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!
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:
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.
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:
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.
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?