I kept this diary of things we have done in Singapore for 2 years. I have now moved some of it to other travel pages but you can still find links to many of our activities here. I have also created a reading list of books we have read about the region.

Western Japan

Birds in Singapore

Kuala Lumpur stopover

Thai Diving

Singapore Liveaboard

Local Residents

Beijing Summer

Diving with Sharks

Shanghai Heatwave

Taiwan Tourists

An Indian week

Where U bin?

Island hideaway

Steamy running

A Trip to the Zoo

Gardens by the Bay


Singapore walks

Mind the bus

Flower power


Early weeks


Vicky's Blog


Raja AlautWe were disappointed to miss our dive trip to Sulawesi last year when Vicky had to go into hospital. So with a public holiday coming up at the end of July Vicky researches destinations that we found out about at the Singapore Dive Show last year and comes up with Bunaken island, a small island close to Manado in north eastern Sulawesi and about 3hr flight from Singapore. Easy to reach for a long weekend and we hear that the diving is great.


Dining roomThe first thing you see as you land here are volcanos everywhere. A friendly taxi driver meets us and weaves through crowded roads for 30 minutes to reach the harbour where a little wooden speedboat is waiting to take us to Bunaken. The island is another 40 mins away - we follow the mainland and then cross a small strait to a low lying island that sits next to a perfect volcanic cone, "Manado Tua", to the west. Raja Laut is a small, four room resort run by Roberto and Amedeo, two friendly Italians. Highly rated on Trip Advisor we are not disappointed. The rooms are clean and simple - a ceiling fan keep us cool at night and there are no bugs! Meals are simple home cooking - nasi goreng for breakfast with fresh fruit and lots of fish and chicken. Pizza and pasta are also on the menu as you would expect.

Wall diveRaja Laut has two comfortable dive boats and, with a good reputation on the island, take visitors as well as guests diving. They offer two tank dives each morning, starting at 8.00 to beat the divers coming from the mainland, and then an afternoon dive or a mandarin fish dive or night dive.

The island has steep walls all around so most diving is along these big drop offs. The dive sites can get pretty crowded by late morning in high season. Our guides try to find second dives in less crowded locations. There is a big variety of fish, fabulous coral and we see several turtles on each dive. Not so many big fish though - although a marine park the locals have to eat. No sign of the dynamiting that we saw in the Philippines thankfully.

Orangutan crabOnong, our dive guide, is also pretty good at tracking down the smaller creatures. This little fellow is an 'orangutan crab' - orange and hairy. We also find tiny shrimps, coral crabs, and nudibranchs. On the night dives you need to take care because of the current and drop off but another world of nocturnal creatures appears including big sponge crabs, shrimps and the very impressive Spanish Dancer - a giant nudibranch about 25-30cm long and surrounded by a red and white skirt from which it gets its name.

Bunaken local shopBack on dry land there is not a lot to do on Bunaken apart from reading, relaxing and sleeping. The local population is around 5000 and we explore the tidy local village. It is pretty sleepy on a Sunday afternoon apart from kids playing football and an adult football tournament under way. There is an impressive sized church and also a mosque. This part of Sulawesi is actually more Christian than Muslim - different from Indonesia as a whole. On our last evening, as we were chatting after dinner and sipping a cool Bintang local beer, the dive and boat guys put on a music night. With guitar and 'box bass' a trio serenades us with local songs.

Dive boat trioWe enjoyed our trip to Manado and get back to Singapore refreshed and looking forward to our next and more ambitious dive adventure planned for 3 months time.

See the slideshow below for more sights above and below the water...