Saturday, May 09, 2009

Muckking Around in Lembeh Straits

It was a wonderful outing for me. Finally I am getting used to my heavy underwater setup and I manage to take a few reasonable shots. I won't say they are excellent as I have seen other people's photos plus I am just a 'point and shoot' person.

Lembeh Straits was true to its calling. A muck diving heaven. Visibility was not an issue as it didn't matter. By the way, the visibility was only 5-10 metres at its best. We had a very hard working dive guide Mickel who was busy finding for us things to see and photograph. Numerous nudibranches, shrimps and crabs can be seen at all the divesites. The group were ecstatic when we were shown frogfishes, pipefishes, octopuses and especially SEAHORSES. We got to see pygmy seahorse, common seahorse, thorny seahorse..... yippie.

The best site for us were (ah...2 'best' sites) were Teluk Kambahu which had numerous frogfishes of various colours and Nudibranch Retreat: which had so many species of nudibranches and the highlights were ghost pipefishes, winged pipefish, and pygmy seahorses.

As for the other aspects of the trip, the resort were great; staffs were friendly and courteous, rooms were clean and food was excellent. The kitchen staff made extra effort when we told them we were Muslims and thus can only consume seafood and vegetables. (Fyi, 90% of North Sulawesi population are Christians and thus not many places of halal food especially out of Manado town).

My only grouse is the heat. It was so hot in the evening and being in a fan room that is facing the strait didn't help. Wind came from the other side of the slope and we did not get any breeze. I regretted not asking for an air-conditioned room. I know why Kaz always insists on having the 'A-C'.

As always, good things have to come to an end. I am not sure when I will be back but I hope soon.

Note: Airasia flies three times a week to Manado (every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). With its recent schedule changes a worthwhile trip have to be a 6D5N trip as you will arrive in Manado at 8pm on Day One. While it is such an inconvenient schedule for the divers, I guess it have to be acceptable as it is quite cheap (Previously it used to cost Singapore Dollars 600 for flights to Manado via Singapore).

Also take note that Airasia may charge you an extra Rp125000 (RM40) for your diving equipment on the way back. This is on top of the exit visa that Indonesia charges. We were told by an 'insider' to say that there is no sporting equipment in our luggage if asked when checking in our bags. But alas, the information came in too late :(