar one epic thing, I saw a fucking whale! About half way through me and the guy sitting next to me were looking out to sea and we both saw a huge tail pop up so we both pointed and everyone ran over to see and then 2 whales came to the surface blowing water out of their blowholes or whatever they’re called. Fucking awesome as I’ve never seen one before! Eventually we got in to Sorong and went to our hotel, and after dropping off our stuff went out to have a cup of tea and some snacks before having a really long hot shower, a luxury which never disappoints. After watching some BBC world, something else I haven’t experienced in forever, we went to have some dinner at the same fancy restaurant that we ate at last time we were here with that Indian couple, only difference is they’ve got a Christmas tree up now, weird. Once we were finished we came back and watched a bit more TV before hitting the hay, no longer accompanied by the sound of the sea hitting the stilts below our bungalow.
Going to be uploading some pictures of the diving, so be sure to have a look!