It’s 5.15 am. The day is getting lighter, and I’m already awake on the patio. A mosquito is biting my leg, which means that I should try to light the mosquito repellant smoke, although it’s very hard to do with matches that have been exposed to this humidity. Alanmies is still sleeping. It seems that during these five days in Bunaken, I’ve learned the local day cycle: go to bed early (the darkness falls after 6 pm) and wake up with the sun.
My previous posts have been about diving and the OWD (beginners’) course, so I thought it would be nice to write about how days are here at Living Colours and also list some things that you might find useful, if you are coming here yourself.
The Living Colours resort is a bit over 10 years old and owned by a nice Finnish couple, who live here. The owners told me that they are frequently asked, if there’s anything else to do over here than diving. They usually answer “no, if you are not very fond of reading”. The days do focus on diving, eating and doing nothing, which is perfectly okay, considering that we’re on holiday.
The meal times are at 7 – 9 am, 1 pm and 7 pm. The breakfast is quite basic, although I’ve become addicted to the banana pancakes. The lunches and dinners, on the other hand, are absolutely great: lots of seafood, vegetables, soya products and chicken, usually made in traditional Asian style – sweet & sour, coconut gravy, black bean sauce and so on. In addition, coffee and tea are always available. I’ve heard that diving burns loads of calories, but there’s no way I would lose weight here. The food is simply so good. (Writing this made me a bit hungry, so I walked from our bungalow to the dining room and poured myself a coffee & grabbed a banana.)
The diving boats leave every morning at 8.30. We’ve done two dives and then come back to the resort for lunch. There’s also an afternoon dive at 2.30, and sometimes night dives at 5.30 and full-day trips. So the diving takes about five to six hours per day for us, which means that we’ve got quite a lot of free time, too. So what to do?
Our bungalow has a nice patio with a sofa, a sunbed and a hammock, so we sit here quite a lot, read novels, coral reef books, surf or just nap. We’ve also made a walk to one of the small villages on Bunaken. There’s really not much to see, but walking through the jungle and seeing locals and their farm animals is nice. The cows in the middle of palm trees or a small black pig eating a mango in front of a village church were an amusing sight!
And like any holiday resort, you can always drink. There are fridges for drinks both next to the kitchen and in the “Safety Stop” bar by the beach. You just go there, get a soda or a beer and mark it down to your list to be paid with the final bill. Convenient! Alanmies was delighted that cold beer is always available. Yesterday, a bit exhausted after two dives and a lunch, I felt like an afternoon cocktail. The sun was shining and it was 30 degrees celsius. So I walked from our bungalow down the hill wearing my beach dress and flipflops, went to the bar, where Bob Marley was playing, cut a fresh lime, poured some ice-cold local gin and some tonic water into a glass, marked it to the list, grabbed my book and joined some of my fellow travelers that were sunbathing by the shore. It felt exactly like a holiday on paradise island.
Having said that, a paradise is not a paradise without animals – there’s the bug issue. The bungalows are modern with running warm water, electricity and toilets, but they are part of the nature. The toilet windows are without glass, and there is an open space under the roof for gekkos and insects to come and go. Luckily we have a mosquito net around the bed, so the nights have been peaceful, once you get used to the noise from outside. Some others have reported about bigger insects in their rooms or patios, but so far we’ve only encountered an odd worm or a harmless spider. My philosophy is the same as it is with diving: we are the visitors here – in the sea or in the jungle – and we should try not to disturb the permanent residents too much.
Okay, it’s getting close to breakfast time. Here are some things that you I would have found useful when coming to Living Colours:
. Here’s nothing to buy. Make sure you bring your own shampoo, chocolate snacks, sun lotion or whatever you need, because this is an island with only three small villages and not really anything to buy.
2 Water. There are water dispensers in each bungalow and on the boats, so there’s no point in carrying your own water. An empty water bottle is handy, however, if you go for a walk and need water with you.
3 Alcohol. As I mentioned, there are soft drinks, beer and some liquors available, but if champagne, wine or Salmiakkikossu is an essential part of your holiday routine, you better bring your own.
4 Clothing. I always make the same mistake: coming from freezing Finland, I forget that sometimes even shorts and t-shirts are too much. Especially on the diving boat all you need is a bikini and a simple cloth to protect you from the sun. Luckily the village women sold sarongs – that’s enough for most of the days. One day it rained so much, that the temperature dropped a bit more. Then I was happy that I had my mohair shirt with me. Oh, and a raincoat might also prove useful.
5 Humidity. I learned that if you want to get your clothes dry, you should take them inside after 4 pm, because that’s when the humidity of the night starts crawling in. This in combination with the occasional showers makes it really hard to get your clothes or shoes dry, so I prefer thin fabrics and flipflops.
Time for banana pancakes! 🙂