The final witterings on all things Indonesia…
We had called in at our final stop. The last town – Manado – up on the North East coast of Sulawesi and after an epic jaunt through Java, Bali, Gilis, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and of course, Sulawesi! It has been an amazing couple of months, but still not long enough for such a vast, varied and inspiring country.
Was Manado the icing on the proverbial cake? Yes and No.
The city itself is certainly not spectacular. There is nothing of great interest. Its shopping malls, which are classed as highlights are, well, not. They are pretty dull affairs, apart from a good cup of Sulawesi coffee.
But we were not here to see the city. We were of course here to dive – at the world famous -Bunaken. However, the island was fully booked (and why we had decided to stay in town). However, we quickly discovered there are no dive operators in town!
We managed to squeeze into a resort at the last minute and book 2 days diving.
Mixed things have been said about the diving at Bunaken in recent years. It used to be incredible and some people still hold to its beauty, but others (I reckon more experienced and well travelled divers) are less impressed. It’s downfall coinciding with US Aid pulling funding and the Indonesian government not enforcing responsible diving and marine park management to the same extent.
I’m afraid to say our perspective fell into the latter group. The coral at Bunaken does not stand up to Komodo (not even close) or even the Togeans. Too many divers, too much coral destruction. However, we did see an army of turtles. One as big as a dining room table. HUGE!
And then we muck dived. We saw quite a few octopi and other groovy muck creatures – exotic crabs, nudibranches, funny shrimp and more.
Is this the end of our diving? It might be… is that a sigh of relief from the non-divers among you? 😉 We are certainly going to miss diving, but maybe its time to turn to new things… We’ve already achieved 47 dives in a little over 6 months!
Manado was also the destination of another ‘Togean Island reunion’ as we met up for drinks with Roger and Lily (hi guys). It was a laughter-loaded evening, an excuse for me to ride a scooter again, and a brilliant end to Sulawesi…
But before we knew it our alarm was screaming its head off – 03.30 in the morning – and we had to catch a flight. Our destination. Hong Kong. Our journey. Long.
Our first flight took us from Manado to Jakarta. A 13 hour wait.
Jakarta to Singapore. A 6 hour wait.
Our arrival at Singapore at 00:30 was bewildering. We were tired and unable to check in for the next flight, so we had to find somewhere to sleep. Fortunately we managed to find some ‘hotel-like’ accommodation…
Hard, yet spongy, futon-like beds. Each ‘room’ with unique features. One a slide. Another a fireman’s pole. Soft seating. Crazy colouring. Our bed was in fact a child’s playground. We were not the only travellers. See if you can spot some of our fellow roommates catching up on a few ‘zzz’!
And then finally we were making our way to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a month long pit stop for us. We are calling in and crashing at Joyce’s parents. It is going to be great to spend so long in Hong Kong as a resident, and a guest, rather than a traveller. To get off the ‘trail’ temporarily. After 8months on the go we are both ready for a pause… nowhere near a ‘stop’ just a short respite.
I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging over the next month, things may calm down a bit as we get into a routine… Consider it our summer break! But stay tuned. At the very least I’ll be back in full swing early September when we head north to China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan and elsewhere.