We left Leça with our bags on our backs, with a smile on our lips, eager to leave our problems and stress behind.
After a LOOOOONG 10-minute drive from Uber, we arrived at the airport. We deliver our two 28kg bags together (one with our diving equipment and the other with our clothes, shoes, toiletries and accessories) at check in and we go to no man’s land.
After saying goodbye to you and giving the last messages, we boarded the Turkish Airlines flight, bound for Istanbul. We were immediately surprised by the quality of the plane, which for a 4:30 am flight to television we had a very diverse offer, including movies, series, games, music and informational programs about the destination in question (Istanbul).
The food on board was very pleasant, with a choice of 2 dishes, chicken or pasta (we chose pasta – a type of pasta with mushrooms in a white sauce), the so-called soft drinks and wines and beers. It felt like we were on a long-haul flight.
I saw the film Hidden Figures, by the black actress who won the first Oscar, and which I highly recommend, while I drank fresh lemonade that was almost as good as the Thermomix! TOP!
Arriving in Istanbul, we were advised to stay at the airport, as we only had a 4 hour layover. We watched the Champions League final game while Diogo nibbled some Turkish ravioli and drank a Coke. I preferred to wait until we went to the other side of the airport (food court) and eat something different – a chicken ticka massala with a GIANT nan that didn’t even fit on the platter!
We boarded a Turkish Airlines flight again, this time heading to Manila, which took 10:30 am. We had the right to stand in a row next to the kitchen and bathrooms, which is much more spacious, which allowed us to go with our legs stretched out for the entire flight. The bathrooms have windows to the outside, which at first approach makes us a little uncomfortable, until we realize that no one is outside… not even birds! Ah… easy. Peeing at the clouds, it doesn’t happen every day!!
I saw the movie/documentary about the MacDonald story. I learned a lot about how it came about and how it grew to be what it is today. Advice!
Again they gave us great food, this time I opted for chicken with mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables and accompanied by more lemonade!
We slept 6:00 am and we were able to fight jet lag, although we felt a little confused by the time. We don’t really know if it’s time to eat, sleep, neither or both… in Istanbul it was another 2 am, in Manila it was another 7 am and in Papua it was another 9 am. And everything got worse when we left Istanbul at 2:00 in the morning and arrived at 18:00 in Manila, that is, we left at night, the day passed us and we landed again at night… on a 10:30 am flight. WHAT???
When we landed in Manila, my ankles weren’t even visible. My legs felt like stumps because they were so swollen and with so much accumulation of fluids. I lay down on some benches and put my legs up and after 30 minutes I went running to pee to empty my bladder of so much water that had accumulated in my legs!
There we set off for Port Moresby, on Air Niugini (it is written as it is – Air New Guinea) and arrived in POM (Port Moresby) we had a rich breakfast of milk and chocolate and banana muffin for me and coffee with milk and mango mufgin for Diogo. With a full belly, we went to the departure gates.
As we boarded to Kimbe, our first destination of this vacation, we realized that we are a little anxious and excited to arrive! A mixture of tiredness and curiosity to know what this so sweetheart and desired destination is like. I remember the first time we talked about coming here and I had this trip planned for 4 years. We flip through the magazine of the plane and just say “I want to see this!”, “We have to see that!” The sea in Port Moresby already lets slip just how wonderful the underwater world must be here, with its various hues, which contrast with the green jungle that rushes into the sea and the deep blue of the sky.
We made a stop in Lae before continuing on to Kimbe. When we got there, we couldn’t believe it… we finally arrived, after 38 hours of travel.
The airport was exactly as we expected it to be! There is little airport, just a small building where anyone outside can pick up their luggage, with direct access to the street.
Outside, our driver was already in his van to take us to Liamo Reef Resort. With expectations too high, after 35 minutes of travel, we arrived at the hotel. The problem with these paradise islands in the South Pacific is that everything is expensive and everything is too weak. Paying €100/night/room in this end of the world is very common, but it is equivalent to a European 2 star and could be worth €25/night/room and would still be expensive! The common areas are small and we think we are the only guests in the hotel, which must have about 100 rooms. We are, at least, the only Europeans! The room is pretty shabby, but it’s clean and comfortable, so it looks great!
We went to lunch and the food surprised us quite positively. We ate a chicken curry spicier than any food I’ve eaten in India! I drank 1l of water only during the meal…
The hotel’s beach has black sand and is super small, with a jetty (must be for romantic nights for two!) and overlooking the volcanoes that surround us. It’s beautiful!
We asked how we could schedule our dives and they explained to us that here in Kimbe there is only one diving school and in the entire island of New Britain there are only two! One here in Kimbe and one in Rabaul, our next destination.
There, we tried to call the Walindi hotel, where the school is based, and we scheduled 2 dives for tomorrow.
We also asked at reception if it was safe to go to Kimbe village and were told yes. However, at the door, the security guard said it was better not to take any chances.
As there was nothing to do, we went to sleep and regained strength, with the promise that we would set the alarm for 2 am. So it was! The only problem is, it didn’t work! We ended up not even waking up with the alarm clock and slept for 4 hours straight. And how good did you hear us!! We wake up even more confused than when we went to bed. I didn’t even know where I was and it took me more than 20 seconds to understand what was going on. “Who am I?”… Almost!
We got up, heavy as lead, and went to dinner. Well, I have to say I drooled when I saw the grilled squid with black bean sauce being placed in front of me! And the taste surpassed any expectations I had! It was delicious…
After we finished dinner, while we were talking to you, we went to our room and, without any warning, sleep came and we fell to the side until this morning!
After 4 hours of sleep in the afternoon + 7 hours of sleep at night, we woke up this morning fresh as two lettuces! Very ready to start the first day of vacation and to discover the underwater world from here in the region. As we read, this is one of the best places to dive, so expectations go up there! It’s usually not a good omen…
We had a continental breakfast, after realizing at great cost that it was the only one we were entitled to and after the maid told us that we could eat whatever we wanted because it was included in the price of the room. I thought it was strange and I rephrased the question in another way and then she said “Oh… no! Continental only.” “But can we eat everything we want?” Diogo insisted. We can, but we pay! AHHHH!!! LOL! It seems that English is not that good…
We ate fast and went to Walindi. One of the “best places to dive in the world” was waiting for us. Follow path that is already late! With water at 31 degrees at 35 meters deep, I can’t complain… but the truth is that I was expecting better. We saw barracudas, tuna, a gray shark and very beautiful corals of various shapes, colors and sizes. But I was expecting to see more sharks and small animals like seahorses. Nothing!
I enjoyed the second dive better than the first. We saw a white anemone with clown fish, the famous Nemos, which is super rare and even very beautiful! The white contrasts with the Nemos orange and looks almost fluorescent!
Corals are really wonderful, but I wanted to see small things like shrimp, cuttlefish, octopus and crabs. The type of dive known as a Macro.
Fomos almoçar a uma praia deserta, numa ilhota perdida no meio da baía, onde a água estava seguramente a mais de
We went to lunch on a deserted beach, on a lost islet in the middle of the bay, where the water was surely over 35 degrees. A soup! It looked like a hot spring! “OK! I stay here to live forever!!! Here! In this exact place!” But then I remembered the mosquitoes… no way! We fed the fish bread and chicken and I made a video that looks brutal to me!
We went back to Walindi and to our hotel, to the pool.
Kimbe is turning out to be a much more secluded destination than we expected… we are the only guests in the hotel and it seems white to me, just us and 2 or 3 other people in the whole village! Which on the one hand is great when we dive, because we are the only ones in the water, on the other hand, it’s a little annoying when we get back to the hotel at the end of the dive. We ended up going to the bedroom to sleep all afternoon and all night. Also because in the afternoon here is when you are sleeping… that is, we sleep in the afternoon and sleep at night, with dinner at 20:00. It’s an animation only!
You know that feeling when you’re tempering your bath water and you’ve got the hot water badly regulated and when you go in it’s slightly hotter than you expected, but it still doesn’t scald? That “hot shiver” that gives? Well, that’s what we have here when we put our little foot in the sea! Let me explain… When we are at sea, the surface is 30 degrees.
At 30 meters deep it is between 29 and 31 degrees. And on the beach, at the breaking of the waves (1cm high!!) we have temperatures of 36 degrees! A good soup! Here I will be happy, says my brain! We’ve never been in water as hot as this. Diogo took a photo at 20.9 meters and you see 30 degrees written there! Unbelievable! Diving without a wetsuit here is a must do!
Needless to say, the “Papuans” dive in fact with full leg and long sleeves, helmet and boots! What a big shot!!! I even sweated! There’s nothing like diving without a suit, free of movement and light as a feather. The only downside is the water-walking plankton that insists on biting our legs and arms when it passes us.
Today the diving was much better and we even swam with dolphins – my favorite part of the day! We saw a lot of Nemos (clown fish) and some of them are quite territorial, because when I get close, they puff up with courage and come to bite my nose! Brave men the size of my thumb! First they start threatening, banging their jaws in my direction, it’s even comical, and then there they get hauled and very quickly they come and bite my nose! I will try to make a video of this.
Today we saw 5 sharks hunting right at the start of the dive! Brutal! We also saw a “mantis shrimp” (I don’t know the name in Portuguese) which is super rare.
One of the most beautiful sights here are the super strong lemon yellow (almost fluorescent) anemones and the white ones with violet and blue reflections. They are rare and they are so beautiful that they almost hypnotize us.
I have to say that the best food here is bananas and mangoes! Mangoes are wonderful and bananas are like wood! I fill up on bananas for breakfast. When diving, we always have lunch on a small desert island and they take mangoes that are already broken and peeled… hmmmm!!! How delightful!!
Today a group of tourists arrived for a convention that has already made up the hotel. We are now about 15 people.
Tomorrow we leave for Rabaul to explore another village on the island of New Britain. In Rabaul we will go diving and see volcanoes. See if we have more animation. The hotel does not have internet, which is not a good omen, and we do not think there are any restaurants, bars or hotels nearby where internet access is available. The house we rent from airbnb in Kavieng is waiting for us.
The last day in Kimbe! Day to sleep late (we ended up waking up at 5:00 in the morning!), having a good long breakfast, taking pictures, packing, paying bills and saying goodbye.
We took the taxi to the airport and arrived at the “big airport” of Hoskins! Security is minimal or almost non-existent! At the entrance we were asked if we had anything flammable, just say no… top security! Without any metal or magazine detector. Suffice it to say: we have nothing! You can go on… We deliver the bags and go to the boarding gate where anyone can enter to say goodbye to the family member who will be traveling.
The plane landed there (1h late) and off we went, heading for Rabaul. We saw the volcanoes from above and the view is beautiful! We film and take pictures.
The journey from the airport to the hotel looked like it was going to be a long one, but the guy who picked us up guaranteed 30 minutes… hmmm…. I doubt! After 55 minutes we saw the Hotel Rabaul. Old and apparently dirty, it turns its back on the 5 volcanoes. The owner is Australian and tried to “steal” money from us 4 times with her room account… “no worries, mate!” Our bill was 450K and she asked for 1,200K, then 660K and there she “did the math” to get the right amount, to give us a room that wasn’t ours. God help me!
Change from room 207 to 410. Bring bags, bring bags… to see that it was not 410 but 310. In a completely different building, because those were luxury rooms and would have to charge us more! Slim!! Bring bags, bring bags… to see if we give up… and here we go again! But it even went well because the basic room was much better than the luxury… imagine that!
Diogo befriended a Filipino man from Manila who works on a ship, where he was for 7 months, and who talked so loud that the two of us got headaches! I got the idea that he must have smoked something he was so fast.
We booked our dives, a trip to the volcano, had dinner and went to bed at 9 pm! One animation only!!