I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – and despite my nervous nelly concerns – here I am on another airplane.
This time I’m heading for Labuan Bajo – the sailing off point for trips to the Komodo National Park. I’m hoping that all will go well, that the folks from Komodo diving (long story – but not the folks I reserved with) will meet me at the airport as planned, that the weather will be great, the boat lovely, the diving spectacular. Sigh – so many things can go wrong of course.
But here’s what seems to be bothering me about travel – particularly travel by myself by airplane. I don’t get nearly as worked up about car trips – but then one can always abort those trips.
So – what can go wrong – you can have problems deciding what to pack, you can discover when you arrive that you didn’t pack the right things, you can have issues at security, you can have problems with your ticket, the flight can be delayed or canceled, you can get lost getting to the airport, you can arrive too late to check in, your luggage can get delayed/never arrive, your window seat can be ‘window-less’, there can be no food on the flight, the bathrooms on the plane might not be working, or you can be refused at immigration (this I have to say has only happened to me once – and they didn’t refuse me – they just made me find my Yellow Fever card in South Africa). To Continue – the people you intend to meet at your destination might not be there, might be delayed, might not recognize you. You can run out of money, not have the right money for your destination (I once arrived in one country – with only the currency of another – really hard to get a cup of coffee. This used to happen really often in Europe before the Euro – I’m all for the Euro.)
Such a complex puzzle – and so many things that can go wrong. No wonder I get nervous. I’m kinda surprised I continue to travel.
But here I am – on my own – flying on Garuda Indonesia Airlines – headed for a place who’s name I can not pronouce, being met (hopefully) by people I don’t know.
Man – sometimes I even surprise myself.
Ok – my diving trip plans – and what can go wrong, will go wrong – just rarely as expected!
Once I’d agreed to come to Bali (awesome decision BTW), and started to do research on my destination – it became clear that a live-aboard dive boat in Komodo National Park was going to be a fabulous option. Not only do I get to do almost unlimited scuba diving for 5 days – I get to see the Dragons!
I cleared that change of plans with my hosts – The Lady in Pink and her hubby – and started doing research. There are probably 50 well known dive boats that cruise the Komodo National Park area – so the first step was to eliminate options. I wasn’t interested in a long trip – many boats are 10 days – too long to be away from my hosts. I wasn’t up for a fabulously expensive operation either – no matter how good – I’m just not that into spending that kind of cash. I didn’t like the idea of having to take a speed boat for an hour or so to get the the dive boat – so I wanted a trip that started from a dock near an airport. And they had to have space available during the time period I was going to be in Bali.
Only one group met all that criteria – Moana Crusing. So started a long involved email chain with the owner Stefan – confirming availablity, arranging 100% pre-payment, determining that I needed re-certification to meet the newer Padi requirements for dives within the last 2 years, conversations about the food, about the services I’d need – like airport pickup, and help with my tanks. (I can’t actually lift scuba tanks – and I also can’t walk with them on my back – surgery in 1984 precludes me from doing these things.) All done, all arranged, all paid for. Done. I’m due to depart from Montreal on March 9th – and my dive trip starts on March 14 – All very cool.
5 days ago (on March 9th) I get an email from Stefan – the owner of Moana Crusing – their boat is stuck in Bira due to ‘weather’ and a problem with the authorties. It isn’t looking good – but he’s working on it. March 10th – another email from Stefan – their dive master and chef are going to get on board another boat – from another supplier – but don’t worry – everything is fine. March 11th – Niel – who I have never even hear mentioned – not once – writes to tell me that I’m going to be diving with Komodo Divers – one of the folks I’d nixed originally because they require you to take a speed boat for several hours from Labuan Bajo. And the boat I’m going to be on is the Mangguana. But don’t worry – they are taking care of any additional costs – and their dive master will be on the boat.
All my Research – all my detailed looking up – worthless. I’m now going on a boat I know nothing about, with a dive group I know nothing about, and this on the word of a guy I’ve never heard of.
Color me blonde – but this made me just a bit nervous. But as befits an experienced traveler – I’m ready to go with the flow…
AFTER I do a ton of google research of course. The good news – actually more people report diving with Komodo Crusing than with Moana Crusing, the Mangguana offers Nitrox, and there are ton of mostly positive reviews on Tripadvisior – generally about a different boat – but run by the same team. And the few references I can find to the Mangguana are actually really good.
So speed boat trip aside – I think I’m going to be ok. Of course I’ll only know when I arrive. But I do have my fingers crossed in a good way.
Signing off to go drink another cup of Delicous Balinese Coffee – The Soup Lady