Micronesia: Another liveaboard canceled

I seem to have really bad luck with booking liveaboards. Although in Indonesia it turned out really well, I am very unhappy with what happens now. The travel agency informed me that the liveaboard which I booked already in February, has been canceled.

Fish ‘n Fins told that another liveaboard, the Palau Agressor, has been hit by a cargo boat, so they had to transfer these people to other boats, and therefore, the Ocean Hunter has been used. I have booked the Ocean Hunter, but this can’t now be used for that trip. Untill now, I couldn’t find anything about this on the internet. I hope it is the true story and it is not just all about money and another group chartering the boat.
Anyway, the problem of course is that I have my tickets to Micronesia, which can’t be canceled, so they had to come with an alternative. They would refund my boattrip and offer me a hotel and diving. The only reason I go to Micronesia (Palau) is for diving, so I absolutely hope the landbased dives are also good. The boat-based diving was supposed to be the highlight of my trip: I hope the landbased diving can give me this as well. Let’s wait and see!! I am a bit disappointed but still, it should be paradise!
The other worrying thing: I read in the newspaper about a typhoon-warning for Guam (another island of Micronesia where I have to change flights).

Australia: QL: Cairns: angry fishermen

I read in the newspaper that the fishermen of Queensland are absolutely unhappy: new regulations are introduced to reduce the amount of fishing. As a consequence, they threaten to put a bomb on the Esplanade in Cairns (very touristic area) and to close Cairns off on THursday by blocking the harbour and the farmers would support them and block the highways with their trucks.
My plane leaves Thursday evening to Micronesia, so it i sprobably safer to be back in Cairns on Wednesday evening.

Australia: QL: The Tablelands: 29-30/06/04: On the search for “Platypus

It reminds me of New Zealand: there I was trying to sea pinguins, here in the Tablelands, I am hoping to see Platypus.

These mammals live in the water and come out at dusk or down. They have a strange face. But of course, I didn’t spot one.
The tablelands have a very different climate: some parts are very dry and other parts are extremely wet: that’s the part with all the waterfalls and the rainforest area. I was unlucky in that part of the Tablelands: it rained a big part of the time I spent there.

Australia: North Queensland: 26-29/06/04: beach, rainforest and mountains

Arriving in Cairns makes you realise you are close to the Great Barrier Reef: diveshops everywhere. So it is time for me to get some maintenance done on my dive equipment. And I hope to replace my floaded strobe.
There seem to be 100’s of divecharters going out everyday to do introdives, snorkeltrips and … oh yes.. there are als licensed, experienced divers that should be taken care of.

To me, it seems that this last group is absolutely neglected for daydives. They offer daycharters with a “small (40??)” number of people on the boats (and a ridiculous high price): some call “80” even a small number (snorklers, introdivers and licensed divers, all at the same time!!). That’s not how I see the diving: you will not see fish except bubble making creatures underwater. I haven’t figured out yet if I want to dive this way.

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Cairns is a bit too busy for me (as well as Port Douglas), so I decided to head north to Cape Tribulation. It is a big national park with rainforest right next to the white beaches. Only the blue ocean was missing. It looked brown, just as our North Sea. They said that it is caused by the waves. If the sea is not as rough, it will be blue.

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It is winter in Queensland, but still nice daytemperatures of 25Celsius. So, very good for walking.
After a visit to Cape Trib, I headed towards the Tablelands mountains. I found a very nice and quite campingplace at the “granite gorge”: the lady owner explained about this nice walk you should do. Soon, I found out that this walk was more something of a rockclimb. That was probably the reason why noone else was on the trail. After a while, I really thought that this was getting a bit dangerous, especially not with the appropriate shoes. And yes, almost at the end, I lost my grip and fell down. Luckily, I could grab some tree and I only have a bruced knee and some scratches. I don’t understand that the owner also explained this walk to an older couple standing next to me when I arrived: but she absolutely didn’t mention anything that the path was actually a series of rocks to climb up and down. But I enjoyed myself!!

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Indonesia: 22/06/04: Unexpected detour to Jakarta

What was supposed to be a short flight from Manado(Sulawesi) to Denpasar (Bali) via Makassar, turned out into a very long day. At check in, I heard that the flight to Makassar was delayed due to the Indonesian presidents’ visit to Makassar. The airport was closed for a while for security reasons. This resulted in missing my connectionflight to Bali, so at check-in, they rerouted me already via Jakarta (as you notice on the map, this is absolutely a serious detour).

When arriving at Makassar airport, from the plane we could see the presidents’ plane, protected by several military helicopters. But this whole security is a bit of a joke to me. As on the side of the landingstrip, you see kids and teenagers playing soccer, within the gates of the airport (which is full of holes).
Airport security in Indonesia is in fact a total joke. They have lots of metal detectors : even when entering the airport, you have to go through the metal detector and all your luggage is being scanned. A good idea, but not if it doesn’t work. Either the machine is not switched on, or even when it beeps, nobody asks you to empty your pockets or checks it out. I actually tested it myself and in the end didn’t bother anymore to take out my mobile phone from my pockets. Luckily, it still works more or less at the metal detector at the gates.

Indonesia: Diving Lembeh: 14-22/06/04: Mymic octopus as an ultimate present

One of the animals on every divers list coming to Lembeh Strait, is the mymic octopus. It is a white and black octopus that mymics other animals (lionfish, seasnake, flounder, …) But very hard to find as most of the time it is hidden in the sand and only the eyes are sticking out. Already in the beginning of my stay in Lembeh, Samuel (another diveguide) found one, but it stayed only a few minutes visible before it disappeared in the sand.

The last day, Andries asked me what I wanted to see on the dive. I requested the mymic octopus again (of course no guarantee, but so they can choose the divespot where there is a chance to see them. After about 20 minutes, Andries saw the head stickin out but the octopus didn’t want to leave its hole. At the end of the dive, just when we had given up and where doing our safety stop, another head was noticed. And this time, the octopus did come out and performed its show for about 20 minutes. What a way to end the diving in Lembeh!!!!

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Indonesia: Diving Lembeh: 14-22/06/04: Sex on the reef: mating Mandarine fish, a divers’ dream

When I arrived in Lembeh, I heard that they found a divespot where you can see guaranteed mandarine fish (these are small very colourfull fishes that are difficult to find). And, they mentioed that quite ofthen they see them in full action: fighting, mating, …

To see the mandarinefish, you have to dive just before sunset. We jumped in the water and went to the place where they seem to live, and waited (you have to be patient to see them). After a while, the first mandarinefish started to leave their hidings. More and more could be seen and they also started to be really friendly with each other. They were seducing each other and after about 35 minutes waiting and laying very still in front of them (you really get cold when not moving, even in 28Celsius watertemperature and with 7 mm suite), we saw mating mandarine fish. Not just one couple, but several couples. And the same male with different females, jealous females disturbing the mating couples, … It’s absolute one of the highlights. After about 50 minutes, there was not enough natural light anymore to watch them( you can’t put on your torch because they would go away), so we continued to other places at the divesite (with a torch of course). I noticed there something else: a seahare that was blowing out purple ink ( I thought only octops had ink?).
The mating mandarine fish wasn’t the only form of sex I saw on the different dives. We also found mating nudibranches. So, absolutely, action all over!!!

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