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Published: July 28th 2018
LA GALIGO - Labuan Bajo, Bali
All teak and ironwood, holds thirteen divers. The sails are unfurled on Google. This is a typical Malaysian boat style.
My flight from Seattle to Shanghai was three hours late, so I missed my first connection, Shanghai to Denpasar, Bali. It had been a long flight and my legs were really aching and I was a little rummy; you know...a little fuzzy headed. I Arrived in Shanghai and went to Immigration. Oops! By accident…I meant to go to Transit. From there things got a lot more interesting. You remember that time four years ago when I got punished in Beijing? Well…don’t mess with the rules, Folks.
I was told to step off to the side. A few more officials arrived...lots of head shaking and talking. The gentleman holding my passport asked me if I had overstayed my transit visa four years ago? I answered yes, right up front. I still wasn't alarmed, but getting a little suspicious. An immigration officer asked me to come with him. Now I am feeling like I am the center of some action. My eyes focus on the immediate...I am not looking at all the people I immagine are looking at me. We go around the queuing area to a "pen" about 20 feet by 20 feet, a holding area a with a four foot
Two octopuses...this is perhaps the male?
high plexiglass wall with chairs and a guard...actually several guards. I sit down. And wait.
Immigration Officers took my passport and my connecting flight ticket. Into custody, all night on a chair in the center of the big room… with other seventy six year old threats to security. All night. Again. Eventually two female officers come and talk to me. Why did I overstay my transit visa four years ago?? I explained I couldn't speak the language; I had no connecting ticket, since I had no visa for Myanmar the airlines would not give me my ticket. Internet connection was abysmal and it took me most of a day to decide where to go next. I purchased a ticket to Mongolia. The flight was from Beijing, etc., etc. The officer explained my China travel restriction lasts five years. Who knew? She said it was unfortunate that it had only been four years.
And I had no plans to visit China, now or even in the forseeable future. Just a simple mistake.
Eventually I was reunited with my luggage. A young man came and handed me a new ticket - to Hong Kong. They wanted me out of
THE BLUSHING BRIDE
An exciting way to begin a dive trip.
Shanghai soon. Me, too. I was trying to catch my liveaboard dive boat in Labuan Bajo by July 9th, at 9 o'clock in the morning. I am escorted to the airline check-in counter where we encounter a new stumbling block. No Korean, Taiwan, Chinese airline in the airport would honor the ticket they gave me (I don't have a clue what they had written on my passport). I had to purchase a twelve hundred dollar ticket with lovely Indonesian Airways to Denpasar (love the name) to get another ticket to Labuan Bajo on the sea coast, where my beautiful boat was preparing to leave. (In all the confusion, I lost my USB adapter for my new computer.)
The immigration officer did not release my passport until I stepped into the plane. I felt totally demeaned, shunned, and unloved.
Now my ticket from Bali to Labuan Bajo (like BA-JOE) great name, was no good, and none were available that would get me there in time to make the boat. No room at the Inn. Flights full up. 7 am July 9th and I am on standby. I spent the night on a bench outside the airport so I could
MOTHER AND SON
Michelle and Gavin were usually in my group. Fendy was our dive master. The visability made photography a dream. She is a nudibranch magnet.
get in line by 5:30 a.m. OK, I was a little late, but not much…If I make this flight I will get there in time to meet the boat. Yes! They make room for me...I think it was the tears, and the crumpled ticket I was carrying for my missed flight the day before. I got the jump seat at the back of the plane. I got the ticket to Labuan Bajo! I made it!
I spent the short flight talking with an official for the National Parks in Komodo...such an interesting visit.
Outside the airport in Labuan a kind Samaritan picking up another person called the boat for me and La Galigo, the boat, sent transportation for me. I got a standing ovation when I arrived in the saloon aboard the boat. Smile.
What a relief…so I did the two first dives, and collapsed. A bed, at last. I called the morning dive. And one night dive. I was really tired. There were thirteen divers and we dived in small groups of five or six. I enjoyed twelve dives over four days. I even enjoyed the night dives this time. Great boat, great group, great food.
A NEW NUDIBRANCH
This trip I saw at least five new species for my scrapbook.
Am I being repetitive?
We took a quick trip to Rinke to see the dragons on our no dive day. The monitors were bigger in Semporna, but these three and four foot dragons can run down a monkey. Still some visitors walked too close and one Korean man threw a rock at one sleeping in the shade. The guide said the bigger ones were elsewhere. The dragons eat deer and buffalo. One deer near the visitors center had been bitten on a shoulder. The venom makes them bleed inside. It takes about three weeks to die, then the dragons gather and eat.
The last night we had a barbeque on the top deck. But first…the flight of the BATS. At dusk they poured overhead for an hour. Thousands of them. I didn’t know about this phenomenon, so it was a surprise to me.
Afterwards we gathered at a long low plank table and enjoyed a feast...wonderful food. It was also a birthday party for our friend Jenn that went on and on. (For her birthday present on her last dive, the sea blessed her with a manta and we were all thrilled.)
The men sang and
These were exciting finds.
danced for her. And sang some more. No photos, Folks. My camera was...downstairs… in my cabin and I didn’t want to miss any of the fun, or the cake. Yum!
The final morning Ali, our dive master booked a reservation for me in Labuan. Did I want modern, or a hillside retreat? Hillside...till I saw the stairs. That’s why it is called Selina on the Hill. Oh! With my heavy suitcases? But it was like a little girls’ dream. I loved it. I do have photos. I want to stay there again. The man’s wife is a clever designer - such fun. I had a deck overlooking the Labuan Harbor, tea in my room, on the balcony with the sun going down on the horizon. Life is good.
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