My Big Fat Sea Gypsy Bomber

The Togean islands are in a giant bay between the metaphorical arms of Sulawesi, and are very difficult to reach. A few days of sitting on busses, bemos, ojeks and boats left me feeling travel sick (as in sick of travelling) and furious I didn’t pack any sudocrem, but all was forgotten when we finally arrived in this beautiful, undiscovered gem…

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The Bajau sea gypsies are the people of the Togeans, they used to spend much of their lives living on boats travelling the Sulawesi seas whilst diving for pearls and other marine produce. Now the Bajau have settled down in some permanent villages around the Togeans. They still possess some of their gypsy nature though and can be found doing a spot of tarmacing on the mainland and taking part in bare knuckle fist fights…

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Typical Bajau house

Once you get to the Togeans there’s no TV, phone signal or Internet, a perfect place to escape from the real world and for once, forget about waiting in vain to see who Newcastle would (or wouldn’t) sign this transfer window. On our island, Walea Kodi, there isn’t much to do bar borrow a wooden canoe and play Andy Cole and Barry Venison stranded on a desert island for a few hours but thankfully, I’m a diver now…

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Bagsey Andy Cole!

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Our beach

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In a world of smartphones and tablets, these plastic clackers are just taking off in the Togeans

The Teluk Tomini sea was supposedly recovering from cyanide fishing, but at some of the sites we visited around Walea Kodi and Melange there was very little sign of this and I got to see some very healthy looking reefs with amazing visability. The most interesting dive was the American B-24 Bomber which can be found just off the coast of Palau Togean…

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The consolidated B-24 liberator was on its way back from a mission around the Pacific in April 1945 when one of the engines started leaking oil after being hit by a Japanese bullet. Lt. Henry Etheridge realised the aircraft would never make it back to base, so ordered his men to wrap up in their parachutes for extra padding and then proceeded to crash land the plane into the shallow waters whilst listening to Flight of the Valkyries. All of the crew members survived and hid out with the villagers on the heavily forested island until they were rescued. The B-24 is now settled at a depth of 22 metres, covered with huge sponges, colourful corals and is the home to dozens of scorpion fish. Many parts of the plane are still intact such as the propellors, wheels, cockpit with instruments, gun turret and you can even pop into the fuselage to see the parachutes that saved the lives of Etheridge’s men.

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(Wreck photos courtesy of Steven Greenstein)

Our other dive sites included Ales Rock, Reef 5, Chris Spot and Hotel California which were all unique in their own way. Getting away from the Togeans was just as tricky as getting there, but was all worth it, especially when I finally checked the Internet and realised this blog had reached almost 5000 views, cheers stalkers! That means one thing, it’s competition time at likethewheels, the first person to comment on this post will receive a special postcard from yours truly, signed with a kiss…
(Previous winners are exempt, sorry!)

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Sunset on Walea Kodi

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‘Hotel California’ where the local fisherman escape from the rain and sing…Welcome to the Hotel California…

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Categories: Diving, Indonesia | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “My Big Fat Sea Gypsy Bomber

  1. Steven Carter

    Always a great read GazWax! Good going on the PADI course too!

  2. Looks gorgeous. I haven’t made it to the Togeans (yet) but it is definitely on my list!

  3. Lucky you, Togians are some of the best diving islands in the world!

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