Thursday, 4 December 2014

Free Stuff to Do in Hong Kong

After back-to-back 4+ hr flights from Sarong to Jakarta and then Jakarta to Hong Kong, Andrew and I took a couple more days in Hong Kong to relax before the long flight back to Canada.

I am so impressed by how many free pubic spaces there are in Hong Kong.  Places that would normally charge an entry fee anywhere else.

We really loved the hike around Victoria Peak (so peaceful in the middle of the rest of big city chaos), so headed back up there our first morning and again wandered through the zoo and botanical gardens. This zoo has the most active and noisy monkeys we've ever seen so we enjoyed sitting and watching them for a while.

Hong Kong Park, along with the walk-through aviary, plant conservatory and a couple small museums and galleries was also nearby.

The Man Po Temple was within easy walking distance of where we were staying. Unfortunately, given that it's apparently one of Hong Kong's top attractions, we expected more. But it does appear to be undergoing renovations so perhaps that was part of what detracted from it.

We also headed over to Kowloon and were very impressed with the Nan Lian Chinese Gardens  which is looked after by the nuns from the Chi Lin Nunnery.

At the Man Po Temple
At the Man Po Temple
One of many birds in the walk-through aviary in Hong Kong Park.
Very futuristic looking building! 
One of the smaller groups of turtles in Hong Kong Park.
At the Nan Lian Gardens
At the Nan Lian Gardens
Chi Lin Nunnery

Raja Ampat - Other Island Activities and Our Farewell

Besides diving and snorkelling, other activities on Pulau Pef were kayaking and hiking.

A boardwalk walk through the mangroves led to a sheltered bay where all the boats were docked when not in use. There was a longer hiking trail through another bush area but unfortunately we didn't have time, or didn't make time, to do it. 

Hiking to the top of the "mountain," which had a guiding rope and a couple ladders on the steeper parts, led to a lookout at the top. Great views down to the resort on one side and, on the other, the sheltered bay and kayaking route. We should have gone up here at sunset!
Looking down at the resort
A beautiful area to meander in a kayak.
Kayaking and exploring the passages through the many smaller islands of Pulau Pef
I'm not very good at "selfies"
Daniela, one of the guests from Switzerland, joined us on our kayak outing. She had never been in a kayak before!
Two of the "Pef Band" members heading out to say farewell.
Me, Maya (the resort owner), Arif (our excellent dive guide) & Andrew
Dancing to the music. This older gentleman in front really had the moves!
On the long boat back to Sorong
Arriving in the Port of Sorong.

Before our flight left Sorong, one of the Raja4Divers staff (who grew up on Sorong) took us to the local market. Really interesting to see and Andrew posted a few photos.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Raja Ampat - Arborek Village

After our dive with the mantas, we stopped for our between-dives break at the village of Arborek. A large colorful boat was docked there and we learned was a Conservation International boat that goes around to villages to teach them about conservation.

Arborek is already a “model village” for conservation and tourism. It has a few “home stay” options, some shops/homes selling crafts and a little store selling convenience type items.

It was fun to see the kids playing in the water and on the dock by the boat. But they took off in a flash when our boat driver starting handing out crackers left over from our snack break.

We then did our dive near and then under the jetty, which has an amazing amount of sea life including some beautiful giant clams, and the sun shining through the pillars was beautiful.

Village map - both streets named Main Street (or are main streets??)
Kids playing on the dock by Conservation International boat.
Colourful bougainvillaea trees along Main Street
The village church
Andrew holding a sprouting coconut
Another view of the jetty and boat. Kids playing in the water.
Several of the kids came to check us out. Looking so serious but huge smiles and laughs
as soon as I turned the camera to show them the photo of themselves. 

Raja Ampat - Sunrise, Sunset, Carvings and More

Carving of the Raja4Divers logo.
We had some gorgeous sunsets almost every night. Only one morning did we get a very colourful sunrise. 
Sunrise view from our bungalow. Dancing statues in the water on the left; employee on the right taking supplies
out to the dock in preparation for the first dives of the day. Gorgeous!
I bought this sarong in Singapore but it took me forever to figure out the sketches on how to wear it!
Fashion savvy I am not!!!! Give me an Ikea puzzle any day!
Six of the eight bungalows
Office building on the left (seriously can you imagine a better view from your office window???
And our bungalow on the right. 
The dancing statues at low tide.
No, this is not Andrew and I.  :-)
 It's a couple of the dancing statues at high tide and sunset.
Sprouting coconuts in an old wooden boat. 
The "thinker." Another little statue hidden amongst the vines.
The entrance to the dining hall. R4D logo carved into the doorway design.
This carving was located on to of the "happy hour" gazebo. Note the bottle of Bintang (local Indonesian beer)
 in his hands. Someone has a sense of humour!! 
Walkway to the six bungalows.
Reading and resource area of the dining hall. 
Chess anyone? More wood carvings and locally made concrete slabs.
Two of these guys guarded the shore.
Even the benches had unique carvings!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Raja Ampat - Diving Scenery

I don't have an underwater camera so rely on Andrew to take the sea life photos. Internet was extremely slow at the resort so there'll be more to come but a couple highlights were diving under the mangroves and seeing the mantas. We had some great dives!

There are some strong underwater currents in this area (several drift dives!) and sometimes the visibility was only "ok" but the huge number of fish, the sheer diversity of sea life, and beautiful coral still made this one of the most amazing places we have dived.

We had very calm surface water most of the week.
One of the dive boats.
Always a smile for the camera!
Snack break between dives. Cappucino (instant), tea, Oreos and home made cake.
The only air conditioned, temperature-controlled room on the island was the camera room. A dedicated space for each diver with camera and a 27" iMac for viewing photos.
"Look! A big monitor lizard," said Andrew. "No," said our guide, "a small monitor lizard."
Stunning views from this platform. 300+ stairs to get there.
Wetsuit on, so we must be almost there! Most boat rides were about 15-30 minutes from the resort.
Dives done, heading back to the resort.