Monday, December 13, 2010

Diving Pulau Weh

Pulau Weh is a little tiny island off the northern tip of Sumatra, a short ferry ride away from Banda Aceh. Megan and I made sure to squeeze in a few days of diving after our workshop in Banda Aceh. 

Durban Hingebeak Shrimp

School of Juvenile Striped Catfish

Upside Down Lionfish

Peacock Mantis Shrimp
After a few fun days of diving, we packed up all our gear and took an hour long shuttle ride to the port town of Sabang to catch our ferry back to Banda Aceh. We said goodbye to our driver, loaded our bags on the boat and took our seats. An hour or so later, we were still sitting at the dock. Then there came some announcement in Indonesian over the loudspeaker followed by a mass exodus of all the Indonesian passengers on the boat. We eventually figured out that the ferry had been canceled for the day because of rough seas. The next ferry wouldn't be leaving until the following morning. So, we gathered our bags again and disembarked. Luckily, our driver was still lingering around the ferry terminal and agreed to take us back to the dive resort for a discounted price. As a bonus, we got to do an extra dive that day and it was a great one - a big dogtooth tuna swam right up to me as I descended, we saw a blacktip reef shark and lots of giant moray eels and, as a final highlight, we saw dolphins from the boat on our way back to the resort.

When we finally returned to Banda Aceh the next day, our host Khairil told us that it's very unusual for the ferries to be canceled; it happens only a few times a year. He then went on to say that there had been several fatal ferry accidents in recent years on the Banda Aceh - Pulau Weh route because of overloaded boats going out in bad weather. After hearing that, we were even more glad that our ferry the day before had been canceled. We had to rebook our return flight to Jakarta but it was more than worth it for an extra day of diving and a SAFE return to Banda Aceh.