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Author Topic: Pulau Weh - Are corals pristine and trees still green after the Tsunami?  (Read 2351 times)

knightdivers

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We will be going to Pulau Weh tomorrow. A little island less known to a lot of divers in Sumatra, Indonesia. This island marks the start of the Indonesian island on the west with the Andaman Sea meeting the Indian Ocean. Definitely sounds like a place where great marine life would be especially with an active volcano. We hope to give a more holistic coverage of this island in terms of the logistics, the food, the culture, things that matters to divers and most importantly, the corals and marine life after the 2004 tsunami. Luminox, a dive watch company is our official sponsors for this trip. They have a serious mission to protect the marine environment.

For Malaysians, the journey is going to take only an hour and 30 minutes to Banda Aceh. Our flight is at 16:50 from LCCT tomorrow by Air Asia. Apparently will have flights to Banda Aceh around noon time starting from the 6th of February 2012 so that those who plan to go to Pulau Weh can catch the last ferry at 16:00. We will be spending the night in Banda Aceh hopefully to grab some food food and a good view of the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

Will report more on this trip if the Internet connection is good and will post some photos too to share.

http://www.facebook.com/notes/luminox-borneo-malaysia/luminox-dive-expedition-to-pulau-weh-indonesia-25-30-january-2012/282891631767179

Gong Xi Fatt Chai too!

Knightdivers

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Never heard of this place. Peeeeektures when you're back!

knightdivers

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Managed to capture some!!

knightdivers

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As costing will always be a common question that most divers would ask after we post a report of a trip, I will therefore try my very best to share the report with costing and ratings instead. As usual, my ratings would be
lousy or crappy *
a lot to improve **
ok considering the price ***
quite good ****
very good *****
fantastic deal and service ******

Will post this report on as a day to day to relive to moments:0


Day 1 (25th Jan 2012)

Four of us flew from LCCT Airport on a direct flight to Banda Aceh at about 5pm. Flights are not daily from KL but we were told from 6th Feb, the Air Asia would fly earlier at about noon and this would mean that those who plan to go to Pulau Weh on the last ferry at 4pm would be able to do so. Not sure whether it would be daily. There are also direct flights from Penang, Medan and Jakarta. Our flight took an hour and 30 minutes. At the airport in Banda Aceh, there will be some people offering you to take your luggage on a trolley. You will probably think that it is silly but I suspect these guys help you across their strict customs. We used them by accident as I thought there were airport staff :( We made some earlier arrangement for our land transfer but there are loads of taxi drivers there but be careful with their pricing.

As we had to stay for the night to wait for our Ferry the next morning, we decided to stay in Hotel Medan in Banda Aceh. It is a convenient place with food stalls outside especially different satay stalls. There is also a very reasonable massage centre to the right of Medan Hotel by the name of Ocean Spa. They have a policy where only man masseurs for man and woman to woman. The great thing about this place is that you can get a full body massage, scrub, facial and shower for 2 hours for less than RM50. We had a great time being pampered there before we called it a night.

Air Asia Return Air Fare: Below RM500 per person which includes luggage and misc. ***
Airport Taxi to Medan Hotel (Town Area): RM25 per taxi (Seats 2 with our dive gear and luggage comfortably) **
Medan Hotel: About RM80 to RM100 (depending whether you want breakfast and size of room) ***
Massage: RM50 for 2 hours (Mandi Luluh) ****
Dinner at the stall and ordering assorted Satay, Bakso and Drinks: RM10 per person ***

For some photos of this trip and my report on the marine environment for Luminox, go to http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.297315796991429.67565.160820087307668&type=3&saved#!/media/set/?set=a.297315796991429.67565.160820087307668&type=1

knightdivers

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Day 2 (26th Jan 2012)

We had an easy breakfast that was included with the room in Medan hotel before our driver picked us up at about 8am.

The journey to the jetty took less than 30 mins. We saw a mass burial grave of the tsunami victims on the way and the new tsunami barriers beside the sea. The driver was hinting to us to take a city tour when we return from the island where he show us more of the tsunami's aftermath.  I do question myself at times whether there would be other places of interest in Bandar Aceh if there was no tsunami.

We decided to try the VIP seats of the express ferry to Pulau Weh as the price difference between the economy, business and VIP wasn't big. Upon arrival at Balohan Port (actually it is their local way of pronouncing Pelabuhan) we were greeted by loads of cab drivers. Be careful over here as their quote varies. Don't pay more than 200k rupiah for a cab that can seat 4 person and your luggage.

You can enjoy the green and cool air most of the way if you wind down the windows. The roads are narrow but well tarred. You can also rent motorcycles for 100k rupiah a day.

We reached Steffan Sea Sports (SSS) which is located after Iboih village. Right beside SSS, you will see Pulau Weh dive resort which is owned by a Malaysian. This is suppose to be the one and only star rated resort on the island. They would insist on a minimum of 3 nights stay but as we planned to try a few places out during our 4 nights stay in Pulau Weh, we made a decision to stay at SSS for 2 nights and another 2 at Gapang Beach diving with Lumba Lumba.

Accomodation at SSS is really basic with fan and attached bathroom. Pretty ok if you plan to spend most of the time diving and resting beside the lovely beach in the hammock. The beach is really quiet with only a handful of people. 

After our check out dive was at Rubiah Sea Garden, where different species of morays were spotted almost every 3 yards. Did not make a second dive that day but instead made the decision to dive at the beach in front of SSS as we were told there are seahorses hidden between the corals in less than a feet of water at the beach. It was indeed amazing as there were more than seahorses there. Pipehorses, morays, shrimps, squat lobster among others can be spotted while snorkelling on the beach. It was my first time taking shots of of seahorses while snorkelling. A stranger came by with her waterproof compact camera and took a shot of the seahorses while squatting down!

Just like most asian divers that I know, food is equally important to spice up the dive trip. Unfortunately, SSS do not have a restaurant but you are always welcome to cook in the kitchen. We went to the one and only restaurant and feasted for dinner. Loved the Curry Chicken and rice and a Teh Botol and Jeruk to quench our thirst.

I would normally post my trip report during the evening but the signal was really bad and we ended up calling it a day early after our dinner.

Medan Hotel to Jerry (or anywhere in town to jerry: 40-50k rupiah in a taxi for 2 person **
Express Ferry VIP: 85k per person ****
Express Ferry Business Class: 75k per person
Express Ferry Economy: 60k per person
Balohan Port to Gapang or Iboih: 150k per car for 4 person **
2 nights accommodation with 4 dives and all land transfer in Pulau Weh, airport-Hotel Medan-jetty-airport with SSS: RM499 per person ***
Simple lunch or Dinner on Pulau Weh: 30k per person

Today photos are found at Luminox, my sponsor's page. Do help me to 'Like' them as they are very serious into marine conservation projects and awareness:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.298731630183179.67825.160820087307668&type=3&saved

knightdivers

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Day 3 (27th Jan 2012)

Achenese has a strict tradition of not touching the sea on Thursdays after dusk till Friday noon. With that, we hired a private taxi to take us for a half day tour of the island and plan to resume diving in the afternoon.

The driver took us to Sabang town for Mee Sabang (their version of Wan Tan  noodle as the owner was Chinese). One of the worker who is also a Chinese would offer you to Exchange some ringgit with him. You should seriously consider changing sufficient rupiah as they ain't that many places to change your money in Gapang area or the dive areas.

We went to the nearby Sabang fish market to get some fresh tuna for a fraction of what we would pay back in KL. The plan for dinner that night would be the fish.

Highlights of the half day tour were our little walk into the Pria waterfalls, having the freshest coconut where the store keeper would actually run to the back of his little coconut plantation and pluck for you, buying some fresh and ultra fragant kampung Durian from his Durian Orchard and most importantly, our trip to the active volcano. Besides the driver, the 4 of us have not been to a life volcano before. Steam was released from the ground and it was an amazing sight if you donít mind the smell of sulfur.

By 4pm, were diving at Seulakoís Drift. Ribbon eels were a common sight especially the black juveniles. We did not proceed with another dive as we got out of that dive at about 5pm. We were also advised to forgo the night dive as there isnít much to see. I kind of doubt it because we witnessed moray eels and banded kraits bravely making their way to the seashore in the evening. A rather unbelieving sight for us actually.

The tuna that we bought was served at dinner for the four of us. A rather cheap affair considering we were cooking it ourselves. Another early night as well as there were no entertainment or consistent electricity that you could plug your laptop into. Mosquitoes repellant is a must as well cause we were stung all over during the night.

Half Day Tour for four person: 300K Rupiah ****
Mee Sabang and Drinks: About RM8 per person as we paid for the driverís food and drink as well. ****
Fresh Tuna: 40K per fish. Enough for the 4 of us to eat *****
Fresh Coconut: 8k rupiah each *****
Fresh Durian: 50k rupiah for 2 average size durian *****


For some photos taken on the first few days, check out:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.300148913374784.68012.160820087307668&type=1

knightdivers

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Day 4 (28th Jan 2012)

As we had 2 more boat dives with SSS, we started our day early and headed off to the Underwater Hot Spring. A site where you dive and relax with the warm bubbles rising from the vents. Be warned that the vents are fuming hot and do avoid direct contact at all times. Allow the volume of sea water to cool it at a few inches away from the vent. This would be the safe distance. It is another experience itself although there arenít much marine life here.

Our second dive was Shark Plateau. Current were pretty strong and this is the site with reef sharks. Not that many on that day as we were drifting to and fro most of the time. Once again, there were moray eels of different species.

After our second boat dive, we made arrangements with our cab driver and shifted to Gapang Beach to dive with Lumba Lumba Dive Centre because it was said that the shore dive at Gapang produces good macro. We stayed right beside the dive centre at a place called Dang Dangna Bungalows. I preferred this place than staying in Lumba Lumba itself as it is air conditioned.

Donít expect a warm greeting from this nasty front desk person by the name of Rama. The rest of the people are really nice but I donít know why the boss is still keeping such a person. He was  rude to most people especially to Malaysians and Singaporeans. Diving over here isnít cheap. A boat dive would cost Euro 22 without equipments. That works out to be RM85 per dive. We wanted to go for a shore dive in the evening but he claimed that we have to go with a guide for the first time and all the dive masters are gone for the day. He said this without even trying.

Just ended up taking an afternoon nap and met a few interesting divers during dinner at Gapang. The good thing about this stretch of beach is that there are more restaurants.

Cab Transfer from SSS to Gapang via a visit to Nol Kilometer & Buying some durians again: 150k rupiah for the 4 of us **
Grill Fresh Fish for Dinner at Dang Dangna Bungalow: 65k per person with drinks ****
Dang Dangna Bungalow: 250k rupiah per bungalow per night with air cond for 2 person ***

As usual, my photos of this trip can be found in this link of my sponsor's FB page. Appreciate if you can 'like' them:

http://www.facebook.com/LuminoxMalaysia

knightdivers

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Day 5 (29th Jan 2012)

Started our day diving at the Canyon. Unlike the speed boats that were used by SSS, the journey on the wooden boat owned by Lumba Lumba was really slow. This is the time you would get a tan or sunburn if you are not protected. We reached the Canyon after 30 minutes from Gapang Beach but it was worth it. This site is definitely a must go for lovers of Sea Fans and we were lucky that the usual strong currents were felt that morning. I was too amazed with the gigantic sea fans that I hardly paid any attention on other marine creatures. I knew there were sharks, turtles and Napolean Wrasse but I was too busy admiring the landscape and trying to find the best angle to capture the sea fans.

Since we have only logged 5 dives thus far, we planned to make 2 more shore dives and 1 night dive before we leave the island. We didnít waste much time after our boat dive at Canyon with only a nice tea break and some Ďtaufuí served by a local old lady that most people call Ďmamaí.

The shore dive was really great for macro. We were trying to locate the weedy scorpion fish but ended up with different types of shrimps, squat lobster and again more morays. We were told there are seahorses there as well and frog fish but did not find any on that day.

We used a very experienced Japanese Dive Guide for our night dive on the shore and it was brilliant. He knew the place really well and we saw the yellow and black leaf scorpion fish, decorator crab, anemone crab, flatheads and other night macro critters. We spent more than 90 minutes underwater for our very last dive of the whole trip.

Feeling great after the dive, we went to 360 Cafť for the recommended ĎGado Gadoí and our curry dinner. Knowing it would be an early day tomorrow, we headed back to pack and rest for the day.

Lumba Lumba Boat Dive: RM85 per dive without equipments **
Shore Dive Daytime without guide: RM30 per dive ***
Shore Dive Night time with guide: RM65 per dive ****
Shore dive night time without guide: RM40 per dive **
Nasi Campur Lunch: 20k per person ****
Normal Dinner at 360 Cafť: 30k rupiah per person ***

knightdivers

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Day 6 (30th Jan 2012)

We left at 7am sharp and headed off to Sabang Town for a quick Nasi Lemak breakfast before going to the Jetty for the 8.30am jetty. If we miss that, it would spell problem for us cause the next ferry wouldnít allow us to get to the airport on time. I have to say the Nasi Lemak was good.

Cost of Ferry back is the same as the one we arrived on although it is a different express ferry but the VIP seats are recycled aircraft seats. Therefore, I would recommend that you just safe that few bucks and settle for Business class instead.

When we got to the jetty back at Bandar Aceh, our driver offered to take us for a city tour before going to the airport as the flight was at 5.45pm and the time of our arrival at the jetty was only 9.30 in the morning. You will not have such problems from February 6th 2012 because the flight to KL on Air Asia would be earlier. It was good as we took our time to visit the Tsunami museum and almost everything else about the disaster. Didnít feel too good after looking at all the uncensored photos of the victims but found the relieve back at the Ocean Spa where we again took the 2 hours package for a full body massage and scrub and a good shower before heading for our late lunch.

Our driver took us for Nasi Padang and it was great. Bought some local souvenirs as well before heading to the airport. Got back to KL about 8.30pm. Whew!

A good trip but would have been better if there were less mosquitoes! Do bring along mosquitoes repellant and request for air conditioned rooms. Do go to the Canyon and Pantee Peunateung. Shark Plateau if you like drift diving. Experience the underwater hot spring dive and spend at least 2 shore dives at Gapang. Do try the fresh coconuts and durians too. Thatís all for now buddies!!

Bandar Aceh City Tour: 200k rupiah per car that sits 2 pax ****
Good Nasi Padang Lunch where we ate like gluttons: RM25 per person ****
Airport Tax: 100k rupiah per person

Some final photos have been uploaded to http://www.facebook.com/LuminoxMalaysia my sponsor for this trip to Pulau Weh

------------------------- End of Trip Report -------------------------------------

DavidLindawei

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Hello everyone, anybody been to Pulau Weh recently? Any tips to share regarding diving, dive centers, accommodations, transport? Any advise is appreciated, thanks!


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