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Journal Entries for 2015-10 Raja Ampat to Rabaul Expedition Part III

OVERALL SUMMARY: We stayed on the NG Orion when it docked in Sorong, West Papua. This was the end of the Singapore to Raja Ampat Expedition and the start of the Raja Ampat to Rabaul Expedition. All of the pictures in this album were taken with the two red Tough TG-3s or the GoPro.

We had a Sorong City Tour (Journal #2) and when we arrived back on the NG Orion, we joined the new NatGeo group. The Expedition Team was Adam (Expedition Leader), Maartje (Asst Expedition Leader), Cristiana (Naturalist), Marieke (Naturalist), Ron (Naturalist), Ian Paul (Naturalist), Tom (Naturalist), Adam (Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor), Ian (Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor), Mike (Undersea Specialist), Caitlyn (Divemaster), Johanna (Divemaster), Eric (Video Chronicler), Dennis (Ship's Physician) and Jason (National Geographic Photographer). Also onboard we had four Global Perspectives Guest Speakers; Lawrence Blair, James Bradley, Ben Cropp and Valerie Taylor.

We started off this expedition with a bang. We went back to the same place in Alyui Bay (Journals #3-#4), Raja Ampat. We were able to snorkel twice on the same fantastic reef, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. In the afternoon Carl spotted two octopi and we got some great photos and videos.

Then we had a scenic sunrise Zodiac cruise at Kabui Bay (Journal #5) through "The Passage" between Waigeo and Gam Islands and an afternoon snorkel at Friwinbonda Island (Journal #5). This was an amazing place to snorkel! That made three snorkels in Raja Ampat in two days. Awesome!!

During our next day, which was an At Sea (Journal #6) day back to Banda Neira, Adam offered a Bluewater Swim. This was a totally new idea to us. We've spent many days at sea and this is the first time we had an opportunity to jump into the water. The next day in Banda Neira (Journal #7), we walked around town since this was our third time here. In the afternoon we had water activities at Gunung Api (Journal #8), the active volcano at Banda Neira. We finally had a chance to go for a ride in the glass-bottom Zodiac, and then snorkeled just for a short time. As we were leaving Banda Neira, we saw dolphins and then whales--blue whales!

We had another At Sea (Journal #9) day before we arrived in Asmat, the land of cannibals and headhunters. In the morning, we visited Syuru Village (Journals #10-#11) after being met with a fierce contingent of Asmat warriors in their dugout war canoes. We were treated to a Bisj pole ceremony. Bisj poles can be erected as an act of revenge, to pay homage to the ancestors, to calm the spirits of the deceased and to bring harmony and spiritual strength to the community. Then after lunch we went to Agats (Journals #12-#14), which is the capital of the Asmat Region. The next day, we went to another traditional village, Yahunyufri Village (Journals #15-#16). We were again welcomed(?) by fierce warriors in their dugout war canoes and a cultural performance.

After two busy days with the cannibals, we had three rough days At Sea (Journals #17-#19), which put us behind schedule. We arrived late in Port Moresby, so we didn't get a Port Moresby City Tour. The ship was in port for just a few hours. There were a few personnel changes and some supplies were loaded. Then we were off again.

Our next port was Samarai & Deka Deka Islands (Journal #20). This was a repeat, but a good repeat. There was a short cultural presentation by the Samarai villagers (because we were a little off schedule) and then some snorkeling at Deka Deka Island. Then we went to Ferguson Island, one of the d'Entrecasteaux island group. There are three active volcanoes on this island and we visited Dei Dei Hot Springs (Journal #21) with bubbling springs and mud pots (just like Yellowstone). Then we went snorkeling on the other side of Ferguson Island (Journal #22).

We continued on to Kuiyawa Island (Journal #23-#26), another good repeat. There was a lot of dancing followed by walking around the village. They were having some really rough times with the long drought, so the ship crew and staff gave them water, fuel and food. We were looking forward to the snorkeling here, but it was so rough that the snorkel platform couldn't be anchored.

Our very last snorkel was at Pegion Island (Journals #27-#28), just outside of Rabaul, our last port-of-call. We had 5 At Sea days and snorkeled a total of 7 times (missed one opportunity to snorkel due to rough seas) during the 15-day expedition.

We stayed on the ship and didn't go on the Rabaul City Tour on the itinerary, but we had our own private tour on the way to airport. We stopped at the Kokopo War Museum (Journal #29) on the way to the airport. We were at the airport for almost five hours, but finally we flew from Rabaul on a charter flight to Brisbane (Journal #30). We spent one night at a hotel in Brisbane before flying home (Journal #31) to LAX.

What an awesome trip. We saw so much and did so much. The total trip was seven weeks (Aug 23rd to Oct 11th). We visited six different countries, snorkeled the most amazing place in the world (Raja Ampat), met some fascinating people and learned about many different cultures and animals. That's what traveling is all about!!

0005-Map of Raja Ampat to Rabaul.jpg

0012-Our cabin #508, Orion.JPG

0365-Corals & octopus, Alyui Bay, Waigeo Island, Raja Ampat.JPG

0636-Corals, Friwinbonda Island, Raja Ampat.JPG

0978-Asmat warriors from Zodiac, Syuru Village, Asmat, PNG.JPG

1349-Asmat ceremony, Yahunyufri Village, Asmat, PNG.JPG

1699-Nancy at Dei Dei hot springs, Fergusson Island, d'Entrecasteaux Islands.JPG

2162-Corals & Christmas tree worms, Pegion Island, PNG.JPG
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