[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Chances are, you would have seen the beautiful poster around the bus stops. The one with the panoramic view of a cluster of small islands amidst azure blue waters? Raja Ampat, otherwise known as the “Four Kings”, is enormous. It covers 9.8 million acres of land and sea, is home to 540 types of corals, more than 1,000 types of coral fish and 700 types of mollusks. Facts are just words on paper until you see it for yourself.
Here are just some conclusions from my trip last year to Raja Ampat.
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] You need to take a super long flight to reach
Everything in life comes with a trade-off. Here’s one of the sample flight itinerary that I’d recommend you to take if you are flying from Singapore. Garuda Indonesia, in my humble opinion, is the best and perhaps most economic way to travel to these far-flung but amazing places in Indonesia. Personally, I hate taking planes. When I saw the flight schedule, I died inside. One international flight and two domestic flights. Just kill me already. Thank goodness for Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, massage parlour at Makassar, executive lounges, and the A & W joint right outside Jakarta Airport, I would have faded away in this world before I see the Wobbegong Sharks.
GA 839 Singapore (SIN) to Jakarta (CGK)
Depart: 2020 Arrival: 2115
GA 640 Jakarta (CGK) to Makassar (UPG)
Depart: 2345 Arrive: 0315+1
GA 690 Makassar (UPG) to Sorong (SOQ)
Depart: 0530+1 Arrive: 0840+1
P.S. The Executive Lounge at Makassar is worth paying for. If I remember correctly, IDR100,000 is sufficient. For the couch and WiFi, and the Pisang Goreng, it is super worth it.
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]You will be stuck with the same bunch of people for at least one week
Here’s how our vow would have sounded like:
“I, XXX, take you, XXX, to be my bunk mate and dive buddy, to embark on this adventure filled with bubbles, laughter and joy. I promise to fin alongside you and keep you in my sight, from this day forward, for better or for worse visibility, for richer, for poorer, in health and in sickness, until the boat docks at Sorong Harbor once again. This is my solemn vow.”
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]You see Wobbegong Sharks every single dive
They seem to be everywhere. You might not see them at first, as they are super ultra lazy creatures that are dormant most of the time and prefer to hide away underneath rocks and ambush their prey. You might not spot them initially because they are so good at camouflaging themselves, but very soon, after getting a few dives in, your eyes will catch them naturally. I spotted one almost every single dive. It gets a little boring after a while. That spotted, brownish and ashy body with the weird-looking “beard” just grows on you after a while despite the lack of aesthetic value in their exterior; caught one of them “walking” on the seabed with their bottom fins, and even swimming leisurely once. You know one of them is near you somewhere.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]You will be sooo bored with just eating, diving and sleeping
There are only three activities to occupy your time – eat, sleep, dive. Maybe watch the stars at night if you still have energy after a day of satisfying dives. WiFi connection is impossible onboard. So no social media bites for you to munch on after meals. It is the kind of life that your parents would have disapproved. You are practically a bum. Your food is brought right in front of you, the crew changes the gear for you, they wash your gear for you, dive, come back up, eat, and then watch the beautiful sunset in the horizon. When the night falls, sing and hum along to the folk songs of the Papuans under the night sky. Boring, ain’t it?
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]There is nothing else but sapphire blue water around you
Raja Ampat is huge. There are 200 plus dive sites in the four main islands. The only time when you see boats around you is at Sorong Harbor. Once you are out there, you are on your own. You will sail days and nights without seeing a single boat in sight until the very last day. The expanse of the azure blue waters seems to be boundless. The sapphire blue water captures the changing patterns of the clouds as the Phinisi sails over the mirror-like surface, the ripples broke apart, as if trying to make way for the boat coming through. And the rhythm of it so captivating that your imagination began to run wild and you start dreaming about the creatures breathing and living underneath…