Marlin's alive captain!

Trip Start Oct 27, 2004
Trip End Aug 17, 2005

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Where I stayed
Black Marlin Resort

Flag of Indonesia  ,
Monday, July 25, 2005

We left Mr. Thomas, his daughters, Jenet and the assortment of farmyard animals (including the horny cat that kept us awake all-night with her 'siren' songs) and headed out on the Pelni ship to Bali.

Pelni is the government run shipping company of Indonesia and serves a wide variety of customers. For us this would be the first, and most probably last, time we could afford to travel first-class. It was a choice between spending three nights in a crowded room with 300 people, full-tilt Indonesian karaoke and nowhere to put our luggage; or pay 5 pounds more and get a private cabin with air-con MTV and a shower. Cockroaches in their thousands came free with all classes, so did the food that was cooked in the port of departure (sometimes two weeks ago I think). Luckily the cleaners had left us with a can of industrial strength insect killer so we could pretend to ourselves that we could have an impact upon the million strong population of roaches on board the "Awu". Not to fear, there was, after all, an onboard cinema. Oh but wait, the only films showing were porno! Seems the guys on the boat were trying to make a few extra quid selling 15 minutes of flesh-flick to horny Muslims. Right next door to the on-board mosque!

After that we spent another debauched week in Bali, surfing, drinking, eating and trying to figure out where the hell to go. The answer fell to us when Lauren re-met Ciaran and Alex with whom we'd travelled through Flores. We had gone on to East Timor, they'd gone to get a plane to North Sulawesi to try and get to the Togian islands. I was having a kip when Lauren returned to tell me the news, "I've just seen Ciaran and Alex, we're going to the Togians". I guess they told Lauren that it was all right up there then. Fifteen trips to the travel agent later and we were booked on a plane to Manado, from where it would be a mere 10 hour jeep ride and a 19 hour ferry 'trip' to the islands. Looking back on it, if I'd had to chop one of my legs off and climb through an elephants bottom to get there, it would still be worth it.

The beach was perfect, the reef was amazing, the diving spectacular and the resort, Black Marlin, probably the nicest place we've stayed. This was made all the better by our dive-instructor, Wolf, who not only had been on more dives than I've had hot meals (not saying much actually, can't remember the last one I had) but was also a German. So, plenty of learning and a fair whack of mutual racial abuse. We had a great time with all of the staff, which consisted of a few dive masters and helpers, someone to run the office and about 25 other people whose job I couldn't figure out.

One person whose job could not be mistaken was Unke (I might be spelling this wrong), the captain of the dive boats. This guy could locate a missing contact lens that was 2 miles from shore and 40m below the surface just by a feeling, his instinct was scary and he could also spot a marlin from a mile away. Every day he'd shout "Marlin Marlin", we'd look and just catch maybe a flash of white spray on the horizon. On the night before we left he even joined Wolf, Lani, Franq, Leeanne, Yaya, Iwan, Yassir, Lauren and myself for a drink. Something he hadn't done in 4 years! I'm really sorry about the name spellings, but, as there's no internet within 24 hours of Kadidiri, by the time any of you guys read this, I'll be well away.

We did our advanced PADI course while on Kadidiri and had some of the most spectacular dives ever! Our course involved 5 different types of dives 3 of which were compulsory - a deep dive, a night dive and a navigation dive. The other two we could choose our selves and so we did a wrek dive and a multilevel dive.

The wrek near to Kadidiri is of a WW2 B24 bomber plane which although crash landing in 1942 (I think!) is still amazingly intact. You could see all the engines including the one that burnt out, the propeller, into the cockpit to see the steering wheel and pedals, the wings were still on, there was even a family of lion fish which had taken up residence at one end of the plane.

Before going on the deep dive we had to do some maths questions on the surface and then see how the nitrogen narcosis effected us at 30M by doing a similar test. Well it was pretty embarrassing when I realised I'd got the maths questions at the surface wrong as well as those when we were 30M underwater and I had no excuse for the mistakes I made at the top!! It was really weird though feeling the narcs for the first time. It kind of felt like you were slightly drunk. Just really happy and not at all nervous or jittery - but of course that's the danger, you can get to feel so at ease you forget to check your gauges or swim after a fish and get lost! But you do get used to it after a while and it's effects get less and less - I don't think that'll improve my maths though.

The night dive was surprisingly light. It felt really strange getting into the dark water though (maybe you could change strange for scary!) but once you were down the light from your torch went really far and we were only 12M deep on an almost full moon night so there was some light from the sky too. Before we came up at the end of the dive we all turned off our torches and swam around in the phosphorescents - that was like swimming around fireworks it was really a sight to behold. I didn't really feel like I was underwater anymore because it was just pitch black but wherever you moved little green flecks appeared. It was like some weird film sequence when someone goes off into deep space or inside their own mind or something. I think I'm probably sounding really strange now but it WAS a really mad experience.

We also did 3 more dives after our course - on the deepest one we were 57M down and looking straight at a grey reef shark off in the blue. WOW!!!! My first shark. I'd been desparate to see one and I was so proud of not being scared when I did!!!! It was beautiful. I think I would have been a lot more scared if it hadn't been so cool and chilled out. It was just "sitting" there (I don't know if sharks sit but thats what it was kind of doing) chilling out in the current getting cleaned by a cleaner fish. Oh it was so amazing. It was just a shame you have to go so deep to see them like that because it meant we really didn't have long to stay on the bottom. But still all the hanging around at 15M then at 12 and 9 and 6 and 4.5 to do decompression stops was worth it!!

On another dive we saw a turtle. Snorkeling we saw eagle rays and a huge jellyfish. My sea snake count has now gone up to 4. 3 sea crates (the black and white ones) and one banded sea snake (blue and black). We saw two seahorses - another animal I have wanted to see for ages. Sea cucumbers, nuidbraches (a type of sea slug) that are really so colourful the look radioactive, schools of tuna and jacks and trigger fish. The angel and butterfly fish were so beautiful and some were the size of dinner plates. We've seen fish fighting, feeding and flirting in all manner of different ways! Red snappers, some of the most amazing corals. Starfish and sea stars of all different colours.

All of this in a really beautiful place with people that were so friendly and interesting. It was certainly a sad moment when we came to leave. We'd already had to postpone leaving for a week because a fuel crisis here in Indo meant the ferry to the south wasn't running so we had to wait a week on Kadidiri (shame!) and get the ferry back to Gorontalo. It meant we had to miss going to central and southern Sulawesi but we really were pushing it for time and with flights booked from Jarkarta only a few days after we left Kadidirir. But that just proves a theory that I've been developing while away - that, paradoxically, rather than travelling lessening the amount of places you want to see it actually adds to them 10 fold!
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