Remembering The White Wave

Over lunch my husband and I were discussing our trip to the grocery store. We couldn’t believe the price of pork tenderloin had doubled since last week, or how many people weren’t wearing masks. “Remember when we used to talk about our vacation plans?” he asked. YES!

The Ombak Putih, aka White Wave, awaits us.

How I long for those discussions and experiences. in addition to talking about what’s for dinner and how long it will be before we get vaccinated. I’m amazed at how focused he can be on on the latter. Cheers to him, for that is the single greatest step back into the world of travel. We don’t just miss traveling, we miss planning it! Suzanne@Picture Retirement covered this phenomenon beautifully in the opening of her blog “Then and Now.” I thank my husband for reminding me to finish blogging about our last international trip – a month long trip that took a year to plan and book. Some of the planning challenges were logistics, shopping and packing for multiple climates and activities, getting vaccinated for tropical climates and achieving fitness goals. I even hired a personal trainer to make sure I was feeling my best while traveling to the other side of the world.

Our last trip out of the country was Q4 2019. After spending a week in Western Australia, we flew to Jakarta for a few days, then caught the Ombak Putih (“white wave” in Bahasa) in Sorong, West Papua for a 10 day cruise. The Ombak Putih is a 42 M traditional Indonesian panisi style wooden schooner used for live aboard excursions. Fitness goals paid off early, as there was no ramp onto the boat. Balance and strength exercises ensured waterless landings to and from the dingy. The first two excursions involved moderately difficult hikes up mountains and into jungles for bird watching. Here, endurance training paid off, as well as patience, because, the birds of paradise were hard to photograph. I think we each lost 5 pounds trying to get some good shots.

The rest of the trip we spent on or in the water snorkeling, swimming with stingless jellyfish and whale sharks, and floating through underwater caves looking for prehistoric drawings. With sails up, we commenced a 500 mile trip on the Ceram Sea. We took about 3000 photographs, but here are a few of my favorites:

Heading out to sea.
Our travel guide’s lap top.

If we weren’t on the schooner or directly in the water, we were on one of these inflatable dinghies. Climbing ladders and getting on and off of these bobbing things were other ways the pre-trip work outs paid off.

We travelled from and to shore on inflatable dinghies.
We travelled for about an hour into inlets not navigable by the schooner.
The water kept getting a prettier shade of emerald green….
and the rocks kept getting bigger!!

One of our breaks from the sea was a walk around Arborek Island. It’s a small, flat island with a village known for hosting diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The approach was beautiful and we received a very nice welcome from some of the local children:

The pier at Arborek Island…
…where I’m pretty certain these young dancers were expecting us!
One of the village shops. All residents have a dog that looks just like this one!

One of the most nerve wracking memorable parts of the trip was towards the end. The crew and other passengers had been anticipating swimming with whale sharks. I was not planning on doing it. All those work-outs did nothing to address the fear factor. Have you every been really, really afraid of doing something and so sure you would NOT do it? I was – but decided to go out on the dinghy to watch. Everyone was having a great time swimming around, photographing and even touching these immense creatures. No one could have prepared me for the unease I felt. Nor could anyone have told me that FOMO would kick in after about 10 minutes of watching my husband snorkeling with them. He came back to the dinghy to check on me and before I could stop myself, I said “I wish I had brought my gear.” That would have been my excuse for having to explain why I travelled to the other side of the planet to NOT do something. OOPS – he had packed my gear for me and stowed it in the corner of the dinghy. Well, I did it!! Here’s a photo of one of whale sharks and us after getting out of the water. I was proud of myself, but also relieved.

One of the many whale sharks that welcomed us. Photo courtesy of fellow passenger D. Zinn
Feeling accomplished!

The end of each day on the cruise was restful. We enjoyed a nice healthy dinner, not so healthy “cocktails of the day” and reliably beautiful sunsets.

We don’t have any international trips booked right now, but are happy to remember our days on the White Wave and look forward to when we can plan another big trip. What was your last trip out of your home country? Where do you want to go once you feel safe traveling abroad?

17 thoughts on “Remembering The White Wave

  1. That looks to be the trip of a lifetime! I am missing travel so bad right now. This time last year I was busy packing my suitcase for my annual trip to Barbados with a good friend. We were there just as the news of Covid-19 was really starting to heat up, and got home 2 weeks before the first lock-down in my then-province began. Oh well, next year!

    Deb

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    • It really was! I actually cruised with them in 2009 and thought the same thing(different excursions though). A year ago today, I was house hunting in Washington State…..sigh. I’ve never been to Barbados. Hope you had a good time before the lock-down. Tracey

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  2. Excellent edition! You are right….we all miss planning and anticipation. And great surprises, like your sweet hubby stowing your gear! He’s a smart man, married to an adventurous bad-ass! Go get ’em Tracey!

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  3. You conquered your fears! A great story. I’m looking forward to traveling back to the UK someday. All the British shows we’ve watched during the pandemic has reignited the bug to go there. Or maybe I’m just jonesing for a pint, I’m not sure. πŸ˜‰ – Marty

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  4. Tracey, that last photo of you guys says everything – joy, contentment, accomplishment, it’s all there. Thank you for sharing this amazing trip of a lifetime and for the shout-out. We can’t wait to get back out there. P.S. I swam with sharks and stingrays in Bora Bora a few years ago and will never, ever, forget that experience.

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  5. That’s a great adventure trip and aren’t you glad you conquered your fears (well enough to actually do it anyway). As to planning – least favourite part of travel. I just want to decide where to go and do it. Ask how well that turned out in Newfoundland a couple of years ago in April when zero is open?? But it works pretty well in a place like Europe or England where there are services everywhere. We do a fair bit of HM – looks good let’s stop here and always up for a pint! First up is probably back to England and a bike trip in Italy. That’s were we got interrupted by Covid19.

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    • Thank you and yes it was very satisfying to push past those fears AND to experience being in the water with those creatures. We are really looking forward to getting back to England as well. Too long since we’ve seen family there, and in Canada.

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  6. Pingback: Rosy Red Travel Memories | ARTISTIC PENSION

  7. Wow, those whale sharks! I’m so pleased your husband had the foresight to pack your equipment just in case πŸ™‚ I would love to do that even though I would be a little nervous, and it might even get my husband in the water even though he doesn’t really like snorkelling!! Your whole trip sounds amazing πŸ˜€

    And you’re so right about missing talking about and planning holidays. Our conversations have changed just as yours have. Our last trip abroad was actually this time last year – we were in Indochina just as the pandemic started to impact and got home a few weeks before the UK locked down.

    We have taken the small gamble of planning and booking a trip for next February – to Sri Lanka. At the moment it seems to be one of those countries that are relatively well on top of things, and our own vaccination programme is going well. I’ve already had my first jab and if the timetable continues to run OK we should both be fully vaccinated by July/August πŸ™‚ But we’ve booked through a very good company (who also planned our Indochina trip for us) as they offer us the security of postponing for up to 18 months or changing destination, up to 30 days before we’re due to travel. But we’re so hoping we don’t need to do that and are able to go!!

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    • Congratulations on getting your first shot (my husband has also had his first “jab”) I’m a bit behind in the priority ranking here, so looks like we will be missing our nieces wedding in the UK this spring. Sounds like you’ve got some nice trips planned. We had planned on going back to Japan (one of our favorites) but not sure when that will happen. For now, it’s domestic trips in the US where we can drive. Neither of us is ready to fly yet.

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