How We Became the First Singaporeans To Dive At This Island

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago of islands. According to the CIA factbook there are 17,508 islands. Amongst them, 8,844 islands have been named according to estimates made by the government of Indonesia, with 922 of those permanently inhabited. There is more sea than land in this fourth most populated country in the world. The greatest biodiversity is found in the central area encompassed by Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern Philippines and Papua New Guinea, also known as the Coral Triangle. This country has a marine biodiversity that is second to none in the world.

Wonderful Indonesia.

On courtesy of the Indonesia Tourism Board, we had the opportunity to explore one of the far-flung islands, a coastal area where everything is just starting. We had a few options to choose from, Wakatobi, Bali, Boalemo. Well, taking the road less travelled has made all the difference for us thus far – Boalemo it is then, we thought.

The nine days trip started from Bali, where we attended a conference.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Bali Regional Business Forum [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And had a wonderful stay at Nusa Dua, Bali.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And off to Boalemo we go!

Air Garuda Indonesia[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you are wondering where that place is, it is far. Naturally, I googled prior to the trip. Thank god for Wikipedia. This is what Wikipedia said, Boalemo is a regency of Gorontalo Province, Indonesia. Its regency seat is Tilamuta. It was established in 1999 under Law Number (Undang-Undang Nomor) 50/1999. It has an area of 2,567.36 km2, and a population of 129,177 at the 2010 Census.”

So from Bali, we took a domestic flight to Jakarta, then to Makassar, and then to Gorontalo. As with the number of passengers onboard, the size of the plane decreases in size as the journey moved along. The airport at Gorontalo was possibly one of the smallest I’ve seen, with a single airstrip and a simple one-storey.

There was no tall buildings in sight during the journey. It was only a vastness of green and blue, dotted with cornfields, huts and farm animals. We had really left the urban jungle behind us. I wished I could say that the air was crisp and fresh, with a tinge of freedom, but alas, it was the period of hazy months. The tinge of freedom lingers in the air, but it smelled vaguely of smoke instead.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]boalemo diving expedition

Boalemo diving expedition[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The much-anticipated highlight of the trip was..

Boalemo Pulo Cintan Eco ResortPulo Cintan Eco Resort12919614_1689153444673095_8627943427763178549_n[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Pulo Cinta, the Island of Love, has 15 stand-alone chalets that allows for absolute privacy and full view of the ocean. Above all, it’s an Eco Resort, powered by solar energy. It’s an amazing place to be especially for couples on honeymoon. Check them out!

I thought we could go all Titanic and take Instagrammable photos like at Pulo Cinta, but the resort was still under construction. So my dream of becoming an IG model took a turn into the lane of funkiness instead. Even with the piles of lumber and wooden structures lying around, she was like a half-dressed girl basking in the sun. A little messed-up, but sexy nevertheless. 
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dive Holiday Indonesia BoalemoDive Holiday Indonesia Boalemo[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Plan B was a house beside the beach with a lovely elderly couple, whom we addressed as “Pak” and “Ibu” during our three days stay. Pak was a Catholic priest, held in high esteem in the area while Ibu oversaw our meal plans, feeding us with endless flow of Indonesian goodness. So instead of living out our Jack and Rose fantasies, we had a heartwarming home-stay experience at the house, which became the base of diving too. It also involved a few sessions of chess in the evening, which ended in defeat for me almost every single time!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dive Holiday Indonesia Boalemo[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Without the luxury of diving from a resort, we made do with the facilities we had. It was a pretty fun experience. The scuba tanks were transported from Gorontalo and our boat was a bright yellow speedboat. The jetty was not fully built yet, so the boat entry was on the river bank on day one of diving, and from the beach right outside the house on day two of diving!

Dive Holiday Boalemo Indonesia
Gearing up at the front porch!

11222474_1116674051695484_7676033000117801375_nDive Holiday Boalemo Indonesia[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The coral life here is remarkable. All four dives were wall dives to about thirty metres each. Huge corals of all shapes, colours and sizes with a myriad of small marine creatures playing hide-and-seek with the divers. We did not spot any sharks or rays, but the appearances of pipefishes, angelfishes, parrotfishes and other creatures that I could not name, made the four dives fun and hypnotic at the same time.

What stood out for us was the efforts to involve the local villagers in the development of the area into a tourism hotspot. The builders of the resort and the facilities of the island were all locals. I believe it is one of the most organic and sustainable way in developing an area. Like many parts of Indonesia, dynamite fishing is a common practice. Changing the ways of the locals, at the core, lies in providing an alternative livelihood for them. Even better, placing the eradication of poverty as the higher order of things. We could feel the eagerness and anticipation of change towards the developments of their environment. Of course, it is entirely up to the hands of the investors and government to maintain that delicate balance. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Out in the sea, there’s Pulo Cinta to uphold the image of this beautiful place. Inland, there is an area dedicated to infrastructures that will support the Boalemo Festival 2015, where it will be a stopover destination of the Equatorial Sailing Race. Here’s a glimpse of the place when it was all just work-in-progress. It’s quite a paradoxical feeling, the buzzing excitement of human development and the sense of loss of nature making way for man-made structures.

Dive Holiday Indonesia Boalemo11986362_1116674555028767_5392650772435189895_n[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] Not only was it a glimpse into the development of the place, it was a glimpse into the way of life of the locals. For me, it certainly brought back nuances of childhood memories growing up in the countryside, where time seems to have slowed itself down. For us, it taught us how to be at the moment. We are so used to setting and following schedules all the time. Being in a whole new environment where everything and everyone was still sorting themselves out and finding a place and position of their own, we learnt how to be present and go with the flow. And threw our schedule out of the window for a while in replacement of spontaneity. 




We stopped by a waterfall. Roasted some fish caught by the local fishermen for lunch on a no man’s island. Chilled with the locals at the jetty. And danced with the locals at their village at the most massive welcoming party that we’ve ever seen.

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11921645_1116668455029377_4098053025059813115_n[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The trip has opened our eyes to the natural beauty of Indonesia and her warm and hospitable people. But it also made us more aware and conscious of our common global challenge of climate change.

Indonesia, just like all developing nations, faced numerous challenges in conservation of marine resources and sustainability of utilization. Export-oriented fisheries have been silently developing to meet international demands. Pollution and unplanned coastal development add additional stress. Government intervention and the work of dive operators are important, but to make the synergic efforts complete, individuals like you and me must be a part of it by starting to review our consumption habits.

Indonesia, you’ve been wonderful indeed.

And we vow to dive you thoroughly someday.

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