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Bunaken and Lembeh trip 20032015

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Bunaken and Lembeh trip 20032015

Post Number:#1  Postby decimal86 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:13 am

its marvelous how an event grows from conception to adulthood then actualization within a year. its even more remarkable when the person organising all these dive events is fully employed (you are employed right?), a family man, golfer, mountain-biker and yet....find time to organise these diving extravaganza, after all, there are only 24 hours in a day ? dah ?

Raffi-our gang-leader-a term of endearment folks! has done it again. those that know him will attest that he will share only the good deals in life.

sourcing out the very best dive resorts with insane value packages for our enjoyment. we did Lembeh last year with Yos Lembeh which was very very successful and this year we decided to make a tour of Bunaken as well. if the post of finance minister was open i would vote for Raffi.

9 of us from KL and 6 from singapore departed 20th March 2015 to meet in Manado. our first stop was Villa Dahlia in Manado. this trip was extra special because we had 2 divers who actually own their own resort !! so we would know if there was anything short of a good deal in the days to come.

this trip was also a chance for me to test the newly cast Nauticam CMC, touted to complement the Olympus 60mm macro against the Subsee +10, Inon 330 and the highly successful Aquako III.

if your tour leader is willing, stop over at Rumah Makan Saroja and take away the nasi kuning. it is divine.

Villa Dahlia is small, very small. in fact the kitchen is located elsewhere from the accomodations. they have 2 swimming pools-one for the adults and the other for kids. the rooms were big enough. with a kettle and a mini fridge. the air-cond was efficient and the shower head has a mercedes benz logo and it gives a blue light !

this place has mosquitoes, lots of them.

the old dive centre is located far from the jetty. maybe thats why they are building a new one by the waters. it was not designed to cater to big groups. no rinse tank for cameras or dive gear. the racks to hang wet stuff far too small.

it took about an hour from the airport. however it is also just minutes away from La racrasse and Minahasa divers. there is also a seafood restaurant next door that served reasonably priced chinese style seafood.

we started the day waiting an hour for our boat. the dive ctr tried to get 15 of us into one boat but we rejected that idea as the boat was not very big. it is about 45 mins to Bunaken. we dived Fukui, Lekuan II and III. not memorable, plenty of healthy turtles, sleeping sharks but nothing much else.

but we wanted to see for ourselves what Bunaken was all about.

the packed lunch was delicious. the dive guides knowledgeable and chatty. the dive boat was spacious for 8 divers.

the water temp was about 28 deg. visibility a good 15 m. current was slack and made for a good dive for newbies.

well we can put a tick in the box for Bunaken. oh always always ask how far is the dive ctr from the jetty. we could have brought our mesh bags to lug our dive gear if we had known it was a 100 m walk to the jetty past some rocks and floating styrofoam pontoon.

we were picked up after we had showered and packed our gear for YOS Lembeh. 6 cars all together. the journey was very long. we arrived at YOS to one of many sumptuos dinners. and this was after nasi kuning from Saroja.

chit chatted. filled in the disclaimer. and soon our tired bodies bade a good night and we turned in for the night. ready for action tomorrow. well maybe not....the next door was a community hall and they had gospel tunes in bahasa indonesia on very early in the morning every morning. you may want to avoid the sea-facing room !

break fast was individually cooked. it will take a while. funny how YOS does not have a toaster? bread is browned in a frying pan. hmm now i know what to get him for his birthday--4 slice toaster.

i also think its about time YOS built a jetty to board their boats. at low tide, all the corals were trampled on to get to the boats. it is a compact dive ctr so wet stuff do not dry easily. perhaps clothesline outside our rooms would be helpful?

however, the rinse tank for cameras and dive gear is sufficient and they give a bottle of dettol to tame the smell of our wetsuits.

the camera area has plenty of towels and a blow gun to dry your casing. and electrical outlets to charge your power hungry toys.

wi fi was sufficient for all 15 of us to connect with home and family. photos were quickly whizzed into cyberspace to goad/encourage others to visit Lembeh. the sea breeze was perpetually on and the nights were pleasant. water temps were cool. dropping to 26 at some dive sites. visibility was not good everywhere, 8 m at most ? oh yeah, it cannot be overemphasised that the frog-kick is a must in Lembeh. the debris takes a long time to settle and by then, the nudis would have been blown away. so have a thot when you finish snapping, and leave as little dust flying as you fin away?

as i mentioned i was testing the new CMC wet lens from Nauticam and it did not turn in stellar performance. using my 60mm macro Olympus, i could not tell the difference between it and the Subsee and Aquako III. and with a hefty price tag like that i think the Aquako would be a better buy.

i am also happy to report that this is the 5th time my wife's Olympus TG3 in a casing has flooded without any damage to the camera nor the SD card and the battery. i fully endorse this camera.

my shots using the CMC/Subsee/Aquako is in the underwater photography section.

the usual suspects were spotted at Lembeh. harlequin barramundi babies were abundant this time. the mandarins were at their virile best. the males are bigger in size right? still an on going debate amongst us. now i know why the cardinals are hanging around the site. not a pleasant story i am afraid. i have also seen a pair of mandarins at the housereef of YOS. i hope they have a colony soon.

flamboyant cuttlefish, bluering octo, green and yellow hairy goby, rhinopias, bragabanti pygmy, pontohi, hairy filefish, hairy ambon scorpion. shawn the sheep.

eggs of the cuttlefish and anemone clown were plentiful.

the night dives were less than stellar, no stargazers nor bobbit worm. we did however see a starry-night octopus.

i think it is true what they say about the colder waters having more critters.

in particular, nudis.

in closing, to say that all of us enjoyed ourselves, would be like saying durian has only a handful of followers ? yes, once again highlight only the macro stuff..we did Bunaken but from the looks of the can safely give it a miss. unless you want a collection of turtles in your porfolio? the reason i concentrate so much on macro is the fact that they are far easier to take and compact camera owners can produce stunning shots. the same cannot be said of pelagics. in fact one member of our gang has improved so much, he is not shy in showing us his shots any more. way to go eddie...!

but for us to take stunning shots of pelagics is another ball game altogether. so macro will remain my main game

we will be diving Tulamben in a few weeks, plenty of macro there as well. and if you are interested, pls get in touch with Raffi. only the best but it cost less !
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