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October 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Siladen Resort and Spa, Indonesia

a tranquil place where “chill” dives are the main thrill

from the October, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

I was fortunate to have taken my Sulawesi dive trip in early June, before the earthquake and tsunami that has killed at least 1,500 people. And now Mount Soputan, on the northern arm is ewrupting lava and spouting ash three miles into the air. While I was there, volcanic peaks were simply scenic charm along the horizon as my spouse and I, the only passengers on the dive boat, cruised around the northeastern tip of Sulawesi Island. However, I still had not enjoyed the ideal vacation yet: I had been wiped out by a bout of lower tract "discomfort" at Lembeh Resort the week before. Fortunately, I had only missed one dive, thanks to three days' worth of azithromycin (recommended in Indonesia for traveler's diarrhea, versus ciprofloxacin used in other countries), but I was now in the mindset for relaxing dives that weren't exerting. So, I was ready for a change of scenery and a slower pace at Siladen Resort, a sister hotel to Lembeh Resort.

Siladen Resort Dive BoatsMy Lembeh and Siladen Resorts package included a land transfer from the former to the latter, but when I heard about the boat transfer involving two dives in the threehour cruise, I opted for that upgrade. Why drive when you can dive along the way to your destination? I found it to be an amazing deal. We moored off Bangka Island, equidistant between Lembeh and Siladen. Divemaster Ramly outlined the dive at Sampiri 3 on a whiteboard, the main attraction being a volcanic hot spring. Within minutes of backrolling in and settling to the bottom, he found a blue-ring octopus hunting along the sand. Its rings pulsed bright blue whenever Ramly waved his tickle stick. I took multiple photos before moving on to other creatures -- a tiny hairy shrimp (alas, the devious creature was hard to catch in focus), pygmy seahorse, harlequin and orangutan crabs. After feeling the heat of the hot spring at 70 feet, I passed a football-sized giant frogfish while ascending to the surface.

As our boat nudged onto a shady beach on the tiny island of Pulau Siladen, I got the sense my time here would be as uneventful as I wanted it to be. A group of villagers sat in the sand; dogs wandered back and forth. Boat crew hopped in the water, hoisted our luggage on their shoulders, and loaded everything onto a large pushcart. A young lady from the resort met us, explaining that at low tide, their dive boats must moor next to the village's deeper jetty instead of the resort's shallower beach. A resort golf cart normally shuttled to and from this low-tide mooring, but it was out of commission. The 15-minute walk turned out to be an easy stroll on a paved sidewalk that took us past children pedaling on bicycles, and a tiny bodega with snack food and powdered coffee hanging in its screened windows....

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