I am an American technology worker who just moved to Taiwan.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Indonesia SCUBA diving trip: part II, Arrive at Raja Laut

Dead chickens are at the top of the stairs
We landed in Manado,around 11:30 PM. At 1.6 degrees north, I think this is the closest I've been to the equator other than flying over it. We grabbed a ride from one of the touts ready to pounce on us as we left baggage claim and spent 20 minutes getting to the Hotel Celebes which was right across the street from the boat yard. At $28 a night, it was cheap and very conveniently located, though not conveniently stocked with anything like bottled water or toilet paper. The front desk clerk seemed surprised that I was only staying for one night but, in fact, I was only staying for 6 hours and anything more might have been too long at any price.

Putting the motor back together
We checked out at 6:30 AM and someone responsible for our boat transfer from Manado to Bunaken was supposed to meet us in the lobby of the hotel. There was a guy smoking across the street who eventually walked into the lobby and introduced himself as the "boat captain". Keep in mind, any term implying rank or prestige will be used very loosely here and I doubt this guy had any credentials to operate a boat. Of course, the guy doesn't really look like a captain and of course, we would have to walk past a lady hovering over two dead chickens on the side of the road at the boat yard. And, of course, getting the boat motor started would involve taking the cover of and spraying choke cleaner into the carb and pulling the starter 50 times to actually get it to start. We probably only had a 10 mile journey but I was not prepared to row. Oh yeah, this is the private charter service to get across. We would later find out on the public ferry they just fill it with people until you can't fit any more and then set sail,
sometimes having people fall off and drown mid way. But this is all "part of the experience"; the last thing I wanted was a boat on which I had to wear a life vest and pass some sort of safety briefing. That wouldn't be very exciting.

Arriving at Raja Laut
It was a 30 minute ride to Bunaken to a resort called "Raja Laut" (King of the Sea), run by an Italian guy, Roberto, who was very helpful with setting up the booking and answering all questions. The entire resort was 4 rooms in a bungalow style with 2 guests per room. All meals are included because, well, there is nowhere else to eat.

This is the first time I ever stayed at an "Eco Resort" which I've translated to mean "No AC and plenty of bugs". We've been to Africa so we are used to sleeping under mosquito nets and if we could survive living out of a tent on Kilimanjaro for a week this would be a relative luxury. Actually I found it to be a nice balance where you  don't have all the creature comforts of home nor need a team of 30 porters to ensure we didn't freeze or thirst to death (Kilimanjaro). Shortly after arriving, Roberto, the owner gave us some crepes for breakfast and started loading our dive gear onto the boat to catch the morning dives.

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