A Voyage from Bali to Manila on Caledonian Sky

Our March 2015 trip took us on an 'expedition cruise' from Bali to Manila in the Philipines. We flew via Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Denpasar the capital of Bali. We stayed overnight in the Komaneka Rasa Sayang Hotel in Ubud, and took a brief tour of Bali, with lunch at the Chedi Club, before embarking with seventy nine passengers and seventy six crew on the luxurious ship Ms. Caledonian Sky.

Travelling east from Bali, our first stop was the island of Moyo where we were greeted by musicians and young dancers, before taking a look around the village full of smiling happy people, and a group of kids that came to play with our Zodiac inflatables, using them as a diving platform to jump into the clear water.

Next stop was the uninhabited island of Satonda. This small volcanic isle is home to thousands of fruit bats, and has a mysterious salt water lake at its center. As the sun set, we stood on the top deck and watched the millions of bats take flight on their nightly foray for food.

Next day was a trip into the Komodo National Park to see the famous ‘Komodo Dragons’. Our visit took us to the island of Rinca, where we saw about nine or ten of the huge lizards, just wandering around the visitor center and surrounding forest. These rare, lizards can grow up to twelve feet in length and have only been known to the western world since 1910. No fences here, only rangers with sticks for our protection.

We then travelled north to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and the port of Parepare. We travelled inland for five hours, passing through rice paddys for an overnight trip to Tana Toraja. This is a spectacular mountainous region and known for its unusually shaped houses.  We stopped enroute to view a funeral where the entire town had turned out to interr the body of a man who had died almost three months previously. The ceremony involved the slaughter of fifty water buffalo and around one hundred large pigs.

In the heart of Torajaland we visited the fascinating grave sites where the bodies are interred in cliff face
s and where replicas of the Toraja ancestors, called Tau Taus, look down over the village and rice fields.

The next part of the voyage took us north west to Indonesian Borneo, and the port of Balikpapan. Here we visited the Samboja Lestari Reserve  Sun Bear Center. The next morning we explored the mangrove coast and river mouth with our Zodiacs.

We then sailed to Pulau Mataking, a beautiful region in Malaysian Borneo this time, and a popular spot for divers due to its proximity to the Alice Channel, a fracture in the continental shelf. We went ashore on a tiny island to explore the coral beach which had been exposed by the receding tide.

Next we visited Sandakan, and visited the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, home to several hundred Orangutans and Sun Bears. We entered the center along a wooden walkway to the feeding station, where one large Orangutan walked through the crowd and posed in a tree within touching distance of the visitors. While in Sandakan, we visited the Sandakan Memorial Park, where mostly British and Australians prisoners where interred during WW2 before over 2345 men were forced into a march where only six men survived, and they were escapees.

Puerto Princesa in the Philippines was our next stop. We were greeted by limestone cliffs, coral atolls, and extensive fringing reefs. Here we navigated the incredible Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, which is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

In Coron we took a tour of the town with a stop at a Cashew Nut Factory and the Maquinit Hot Springs. The slightly salty, volcanically heated water comes out of the spring around 40C (105F). There are two hot pools adjacent to the spring, both cascade down into a larger pool which can be about 33C. On the far end of the large pool, between the mangrove forest, the water flows directly into the sea.

Finally we reached the end of the trip, the city of Manila, capital of the Philippines. A city tour of the 'old town' with a Police escort, eased our progress through the 'Jeepneys' which seemed to be everywhere, highly decorated and jammed to capacity. We had  lunch at Barbara's Restaurant, where we discovered a group training to use Segway's prior to taking a city tour. We also found various Bamboo Bicycles, in different sizes, locally built and for hire primarily to tourists.

Then it was off to the Airport for our flight home, via Kuala Lumpur and London Heathrow.

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We travelled with Noble Caledonia who had a joint charter with APT

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All photos are ©www.georgeandpaula.com

We visit all of these countries as travellers and make no political comment on the way they are governed.


Last Updated - Saturday, 04. April 2015 13:15:26