Friday, June 21, 2013

Togian, Indonesia


Togian is a group of island hidden far away in the Gulf of Tomini Bay, Sulawesi. The Togian Island Group (Kepulauan Togian) is an archipelago of six main and about 60 smaller islands. To get there, I would say is the most challenging dive destination ever in my dive history. I have to transit thru 4 airports, SG -> Jakarta -> Makassar -> Gorontalo, and a 15.5 hours overnight ferry to Wakai. I could reach the other side of the world with this hours spend on a flight. :-)


Togian villages


KM Puspita Sari
My adventure starts with an over night spent outside Jakarta Domestic airport, not the best place to hang out. All this due to some screw up with Sri Wijaya flight. Got to Gorontalo, managed to catch some sleep at Oasis Hotel and catch up with the rest of the group, 4 of us were terrified over the local Indonesian ferry after hearing so many incidents of ferry accident in Indonesia. When Phil went to check out the ferry, it was not promising at all, we have no choice since we're already halfway there.


Crew cabin
The ferry departure was delayed for 3 hours, after all the goods were loaded, we finally left Gorontalo midnight 30 Dec. We all made a prayer and hoping that nothing bad will happen. There were no proper seats in the ferry, everyone were just hangin out at the top, front and back of the ferry. The ferry was overloaded with goods, boxes filled the walking corridor and durians. Yep! It was durian season. The smell is overwhelming! We got ourselves “upgraded” to a crew cabin on KM Puspita Sari with 4 bunk bed inside, we hope to have some decent sleep over the long sailing night. Unfortunately the cabin is non aircon and everyone smokes everywhere on the ferry, the night was hot and none of us got any sleep. 


Kids happy to be photographed


Durian on sale
Daylight break at 5:30am, we woke up early from the noise and heat on the ferry. Relief that we were still sailing. The sea was flat whole night long. The local ferry stops by 4 villages at Togian Islands before arriving at Wakai. Local use this ferry to ship their goods and animals or anything that they can bring onto the ferry. Every villages that we stop by, there was a massive transit of people, trading of goods and animals, they will trade their chicken, goat, durians, vegetables, etc. It was an interesting sight. We even got off some villages just to stretch ourselves and chat with the locals, they are very friendly. We were tired, smelly and dirty, asking ourselves why the hell are we doing this? We finally arrived at Wakai 3pm 31 Dec. Black Marlin boat and crew was there to pick us to the resort. It was another 30 mins from Wakai to the resort. Gosh! We knew then that was the reason we were here, it was Paradise!


Black Marlin Resort
Arrived at the resort, tire but happy to see the beautiful islands and pristine water. There wasn't a warm welcome, there was nobody at the reception. After we finally found a lady that shows us to our rooms, we unpack and chill. The room is by the sea front it has a big sliding glass door that opens to a veranda and a hammock to chill. ahhhh....that's nice holiday room! 

Next great news! The island has no fresh water and electricity! The resort has to ferry freshwater from Wakai twice a day. We can only get water in our room from 8 to 11am and 5 to 8pm. Electricity supply is only from 7pm to 11pm, obviously there is no hot shower right?


Dive boat
The staffs at the resort are friendly but they are really not motivated to do anything. We were not given any briefing. We did not sign any indemnity form and they didn't even check if we are certified diver. The DM was still smell of liquor from the New Year eve party. Fantastic! Food for the 3 days were nice but just too little, breakfast was always late, we got 3 sweet potato balls on the first day, 3 pieces of chocolate pancake on second day and on last day we opt for instant noodles. :-( It was pathetic and the coffee was disgusting. There isn't any bread or snacks. Lunch and dinner were always rice with fish, beef and vegetables. We have to stuff ourselves with loads of rice in order not to feel hungry. I wouldn't call this a Resort, the service sucks!
B-24 Bomber
There are nice walls and reef to dives, big sponges, gorgonians, healthy corals, plenty of macros but where have all the fishes gone?? The highlight of diving here is the B-24 Bomber, the plane is in good condition, the wings with one propeller and the tail still intact, the two barrels of the turret gun on top are still in place. Generally the visibility here is more than 20m, only at the Bomber it is generally between 10m as it is next a bay of mangrove. We got lucky that we got 15m visibility at the bomber, which makes up for the downside of the trip. :-) We really wasn't looking forward to go back.

KMP Tuna Tomini
Our return to Gorontalo was much better with the Public car ferry, we had an AIRCON cabin, woohoo! The reason why we took the local ferry was due to the infrequent ferry schedule. There were only 1 trip per week. We were told that they will start to run the car ferry twice per week starting 2010. This trip was really hard shape, I will only recommend for die hard divers.


Travel date :  29 Dec 2009-4 Jan 2010
Travel route : Singapore -F-> Jakarta -F-> Makassar -F-> Gorontalo -F-> Wakai
Accommodation : Black Marlin Dive Resort (http://www.blackmarlindiving.com/)
Dive Center : Black Marlin Dive Resort
Type of diving : Muck, Wall, Wreck
Water temperature : 28-30°C year round
Best time to dive : Diveable all year round

-F-> Flight -B-> Boat

Photos of the trip
Cleaning shrimp
Sponge

Whip corals
Cigar sponge
Glossodoris Atromarginata
Blenny
Blenny
Blenny
Blenny
Chromodoris reticulata
Purple flatworm
Glossodoris stellatus
Elysia ornata
Clown fish eggs
Bobtail squid
B-24 Bomber
B-24 Bomber
B-24 Bomber
B-24 Bomber
B-24 Bomber
B-24 Bomber



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