Indonesia Day 5-6

Indonesia Day 5-6

We got up around 6 a.m. in order to eat some breakfast and get ourselves ready before making our way to the airport.  We headed down to the reception desk around 7:30 a.m. in order to check out and catch a taxi.  It did not take long to get to the airport and once there, we made our way to the Silk Air check-in counter to check in for our flight to Manado, Indonesia.  Once we were checked in, we headed downstairs to the MRT ticket booth in order to turn in our 3-day Tourist Pass cards and get our $10 per card refund.  The ticket booth opened at 8 a.m., so we only had to wait in a short line for a short time.   

We then made our way back upstairs and through passport control and went to find our departure gate.  The Singapore airport is set up a little differently from most airports.  You actually don’t go through security until you get to your gate.  We found our gate and since we had some time before the gate opened for our flight, we wandered around a bit and got something to drink. 

After some wandering, we decided to head back to our gate, went through security and sat down for a bit before they starting boarding the plane.  It wasn’t even close to a full flight, so we got lucky and had an aisle and a window seat in the exit row with no one between us.  It was about a 4-hour flight to Manado.  We were still booked for a vegetarian Indian meal on the flight, so not long after take-off they served the food.  It was actually a very tasty meal with cauliflower and paneer with just the right amount of spice.  Dessert was even better—chocolate covered vanilla ice cream!!—you won’t get that kind of food in coach on a 4-hour domestic flight in the U.S.!

It was a smooth flight to Manado.  We made our way off the plane and through passport control, which did not take much time at all.  Waiting for our baggage was another story—they obviously aren’t the fastest at unloading the bags from the plane.  After a bit of a wait, we collected up our three checked bags and made our way to the curb where someone was to be waiting for us.  We finally located our driver, who loaded us and our luggage up and drove us about 35 minutes across the city in very busy (Filipino style) traffic to the boat which would take us to the island of Bunaken.

The boat ride was a bit bumpy leaving Manado headed for Bunaken, but gradually smoothed out.  It was about a 45-minute ride.  Once we reached the island, we were greeted by Spencer, one of the resort managers, who escorted us to the resort where they had a welcome drink (my favorite—Mango juice) waiting for us.  After we filled out our dive paperwork and some other paperwork, we made our way to our bungalow on the top of the hill.  It was a bit of a hike, so you don’t want to forget anything and have to go back up the hill too many times.  I’m hoping it will burn a few calories, though.

Once in our room, we got busy unpacking all our dive gear and Eric got the cameras set up for the two morning dives the next day.  By that time, it was about dinner time.  The meal times here are 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.  We made our way down to the dining area and enjoyed some good conversation a very good meal with the property managers, Spencer and Chi.  At the moment we are the only two guests at the resort.

We finally made our way back up to our room around 10 p.m. and crawled into bed.  We sat our alarm for 6 a.m. the next morning so we could get up in time to go down to the dive shop and analyze our tanks before breakfast. 

The dive boat was scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. for the first two dives of the day.  After a wonderful breakfast with Chi and Spencer, we all boarded the boat for the short 10-minute ride to the first dive spot.  The first site was one of the few spots with a slope.  It made for a good site to do the first dive to get back into the swing of things.  There were tons of fish.  We discovered the currents here are very strange.  One minute it is going one direction and the next minute it is going the other direction—making the dive profiles a bit interesting.  However, the local guides are very good and know exactly which way to go and when.

After our first dive and our one-hour surface interval, we made our way to the second dive site.  This was a site with a wall, which is typical of most of the diving here.  We dropped down onto a beautiful coral garden and then over the edge to the wall.  The coral and fish life here is amazing.  There are tons of every kind of fish imaginable and they are everywhere.  We saw at least 8 or more turtles on this dive, along with a frog fish, scorpion fish, and all the other usual suspects.

We decided to just do two dives today and relax in the afternoon.  Normally, lunch is served at 1 p.m. and then the afternoon dive boat goes out around 2 p.m. for one dive.  After a relaxing lunch, we wandered out onto the pier and saw a small spotted eagle ray along with masses of fish.   We then headed back to our room and had a little afternoon nap—we are on vacation after all!

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