Hello everyone. Sorry for the delayed posting but I've been extremely busy preparing for another shipment. I'm posting from Sulawessi right now. Before moving on to my Vietnam Adventures, let's talk about what has been happening in this month of September here in Indonesia.
As some of you may know that the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan is coming to a close. It will officially end on the 30th of September. Did you know that Indonesia is the biggest Muslim nation in the world? There are few Catholics, Protestants, and one island full of Hindus (Bali), but the majority are Muslims.
For many, this is really a hard time to survive and prove their faith. I say this as I see many Indonesian guys trying to cope with the fasting. Here is the typical day in the fasting period.
The day starts at 4 am. All over the country, there is a call for prayers on loudspeakers from the Mosques. It is really loud. It is a wake up call to start the day. Breakfast is served and coffee and smoking is consumed as much as possible. As soon as the sun rises, the fasting period starts for the day. When I say fasting, I mean no eating, drinking, smoking, cursing, making babies, getting mad at anyone, thinking bad stuff, etc.. you guys get my point? All this goes on until the sun sets around 6 pm! The only exception is for women. They are allowed to eat and drink during their menstrual cycle. Thank goodness, can you imagine your wife or girl during this particular period without food or drinks? I wouldn't want to be around them - probably get yelled at breathing their air!
The problem is for the guys, as I would say 99% of them all smoke. If you are a smoker or coffee drinker you know what I'm saying. This of course leads to more road rage and such.
After the fasting period ends, the biggest holiday of the year starts. It is called "Idul Fitri". Basically this would be equivalent to Christmas in the US. It is a four day holiday where over 2 million people travel to go back to their home villages to spend time with their families. People bring with them gifts, mostly clothes and such. The highways and waterways are all packed with travelers. This is especially a dangerous time for the people taking ferries to cross islands. The capacity is over extended and there is the danger of boats capsizing.
There is one interesting law that takes effect during this period. Before one week of the Idul Fitri, employers are required by law to give a bonus of one extra month's salary to the working force. There are even demonstrations for the government to crack down on companies that default on this occasion. The locals heavily rely on this extra bonus to make ends meet during this festive period.
Oh one more important thing that happened this month. I turned 40! Wow talk about being old. I don't look 40 but sure feel it! A fortune was told to me back a few years ago right before I took off to Tonga to start my ventures. I was told that I was going to loose money first, due to to my good nature in believing people. But after I turned 40, I would start making big money and be really successful. I was told that I was going to make a name for myself in my business and would have lots of enemies. This was told to me four years ago in Vietnam. Well I'm happy (or maybe not) to say that half of my fortune came true, as I went broke since that time. Believe it or not, only time will tell:)
We will talk more about the city of Nha Trang on a later post. But for now, let's move on to today's topic. After taking care of some business, we had one full day to enjoy this beautiful town on the southern coast of Vietnam.
We started the day around 7 am. Across the street from our hotel, there is this cafeteria style eating place.
A nice place to have noodle soup (pho) before venturing out for the day.
Of course, can't have breakfast without coffee. This mixture of very strong coffee and condensed milk is ready to be poured into a cup of ice. The caffeine and the sugar is enough to wake up a sleeping water buffalo!
For the day, we had bought a tour package that would take us around the Nha Trang bay and visit the islands. Way cool, since the package only cost $6-$10 per person (depends on where you buy the package). There were three of us, me and Anne and his brother Kye. At 8 am, a little van pulled up to our hotel to take us to the waiting boats at the marina. There were a bunch of tourists in the van already. We exchanged a few words and found out that they were from Holland and Germany. We got to the boat and it was crowded already. The tour guide surprisingly spoke good English and cracked dumb jokes from the start!
We started out to our first stop - an island that has an aquarium! As we were chugging along, we passed this tram that takes people from the mainland to this "Vinpearl" island. Someone had spent quite of bit of money to develop this deserted island to a paradise playground. From the brochure, it has a state of the art aquarium, all kinds of rides, animal shows, shopping mall, restaurants, and even a water park! The tram was built just for the park. There are ferries as well, but I guess the tram is more fun. You must have tickets to the island before you can ride the tram though. This Vinpearl island was not here two years ago when I visited this place. So I'm thinking it is fairly new and someone is banking on Nha Trang being a huge tourist trap. I will have to check it out the next time I'm in the area.
Check out these houses on this island. The houses are situated so that each one gets a good view of the bay:)
And here we come to our first stop - the aquarium island! Looks pretty cool, look like something from Disneyland!
We docked next to other boats that was there already. We had to "boat hop" to get to the shore!
Here is me and Anne, with our $.50 straw hats. Check out Anne's sunglasses, she thinks she is a movie star!
We walked up a trail and saw this sign. At least I know they have sea turtles here.
Here is the entrance to the aquarium. Pretty cool!
The trail lead us to this opening in the"mountain". I felt I was lining up for a ride at Disneyland!
The first thing I noticed upon entering the "mountain" was this tidepool.
At first glance, these looked like sarcophyton soft corals. But they are actually anemones!
We continued walking and saw this chart.
Nothing spectacular but for the average tourist, the colourful fish and background was enough.
A stonefish looking looking like a rock. I actually ate this fish at a Chinese seafood restaurant in Bali. Tastes lot better than it looks!
Some colourful tubeworms.
Some beautiful black ribbon eels. Did you know that these are juveniles? When they get old, they turn into the blue ribbon eel!
A huge grouper in the background. I think it weighs more than Anne!
A curious big boy with big bulging eye! All we need is a cleanershrimp in its mouth and the picture will be complete:)
So here is one of the turtles, a hawksbill. This must be the most common species of sea turtles there is. I see them everywhere where there are turtles.
This turtle I don't see too often. I think this is a ridley.
Here it is again, picture taken with a flash. This guys is actually yellow - kind of cute!
Big old tesselata moray eels!
Hey, kind of looks like the picture in the small sign as we were walking in!
A nurse looking shark.
We ended up downstairs looking into the tidepool. Well at least now you know how to say "coral reef fish, sea anemone, and coral" in Vietnamese now!
Some saddleback clownfish hosting in their anemone.
Here is a view of the island of anemones. All the anemones I saw on display were the ritteris - Heteractis magnificas.
Chicken fish, as we would say in Indonesia. This curious titan triggerfish kept following me around. Note the cleaner wrasse hanging close to him.
The reef was nothing spectacular or anything but it did represent a variety of fish from local waters.
I went up stairs again and zoomed in to take this picture of the "island of anemones".
Check out the monster anemone clinging to one of the pillars - must be 4 feet across!
And finally, guess what I found in a clam shell? A beautiful young princess!!
OK guys, that is it for today. I will try to post part two of this series before heading back to Jakarta in a few days. Following the series, get ready for some very cool coral pictures from this trip!