Diving in the 3 Pearls

June 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Exotic South East, Nature

Indonesia is the widest archipelago in the world, with more than 80,000 km of coastline and 3.1 million square km of marine area. With such a large marine area, it’s no wonder Indonesia is often described as a diver’s paradise. There are plenty of attractions for all kinds of marine lovers, but this time around, we will focus our attention on three small gleaming pearls – North Sulawesi’s Gangga Island, Bali’s Candidasa, and Lombok’s Gili Trawangan.

Photo credit - Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten

Photo credit - Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten

The Gangga Island, North Sulawesi

The Gangga Island arises from the depth of the ocean north of Sulawesi, in the Bangka Archipelago, just off the National Marine Park of Bunaken. A volcanic island, Gangga is adorned with lush tropical trees and colorful flowers. There are several diving areas within reach from Gangga Island, suitable for beginners and experienced divers. The diving spots available in Gangga offers an astonishing kaleidoscope of life forms in more than 25 first-class dive spots in its central position between Bunaken and Lembeh Straits, which also happens to be one of the major playgrounds of paradise for macro-photographers.

Another island paradise bound to attract scuba divers is the renowned Raja Ampat, long heralded as scuba diving’s Holy Grail. Be mesmerized by the crystal clear water, white sandy beaches and pristine marine beauty in this jewel in the ocean!

Photo credit - Hagwall

Photo credit - Hagwall

Candidasa, Bali

Towards the south of the Indonesian Archipelago is Bali, the Island of Gods. At the Eastern coast of this island, far from the crowd, lies the small village of Candidasa, a key location where your choice of tours in the water, and out, begins. Bali has a superb reputation as a diving destination, and overal there is as much diversity of dive sites and marine life here than anywhere else in the region. In the eastern coast of Bali, the feature is on the Mantas, mola mola (sunfish) and tiny pigmy seahorses.

Candidasa is also home to the Bat Cave Temple (Pura Goa Lawah), an important temple to the religious locals which is home to thousands of bats hanging on the rock of cave walls. Legend has it that the cave extends all the way to Pura Besakih up at Mount Agung, more than 30 kilometres away. During various holy days, thousands of pilgrims would visit Pura Goa Lawah to join in sacred ceremonies, before heading up towards Mount Agung.

From water-sports at white sandy beaches to first-class shopping, to luxurious gourmet treats and a relaxing escapade at a hillside cafe, Bali has it all. Here are some of the must-do things in Bali, the Island of Gods.

Photo credit - Jos Dielis

Photo credit - Jos Dielis

Gili Trawangan, Lombok

Last but not least on our quick island hopping is Gili Trawangan, one of the three small islands off the coast of Lombok. Here, visitors can experience the serenity of a small island, the excitement of the underwater world, and the energy of island nightlife all at once. The island was renowned as a backpacker mecca in the 90s, and while it is still true to some extent, there is now a range of luxury and glamour on the island, and especially so on Gili. On one hand, you have a multitude of relaxing laid-back beach-side cafes serving home-made drinks and local delicacies, but on the other end you also seafood buffets, gourmet treats and luxurious stays.

The diving on offer is excellent, and the island is well-known as a teaching center for diving newbies. There are however, spots with strong currents and drifts better suited for the experienced, with the focus on barracudas, manta rays, sharks and hundreds of turtles.

Other than the above three gleaming pearls, the archipelago of Indonesia boasts plenty other diving attractions. Be sure to check out our list of amazing dive spots in Indonesia before you book your trip down South!

Unearthing Asia is a travel zine focusing on Lifestyle, Culture and Attractions all over Asia. Don’t miss out on the best travel ideas and inspirations in the region of Asia, such as this list of top attractions in Ho Chi Minh City.

5 Spiritual Vacations for Miss Lohan

April 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Attractions, Feature Highlights, General Fun, Nature

Dearest Miss Lohan. A fellow travel blog zine has recently implied your need of assistance. Apparently, you are heartbroken, broke and out of work. Adding to that, a somewhat complicated relationship problem seems to be on the horizon. As such, I would like to offer you our own suggestion of vacations that would help you heal your soul. After all, Asia has always been a land of mystical and spiritual healing. And down here, your dollar goes a long long way!

Rameswaram, South India. Photo credit - myriadity and technicolorcavalry.

Rameswaram, South India. Photo credit - myriadity and technicolorcavalry.

Spiritual Healing in South India

The spirituality of South India is one of colour, symbols, statues, incense, flowers and singing. Stay in inexpensive government-run hostels and do darshan (greet the Gods) in some of the holiest Hindu temples and pilgrimage sites in the region. Even outside the temples, India is a country that reeks with spirituality, from the fragrant garlands hanging in market stalls to the red paste adorning the forehead of men and the smell of burning incense left in offerings to the Gods.

The holy island of Rameswaram is known as one of India’s most venerated and most visited shrines, dedicated to Sri Ramanathaswamy (or Sri Rama for short). Spend some time here to take in the epic story of Ramayana, and learn for yourself the workings of karma. Find your artha (purpose), limit your kama (pleasure or desire) and gain moksha (liberation) by completing your due dharma (duty).

Ayurveda yoga and Beruwela's beach. Photo credit - fabola and DreamwizarD.

Ayurveda yoga and Beruwelas beach. Photo credit - fabola and DreamwizarD.

Ayurveda Treatment in Sri Lanka

Head towards Sri Lanka for a seaside retreat involving ayurveda, the 5,000 years old Indian healing system whose name translates as “the Science of Life”. You’ll be offered an array of holistic therapies such as herbal oil massages, steam baths and acupuncture, with yoga and meditation. We recommend a thorough purging of the system by incorporating them all into your medication. You need all the help you can get!

Try to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful ocean view as you practice the traditional Hatha Yoga from the resort’s roof top. At 56 km south of Colombo, Beruwela marks the beginning of 130 km stretch of mesmerizing beach for your admiration. Spend a quiet moment of two as you stroll along the beach, a luxury you’ll rarely find in Florida’s packed beaches.

Diving in North Sulawesi. Photo credit - naturemandala and Erwin Kodiat.

Diving in North Sulawesi. Photo credit - naturemandala and Erwin Kodiat.

Diving in North Sulawesi, Indonesia

With more than 150 dive sites and around 1000 reef fish species, North Sulawesi is a hotspot for avid scuba-divers. The beauty of the marine bio diversity here is unparalleled, one of the best diving spot in the whole world, but that’s not the only reason we recommend this site for you. There are still not much development in North Sulawesi, and it’s very easy to find a quiet island retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the world.

As you forget the stress and pressures of unemployment and impending bankruptcy, mesmerize yourself with one of the most pristine natural areas in the world. Swim with dolphin, sharks, giant turtles and even rare manatees as the local diving team guide you over vivid, unspoiled coral gardens.

Temple stay in South Korea. Photo credit - dailytransit.

Temple stay in South Korea. Photo credit - dailytransit.

Temple Stay in Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea, offers a variety of temple stay at one of its many Buddhist monasteries. One such place is the Woljeongsa Temple, a 7th century temple located in Pyeongchang County, a few hours east of Seoul. Wake up at 4 in the morning to the sound of moktak – a long, wooden, percussion instrument Buddhist monks use to start their day. Lateness is not acceptable, and will be punished by 3,000 times of bowing for punishment, and a day of fasting for everybody else!

The rigorous pre-dawn ceremony is designed to clear the minds – chanting prayers, standing and then bowing gracefully, repeating it for 108 sequences, symbolizing the 108 worldly desires you need to renounce. Attend Buddhist sermons by the monks, preaching the teachings of Buddha and how you can incorporate them into your life, and spend the remainder of the day helping out with chores, admiring the scenery and meditating in calm contemplation.

Meditate in the silence of nature. Photo credit - felix42 and aimforawesome.

Meditate in the silence of nature. Photo credit - felix42 and aimforawesome.

Silent Retreat in Thailand

The idea of a silent retreat is simple. You go somewhere quiet and don’t talk. Not only that, most artificial sounds and distractions – reading, writing, music, caffeine, alcohol and music – are not allowed. The Suan Mokkh Temple in Thailand offers 10 days of silence in which you simply sit there and do nothing but meditate. A senior monk leading the retreat chimes in time to time with teachings to contemplate.

The concept behind this is that our mind is constantly bombarded with distractions and information. It is over-saturated, always thinking about the next thing to do, always contemplating about the past which has happened. The silent retreat is designed to have us confront these distractions, to know these shallow pleasures and let go of them. Only then will you be able to connect with your true self.

The attrition rate for silent retreat are high up at around 25% in the first few days, and usually ending with less that 50% the original attendees. With the constant distractions that’s been bombarding your everyday life, we felt this would be good for you, so try to last till the end will you?

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts on Unearthing Asia.