Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pulau Sangiang – Indonesia

I am currently not yet back in Australia yet so I have taken a second weekend trip out of Jakarta to visit more of the beautiful remote islands of my AWESOME country … Indonesia.

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Pulau Sangiang lies in the Sunda strait (or Sulat Sunda) right between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra. The way to arrive to this island is to leave of the coast of Anyer by boat. Anyer is about a 3 and a half hour drive from the main city of Jakarta so you need to find your way to the docks in Anyer to board your boat to the island. It’s a much less crowded nicer boarding area then what you will find when you travel to the “Thousand Islands” in Muara angke.

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So what happened on Day 1:

The boat ride is about 2 to 3 hours depending on which part of the island you want to land on and what you want to see on the island.

As the boat sailed along the coast of the island there were lots of coral reefs to be seen and many steep cliff drops with caves down below were the water would break and swirl around. It was an awesome site and something I haven’t seen before. When I travelled to Pulau seribu the islands didn’t ahve high or steep cliffs, they had shallow coral slowly receding into sand so this was something totally different.

We passed a few boats and many people on the boats had wetsuits on so it seems that there were many different diving sites that we passed along the way to our main location. When we finally arrived at our location we took the boat for a detour down some mangroves and looked at where the ocean meets the rivers. What I found interesting was the transition of water colour from the clear blue, turquoise colours to the green muddy colours as we got further inland.

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After we made some rounds in the mangrove area everyone just couldn’t wait to get wet and jump in the water. The boat turned around and we headed straight back to the ocean !! Yeaaaaaahhhh. I was already in my wetsuit ready to jump in and enjoy the ocean. As a result of our little mangrove detour i was already sweating big time in my suite … honestly, it felt like a freaking sauna under the hot sun and everything zipped up :P

When we were at the spot I took my GoPro into the water, washed my mask, cleared and rinsed my snorkel and jumped in. After about a few minutes of taking some warmup dives I was ready to start recording on my GoPro.

Freaking disaster, I saw condensation in my GoPro and I couldn’t turn it off, the camera seemed to be non responsive. It seemed to be stuck and it was probably because of the small amount of fluid that got in. Fuarrrr … is my GoPro stuffed ?! I got out of the water, took it out of its case and left it out for a while. When I rechecked the GoPro everything was fine so I had a feeling my case wasn’t sealed tight. As a result of this I had concerns taking my camera in the water so I left it out for the whole weekend. I did many dives through some really awesome coral but didn’t capture it on video. Would rather keep my GoPro live another day and wait for a new case then risk taking it in again :)

It didn’t matter though not having the GoPro allowed me to dive without having to hold a camera and allowed me to enjoy the water without having to be concerned about whether the shot came out good or not. Sometimes you just need to get into the water to just be in the water and enjoy the feeling, not think about recording or anything else.

The water was nice, i swam down the steep ledge to about 10 meters and just enjoyed the peace and quite whilst looking at the fish and coral, I lay on my back for a bit and then slowly floated up …. beautiful feeling. After spending some time away from the group, I noticed that some of the other guys where dropping a line and taking photo’s so I decided to join them and do some line work.

We took turns using the line and budding up with each other to make sure we were all safe going down and coming back up. Safety First ;) :P During the day we moved to various different locations around Sangiang island to experience the reefs and enjoy the diving. Some reefs were very shallow then veered steeply into a very deep trench, these were pretty nice locations to practice depth as we didn’t have to move to far from shore.

One of the best parts of the trip was the sunset, it was an absolutely awesome view and something I hope to see again. I’ll be prepared with a proper camera next time. I wont write to much about it but you can see the trek up to the beach where we viewed the sunset in the video above.

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Three of the divers were also avid spear fisherman and managed to rack in some nice fish, we had some grupers, sting rays and an assortment of other fish as well as some chicken, rice and tempe prepared for us. The fish was grilled on an open fire and some nice chilli sauce was added to it … such a great dinner !

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The worst part of the trip was the sleeping conditions ! Because i slept late i had to sleep outside. Most of the time I have no concerns about sleeping outside but in this case the mosquitos were out in flock and they were taking out big chunks from my feet. I had covered up with long pants and had long sleeves on and the only exposed part of my body (which was my feet) was taken advantage of by the mosquitos. It got so annoying i went inside, told my cousin (who also came) to shift a little so I could also sleep indoors ! :P

So what happened on Day 2:

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On day two we trekked out to one of the caves and looked into a cave that stretched from inland out towards the open ocean. Waves would come into the cave from the outside straight onto the island. This particular cave is infested with bats and reeks of bat crap BUT there are also sharks swimming in the water ready to pluck and eat bats that fall in. Joining the sharks there are also large lizards taking its own fill of bat :)

After we took pictures and explored the area we went back to the main cabin location, had some coconuts and departed on our boat. We headed to one last dive site where we took some turns on the line and I was explaining to one of my friends how to equalise by going feet first down the dive line. One of the difficulties with teaching this method is if you want to pull UP on the rope you need to find a place to tie it down. Looking for a big rock was difficult but eventually found one and was able to go up and down the line easily.

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This time the spearo’s did well and managed to get about 7 fish all up. There were some really nice ones (can’t remember the names). Some were fried and some where thrown on the open fire and once the fish was cooked, everyone would dig in like a pack of hungry wolves … (hey its understandable .. diving does that to you, it makes you dam hungry)

After lunch we had our final trip back by boat to the Anyer where we initially departed from. The boat trip back started of pretty smooth but then got really really rough. I (as usual) was on the roof of the boat and was rocking around all over the place, at one point it did get pretty scary and I had to hold on but after a while the seas got smooth again.

We finally landed back at Anyer, had a shower, loaded our stuff onto the bus and left to go back home. Such a totally awesome trip and something definitely different then usual. I’ll try to get back to Sangiang again if I get the chance and take some proper underwater pictures of the nice coral there.

Until next time …. have a good one !

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Free Diving – Pulau Pramuka meaning (Scout Island) – Indonesia

It’s been 2 long months since I have been in the ocean again to swim let alone do any diving and it has been a long wait.

Finally I had a chance to visit one of the islands of “Pulau Seribu” or “Thousand Islands” as its called in english. Its a collection of islands in Indonesia right of the coast of Jakarta and is still considered part of Jakarta even though it stretches a vast amount of water which would take about 2 – 4 hour boat rides if you travelled the islands on a standard ferry. My good mate, seasoned traveller and fellow bum Mark from Hong Kong joined up in Jakarta and we both headed to Pulau Pramuka to get a dose of sun, wind and water.

So how did the trip to the island go ?

  • We caught a taxi to Muara Angke where the ferries are docked. Muara Angke is where fisherman offload their catch and have it cleaned, cut and shipped throughout jakarta, possibly even other parts of Indonesia. This place absolutely reeks. The taxi driver had to open the window to ask questions and the smell that came rushing made me feel sick, so I just  *held my breathe* … I had people tell me before my trip, why not go from pluit and use the long (billionaire style) speed boat, BUT Me being a bum and knowing Mark to be the same thought WTF, NA , we would rather use a $5 ferry.  Anyway it was an experience worth remembering partly because of that smell :P
  • After we finally got to the docks we boarded the ferry, which in its self was another experience, Boarding the ferry required us to jump between other ferries to get to the one we were scheduled for. This isn’t so bad but let me tell you … if any of your stuff fell into the water it would probably melt and disintegrate because the water right on the docks of Muara angke was so polluted that the water was literally brown in Color and had rubbish everywhere. Sad knowing that this dock could be so much cleaner and possibly even a tourist site like circular quay in sydney.
  • Then this was followed the boat trip to the islands, which was totally awesome. Mark and I sat on the roof of the ferry like boat people trying to get from Indonesia to the coast of Australia :) But because of this we were able to see the ocean, and from a distance spot and see flying fish jump out of the water and experience dolphins swimming by the boat, such a beautiful site.
  • The boat stopped of at Pulau Pari (Pari which in Indonesian means manta ray) and picked up a few additional passengers along with also dropping of a few passengers before our final stop to Pulau Pramuka. Pulau Pari is apparently known for some good diving spots too so it will be something I will checkout later if I get some time :)

What happened on Day 1 ?

Accommodation was pretty basic, room, bed on the floor, aircon and kinda running (hot water) LOL. It’s good enough though, we aren’t there to enjoy the room, we are there to enjoy the island, the great out doors, the sun and the water above and below. The first activity was to go snorkelling so we went with the rest of the group out on the boat and went to the snorkelling site.

The reefs and coral at this particular site were pretty much grey and dead but they had interesting shapes and there was some depth, the water would go from 1.X meters to 15-20 meters pretty quickly. In many of my dives i followed the ridge down and before I knew it when I looked up the snorkellers would be points in the distance, nerve racking but awesome at the same time simply because as you follow the ridge down you just don’t realise how much deeper your going where if you follow a line down you know your going deeper and be conscious of this fact.

After the snorkelling area we went to a place called samak daun which sounds like “Smack Down” as one of the fellow Indonesian travellers told us :) Samak Daun is a really small island with beautiful shallow waters, nice coral and relaxed waters. No diving here really, just put on our vibrams and walked around and enjoyed the water and coral. The water color was turquoise and just something I hadn’t seen in a while, it was really beautiful to see and the sun was perfect, not hot but just right.

After Samak Daun we went to a shark/large fish cage, nothing to see, pretty boring actually and I think a time waster, we walked around, saw how much a beer was Rp 35,000 (which is about 3.50) complete rip off knowing that a beer usually costs $1 AUD so went back to the boat and just waited to head back.

What happened on Day 2 ?

I had asked the tour organisers what was going to happen on day two and they told us we would be visiting some fish parks and a few other DEAD boring things so I asked if we could replace it with another snorkelling session. They said we could but we had to add Rp125,000 which is about ($12.50), $12.50 Aud ? For a boat of our own so we can go to all the reefs and coral that the island had to offer ?! No worries mate ! Lets dooooo iiiittt.

So on day two all we did was go diving/snorkelling all day on our own boat, this was the best decision to make and we saw some great locations, awesome dive sites and just really enjoyed the day. We were out in the water for about 5hrs and got to see the some of the best the island had to offer.

Next time I visit any of the islands of the “Thousand Islands” I will definitely be customising my trip and not just going with the standard packages :)

We had a great time, took some great videos and some great pictures displayed right here in this post. I will definitely be back to visit some of the other islands here, sum suggestions are

  • Pulau Matahari
  • Pulau Sepa
  • Pulau Macan
  • Pulau Tidung

Don’t know which one to visit next …. lets wait and see ….

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Freediving – Bandung Freediving @ UPI

It’s been a while but finally I have a new video and I think from this day onward there is going to be a flood of videos as I am planning two trips over the next few weekends to two different islands in this beautiful country we call Indonesia ! This video however is somewhat different to the rest of my videos as its in the pool and not in the ocean. Just to add, I also want to say thanks to the Bandung Freedivers for letting me join their group for training over the weekend.

Bandung is my hometown in Indonesia and its way up in the mountains far away from the beach. Whenever I go to a new area I always like to find out if there is a pool or a beach that I can continue training in and upon research I found that Bandung has a freediving club. Up in the mountains of indonesia freediving still exists ! Yay … how awesome is that !

1238199_10201929206702796_1533010302_nSo I contacted them via twitter and facebook to get details of when they train as a group and their usual schedule is from 9am in the morning to when the pool closes ! Pretty awesome .. its pretty much over 9 hours in the pool :P

So for the day I went over some techniques like kicking/finning, how to breathe before a dive, and just some tips on how I hold my breathe longer and relax. I also learnt about some of the good diving spots around Indonesia and have a dive organised with the group on the 20th of september. Indonesia is so awesome, a whole weekend of diving can cost as much $40 – $60 dollars, this includes boat, food accommodation … too awesome.

It’s going to be an exciting trip as I have never gone with so many people to a diving site in one go, its going to be cool to see so many people in the water at once and I can’t wait to take this shot from the bottom of the ocean, im getting excited just thinking about it ! So I want to say thanks to the group at Bandung Freediving and look forward to meeting up on the 20th for our dive near Krakatau (sangiang island).

It’s gonna be dam cool. :)