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Old 10-02-2011   #1 (permalink)
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Raja Ampat - Sulawesi / Indonesia

Since I started my trip yesterday and have some time to kill I will start with the report...

Left home yesterday morning, took the train to Frankfurt, from where I was supposed to fly to Singapore and then connect to Jacarta. The 11 hours flight to Singapore was loooong... I wasn't able to sleep so I cursed myself for always booking those damned long distance flights... We arrived in Singapoe a little bit later than planned but that was not a problem since I had enough time. Bought wound disinfectant that I had forgotten and walked over to the gate. We boarded the plane and then I was out.... tired to the bone. I know that we had heavy turbulences but my mind was too foggy from sleep that I didn't care.

Let me tell you something about Singapore Airlines. Back in the days when I had to go to New York a lot I always tried to fly SA. Their business class is a dream but so far I had never flown economy. And i have to say that their service is really, really good. After take-off I treated myself to a Singapore Sling, a cocktail that has been invented in Singapore and they gave it for free. It is good too...

When we arrived in Jacarta I was quicker at the 'Visum fee' counter than most others so I had my fee paid in a heartbeat. Immigration was fast as well, my luggage arrived and outside someone from the hotel was already waiting for me. My flight from Germany arrived around 8:30 AM but the one to Papua leaves at 5 AM. So I have one day to 'kill' in Jakarta.

On the way from the airport to the hotel I could see the bottles with gas at the edge of the road (I knew what it was because I had seen that in Sulawesi last year). There are a few canals around the airport and I saw people washing in them. Themselves and clothes. Once checked in I directly went to sleep some more.

At 1 PM I was finally able to drag myself out of the bed again and tool the hotel shuttle to the airport again. When we passed a church a young guy sat under an umbrellas in the middle of the road and what made it so remarkable for me was that the taxi driver in front of us held a hand out of the window and the guy had a fishernet that he held over. So it looks like he was collecting donations in this fishernet. Shortly after that we came at a big crossing and I saw the boys running after a truck. The biggest (10 years max) was able to get on the truck and get a ride while the two smaller ones didn't make it.

At the airport I was looking for SIM cards. The guy from the travel agency had told me that he has a small mobile WLAN modem and that it works fine in Raja Ampat. I know the hotel there does have satellite internet but the SIM Card doesn't cost anything so I don't want to spend a lot of money if it is not necessary. At the airport I found a shop that had the SIM cards but I didn't see any employee in there. After I had glanced around I suddenly saw a woman raising her head (she was hidden before), she looked at ma, head went down again and I was dismissed. I was about to laugh... So I continued looking and found another shop with a guy who spoke english and he sold me my internet SIM and then (as safety) I wanted to have another one for my phone too. Spent too much money on text messages when I was in Mexico...

Then I called the hotel and the shuttle came to pick me up. And now I am surfing the internet with my new SIM cards and am happy that it works. Soon I will go over to the restaurant since I haven't eaten anything yet. Then I have to call it an early night.

Tomorrow morning at 5 AM I will fly over to Papua. We will go directly on a boat in Sorong (where the airport is) and then it takes another 1.5-2 hours to get to the resort where I will spend the next two weeks....

Stay tuned...
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Old 10-02-2011   #2 (permalink)
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Looking forward to the pics. This sounds like it will be a fascinating trip.
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Old 10-02-2011   #3 (permalink)
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Can't wait to read this trip report!! Also, looking forward to the pics, of course!!

Raja Ampat is on my list of places to visit before I die!
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Old 10-02-2011   #4 (permalink)
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Didn't take any pics yesterday and when I was at the airport I regretted not having brought my cam. Often I take pics just to remind me of certain situations so I don't forget. would have loved a pic of the guy with the fihernet collecting donations in the middle of hte raod.

Forgot to tell a few things: when I arrived I went back into the airport while waiting for the shuttle because I wanted to use an ATM. There seem to be lots of muslims here (lots of women with their hair covered) and when I walked by I saw one with a luggage card. She had a protection over her mouth and when she saw me coming she moved backwards. This struck me as odd as I wasn't going to embrace her... But I made sure to stay away from her since that was obviously what she wanted. The entire airport smelled of this stinking sticks but I guess that was to keep the moscitos away.

When I had dinner at the hotel restaurant last night I saw on the menue that the only beer they had besides two local ones was Corona... I had very good food and I guess it was the start of my '4 weeks rice diet'.... When I am back home I probably won't eat rice for a couple of weeks.

Ready now for Raja Ampat. Really curious how the diving will be there.
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Old 10-06-2011   #5 (permalink)
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Sorry, guys, but not enough time for everything. I updated my blog with some pictures and it is up to date till yesterday evening. Too tired today as I am still fighting with jetlag and a migraine...

Blog

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Old 11-27-2011   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry, it took so long but now I am on it to continue with pics....

When I arrived at the airport in Sorong I saw that children were playing close to the runway. It is a small airport... on the flight someone who looked like Edy Murphy's father in 'The prince of Zamunda' sat close to me. The guy with him nearly shoved me aside when we arrived and when I stepped out of the plane I saw that a photographer was taking pics and he was being brought away by two smaller cars. Looks like I was sitting close to a VIP! Wasn't the king of Zamunda though.

When I stepped into the terminal area Romy was already waiting for me. Since there were only two non-indonesian persons on the flight it was not really hard for him to find me. While we waited for my two suitcases I saw this:



Romy explained to me that indonesians love soccer and the german flag on the airport bus was in honour fo the german national team. Then the luggage arrived and it was not hard to find my suitcases because indonesians LOVE to travel with cardboard boxes. So there were more boxes than suitcases.

The boat to the resort goes only once per week so they need to wait till all guests have arrived. Romy brought me to a hotel close to the airport where I had a late lunch and could wait. There I met Shani and Chris from Australia who were two of my buddies for the week to come. When the last flight was about to arrive Romy came to get us and bring us to the harbour where we were waiting for the other guests.


The last group (from Australia as well) had difficulties with their luggage at the airport so when we were finally ready to leave it was already pitch dark. We had another 2.5 hours boat ride and during that ride I promised myself that I would never ever travel again in my life. I had left home saturday morning and by then it was monday evening...

We arrived at the resort shortly after 10 PM where we were greated by Mel and Dex, the managers. We just had a short look at the bungalows and then we had dinner. First glimpse on my bed for the next two weeks... I probably don't have to mention that I went to sleep shortly after dinner.


The next morning I woke up to the sun shining and saw the view from my bungalow for the first time:

And yes, I DID spend a lot of time in that hammock... LOVED it!

When I walked over to the jetty for the first dive I saw my first and only epaulette shark (he is being called 'walking shark' as well since he walks on the ground)


That batfish followed us most of the time during the first dive.


Giant clams ARE giant in Raja Ampat...


Lots of fish in Raja Ampat


Clown fish


And here are the bungalows... mine was the fourth from the right


My bathroom


And my travel companion....

Last edited by Andiline; 11-27-2011 at 10:09 AM..
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Old 11-27-2011   #7 (permalink)
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WOW!! You're my travel hero! Loving this, Andiline!
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Old 11-27-2011   #8 (permalink)
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I loved it too. Which is why I am already planning on going back next october...

On the second day in Raja Ampat we learned the hard way that you always talk about plan A but you most probably will do plan B (and sometimes even C). Plan A was that we would go for one dive then go back to the resort, grab lunch and other stuff and then head out for 3 more dives. Unfortunately the guys from our boat forgot the 'go back after the first dive'-part. So we were out on the water all day without sun-protection and all the other stuff we had left at the resort since we didn't need it for the first dive. We were two boats and so we thought that we could get sun protection from the other boat. But we waited and waited and the other boat never showed up. We were pissed for some time but then we decided that we couldn't do anything about it anyway and that we might as well enjoy the dives.... Second dive was Manta Point... much point no manta... (pics from there to follow later). Had lunch there and then we went to Mike's point. I didn't go in as I didn't want to do 4 dives and when I heard that the current had been rather strong there I was glad I hadn't gone in.

Last dive was chicken reef. Have no pics from there as I didn't take the cam in the water. We had to hold on with the reef hook to the reef and I was busy to stay out of the reef (the current was going towards it). We had lots and lots of fish there... some sharks and lots of other big stuff. After about 20 minutes we left our position and after that I think the current changed intensity and direction for 4 times... in between I was not happy that I didn't have my cam but reality was that with strong currents I needed my hands free.

In the evening we were rewarded with this:


Before I went on vacation I had always said that I wanted to take it slowly so the running gag became that my plan A was to do 2 dives the next day and spend the afternoon in the hammock. Of course I never did that (it was plan A after all ).

The third morning we did two dives and found some nice stuff...
Sea cucumber


coral


Elephant ear


Colourful nudibranch


And I love the dark red clownfish


That afternoon we had decided to go on a walk in the jungle. There are three different tours in the jungle on Birie Island. Since not a lot people are doing them someone with a machete has to come to free the path... This is Romy looking dangerous...


It was funny because we were supposed to be only 4 guests plus one 'machete-guy' but then more and more staff were joining us. In the end we were 10 or 11 I think...


These roots were so thick that I would really like to know how old that tree is...


Chocolate fruit


We couldn't go too far in the jungle as boar had made a mess of the path and at some point there was too much water so we had to turn around and get back. Arrived back at the beach...

Last edited by Andiline; 11-27-2011 at 11:35 AM..
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Old 11-27-2011   #9 (permalink)
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Fantastic photos!

I'm so envious as I sit here in 50 degree weather in the States wishing every day that I were under the water - someplace tropical!
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Old 11-27-2011   #10 (permalink)
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U2gierlie, I have more for you to dream of....

The 4th day plan A was not working - again But we had planned something special: going to 'the passage'. The passage is sort of a canal between two islands where you can dive. If you are lucky you don't have a current. We weren't...

But let's start at the beginning. The kitchen crew waved us off after breakfast (btw. the person to the right is Joe, the cook - his food is fantastic!!!!).


Our first stop was Manta Point again. Again: only point, no manta. But is DId look great!


Don't remember whether this was a village or a resort


The other boat


Then we arrived at hidden bay. This is another 'canal' with mangroves on both sides. We first went in with the boat and on the way out we jumped in the water to snorkel in the mangroves. The landscape was really beautiful and the water looked very clear.








Here some snorkelling pics... I started with my 'half and half'-practice...


I find it amazing that corals are living on the roots of the mangroves


Then we got back on the boat and wento over to the passage. Jumped in the water and plan A was to go to three different side-areas of the actual passage since the current is less in the side areas. Unfortunately the current in the middle strengthened as soon as we jumped in so plan A once again became plan B... We saw lots of flatworms and a lot of the white/brown nudibranch in the passage...


Loved that fish...


Beautiful coloured flatworms...


After we had finished the dive we went to a secluded space to have lunch (pics of that will follow since I did the same tour again in the second week). After lunch it was Mushroom islands.


I was a little bit disappointed because I had expected turquoise water but...
Finally we stopped at something I had really wanted to see: the remains of an ancient cemetery. Unfortunately a lot of the bones and remains have been stolen by idiots who think they need souvenirs so there are only 3 skulls and a few bones left.




Next stop was the batcave,


I saw a few bats but didn't really go in as my dive boots were very slippery and the ground was very slippery thanks to lots of batsh§$%t too...


From there we went to a deserted island where we made the last stop before going in for the second dive of the day. Pics of that island to follow later on as well. Here are some pics from that last dive... don't remember where it was but I remember that I forgot to put on my computer and I kept looking at my arm in the water but it was not there...


This was the biggest giant clam I have ever seen. Dex told us that they once measuered it and it is 1.5 m (about 5 ft) long... On the pic is only one half of it...


Isn't he a beauty?


And this is one of the strange creatures in Raja Ampat: a wobbegong. Technically it is a shark...






Then the day was over as well. We returned to the resort after a long day on the water and once again the sky was spectacular...
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Old 11-27-2011   #11 (permalink)
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Truly Awesome! I LOVE Andiline's travel reports! I think you should have your own travel show! At least we get to buckle in here and enjoy our own version of your amazing travels. Thanks, Andrea! I am glad you didn't spend too many afternoon's in that hammock...more pictures for us!
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Old 11-27-2011   #12 (permalink)
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Day 6 started again with two dives in the morning. Here are some impressions...

An oyster


2 nudibranches


Starfish


The black thing is the biggest nudibranch I have ever seen


One of the most beautiful scorpion fish I have ever seen


Corals...










The afternoon once again did not follow plan A... That day we went birdwatching. First in the jungle and then on the boat. On our way to the birds....






Bananas


Banana plantage.... I was surprised that the trees can survive with the other plants covering them completely


On our way up the hill....


That was still the easy part. It got much steaper than that and with my slippery dive boots I was afraid that on the way back I would go down on my butt... But it was easier to go down - to my big surprise.
Thousand-feet


This is where we were looking for the red birds of paradise


We saw one...


This is some of Joe's very delicious cake... *yum*


Then we went to see the cassuaries (I think...)


It was quiet and peaceful on the lake...




And there they were...


And once again the sky in flames...
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Old 11-27-2011   #13 (permalink)
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Amazing. I love, love, love nudibranches & flatworms. That huge nudi was amazing! i had no idea they ever grew that large!

More! More pics!
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Old 11-27-2011   #14 (permalink)
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Don't worry, there will be more. Haven't even finished the first week yet and I have been gone for more than 4 weeks. But not today. Will have to continue tomorrow.
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Old 11-27-2011   #15 (permalink)
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Great trip report, excellent pictures.
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