This spring we traveled about as far from Dive Utah as you possibly can. We ventured around the world to Indonesia to sample their muck diving. What the muck is muck diving you ask (cringing)? I will mucking tell you - in certain areas of the world there dwell some of the most bizarre creatures you will ever see. They make their home in black sand and mud (muck) and have learned to blend in perfectly with their surroundings. This is what we were after.
A 2 hour flight to Los Angeles, 12 hour flight to Japan, 8 hour flight to Singapore, 4 hour flight to Manado, Indonesia and a 1 ½ hour cab ride to the resort and we were there. Yes it was hell, yes it was long, yes Singapore Air is BY FAR the nicest airline to travel on and yes, the Singapore airport has free wifi, Starbucks, butterfly gardens, koi ponds and meditation rooms.
We stayed at Kungkungan Bay Resort (KBR) and we loved it. We had beachfront bungalows that were very roomy and were right next to the dive shop. We were the only group there that week and apart from a few single folks passing through, had the place to ourselves. The food was a great mix of traditional Asian with plenty of Italian, Mexican and good old fashion American as well. It almost felt like the staff was too attentive but we loved it. They had a spa on site with prices that were too good to pass up. $20 for an hour long stone massage is something I can get used to. At the end of the week, we had a buffet by the pool as they sang and danced in traditional Indonesia garb.
The diving was very interesting. First you had a max of 4 divers per guide. Since we were the only ones there, we often had a guide for each buddy team! After the first day, you never touched your gear. It all appeared set up on the boat in the morning and they took it, rinsed it and hung it out to dry each afternoon. All dives were single tank dives with 10 minutes being the longest boat ride. We had a variety of sites from muck and rocks/rubble dives to reefs, walls and a wreck. Since we were looking for small critters, you didn't travel fast or use much air so bottom time was maxed out at close to an hour per dive. Jackie, one of our guests, brought magnifying glass for each buddy team to use to spot the smallest of life. And when I say small, I mean small. On one site the guide pointed out a Severens Sea Horse. Have you seen "Horton Hears a Who"? Remember the spec? That's what we were looking at. Even with the magnification, it was still just a spec.
Some of the coolest things to see were the Pygmy Sea Horses. They are smaller than your smallest fingernail and hang around on a specific sea fan. They are pink and white and blend in perfectly. I was proud of myself, by the end of the week, I could find them on my own. The wreck dive was awesome as well. It was a Japanese WWII wreck called the Mawali. It lies on its side and there is plenty of poking around to do inside with tons of life on the outside.
Muck diving can be hit or miss. You may swim around for 10 minutes and not see much of everything and then come across something amazing. Here are my 3 favorite muck moments (rememb
er - 10 minutes of nothing and then this...) 3 regular sea horses within 2 feet of each other with their tails wrapped around a plastic pipe. Nothing else around except these 3 dudes. Remember, sea horses are supposed to be hard to find!!
About 3 inches of a snake eel's head sticking out of the muck and he has a cleaner shrimp going to town on him. How did these 2 find each other, there is nothing else out here!! An 8 inch mantis shrimp just cruising along. Where is he going? It all looks the same down here!!
By the end of the week we were all pretty mucked out. I can see why photographers love it, especially guys who are into micro stuff. Next time back, I'm bringing a camera!
Let's go diving!