Back in the Togeans - its a hard life

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May 17th 2011
Published: July 18th 2011
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Kaddidiri is the island we stayed on last time and we wanted to go back here for familiarity then move to Bomba where there is a more basic place to stay. At this point though we just didn't want to stay in Ampana for more than one night. They told us that we could go with the owner on her speedboat straight to Kaddidiri and it would take 1 hour instead of 5, but we would have to stay at their resort Paradise and pay up front on card as we didn't have enough cash to cover the full cost.

We didn't like the idea of this as we were stuck staying there if we paid up front and last time we had looked at the rooms there they weren't as nice as Black Marlins. Again good luck struck and the man who was helping us interpret told us he was part of a tour group and they had a private boat going tomorrow that we could pay to come on. It was double the cost of the public boat but we were ok with this as it gave us choices when we got there.

We got up early the next morning and got on the boat with a group of older dutch tourists. We stayed on the top of the boat for the journey chatting indonesian with the captain who was drunk on sopi (moonshine) and offering us some. There was a small tornado forming at one point and the captain sobered up to keep us a safe distance away. Short of a small pink police boat the rest of the journey passed quickly as we both dozed on top.

We got to Kaddidiri and looked round the rooms on offer at Paradise and then went to check out Black Marlin. Black Marlin was cheaper and the rooms were nicer but when we asked if we could pay for the room on card as well as the diving they were adament we couldn't even though 12 months ago we had. So we were stuck. We could stay half the time and pay in cash or go to Paradise. We settlled on one of the nicer rooms in Paradise.

The next two weeks blurred a bit. We started with nasty sunburn from falling asleep on top of the boat but made the most of doing nothing reading and snoozing lots. We chatted to people who had been to Bomba and they said that here was nicer and the main attraction of Bomba was living with a local Bajo family who had a spear gun for you to use when snorkelling. We decided against this as shooting nemo didn't appeal to Emma and Andys delusions of catching and cooking tuna were never going to happen. So we now had more time at Paradise.

Throughout our two weeks there we got chatty with the regulars, another two couples who stayed about the same amount of time as us and also the dive instructors. Emma started to get a real tan on the go spending hours in the baking sun. It was so easy to do nothing and as usual we took the easy option.

We eventually got motivated and signed up for a dive trip to Una Una, the local volcanno. All the pro divers on the island were excited about this and as novices we were hopeful of something good. We did a dive the day before so we could dust off our dive skills. We had done less than all the other divers and our last one was 9 months ago.

Unfortunately after a boat not starting and the second boat having very little petrol we went to the wrong dive site. Instead of Batu Pansing we went to Taipei Wall which we had done the year before. We dived anyway as we didn't want to take the 1hour journey to Una Una the next day and have any problems with gear. We saw a few things early on, a huge puffer fish, a large barracuda and various other fish but like the last time we did it it wasn't amazing.

The next day we were up early for Una Una. The day consisted of two dives and lunch in between on the beach. THe first dive was a coral wall leading up a slope to sand. It was a good dive and we went to about 24 metres. We saw some jacks and fire gobi which was cool. Also we heard our first dynamite underwater. It came from some distance off but was still impressivly loud. As a warm up for the next dive it was great but everyone was more excited about the pinnacle.

We got up and onto the boat. The other two dive groups had seen the same as us with an austrailian couple - Hamish and Kat - had seen a turtle from a distance. We had a simple lunch on the island whilst one local girl stared at us from behind a tree and got back on the boat for the Pinnacle. This was a large rock rising to a point covered in coral. The best point was the number of fish that because of a current ended up swimming around it - earning it the name fishomania.

Here we saw schools of jackfish swimming in the blue and also a small type of box/pufferfish that sawm around in huge groups. These small fish were very inquisitive and some stayed put as you swam through them floating right up to your mask. On the pinnacle there were loads of small reef fish with more gobis and a big trigger fish. For the sheer number and variety of fish this was one of the best dives we had done before. We worked our way round and up the pinnacle and finally hit some current on the flat top. We floated along on this and went back to the surface when our air ran out.

Sammy and Camilla, the dive instructors, had arranged for another dive for us to make up for Taipei Wall and we went out a few days later to Batu Pansing. This was another great dive with another huge puffer fish, batfish, bumphead parrots and even some garden eels on a large stretch of sand. Eventually the current on this dive got too much and we deployed a banner to float on top of the water and went back up to be picked up.

Four dives was enough for us and we spent a lot of the rest of the time snorkelling, chilling and drinking. The snorkelling on the resorts beach was great. Emma made an enemy with a trigger fish who always chased her when they met. We saw an octopus, jellyfish, nemo fish, pufferfish, schools of wrasse and loads more small colourful ones. We also went out on a dive to snorkel and after drifting over a wall with a mean looking barracuda the boat captain took pity on us and dropped us off in some shallow coral which was beautiful bright colours.

We managed to rack up a hefty bill for Bintang Beers but soon found that local moonshine - arak - could be bought further down the beach. We wandered down one night and bought a few plastic bags full. We drank one round the fire with the locals and some other guests. It tasted like perfumey paint stripper but with a dash of coke it was drinkable. Their drunk chatting and catchphrase "why not coconut" kept us amused.

We passed the last few days playing word games with german and spanish speaking people trusting that the words were all real ones. When the weather was good we snorkelled and when it wasn't we slept. We arranged to get the car ferry back to Ampana where unlike the last time we left the Togeans we were going to miss the food.

Last year we ate a diet of fish and rice for two weeks and if Black Marlin had still taken card payments it might have happened again. As it was the food at Paradise was far more varied and we ate better than we did in main land Sulawesi. The food ranged from rice and fish to pizza and bruschetta, stopping briefly on varied soups and chips on the way. And if there was ever any doubt over who wrote up these blogs it should now be clear its Andy but as its only one paragraph about food its also obviously edited by Emma.

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