Don’t know about you, guys, but as for me, the opportunity to participate in real epic adventure does not often “knocks” on my door. Hence, you can imagine my excitement when I was offered to join world-renowned cinematographer Jonathan Bird on his Trans-Indonesia diving expedition on the board of MSY Seahorse. The general plan was to embark in Raja Ampat (Western Papua, Halmahera Sea), navigate the Banda Sea and dive at all remotely located islands, including legendary Island of 1000 snakes while in transit to the final destination of the Alor island. So, do you think you could you say no?
Jumping ahead I can tell you that the most difficult bit was to count out days left to the departure. Yet, after almost a year of restless anticipation, March 28th finally arrived and I boarded the plane.
Transportation, hotels, food, people I’ve met and places I visited and dove – everything was just incredible. So right from the start, I would be like to express my deep gratitude to all hard working personnel who tried so hard, and, by the way. perfectly succeeded, to make our journey a treasured experience of a lifetime.
On the boat, beneath the scorching sun (over 90’F with 100 percent of humidity) and under the surface of an ocean, management, crew, dive-masters … did their very best to fulfill every caprice of each guest. So I would like to thank all of them from the bottom of my heart. Guys, I truly appreciate everything you’ve done for us.
From Boston to Jakarta, some of us flew by Emirates airline. Great atmosphere; very clean cabins with spacious seats, excellent food menu, plenty of free booze and affable crew. Only much later I realized that we flew the latest innovation of the modern aviation Airbus 380. It happened that once I traveled in the business class from Boston to Cancun by one of the domestic airlines, yet chairs in “upscale” portion of a plane were not as comfortable, nor recline as much as sits in the economy section of A380. Can’t imagine what first class of the “Emirates” feels like.
Taking off. Dubai-Jakarta
Jonathan mentioned that during 12 hours of the flight he’ll try to watch as many movies as possible, “to catch up with the latest trend” as he put it. I counted 16 different categories, with 90 films in “New Movies” selection only… good luck, man.
Local flights weren’t bad as well. Of course, planes were much smaller than A380 and we had to pay for excess weight. From Boston to Raja Ampat, the final point of our destination, I’ve changed 4 planes. On the way back, due to some discord in scheduling – 6. A bit tiresome, yet still manageable, especially considering that we traveled all the way to the other site of the planet.
Since all participants of this expedition flew from different parts of the world, we spent 2 days in Jakarta waiting for everyone’s arrival. Most of us stayed at FM 7 hotel. The hotel was 10-15 minutes from airport and prices weren’t bad either, $178 for 2 nights.
Hotel FM7. Jakarta
Air-conditioned, spacious rooms were very clean with windows occupying the entire wall. Some spent one night right at airport’s hotel and … couldn’t get out from their rooms fast enough.
Hotel FM7. Jakarta
While in Jakarta I arranged to meet my old acquaintance Sugi, a sushi chef, who lives and works in the city. He gladly agreed to show me a bit of Jakarta. I got a kick watching local traffic. Waves of motorcycles preceded larger vehicles. A family, 2 adults and 3 kids, were traveling on one, small moped. One child was positioned on the gas-tank and 2 smaller kids wedged between adults.
Amusement park, Jakarta
Distances between moving cars could’ve been measured in a few inches. And yet you could find a happy water-seller, leisurely walking between two large moving trucks. Or you can buy a pound of bananas or bag of spices while you waiting for the traffic to advance another foot. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but it’s still hard to convey what it really feels like until you actually visit the place.