Singapore 10th of May 2011

After 4 weeks at home I am on tour again. Really nice to see so many familiar faces again and get decent bread and swabian cuisine. But I am very happy to be on my way to more underwater adventures. Yesterday was one of my first intercontinental flights on which I got out and was fit. I never slept that good on a plane before. I am staying at the airport Hotel, so I just went swimming and then called it quits. Today is office day. New content for my blog. Later I will fly to Indonesia.

Jakarta 11th of May 2011

Arrived yesterday evening. The Airport Hotel is okay. First impression is that everywhere there are hustlers, to try to sell you some stuff. I do not if you know the feeling that you are been cheated on all the time. This is how I feel at the moment. Been to Jakarta for 4 hours today. looked at a few things. The Traffic is as bad as anywhere. I realized again that I do not like big cities. Just a few exceptions. But that's okay because tomorrow I will be again close to the "end of the world". 

Mandarin Siren from 12th to the 22nd of May

Thursday 12th of May 2011

Yesterday evening I picked up Jay and Sue at the Gate. We know each other from the Maldives. Today is Travel Day. Get up at 3 am. 3.30 am to the Domestic Terminal. At 5.00 am flight to Makassar. 1.5 Hours layover and then to Sorong. There we met Stephan and Cathie. I am friends with Stephan since 2005. We first met in Palau. Stas and Christine make the group complete. They are friends of Jay and Sue. In the afternoon we checked in at the boat. Really comfortable if there are just 7 people on the boat. We have been quite tired at the end of the day and called it a night early.

Thursday 13th of May 2011

After being allowed to sleep in until 7, we did our first 3 dives in Batanta. Really nice. Saw my first Wobbegongs. And then I shot a really nice video of a Blue Ribbon Eel. Made my day. I am really happy to be in the water again, even if it hasn't been that long. I got the feeling that I will love Raja Ampat.

Saturday 14th of May 2011 to Monday 16th of May 2011

We are in the South of Raja Ampat close to Misool. Less fish, but the coral are really nice. I thought the Gorgonians in Tubbataha were great, but in Raja Ampat they are gigantic. The Pygmie Sea Horses are in there in big numbers. You still see that this place is still a treasure even if the numbers of liveaboards go up.

Tuesday 17th of May 2011 to Saturday 21st of May 2011

In the north of Raja Ampat the amount of fish is unbelievable. I have never seen that much species of fish on one dive. On the House Reef at Kri Kri Eco Resort you can get close to 300 species of fish on one dive. Fish Soup at its best. And usually you do not see just one of its kind. Really impressing.. There has never been a liveaboard before, where I took every dive. Here I didn't want to miss a second and stayed as long as I could every time. So after 33 dives I did my dive 600. The ship and the crew were fabulous and we had Deirdre as a cruise director. She is probably the best I ever had. First time that I knew almost everybody. Sometimes not easy but the group got along extraordinary well. Just 7 persons on a boat and 5 crew is a really nice experience. For the diving it is just the sharks you miss (besides the Wobbies). Everything else is "unbelievable". 5 out of 5.

Sunday 22nd of May 2011

Today we had to leave the boat. Because I am travelling to nowhere land, I am staying a night in Sorong to catch up with everything.

Cenderawasih Bay / Ahé Resort from the 23rd to the 31st of May

Monday 23rd of May

Airport. Paid my Million Rupees again. They wanted 50.000 (=4 Euro) per Kilo this time but they let me take my camera case as a second carry on. Strange logic, but I guess I do not have to understand everything. Flew over Fak-Fak and Kaimana to Nabire. Long time ago to be the only white person on the plane. Nabire isn't even listed in the Lonely Planet. Got picked up. Half an hour drive to the harbor. Half an hour by boat to the island. Pretty basic here. Traditional indonesian shower. Power for 6 hours the day. 

Tuesday 24th of May

Got up 4.30 am. Trip should start at 5. After waiting 20 minutes someone came and send me to bed again. 6.30 we started. Two and a half hours later we arrived. The fishermen catch something like anchovies there. The whale sharks seem to like it. I saw 10 at the same time !!! The biggest about 8 Meters. You feel pretty small beside them. I shot what I could get and some clips are pretty good. Might take some time until you see it, but you will love it. One dive at the surrounding reefs here. A bit disappointing after Raja Ampat, but you always find something.

Wednesday /Thursday  25th and 26th of May

The last two days I did 7 dives. I am diving with Pat and Pat. Two Americans that work in a Copper and Gold Mine about 100 kms from here. In total about 20.000 people work there. Pretty interesting what they are telling about the life there. The diving is quite nice. You always find something. The Highlights so far are seahorses, Pygmy Seahorses and Cuttlefish. I have seen black and orange Anenomiefish for the first time. They are called saddleback and just live in Indonesia. For breakfast you get half toasted bread and eggs. The jam is always outside and I would imagine it is getting bad really soon, being above 30 Degrees Celsius all the time. Lunch and dinner is chicken and veggies. Served with rice. Okay but gets monotone after some time. Might lose some weight her which is not really a bad thing.  

Friday 27th of May

My stomach has been upset in the morning. One of the Pats got it as well.  I called the diving off for today. Better be careful because of the dehydration. Next chamber is three plane rides away. Took some pill at noon and it started improving pretty soon.

Saturday / Sunday  28th and 29th of May

Another two days with 3 dives each. Not really spectacular. The Mangroves were pretty nice. Bad viz, but plenty nudies. The Pats have left and we are just two now. A Dutchman came Saturday and flooded his camera on the first dive. That is really bad. Luckily they have rentals.

Monday 30th of May

Been to the whalesharks again. It is really impressive when a 8 meter whaleshark approaches and you put the camera towards it. In the last moment he makes a move and the sidefin is 20 cms away from the camera. With the backfin I am really cautious, but I got the feeling that the shark senses your presence. The videos turned out pretty good. I will see when I have a decent connection for an upload. I am now ready to leave the island. The whalesharks are great but the rest is just nice. I had plenty of time to concentrate on shrimp/goby. The food gets really annoying after a week. I can't see it anymore. The diveshop is probably the worst organized I ever dove with. Luckily I am pretty relaxed at the moment; otherwise I would have exploded sometimes. You get into the water and then they hand down your equipment. In the small boat I could supervise the clicking in of my weight pouches. On the big boat I had to rely because it is too high. Today one ended on the bottom of the ocean. Donation ! The bottles you have to examine bfore you leave. Twice I had just 3/4 filled and once I had an empty bottle. Besides one guide from Manado nobody speaks English. Pretty difficult sometimes. I do not want to end up being the complaining German ! The whalesharks are worth some sacrifice.

Tuesday 31st of May

Left at 7.30 am this morning. Boat to the harbor. Airport. Flight through Kaimana to Ambon. Airport looks pretty modern. Welcome back to civilization. Lunch. Pretty good. The weather is not really good, but I felt comfortable from the first moment. The only guest here. Found out that my main credit card has been misused. Pretty bad at the moment.  

 

Ambon from the 1st to the 14th of June

Wednesday 1st of June 2011

Got a little infection in the leg, so I decided to stay out of the water today. Office day. Write Emails. Planning. My new Credit Card will be send by courier to Bali. Andy the owner of the resort lives there and helps me out. Hope it will be there by the end of next week. Sometimes things work.

Thursday the 2nd of June 2011

First diving day today. Went diving in the harbor. Looks like garbage disposal. But the creatures are down there. Ghost  Pipefish, Frogfish, Critters of all kinds. If it getting smaller than 3mm I am getting at the edge of my camera. Because the clowns of Ahé drowned one of my weight pouches I am wearing a weight belt for the first time in years. Pretty awkward. After the third dive I kind of got used to it again. People are super friendly and helpful here. Even being the only one at the resort I feel way more comfortable than in Ahé.

Friday the 3rd of June 2011

First time out with the boat. Really bad weather today. Wind and Rain. The viz was still okay under water. Water has 27 Degrees Celsius here. 3mm is okay. When you get out of the water and it is raining you still feel cold. The whole day I couldn't really warm up.

Saturday the 4th of June 2011

My nose was running in the morning, so I called diving off. Heavy rainfall didn't make it too inviting either. I do not feel bad, but I was afraid that things get worse when I have another day getting cold.

Sunday the 5th of June 2011

Went diving with big waves and zero viz. At the descent I lost the guide because my camera got entangled in a rope. Back to the surface I was washed away 50 Meters from him. I was at 8 Meters and couldn't see my fins. We called it off. Just didn't make any sense. Fortunately the rain stopped and we hope for better conditions tomorrow.

Monday the 6th of June 2011

Did the house reef twice today. Viz is improving drastically. Unfortunately the critters were gone. We hardly saw anything today. The first day since I am here where it didn't rain at all. Saw blue sky today and actually the sun. If the conditions are improving like this we might go for some real diving tomorrow.

Tuesday the 7th of June 2011

Two dives with no special things. Poured again in the afternoon so we called it off.

Wednesday the 8th of June 2011

For a change a saw a blue sky today and sometimes even the sun. Diving in the harbor again. My favorite spot so far. Definitely the coolest stuff. Today we saw a wonderpus and a Pegasus. We saw two black Frogfish. They are like a black hole. You can put full power lights on them and still you see just a black something.

Thursday the 9th of June 2011

Second day without rain. Been to the black frogfish again, with the same result. In the afternoon we found an orange one. You can see the structure there. Current the whole day today. Twice we dove against the current. Pretty worn out tonight. Due to the heavy rain all the dive spots are covered in sand. The sand that was swept into the ocean has a really fine structure. One false move and it's snowing. This mixed with curennt and filming small stuff where you have to be rock steady. The toughest task I ever had with filming under water. 

Friday the 10th of June 2011

Third day in a row without rain. Dove the harbor again. The towboat was in use. Unbelievable noise. Saw nothing special. After 70 Minutes we came up to do the safety stop it got dark. We thought one of the big ships is moving and escaped to 15 meters. When we came up after 80 minutes, my bottle was almost empty. I could feel the breathing resistance getting stronger. Pretty interesting. At 3 Meters in the end, so not really dangerous. And I had the octopus of the guide pretty close. But, you do not want this, really. For the non divers:
The air consumption is a pretty interesting thing. My range s between 2.1 and 2.9 bars per minute.(Multiply with 14.8 for psi). It depends on depth and the current situation. With Videofilming you can use up to 30 % more. Sometimes you come up after 80 Minutes with half a Tank. Sometime after 60 Minutes or less the tank is empty. Experience makes you better, but I will always be in the top third given my figure. I am back in weight pouch business. Andy send one from Bali. Total different feeling. I hate the stupid weight belts.

Saturday the 11th of June 2011

Bye Bye nice weather. First two dives were still okay, just wind and according to that: Surge. At 7 Meters viz was all right. Saw some pretty nice things. Third dive was like a night dive. Viz max. 3 meters and pretty dark. When we got up it was pouring. See what's tomorrow.

Sunday the 12th of June 2011

Although we had strong winds in the morning we dove the harbor again. The viz was pretty good given the fact, that it rained all night. Two pretty good dives in the end. Lots of Ribbon Eels. Ghost Pipefish and a few critters. Had a nice encounter with a Napoleon Snake Eel. He was kind of interest in my pointing stick and came out his hole quite a bit. This gave me a good end to a not so perfect two weeks. I could have lived with rain, but it affected the diving a lot because of all the silt washed into the ocean. I was warned, but I didn't expect it to be that bad. Overall I really liked my stay in Ambon. The staff was great and really helpful with all you needed. And if the Critters are there it is definitely one of the spots. And it is way from being crowded. See how Lembeh will be compared to that.

Monday the 13th of June 2011

I went to Ambon "downtown" today. I didn't have a real guide, so it was a bit strange, when the driver asks you "Where do you want go" in a city where you have never been before. So I went to see some things, but overall it wasn't a real bummer. With all the rain, I couldn't protect enough. Many time between the dives I got really cold, so I got a little cold at the moment. As I am diving for a couple of days I should be fit again when I arrive in Lembeh.

Tuesday the 14th of June 2011

Travelling. Had a 4 hour layover in Makassar. In the eving I went out in Manado. Things seem to bit more open here. Probably because it is less islamic.

Manado / Lembeh Strait from the 15th to the 25th of June 2011

Wednesday 15th of June 2011

My cold made me tired today so I hardly left the room. Finished editing the second video.

Thursday 16th of June 2011

Finished my second Video and uploaded it. Then got picked up and we drove to Bitung. Just one other person at the resort. Now I know, why I got this Super Deal. For the diving this is perfect on the other hand, some company would have been nice after being on my own in Ambon for two weeks. My cold isn't gone yet, but I decided to go diving tomorrow.

Friday 17th of June 2011

Bad decision. The dives were pretty good, but my Sinuses didn't really like it. I should have stayed out of the water- See what is happening.

Saturday/Sunday 18th/19th of June 2011

After still having problems, I drove with Ali ( My diveguide and Lembeh-Legend) to a doctor. 10 minutes consultation and send home with antibiotics and Sudafed. Total cost 3.50 Euro. After that we visited a private zoo. Entry fee 5 Euros. The proportions do not feel right here. The rest of the two days I worked on my videos (still two to edit) and with the hope that the stuff is improving. I got my two secret ingredients at the market in Bitung: Ginger and Garlic. With the ginger I brew tea and the Garlic I eat raw with the meals. Helped in Palau, so ...

Monday 20th of June 2011

Been arguing with myself in the morning for half an hour and then I decided to take the reasonable path and all it off for another day.

Tuesday 21st of June 2011

Finally under water again. And then 3 hairy frogfish on one dive. Lots of cool stuff today. Lembeh is great if you like the weird stuff.

Wednesday 22nd of June 2011

Have to catch up. 4 dives today. Lots of cool stuff. Shot 5 minutes of a flamboyant cuttlefish. Then I finally managed to get a good shot of a pygmy seahorse. Not really warm today. Water is cooling down. First day it was 28 degrees. Now down to 27. Not really cold, but I needed hot showers after every dive. Maybe through the cold I am more sensitive than usual. 

Thursday/ Friday 23rd/24th of June 2011

The last two days I did 8 dives and spent 10 hours under water. I really like it here. Every dive you see something you haven't seen before. Ali (my diveguide) is unique. Eyes like an eagle and on every dive he finds something spectacular. And on land he is the nicest imaginable person. I would sleep on the ground or go camping to dive with him. Since yesterday we have a group of Americans. 5 divers and 4 of them ladies of "advanced" age. Really nice people and good divers. Really good to have company again.

Martin Ali

Saturday the 25th of June 2011

Last dive in the morning. Saw the full program again. 1pm to the Liburan. The rest arrived at 4. The boat has had its best times, to be friendly. Fortunately we are just 9 people and I have my own cabin. The cabin is so small, that with two people standing in front of the bed, nobody would be able to turn. Into the bathroom I have to move sideways. And after I checked in they told me we can't do the tour to Halmahera, because of the bad weather. We are going to the underwater volcano instead. I can understand that you can't pretend the weather. But having already checked in on the boat, you hardly have a choice.

Liburan from the 26th of June to the 8th of July

Sunday/Monday 26th/27th of June 2011

We did 5 dives at the walls of Bunaken. Nice walls and nice coral. Lots of small fish. Pretty good viz. Once we saw sharks. Two days are okay, but that is enough. Dive number 6 we did on sand. Saw nice small stuff like ghostpipefish and seahorses. Really beautiful. I think I am turning into liking the small weird stuff more than the big stuff. 

Tuesday to Thursday 28th to 30th of June 2011

On the way to the north we did beautiful dives. Reef diving as well as sandy bottoms. I didn't have too much expectations on big stuff, but we had some encounters with big schools of fish. All over much better than expected.

Friday the 1st of July 2011

Today we did the underwater volcano. The two dives in the morning were totally amazing. Really unique experience when you see the bubbles ascend out of the rocks. The fish life and the corals were a surprise. Way more than expected.

Saturday to Tuesday 2nd to 5th of July 2011

On the way down we visited the same islands again as on the way up. Dove other places. Nice dives. Due to strong winds and waves we sat a day in a bay in Biaro. The dives there were not really special. But you can't do anything about the weather. The landscape is amazing here in Northern Sulawesi. Almost every island hosts a volcano in the classic shape. On one volcano we could see the lava shining at night. Pretty impressive.

Wednesday 6th of July 2011

We did one dive in the Bangka area and then moved to the last 5 dives to Lembeh.  

Thursday 7th of July 2011

Last day on the boat. I am somehow happy to get off. There is definitely a lot of maintenance to do. I am looking forward to shower in which I do not need 15 minutes to get the foam from the body. You can live for a while with things, but at some point ... You cannot recommend this ship to anybody. Everyday something falls apart. For this quality the price is way too high.