Kosrae from the 10th to the 17th of January
Monday the 10th of January 2011
Arrived 5 am in Guam. Had to go through immigration even if I am just transitting? Lucky I did my Esta. Then I had to wait 4,5 hours. The the Island hopping started. Chuuk, Phonperi and finally at 4 pm I landed in Kosrae. I was smashed and, of course, the airconditions made me sick again. Even with pullover. Went to bed at 8.
Tuesday the 11th of January 2011
Still kind of tired the whole day, so I took it easy. Read, slept and took my medicine. Felt better in the evening and fixed diving for tomorrow.
Wednesday the 12th of January 2011
Diving in the morning. Engine problems. We had to turn arround and get a different boat. I went with Doug (the owner) his son, the son's girlfriend and a friend of the son. All Australians. Pretty easy diving. The boys tried, what I call the "sharkphone". It is a plastic water bottle and you squeeze and turn it between your hands. Works actually better than you would imagine. We tried it last year in Palau, too. Same thing. For the sharks it sounds like the cracking of a fishbone or something similar. So they come to check it out. On my first two dives here we had a lot of beautiful hard coral. Really nice. Second dive we saw a small spotted eagle ray. Beautiful. The rest of the day I chilled. There is not really much to do here anyway. The total population of the Island is 7500 people.
Thursday the 13th of January 2011
Woke up in the morning with the feeling that a truck run over my head. Called diving off. In the afternoon I walked to Lelu. Took some nice pictures.
Friday the 14th of January 2011
Same thing today. Not really capable of diving. In the afternoon I walked the other direction. Survived a few dog attacks. The trick is pretending to throw a stone at them. If this doesn't help: Stop pretending.
Saturday the 15th of January 2011
No news in the east. So I started to take antibiotics today. There is no point in messing arround another couple of weeks this time. In the afternoon Josh (the son of the owners) took me on a little boat through the mangroves. Really beautiful. Pictures later. Then we went to a waterfall. At least there was supposed to be one there. Two weeks ago there was a lot of water. Today it was just a trickle.
Sunday the 16th of January 2011
Today is SUNDAY in Kosrae. This means: Nothing is happening. No diving, no fishing, no snorkeling. No Alcohol sold on the island. The Missionaries did solid work here. For the 7500 people there are about 20 churches. All different varieties. They all compete on the lost souls. The Hula like dance was disestablished: Too salacious. If this is good: Make your own conclusions. If the people from Kosrae needed all this, is probably a night long discussion. To my opinion the power of the churches here is bone-crushing (I am not sure if this the correct word, but I hope you know what I mean). I can't imagine that the peaceful and friendly people needed the brainwash from Outside. But the missionaries probably have all been up to the best ...
So my day was a quiet day. I feel much better and tomorrow I will be diving for my last day.
Monday the 17th of January 2011
The last day and diving. The hard coral here are just amazing. The diversity of hard coral is just unbelievable. The fish life is limited to small fish (from what I have seen). It looks like everything bigger has been fished. Big encounters (rays and sharks) happen, but are rare. This doesn't mean that the diving is not good. You just have to take a closer look. One sort of coral (I googled it and can't find the name) is loaded with christmas tree worms. I shot a clip how the worm comes out of the coral and the tree arises. Really cool. This is nothing really special, because there are tons of worms in Kosrae. The point is there is hardly a spot to put the camera, because the corals look like a half bullet.and because of the density of coral there is almost no space next to them. Surge and current make it difficult to hold position. The clip will be integrated in my "Best of Micronesia" Video. Will take another 3 weeks to be online. So be patient.
It was my birthday today, so thank you very much for all the Emails, Guestbook entries and calls. You will all get an email in the following week, but it will take some time to write them all. I had enough parties in Palau, so today I took it easy. Being underwater again, was gift enough. And I had to pack because tomorrow I am leaving for Phonpei.
Pohnpei from the 18th to the 25th of January
Tuesday the 18th of January 2011
Woke up, pack then off to the airport. They do american checkin rules even if you fly just from island to island. Pretty serious. I do not know which terrorist would blow up a plane in Micronesia, but you never know. Arriving Phonpei felt like back to civilisation. Needed a drugstore for my cold medicine and I even got what I wanted. There is no drugstore in Kosrae. Pohnpei is surrounded by reefs and looks beautiful when you fly in. My Hotel is in the jungle and I have no windows in my room, just a mosquito grid. The humidity was extreme today. Melting time. Tomorrow diving and they are supposed to have Mantas here. We will see ...
Wednesday the 19th of January 2011
Because of the windowsless room, everything gets moist. So my camera equipment needs special treatment. I use a hairdryer in the morning to get everthing dry. Then I use the dryer for the inside of the housing. Humidity is very bad for everything electronic, and even if I am not a big fan of airconditions, they help a lot. The diving today was good. Palikir Pass was not that extremely good, but in Manta Road we actually had 4 Mantas. Visibility wasn't that good, so the video is a bit mirky, but I am happy just to see them. I had dinner with Brendan and his Dad again. Really nice people. Brendan is stationed in Guam for the Special Forces.
Thursday the 20th of January 2011
Today we went to the Ant Atoll. The journey can be really rough but we have been lucky. The diving is good there, although we had issues with the tides. Close to full moon they usually do not stick to the regular schedules. So it was supposed to be incoming and it was outgoing all day.That had the effect that the viz really sucked. Anyway nice drifts and a school of 50 t0 60 bumphead parrotfish. On the way back we drove through the Mangroves. Really beautiful.
Friday the 21st of January 2011
Two nice but unspectacular dives today. A regular day today.
Saturday the 22nd of January 2011
First dive Manta Road. Couldn't equalize. Hang at 5 Meters and that was it. After a couple of minutes I went up again and passed my camea to Ward. My ear got clear and I gave it second try. No problems at all. We were at the cleaning station and one Manta was hanging out there for 15 Minutes getting cleaned. My camera still on the boat. I cursed, but "shit happens". Though this dive I wasn't busy with filming, so I had a closer look at my dive buddies. 5 Japanese guys. One party is father and son. Really nice people and good divers. The other party are three older gentlemen. Good divers, but the attitude is to touch everything and stand on anything possible. With all the Video filming I am not a saint. In 99,9 per cent I manage not to damage things, and if, it is not on purpose. These 3 idiots were ready for a little bit of talking on the boat. And when I am pissed, then you better get out of the way. Probably the guys didn't understand a word what I was saying, but they clearly realized what I meant. A few english words have their place in a lot of languages. The others were pretty happy that I said something. Even the other two Japanese thanked me, that I confronted them with their doings. In the evening I went to the Rusty Anchor. Had a few drinks with surfers, but I went back to the hotel early. We dive with air (no Nitrox) and almost every dive is at the deco limit. No experiments here.
Monday the 24th of January 2011
Easy day today. Went out snorkeling with the boat. Stopped on an artifical island. The island was built when they made the channels. The place was loaded with mussel shrimp. Must have been almost a hundred. Positioned a few and shot pictures. Really funny when they come out of thei house. Then we went to the waterfall. Really nice but I forgot to ask about the name. Then Nan Madol. The sunken city. Estimated between 500 and 900 years old. Two brothers should have build it. A lot is probably between myth and truth. The basalt blocks are stacked upon each other. They say they are uncarved. If you see where it is and how it looks it leaves definitely more questions than you got answers. A part of the stones should be from Yap. That is a couple of thousand Kilometers away. If you how asked how they transported them they say "Wunani". Supernatural power. Probably they knew how to beam. It is hard to explain otherwise.
Chuuk from the 25th to the 31st of January
Tuesday the 25th of January 2011
Pack and then off to the airport. Easy day again. One Hour flight. Arrived in another world here in Chuuk. After two weeks on pretty organized islands, everything changed. The roads are a disaster. A lot of the young people are dressed like rappers. Totally different to the rest of Micronesia. The hotel is in a nice environment outside of town. Looking forward to the diving.
Wednesday the 26th of January 2011
I am not the greatest wreck enthusiast of the world, but Chuuk is very unique. 1944 during "Operation Hailstorm" the Americans sank 12 war ships and 32 freighters. They also destroyed 249 planes. The wrecks are in pretty good condition, because not many artifacts have been taken. So there is a lot still down there. China, Sake bottles and so on and on. I did three wrecks today: The "Rio de Janeiro Maru", the "Kyosumi Maru" and the "Hoyo Maru". Sometimes the coral are so dense, that you ask yourself if this is still the ship. I can understand why people come here from all over the planet.
Thursday the 27th to Sunday 30th of January 2011
The days follow the same schedule mostly so I will do the last 4 days in a row. 9.00 am we start. Firts dive. According to depth surface Intervall 1 to 2 hours. Second dive. At least two hours break. Third dive shallow. Somewhere arround 4 to 5 pm we are back. Everything is with air (Nitrox is available for min. 20 US per bottle) and we have a lot of deco diving (diving with a compulsory safety stop of x minutes- The x varies according to the depth and time you have been down). Though in the evening you are most of the time pretty tired. Dinner and early bed time. According to the deep diving here I skipped the alcohol and made sure I had enough water. Dehydration is one of the main reasons for Decompression sickness. If you dive deeper than 40 Meters (130 feet) you want to nbe better prepared than casual reef diving. The wrecks are in pretty good shape. The currents in the lagoon are limited. The coral, that is grown on the ships and the atificial reefs that evolved are amazing. In the bottom of the ships there is still plenty of dangerous stuff. Landmines, ammunitin, Torpedos and so on. The San Francisco Maru is called the "Million Dollar Wreck". On deck there are tanks and in the bottom are trucks and plenty war toys. It is a deep dive but on the most beautiful dives. I liked the Fujikawa Maru, too. We dove two planes as well. The Betty Bomber is still in good shape.This is very impressive here and even as a reef dive it is hard to escape the fascination. The logistics are pretty easy. The wrecks are very close, hardly current, warm water, good viz. It is a divers heaven. But despite all this fascination you gotta be aware, that you are diving a cemetary. More than two Thousand people died, when the ships have been sunk. There are always Japanese groups here, that are visiting the grave of their father or grandfather. Yo have to have respect when you dive the wrecks. Probably it would be a good experience to take some politicians down there to show them what can happen when they start stupid wars.
Monday the 31st of January 2011
Storm in the morning. So I had no bad feelings that I am not diving today. Started the preselection of my clips. Now the real works starts. Hopefully I will finish my "Best of Micronesia" by the end of next week.
Yap from the 1st to the 8th of February
Tuesday the 1st of February
Same game. Pack and wait for the flight. 8 hour layover in Guam and finally at 2 am arrived at the Hotel.
Wednesday the 2nd of February
Because we "just" arrived the diving started at 11 am. The viz really sucked at the Manta Spot, so it was not really a mind opening experience. The second dive happened at the inner reef, because it was really rough outside. Nice, but not spectacular. The Hotel is situated really beautiful. Everything is in really good condition. The restaurant is an old schooner from Indonesia. The diveshop is the best organized what I have seen in Micronesia.
Thursday the 3rd of February
Woke up at 7.42 and the boat was supposed to leave at 8. A little bit of hectic happened in my room. I made it in time, though. First dive was a Manta dive again. Much better than yesterday. One of the Mantas was really big. Impressive. It is really shallow there. wse hang at 6 Meters and wait for the creatures to show up. Because of the shallowness you lose a little bit the third dimension. The second dive we did at "Vertigo". This is where they usually do their shark feed. So the sharks show up, even if you arrive without bait. So the shark feed does affect the natural behavior of the sharks. I still do net get it, why they do these things. I you want to get close: Go to a zoo or an aquarium.
Friday the 4th of February
Manta diving again. Was a bit boring in the beginning, but it picked up later. second dive Yap caverns. There are a lot of swim throughs. Really nice. Went out in the evening, but I took it easy because of the diving tomorrow.
Saturday the 5th of February
Because almost everybody is departing it was just a boat with three people that went out. That is really nice. we did M'il Channel. That is the place where the Mantas used to hang out at the cleaning station. This year they moved. We had a beautiful dive there, and at the safety stop a Manta showed up. Really nice. Second dive is in the category "Okay I got wet, but I do not know why". In the afternoon I walked up to the Antennas that supply the island. Nice view from up there. Shot a few pictures.
Sunday the 6th of February
Last night 60 people arrived. About 40 from an eastern european country. You know what I mean. The good times are gone. So I try to escape the Hotel as often as I can. Did three dives and in the late afternoon I walked to the stone money bank. According to the myth, the stone money was made in Palau and brought to Yap. I do not get the deeper sense, but you see a lot of flat circle shaped stones with holes in the middle. Looks interesting any way. The dives wer quite okay today. First I thought i was over dived, but then my dive buddies moved away from the cleaning station after 50 minutes I realized that it is the other way round. The viz was good and the Mantas were playful. So I could have stayed forever. At 6 Meters even my air lasts 2 hours. So I am not overdived, I still can enjoy it. You will never get tired of beauty. And Mantas are very unique and graceful creatures.
Tuesday the 8th of February
Today I had the usual off gasing day. In the morning I started Packing and in the afternoon I took a land tour and had some beautiful views of the island. At 11pm I went to the airport and waited until 2.35 am. Another night at airports.
Guam from the 9tht to the 10th of February
Arrived at 4 o'clock in the morning. Got some sleep. Got picked up for my rental car at 9 am. Drove arround a refilled my resources. Whatever you can't get on pacific islands you get here. The batteries of my video lights broke down in Chuuk. Had two new ones shipped here. Unfortunately they didn't work. Sometimes I really want to have the old days back, when you didn't travel with a bag full of electronics. It really sucks. Though today I send them all back to Monterey. No Macro filming in the Philippines. Flying out to Manila tonight.
To be continued in the Philippines Section: Diary