*Our latest adventure is taking us throughout eastern Indonesia diving from both a land based resort (www.misoolecoresort.com) and live aboard and finally to Bali to experience the culture, the art and the beauty of that magical place. Join us as we blog our way through the Mecca of the diving world for the next 30 days. Do note, that diving in these remote areas, often means no internet access. Keep checking back as the blog will keep coming in whenever we have the ability!
It’s Tuesday evening and I’m at home in front of the fireplace. I’m in a rural area of southwest Montana. The snow is falling and the heat from the fire is warm and inviting. I sip my Cabernet and relax on the buffalo rug with my neighbor’s new puppies. It’s all rather excellent and I am content. I have been home only two days from my last adventure, six months on a ship throughout Europe and across the Atlantic.
That means it’s about time to go…though honestly I could use a few more days at home. Often, on the brink of a new adventure, I take a reality check. I look at where I am and think of the exact moment because in a few days, my reality will look completely different.
That is what I love about travel. One day I’m in Montana and the next I’m diving on a reef in SE Asia. It keeps life exciting and keeps me in the “now”.
The alarm goes off at 4:00am, a typical departure time for us since we have an 1 1/2 hour drive to the airport. We navigate the snowy two lane road and keep a sharp eye out for animals as we creep our way towards the Missoula International Airport. We always get a strange look at check in as our destinations are places such as Italy or Singapore or Santiago whereas most Montanans destinations resemble Salt Lake or Boise.
The Long Haul
The first hop is east more than two hours only to head back west. While “hubs” have been great for airlines, they are not always convenient for travelers. But we wing our way to Minneapolis only to turn around and fly to Tokyo. The flight is almost 12 hours but I always get there and wonder where the time went???? The Tokyo flight is on an ancient 747, probably one of Northwest’s old planes, with no in seat back monitors. And as the thrusters push us off the ground at a sharp angle, the air conditioning unit lets loose with a torrent of water which soaks the passenger in front of us……we’re off!
It seems that on long haul flights all the flight attendants want to do is get you to close your window shade and sleep. But heading west, we follow the sun which helps to reset my body clock. I always argue with the flight attendant to keep the shade open sometimes even telling them I’ll be sick otherwise. We compromise with halfway. My stubbornness is rewarded as we have an absolutely stunning view of the snow covered mountains of Alaska. In fact, the other passengers see us looking out and start to open their windows. Even the flight attendants take notice of this magnificent work of nature. Remember traveling is about the journey so don’t ever put down the shade on your adventure. On your way to dive in Indonesia you may be rewarded by Alaska!
We depart late from Tokyo to Singapore, a 7 hour jump, and arrive at 2:00am. Changi airport is a fabulous place to spend a few hours. You can go to the fitness center, the pool, enjoy free internet or, since it was the middle of the night, we opted for a pay by the hour nap service. We grabbed a couple of slumberettes for a few zzzzzs and then a nice shower at 5:00am and we were good to go! We found a deli for breakfast which included never before tried wasabi potato chips (YUM!).
This trip we attempted ( in the interest of saving money) to see how many SE Asia airports we could hit. So from Singapore, we headed north (yes, north) to Kuala Lumpur only to turn around and head south to Ujung Pandang. For these hops we chose the new budget airline, Air Asia. If you understand you get exactly what you pay for, Air Asia can be a great way to fly. You pay for luggage over 15kg (I recommend prepay online to supersize your bag), you pay if you want to choose your seat (I didn’t and it was fine), you pay for drinks including water, meals, everything. You can prepay and choose your meal from a menu. Each leg of your journey is just that. You must pick up your luggage and recheck in, meaning you repay for everything. If you understand all that and still find the flight cheaper than other airlines and the experience good then go for it. I definitely would book again. Oh yes, and the seat pitch is quite small so get ready.
Our flights were not exactly on time and this is typical so I recommend leaving plenty of time so you don’t screw up the rest of your itinerary.
After two full days of flying and one day lost over the dateline, we arrived in Indonesia though not nearly at our destination yet. Our interim stop was Ujung Pandang, the fourth largest city in Indonesia located on the island of Sulawesi.
Stay tuned! To your adventures!