Thursday, June 11, 2009

Manado: Part 4

I am going to tell you a story.

This is a true story, a tragic (albeit funny!) one about our dear friends, Darren and Joan.

After a 3 hour 40 minutes flight, AK 432 touched down at Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado City. There were 15 of us in the group, but 2 didn't board the plane at LCCT because of immigration issues (story for another day).

After retrieving our luggage from the conveyor belt, we proceeded to exit the terminal. Many were nicotine-deprived. Some even started with cans of Bintang beer while waiting for everyone to gather.

Then, news broke that Darren and Joan were still inside because they were missing one piece of luggage. Their dive gears (2 bags) arrived, but the third, containing clothes never showed up.

A report was subsequently lodged at the AirAsia counter. They took forever, and while we waited, more cigarettes and beers were consumed.

After almost an hour of us waiting, Darren and Joan came by to tell us that Air Asia's system had hung. Oh, we weren't surprised at all. That's when we decided that the 11 of us will make our way to Bitung first, and then head off into the resort. Another representative from the resort will arrange for their transport after they have resolved the matter with AirAsia.

We finally got into Bastianos Lembeh close to 11pm that night. Darren and Joan arrived almost an hour and a half later, sans the third piece of luggage. The rep from the resort had also brought them to some shops for them to buy cheap T-shirts, shorts and grandma underwear before they boarded the boat for the resort.

The silver lining: No clothes, but at least got dive gear!

Going to sleep that night, we were all hoping that the dives tomorrow would make everything OK.

Joan lost all the bikinis she had packed for the trip (girl brought along 10 pairs! no joke!), so I loaned her one of mine since I brought 3 pairs along. If no bikini, she'd have to go bare under her BARE wetsuit!

On the first day, they dived (private joke: Dove!) without their camera, it being their first dive with brand new BCD, reg and dive computer. The dives on the first day was mind-blowing, and everyone ended the day in high spirits.

On the second day, Darren brought along an empty Fantasea housing for the dive, and left the Nikon camera back in their room.

Eager as they were to capture all the amazing stuff we saw underwater, Darren said, "Test first. See leaking or not, since we already had bad luck with our luggage!"

"Ya ya, let's just dive with empty housing and tissue paper inside first," concurred Joan.

After that first morning dive of our second day, Darren surfaced to say that he'd lost his housing during the dive.

"It was bobbing and floating in front of my face, damn annoying lah! So I just clipped it onto my BCD lah!" he said.

That was the last he saw of his housing.

The silver lining: No more housing, but at least camera is safe!

By then, we were already warning them that bad things happen in threes, and that they should be extra careful!

Some saving grace came that day itself, Monday afternoon, when a staff of the resort informed them that their missing luggage had arrived at Sam Ratulangi airport, and that it will be delivered to the resort by the end of the day.

That evening after dinner, we sat at the balcony of our room (since it faced the port) and listened out for any boats coming to the resort. Every boat engine we heard, we strained our necks and eyes to see if it was approaching the resort.

It finally did.

See the happiness on Darren's face?

So, the winds FELT like it had changed. We were all looking forward to good things to come.

The next day, after our first dive and during our surface interval, we spotted... DOLPHINS!!!!

One of the Dive Masters on our boat spotted them first, off in the distance, and we sped towards it. Another Bastianos boat was nearby, so there were two boats circling and chasing after them dolphins! Everyone was ecstatic and we acted like a bunch of sakais, cheering and screaming our heads off.

At one point, them dolphins were sooooo close! Unfortunately, they were too fast, jumping in and out of the water, and the best shot I got was this...

My first dolphin sighting! Apparently you can see them between Sipadan and Mabul too!

After the hour-long surface interval on the boat, we arrived at Nudi's Retreat for the second dive of the day. We were going to see the electric clam!

We were all busy putting on our weight belts and rinsing our masks when Darren asked no one in particular, "Eh, you saw my mask ah?"


Silver lining: We did see the electric clam, and at only 3 metres! It was gorgeous. Zap Zap!

So you think the story ends there right?


Darren and Joan forgot their passports which were left in the room after we had checked out. Housekeeping went through all the rooms, and managed to catch us while we were waiting for the boat to take us back to the mainland.

Close. Very close.

When AK 433 took off for KL at 20:05 hours, most of us were tired and slept throughout the flight.

And you'd think the drama ends has to end here right?

Wrong again.

Upon reaching home, Joan realized she lost her mobile phone.

"I think it fell out of the laptop bag lah!"

*slaps forehead*

So ladies and gentlemen, everytime you are going through a bad day, do take a moment and think about my dear friends, Darren and Joan!

Posted by Doreen at 2:00 pm