Settling in on Pulau Weh

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Aceh,
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This was an email I wrote while on the island. Now it'll be my travel blog with a little reflection at the end.

We've been here a week. Our bungalow is perched on the side of a hill overlooking the reef.  The water is a swirl of turquoise and darker blue, and the colors shift throughout the day as the sun slides across the sky.  Our bungalow has a balcony with a hammock and two deck chairs, and we start each day by drinking coffee and studying the sea.  This morning, the water is still like a lake, but the currents swerve through the water visibly and look like twisting rivers of oil on water.  In the distance, the shimmer of light makes the horizon look like a mirage in the dessert, with a single tiny fishing boat helping us distinguish water from sky. 

But normally the crashing of waves just feet from our bed lulls us to sleep each night and wakes us up every morning.  So even after night falls, we’re always aware of the water close by.  At least one of our senses (the sight of the sea, the smell of the salt, the orchestra of waves) is always touched by the ocean. 

So far, we’ve spent days lounging on the deck and watching the ocean, and three times we’ve seen dolphins playing in the water, stretching across the horizon in a line of acrobatic shimmers of light as they rise above the surface and come splashing back down into sprays of droplets.  There are dozens of them jumping and twirling at a time in a line several hundred yards long, and they look like a necklace of twisting jewels laid out across the sea.

We’ve been snorkeling twice and diving once.  It was our first time diving, and we were both nervous as the day approached.  Admittedly, it was initially a little scary, but the thrill and exhilaration overpowered my nerves.  I sat on the bottom of the seabed about 10 feet down while Lindsey mastered the art of sinking and breathing.  It was unreal.  I think the thing that allowed me to calm my anxiety and fear of water was the fact that it was more like I was watching a movie than living in one.  The mask was a window to the world, but I was more like a floating head than a participant.  I couldn’t see myself.  I just peered out into a world of water, coral and fish.  We only stayed down about an hour, but it was an absolute thrill.  On a starter dive, you don’t go very deep, abut the fish and just the experience of being underwater is freaking amazing.

The snorkeling has been amazing too though. The reef starts just a few feet from the beach, and 50 yards out is the most stunning table coral garden I’ve ever seen.  The coral was damaged by the tsunami, but the structures are still largely intact and schools of fish still populate the water.  I was able to dive down with the snorkel and get right up next to them about 15 feet below the surface.  It was awesome.  I felt like I was cheating death by being underwater without air tanks, and having the fish so near was nothing short of magical.  We got sunburned because we stayed out too long the second time, but we’re recovering and will head over to snorkel at another part of the island soon.

After the starter dive, I decided to get certified, but Lindsey didn’t want to. She may do it another time.

So today, Lindsey is on the deck watching dolphins again.  It’s a hell of a view for $25 a night.  Now she’s swinging in the hammock and the sun is shifting higher into the sky, which is darkening the sea to a gorgeous royal blue. 

I did some writing yesterday and we’ve worked on photos some.  It’s strange not being able to take pictures of the most beautiful things we’ve seen – they’re underwater.  So I haven’t taken as many photos as I normally would on a trip.  But I do have some great shots of the ocean and the varying colors of the water.  I’m watching it change as I type this actually.  Lindsey in the foreground and infinite sea behind her.  Again, we’re pretty fortunate. 

Check out some beautiful HD videos. Click on the bottom right to watch them in 720.

Pulau Weh:

Storm blowing in:

After the fact:

We spent almost 3 weeks on Pulau Weh, instead of the week we had planned. It was just too amazing to leave. And I got certified and did an extra dive after that. Weh was one of my favorite travel destinations ever.
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