I had survived my lengthy trip from Jakarta with all its trials and tribulations and arrived in Bunaken and got back from my first fabulous official snorkelling tour and was a little singed and sandy but triumphant. I had stopped and had a cocktail at the beach and got back to my dwelling ready for a shower and dinner before hitting the sack. I was knackered. I’d had little sleep the night before and had swum about for miles with all the excitement of being in this amazing place. As soon as I got back the woman told me that food was ready and to sit down out on the large terrace, my food was ready.

Beach bar at the harbour for incoming boats.

Now I wanted a shower and food is always served kinda lukewarm anyway so I told her “cold shower first” so she tutted and I started seeing another side to her false bonhomie. The house, and my room, I noticed had become terribly hot through the course of the day, and alarms went off in my head about actually being able to sleep in this place. It was then I met Lars who was staying in the other room so swapped notes with him quickly as I wanted to hit the sack as soon as it got dark and I became a scaredy cat again.

Triggerfish shoal.

There would be no WiFi on as it was reserved for half an hour morning and afternoon. I didn’t realise the impact this would have in this place as I could get little done on downloading my photos and videos as even in these times it would go on and off. This would mean I would have to be wary about space on the underwater camera. I ate my frankly boring meal gushing how fantastic it was and looked along the little street. At the turn of a hand, it had become dark and even though the place was lit to a point it was pitch black beyond, so no nipping out to the beach bar. Straight to bed.

Beach bars are the best on smaller islands.

My night in this inferno room was truly one of my top-ten miserable nights in my life. Even with the pathetic fan working its sad swinging head I couldn’t sleep. The dim lights made for it to be impossible to read so I had to suck it up, moaning and wailing until dawn finally showed its face and I could escape the room and go onto the main porch. When you are alone this is the time when you do miss company. I was very sorry for myself but I had organised with Mrs Pushys husband I could do a cheap morning trip on his little boat.

Red-toothed Trigger Fish

After breakfast, we went off on his motorbike stopping to get fuel for the boat at a mate’s place. Then we went off out of the village to the mangroves where he moored his dilapidated vessel. It was a traditional small boat, its little wooden ladder missing a rung and the hull in poor shape generally and slowly letting in water. I cared not. I just wanted to get into the sea. I was in a forgiving mood after my hellish night and tried to view the situation as sweet and traditional. Indeed I still had a wonderful morning despite loathing the misogynistic lazy fucker who owned this poor broken craft.

Leaky boat with a broken ladder but still I was wildly enthusiastic!

Again when we arrived at the first site it was amazing. When I first entered the water a shoal of silver, thin mean-looking fish started circling me as if I were their breakfast. I would later find out they were needle fish and they did indeed consider me breakfast. I was spellbound however and I, like an old bird fool, didn’t care. They were beautiful and I was so lucky! It’s only now, in the British Museum members’ room, four years later have I seen that they are indeed very dangerous fish.

It was such a good morning that when I returned for lunch and met up with Lars again we decided to go out again with the horrible man of the house. He resented Lars joining us and had to get a new snorkel kit that was a super cheap affair. Warning bells should have rung but Lars, like me, an adventurer preferred to be optimistic. It sort of went wrong from the beginning. More water had seeped in and another rung came off the ladder. He was in a foul mood and things only grew worse when my snorkel fell to the ocean floor as I was grappling to get up the toothless ladder. I didn’t notice till on board then we had to return to go look for it! The guy was so nasty and as we returned back after our unsuccessful search storm clouds were gathering over our sinking broken boat as he also ran out of petrol.

Red-toothed Trigger Fish

That night despite a second fan being given to me by a now nervous Mrs Bossy, I decided to give him the extortionate amount of money he wanted for the cheap piece of shit and cut my stay short. Lars was also going to come with me he decided to our new much-improved venue further up the island. We left first light and I’ve never been so happy to get out of what seemed to be a lovely little homestead. I would later find out that they were indeed a notorious couple with few friends.

New Home New Start- the Mangroves

Boat to pick us up outside my window

On arriving at our new pad we were so relieved. It was beautiful, cooler, on the mangrove beach and actually had air con and WiFi for a larger part of the day. The food was much better although still very basic and hanging out there and walking around the area was a pleasure. Lars was visibly happier too and we were able to fall out of bed onto the boats that would pick us up. Life was suddenly good on land not just in the water.

From this beautiful kind but casual place, we thrived. It was from here that I got the boat which took me to my turtle. It was from here therefore I got sunstroke which would be the end of my trip in the long run. My turtle indeed bewitched me like a siren of old times. However, this place was to be a wonderful glimpse into real island life away from the tourist village. A place to reflect and absorb the beauty of the everyday, there. I would wander up and down the mangrove beach at low tide between snorkelling and surprisingly didn’t get bothered with bugs at all. I calmed down and actually stopped being the phrenetic bitch and more the cool beach bum. you need an isolated place to achieve this, for my part only here and in Punta Allen, Mexico

The Fabulous Coral Landscape of Bunaken.

I would be remiss not to tell you about the corals there for indeed there is a magnificent array. I decided to show you a few because in a well-managed area such as Bunaken National Marine Park. It boasts more genera of coral than Hawaii, and I cannot explain how crystal clear the water is. Here are some pics.

Now I don’t know the names of a lot of these so any info would be appreciated. The glory of this surreal landscape after diving at many other sites is that there is such a diversity of everything! A lot of vivid colours too and the peace of just your snorkelly snuffling and bubbling, and in my case my underwater exclamations and talking to myself.

I am after all a mad old bird. Love to you all x