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Taste of Tual

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Since arriving in Tual, high winds have kept us hunkering down on board for the first three days, but now, the calm has come.  We are desperate to restock our produce stores, as we’re down to one yellowing cucumber and a few precious refrigerated green apples.

The market in Tual consists of a maze of alleyways, crowded with individual stalls.  Sure, we could find what we needed eventually, but when we took a local bus (4,000 IDR per person or 30 US cents) to the neighboring island just over the bridge, the vast fresh market wowed us.  I felt like I’d died and gone to whole foods heaven!

While we were out and about, we decided to enjoy a local meal.  Our friends on SV Adamastor highly recommended one alley that was lined with food carts.  Jess specifically encouraged me to try the Soto Ayam.  One older woman was the only one brave enough to call us over to her cart, so that made our decision for us.  We ordered a few dishes - one bakso (meatball soup) and one soto ayam (essentially …

Staking Claim in Misool (Souther Raja Ampat)

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Cabin fever has infiltrated Field Trip, and I nearly have a mutiny on my hands.  Since being in Misool, Mark and I have been diving maniacs.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s sinus cold is still lingering, which is keeping her above water, and Michael isn’t quite ready for the diving here.  That means they’ve had a lot of boat time.  The deep anchorages and steep rocky islands don’t offer any chance for shore or beach play either, so the natives were getting restless!

This afternoon, I decided to break the onboard rut they were in and demanded they hop in the dinghy with me to get some fresh air and new scenery.  The first island we approached was atop one of the dive spots Mark and I had dove a few days earlier.  We found a reasonable place for the kids to disembark along the spiky, limestone wall and were careful to keep the dinghy from the sharp edges as they clambered ashore.

Weathering on the surface had created a craggly minefield of sharp, protruding limestone, the spikes of which c…

Misool - Southern Raja Ampat

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Before coming to Misool, Matt on SV Perry emailed the Eco Resort to get information on any available moorings.  The response was friendly, but unfortunately, our time in Misool would coincide with their busy season.  The resort was at full capacity, and due to their conservation efforts, they would also be responsible for coordinating the number of divers visiting on the numerous dive liveaboard boats in the area.  Each night at 5:30 pm, someone from the resort makes a call out on VHF channel 16 to each liveaboard to find out which dives their guests will be doing the following day and at what times.  In an effort to protect the reefs and limit the diver traffic, the resort only allows 16 divers on one site at a time.  Of course, talking and comprehending a foreign language via radio is always more challenging than an in-person conversation where we can use gestures to communicate.  I’m sure the radio operator from the resort struggled just as much to understand us as we did him, but…

Raja Ampat (Northern and Central), Indonesia

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King of Wonders With Mark’s mom safely on board and all the provisions stowed away, we headed north to begin our exploration in the underwater world of Raja Ampat.  If you are a scuba diver, you have likely heard about this group of islands and seen fascinating photos in diving magazines.  This area is world renowned for its vibrant reefs and amazing sea life, and we couldn’t wait to check it out.  In all, we spent 3 months in the Raja Ampat waters, with sights and experiences that could comprise an entire book, but for now, let’s dive in and look at some of our favorite field trips through this spectacular archipelago.

From Sorong, we sailed directly to the northernmost island group to Wayag.  The mushroom-shaped outcroppings were reminiscent of our time in Fulaga, Fiji, and the turquoise waters surrounding them is what makes Wayag so picturesque.  One afternoon, we hiked up one of the jagged rock faces with spears of limestone jutting up from the nearly vertical path.  This hike is…

Southeast Asia Paparazzi

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I’d recently read that Indonesians tweet the most and are among the top populations posting on Facebook. At the time, I could hardly believe this statistic, but after spending a few days in Sorong, I am not surprised at all. These people are crazy about their smartphones. Everyone has one. Many have two or three.

The first full day we were here, Mark had the privilege of navigating through the entrance procedures - Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, etc. (If you’re sailing this way and would like notes on this, check out his update on Noonsite.) Michael decided to tag along, and when they returned that evening, they had hilarious stories to tell. Turns out, on the bus, Mark had been accosted by a gaggle of high school girls who were more than elated to see a ‘mista’ on their bus! They promptly snapped selfies with him and then grabbed his phone and took a few selfies with it, too, giggling the whole time.

Later, when Michael was with him at the Quarantine office, the young female offi…