Saturday, 11 April 2015

Komodo Holiday (30th March - 11th April 2015)

Alright folks..

We are back to a land of internet connection and great curries.

Time for you to put the kettle on as this post is a whopper... I have been writing the blog each day while we have been away... Lots of tales to tell... so get a cuppa and enjoy the read. The story begins after a long long journey involving a ferry, a taxi, a bus, a flight, another flight, and a taxi to stay a few hours in Kuta...

Day 1 -  We left the hotel in Kuta and jumped into a taxi to head for Serangan Harbour… down backroads and dirt tracks we finally found the jetty where we were supposed to meet the boat. A little rib collected us and transferred us to The Adelaar, our home for the next 10 days.
Once we boarded, we were given a quick tour of the ship, and waited till all the guests had arrived. By 9am we “set sail” heading 120 miles towards Komodo National Park. This was the first part of the journey, and would take almost 24 hours to complete. We spent the rest of the day unpacking our gear in our room, and chilling on the deck.

We made it to Setonda Island at 7am the next day, which is an area outside the National Park.

Day 2 – Waking at the sound of the anchor dropping in 70 metres of water, we headed upstairs to find some croissants and fruit. On the boat, they call this “Small Breakfast”. We had a nibble and had our first dive (the check dive) in calm waters to make sure all our equipment was working. The vis was nice, and just diving somewhere other than Koh Tao, with different species of marine life felt very nice and refreshing.

 After an hour, we ended the dive, and was picked up by the rib.  Returning to the boat, we then had “Big Breakfast”… realizing the running theme is Eat, Dive, Eat, Dive, Eat, Dive, Eat, Dive, Eat, Drink, Sleep.
2 more dives at the same location, and then a trip over to Setonda, to have a walk about the place. Jen and I zoomed up the side of the hill, to find a nice viewpoint to check the place out. Then it was time to get moving again. The boat had more miles to cover, and it was another 18 hours of travel time to our next point, inside the Komodo National Park.

Day 3 – Waking early, we set of for a 7am dive at Gili Lawalaut (meaning “small island facing the sea”) Stronger currents today, showed weakness in other divers. If this was Koh Tao, I would have been screaming blue murder at the shit buoyancy and the generally “grab what you like” attitude. I think our ideals just don’t prevail anywhere else in the world… and eventually, just like Koh Tao, it will be too late, and the damage will be irreversible. I have attempted to block out the generally shit standard of diving, to not ruin my holiday…. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take video of the poor diving… video coming soon!!

After the first dive, the boat cruised around the bay into “Current City” to find better conditions. Two further dives at Batu Bolong and Tatawa produced a bunch of turtles and a couple of shark…
Then, the boat moved to our location for the night. It was our first night dive… with the conditions in the water a few degrees lower, the guide put on so many layers of neoprene, and Jen and I were still in our 2mm Rash vests {HARDCORE!!}.. A 1 hour dive produced some amazing little critters… from Ghost PipeFish to Flambuoyant Cuttlefish (2 cm).. it was crazy and cool… I had a bunch of tag alongs in the shape of 6 or 7 Juvenile Moorish Idols, no bigger than my thumb, keeping me company throughout the dive swimming around my hands and face (trying to get protection by using the big fish… me….!) .. 

Time for dinner and then bed!!

Day 4 – An early morning walk on Komodo Island to see the famous Komodo Dragons up close. They are dangerous creatures due to their size and strength and their particularly poisonous bites.

For this reason, we had 2 rangers with our group for a walk around the World Heritage site. We saw a few dragons, and they are big boys. The rangers had sticks to keep them at bay, and we took a few photos, asked a few questions and had a leisurely walk around the site.

Then it was back to the boat for dive at Pink Beach. This dive was sadly low visibility, green water and strong current which made it a difficult dive for one of our group, who is a pensioner… from the beginning you could see she was struggling and  the dive guide spent most of the dive trying to help her through it… bless her. Next dive was at Fish Market, with just me, Jen and the dive guide. It was damm cold… 25 degrees. That may not sound cold, but when you spend 1hr in the water, it gets chilly… Lots of cool small stuff, better visibility, and strong currents and surge made it quite fun I thought! In the evening, we went for a sunset / night dive where the boat was moored for the night. A small wreck at 15m took most of our time to look around, but Jen was struggling with Suncream in her eyes all dive, and when we finally came up… her eyes were super sore… It took a couple of hours for the irritation to subside. Bedtime and a movie was the answer.

Day 5 – Getting up this morning, we were all excited to be diving at Manta Alley. This site, as I am sure you can guess, is famed for its Manta Rays. With a choppy sea and surging water it was looking like it might be a difficult dive. We dropped in and bolted to the bottom to where the cleaning stations are located. Immediately we saw Mantas…. Too many to count in fact. Jen and I were like kids in a candy store. Even though the visibility was pretty crap, and the surge was massive… we were filming like crazy, and at the end of the dive I said to Jen “That’s the best f*#$ing dive I have done in years”.. So we went again!!  Another dive at Manta Alley, filming the same multitude of Mantas!

Time to move East to Horseshoe Bay which was 3 hrs at full speed. It was nap time while we travelled, after the exhausting Mantas dives. Once we arrived at Horseshoe Bay, we went diving on the world famous Cannibal Rock. Visibility again was less than desirable, and also other divers in the water made the whole dive rather unpleasant. I ended up filming a guy laying on pristine coral reef taking pictures while wedged in to the coral reef… I hovered there for over 3 minutes filming his actions… and then lost my temper, deciding to smash him in the head with my camera housing, which I think probably gave him a good lump on his head…

At this point Jen came over and gave me some good advice… lets go up. Well done Jen… in my red mist it could have scaled into something much worse. I came up and questioned the dive guide about how this is allowed to happen in a National Park…. Sadly, the reason is what I have heard so many times before… People just don’t care… there is more interest in customer service than conservation…. Money talks… It’s the same the world over, and I wish I had the power to change this, but all I can do is post videos that get forgotten after a week…

Day 6 – Waking up early (every morning!) it was time for a quick cuppa and out on to dive the Yellow Wall of Texas. Still green and 24 degrees made for a chilly dive that wasn’t too spectacular. After an hour, we returned to the surface, and as the rib picked us up, we spotted wild Dolphins a few hundred metres aways. We spent the next hour trying to entice the pod near us by using the boat to go very fast which attracts them. We eventually managed to get them interested, and both Jen and I were hanging on to the side of the rib being dragged through the water at high speed with Dolphins just a few metres from us…

Wow they make so much noise… I think Jen was nearly in tears from the experience, and I managed to get some video, whilst holding on for dear life, and swallowing gallons of water… what an amazing experience though. After 20 or so minutes, the dolphins got bored and went their own way, leaving us to return to the boat for our breakfast. It was time to move on to find better water, so while we ate breakfast, the boat travelled North.

After a few hours, we arrived at “Secret Garden” We dropped into the water and the dive was worse that Koh Tao in Monsoon. Jen and I spent the whole dive laughing because it was so bad.
Even though the visibility was bad, we still had fun just messing around and giggling underwater. After we came up, we decided to cancel the night dive since the conditions were so bad, and have a bottle of wine instead.. I think that the dive guide was probably quite relieved...

Day 7 – Moving North early to find warmer blue water, the boat left early and arrived back at Batu Bolong, which we had dive a few days before. The conditions had improved and we dropped into some beautiful clear water. Using the protected side of the reef, we had a nice easy dive, until the tide decided to turn. We started to turn back the way we came, and without any warning I felt myself shoot upwards, spinning and tumbling while going at a very fast rate to the surface. It started when I was at 25m and in the space of only a few seconds I was at 15m… going way too fast in this upwards flowing current. Everyone else, was fine… the small jet stream that I was in seemed only to grab me! Anyway, as soon as I noticed, I started kicking downwards like crazy, while dumping all my air from my BCD. After a few frantic seconds of spinning around and upside down I managed to get down and grab hold of a rock. Then the dive guide managed to boot me full in the face.. Thanks for that icing on the cake.! The sudden impact of the experience had exhausted me, and I spent the next 10 minutes getting my breath back and carefully returning along the reef to where we had started. After the dive ended Jen told me how scary it was, watching me in an invisible washing machine… all good experience if you ask me!
We returned to the same dive site again… the other divers stayed on the boat to rest. So Jen and I had a nice, more relaxing dive since the current had calmed down. We saw an array of creatures… from turtles, sharks, moray eels etc… a nice dive.

We had another dive later that day, which was on a 3km long reef. It was scheduled to be a drift dive from one end to the other. As soon as we hit the water things went awry. The water was only 6m deep and we were flying along at a super speed. Instead of a coral reef, all we could see was rubble. Jen and I got separated from the main group, and spent the remainder of the dive getting shallower and shallower. We eventually cancelled the dive after 30 minutes while cruising along at high speed in 1.9m of water. To our relief, the main  group also had the same issue and had surfaced a few hundred metres away. Sometimes, plans just don’t work… and I guess if you are diving in some of the most unpredictable and swiftest currents in the world, you just get used to it.

So, on to the night dive which was at a place called “Wai Nilu”. A real awesome 70 minute dive finding loads of cool little critters. Jen was bitten on the ear by a worm, but no big deal. It was a really good dive, but by the end of it I was utterly freezing!

Dinner and bed.
Day 8 – The boat left its mooring at 5am to fight the currents and head further North to Castle Rock. We arrived at 8am and jumped into super clear blue water. So clear, that Jen and I hardly noticed that we were so deep, almost hitting our maximum depth for our Nitrox gas mixes. It was all good though, and we cruised around using the currents to our advantage, filming small sharks and schools of fish… another top dive… great way to wake up in the morning.! A couple of hours later we did the second dive at Crystal Rock where as soon as we hit the water, we knew this dive was going to be tough.. From the start, we were battling the current to the dive site, spending lots of air just trying to get in a good spot. Then we turned into the current and off we flew.. I used my air in 30 minutes (usually I have enough for a 60 minute dive at least). Not much to film since I was unable to use the camera in these kind of conditions. Surfacing from the dive, we both had a nice headache from the effort used during the dive, and returned to the boat for Lunch and a nap. After a couple of hours, it was time to dive El Toro (also known as The Shotgun). This was a leisurely dive up until one point, where the current flows through a cut in the rocks and throws you out the other side. This was a wild ride, with me being pulled up from 16m underwater to 3m in only a few seconds, while going sideways at an alarming speed.
Even if you know the basics of diving, you would understand that an ascent like that is extremely unsafe due to nitrogen bubbles in your body. With my computer going crazy, beeping like mad, telling me that whatever was happening was not good, I could do nothing but go with the flow. I watched Jen go through and disappear, and then I followed being tossed and turned over rocks and eventually was spat out on the other side of the reef. Swimming down a few metres to calm my computer down, I was pushed along the reef by the still very strong current, and turned a corner to see Jen and the dive guide hanging on to a rock. Barrelling towards them at high speed, I turned and grabbed hold of a small rock which stopped me (almost wrenching my shoulder out of its socket!). Once everyone confirmed that they were ok, we let go and drifted for the rest of the dive.
This day was probably the most taxing day for diving, the weather closed in later that day, and we couldn’t move the boat, so Night dive was cancelled. Both Jen and I were in bed by 8pm… !

Day 9 – Up at the crack of dawn, with the boat now able to move since the weather had improved. We headed to Golden Passage, a very chilled out dive with lovely visibility. A few rays and a turtle gave us some good footage hopefully, and after 70 minutes we surfaced to some yucky weather. Another storm and big waves.. The boat needed to move, so dive 2 was cancelled while the boat tried to escape the big waves and headed North. After a few hours of sailing, we arrived at Serangan. A volcano in the middle of the ocean, still venting some steam.

Diving at the side of it was unusual. Where we would normally see bright sand, everything was black… from a previous eruption… Lots of cool things to look at, and a very different kind of dive.
Back to the boat, and they were putting the sails up, so it was time for a photo opportunity before the boat set sail yet again for the night.

Day 10 – The final day of diving. Now out of the Komodo National Park area, we arrived at Angel Reef. A nice chilled easy dive and its neighbor Little Angel was the final dive of the trip. Nothing spectacular, just nice and relaxing. Then it was time to dry out our dive gear and head back to Bali. 18 hours boat ride later we arrived at port, and began our journey back to Thailand!



Friday, 27 March 2015

27th March 2015

March Madness continues, with birthdays almost every day!!!

So, while we are in the midst of packing for our super trip to Bali and Komodo, we have to wish Auntie Pat a very Happy Birthday for yesterday, and today, its Pops turn...


Right... back to packing.!!! So excited!!



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

25th March 2015

Well, its time for a catch up.

Jenny woke we the day before my birthday, and said that we were spending a few days there. This came as no surprise to me since I had seen the schedule for friends at the dive school, and a fair few people had already asked me when I was going to Samui..!

So we got on the afternoon boat and spent the journey playing Settlers of Catan. It made the boat ride go nice and quick... Carsten won, as he always does...

Once the ferry arrived we got a taxi to Cocooning Hotel, owned by our friend, Dave.

Checked in, we chilled for a couple of hours watching the Friday Night Walking Street go by (a night market).

Steve had just arrived from the UK, so turned up as a surprise (although I had guessed it again!). After a couple of hours, we went mooching along Walking Street to look at the goods for sales and to get some food... ending up in a Greek restaurant eating falafels that looked like cats poo! 

After our meal, it was back to Cocooning, with lots of drinks bought for me, I just made it till midnight so they could sing Happy Birthday for me...

Waking up the next morning, all of us had headaches, and after opening my prezzies,we thought the best way to solve this would be to do some Go Karting, and some shopping...

With an 800m track and 270cc karts, it was good fun, and damm hot... Steve pulled out after the 2nd race since he was going to pass out with the heat, jetlag, and hangover taking its toll..

After a few races, it was time to go shopping where I bought a new phone to replace my dead one and some bits and bobs that you cannot get on Koh Tao (Bisto gravy, Haloumi cheese etc). Back to Cocooning, Timea and Atilla had popped over from Koh Tao to celebrate.

We then got a taxi to Daves house, where he had been doing a BBQ for my birthday.. with decorations that were sent over by Dad (thanks Pops!)..

Flagging before midnight, we headed back to Cocooning... waking the next day to do the whole Go Karting / Shopping thing again!! What fun!! Atilla was a speed demon and blasted everyone...

That was our days in Samui... The next day it was back on to the ferry with a relaxed feeling and ready for my trip to Bali and Komodo in a few days.



Saturday, 21 March 2015

22nd March 2015

Today is another very special birthday

 We hope you have a very special day.
Thinking of you.

Birthday hugs & kisses

Image result for birthday horse picture 

Love Aunty Jenny & Uncle Simone

Friday, 20 March 2015

21st March 2015


Dear Simon, 
Wishing you a very Happy 40th Birthday!  
I hope your days brings you lots of surprises
Love you

Thursday, 19 March 2015

20th March 2015

Happy Birthday Iona! 

Simon and I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Love and Hugs,

Aunty Long Legs & Uncle Salmon


17th March 2015

Dear Chris,
Hope your special day, brings you all that your heart desires! 
Here’s wishing you a day full of pleasant surprise. 
Happy birthday!!
Jenny & Simone


 Image result for st patrick's day 2015 picture