We’re ready for our next leg; Denpasar, Bali to Makassar, Sulawesi: arrival 8.00 pm. Next leg to Sorong leaves at 01.00…. Ugh.
I am sleeping for as long as I can. We’re booked into an Ibis at the airport, so 12 people trundle bags through the muggy heat to the hotel, and we book in. As soon as I have a room key, I’m off. Alas, our room smells as though something died and didn’t go to heaven, so before my bag is even unlocked, I’m back to get a new room. The next room smells of cigarette smoke, sweet as a rose in comparison. The alarm goes off all too soon, and a bleary crew assembles for the next flight.
Sorong is traversed rapidly, a group of limos are lined up for us and we sweep off in formation a bit like a delegation arriving for high level negotiations… Sorong is just a step-off point for our boat to Kri Island, an eco-resort where we will spend a couple of nights in the researcher’s dorms at Sorido Bay Resort, before embarking on our boat.
As it happens, the dorms work well to bond our little group. The three men have one, and the women all pile into the downstairs one. Within a short space of time, our place is festooned with bags, suitcases, clothes and towels, and we are giggling with each other about the smallest things.
I am so tired, I find myself an upper bunk and crash – fortunately the dorms have A/C, so it’s not unbearable, but the heat and humidity are somewhat oppressive.
We are the poor cousins at the Sorido Resort; tolerated as long as we keep to our designated area, which is the “Rajah Ampat Research and Conservation Centre”. No using the paying guest loungers, stay away from the cottages and let us know what you want from the shop and we’ll bring it to you. We have two ladies who come to cook for us in the kitchen adjoining the ladies dorm, providing the most delicious local fare.
Once I have recharged the sleep batteries, I am struck by FOMO (fear of missing out). Snorkel, walk, sleep, photograph…. I want to do all of them at the same time. But the azure water exerts it’s pull most strongly. Besides, it’s so hot and humid: if I’m wet, I may as well be fully submerged.
We venture out to snorkel the reef, which is easily accessible via the jetty that takes us out to the ‘blue hole’ – the deep water crater of an old volcano whose edges are fringed by coral.
The water is a ridiculous turquoise, the crater cobalt blue. Fish flit about in abundance, each species with its own niche in this rich ecosystem. Angel fish, Giant Parrot fish, and a green turtle are amongst some of the pleasures experienced.
My photographer’s eye is caught by some of the things growing on the pylons of the pier: waving fronds of soft coral that look like ferns, little smurfy things moving with the current, and bright orange coral next to a lilac variety. My underwater camera is behaving itself and not fogging; partly because I’ve desiccated it for a month, and partly because the water is so warm there’s no condensation effect. Whatever the reason, I’m happy with its performance. Let me know what you think.
For mre images go to photodelmundo.net/west-papua.html