Don’t cry for me Argentina!

Whew last stop! After some intense traveling for almost 24 hours I finally arrived in Buenos Aires. This is what I looked like when I finally got to the hotel at 2 am.

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Got a little sleep then right back to the domestic airport for a quick jump to Resistencia.  From there it would be a two hour drive to the fishing lodge on the Parana River.

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Pinti’s “Dorados on the Fly” Lodge is a cozy little lodge right on the river and comes with an all inclusive package (fishing, lodging, food and drink including alcohol).

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It even comes with this little guy who stood guard at my door each night to help take care of the bugs.

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The fishing would turn out to be pretty epic and I was glad I paid extra to fish solo in the boat instead of getting paired up with another angler.  The drifts were fairly quick so you had to cast fast to hit all of the good spots like stumps, fallen trees, pockets etc.  The golden dorado are fast and aggressive with sharp teeth and bony mouths so steel wire and a good solid strip strike are a must.  I was super pumped to land eight fish in the first morning and then four more in the evening session.  Over the three days I ended up catching thirty fish with some Pira Pita and Golden Pira Pita mixed in with the dorado.  Didn’t get any trophies but landed a few eight pounders on the last evening.

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Random pics from the boat…some pretty epic sunsets…

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Time to pack up and get ready for another long travel day. Ending the trip right where I started with a room full of shit to pack!

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Big thanks to Ramiro, Mariano, and Robin for some epic guiding/fishing and to Pinti and Jose for a wonderful stay at the lodge!

Sad that my journey is coming to an end but ready to get home after an incredible two months!!!

I hear the drums echoing tonight…..

That’s right…..Africaaaaaaaa!

Gonna take some time to do the things we never had!

Ok I didn’t actually hear any drums but I did head straight into the bush for some sweet animal encounters before starting my official safari experience.  But first….to the lodge!

Flew overnight from the Maldives to Abu Dhabi to Joburg. Then caught a quick flight to Nelspruit.

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We would then head due East about 80km to Marloth Park and into the Maqueda Lodge.

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Maqueda is a beautiful family-run lodge right in the middle of Marloth Park and 1.5km from the edge of Kruger National Park.

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They even have a cute little spa on the grounds…

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They say the only big game in Marloth are a few resident leopards so it’s safe to cruise around on your own. My goal was to find some giraffes, zebras, or warthogs on my way down to the river lookout point which overlooks the edge of Kruger.  Unfortunately didn’t find any giraffes but had some pretty close encounters with a bunch of other animals…

I totally got zapped by the fence reaching through to get this pano.  Dropped my phone on the other side and luckily was able to reach it with a stick to slide it back. Oops!

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They told me you can sometimes pet the zebras if you act like you have food in your hand but this crew was a little shy because of the young one.

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The next day I had a full day safari.  The lions and rhinos we saw were too far away for pics, but I definitely still felt lucky to knock out the Big 5 (Lion, Rhino, Water Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard) in the first few hours!

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The best was this incredible leopard encounter. She was hanging out in a tree for a while….literally hanging out on a limb ha!

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Then she climbed down and disappeared into the bush for a minute.  Can you spot the leopard in this pic???

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Then she popped out right in front of the truck, walked right by us, then just laid down in the grass about 30 feet away.

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The next day I decided to cancel my full day safari and do the sunset drive instead. That allowed me to catch up on some sleep and hit the spa…plus I had already seen a good bit and was hoping to get lucky and catch some more intense action like an evening hunt. Unfortunately it was a little slow but we did have some rare sightings like a huge porpucine and a civet. Also, it’s impossible to get good pics at night but I got a few where you can somewhat make out some lions and their cubs…

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The final morning I went to the Komati river to hopefully catch some tiger fish on the fly rod and also get a  little mini-safari out of it from the boat.  Unfortunately the guide had no idea how to fly fish and the only animals we saw were some resident hippos who “usually stay on the other side of those rocks in their territory but yesterday one came up to the boat…”.  Was pretty nerve-racking after hearing that although I did get a bunch of small fish.  Was just glad to get out of there without any close hippo encounters!

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Up at 4:30 am then back just in time for a quick lunch and into the shuttle to the airport. Missed my connection in Joburg and finally got to my hostel in Cape Town at around 10:30 pm.  I’d been dying to get out and party a bit since I was previously stuck at all those lodges and resorts so I got an Uber to head down to Long Street solo. Luckily I met a handful of people on my way out the door and had a crew for the night!  Eventually we would all disperse and I found an awesome local chic to dance with into the wee hours of the night (big shout out to my drinking buddy Melissa and my dance partner Mashudu!).  Here’s a glimpse of the late night action…

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The next day I slept in big time then headed to the V&A Waterfront to catch the rugby game, do a little shopping, and grab some dinner.  Found some prime real estate at this little pavilion where a live band perfomed leading up to the game.

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Unfortunately the Springboks came up short but still an awesome atmosphere. Cruised around for a bit then went back to the hostel and called it a night…had to wake up for the seals the next day!

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Headed down to Hout Bay Harbour to check out the seal colony. Got there early to cruise around the harbour and hit the local market.

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Soon it was time to suit up and head out to the seal colony. I was expecting a few seals chillin on a rock and maybe a couple of the pups would jump in and swim by us. Instead there were HUNDREDS of seals on rocks and in the water and constantly whizzing by us.  There wasn’t a single second where you couldn’t see a seal in the water around you. An incredible experience even in the insane single digit 9 degrees C water!

This one is called a “sealfie”…see what I did there!?!?

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Getting amped up with a primal war scream before entering the icy water!

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Good pics were hard to capture with the water visibility and the speed of these little fuckers.  Most of the time I thought I had one looking right into my lens I ended up with a pic of their tail and a big bubble trail. Still managed to get a few decent ones that could be stellar with some proper editing.  Here are the raw images with a little cropping on a few of them.

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Headed back into town and caught up with my Aussie safari buddies, Scott and Angela, for dinner and rugby…(yay another dinner NOT on my own!!!).

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Craaaaazy travel schedule coming up to get to my final destination, the Parana river in Corrientes, Argentina.  Goodbye Africa….hello South America!  And before I go, I’d like to throw a big shoutout to UBER for being in Cape Town and being amazing!

One week left!

….I seek to cure what’s deep inside…frightened of this thing that I’ve become….

Maldives: Welcome to Paradise

When I booked all these tropical destinations, I had a certain vision in my head. That vision was finally made a reality when I arrived in the Maldives.

a little cloudy on arrival but not for long…

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Straight into my “taxi” at the airport…the capital city of Male in the background.

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Kandooma Island Resort

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A welcome drink and surf program overview and then through the “hallway” to my room…

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Got in a couple of dives…not the best the Maldives has to offer but still pretty solid for a couple sites right around the resort. Saw about 12 sharks, several turtles and huge morays, tons of fish, and my favorite…an octopus!

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Surf was pretty small all week but plenty good enough for me to get a ton of waves. The home break is right off of my back porch and I also took a couple boat trips to check out some other areas. I’ve been in some clear tropical waters but this is by far the clearest and prettiest. As I waited for the next set to roll in I would just stare into the aquarium below. And as the waves rolled through you could see fish, eagle rays, etc. in them as if looking through glass. Warm clear water and super glassy conditions…perfect for my last surf stop on my journey.

Speaking of pretty, here’s one of the surf guides.  She’s thinking “please don’t leave Brian, you make me tingle all over!”

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My other surf guide Aru, hopefully not tingling…

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The pics don’t do it justice but you can get an idea of the clarity in a few shots…

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This old man was snaking me all day and I was content to let it slide…for a while. Soon I would have my revenge!

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Don’t mess with me I’m effin Aquaman! I talk to the fishes and shit!

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My surf buddy Tim from the UK and his wife Holly (my first meal all week where I wasn’t alone!)

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Randoms around the resort and from the boat…

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Even with the surfing and diving I had plenty of time to relax. It sounds absolutely absurd to say that being up at 8 is considered “sleeping in” for my lazy ass.  Feeling super refreshed and ready for another overnight flight and eager to close out the last two weeks of my journey!

Up next….

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Seychelles Fly Fishing

Time to kick off the second half of the trip with the centerpiece of the entire journey, six days of saltwater fly fishing on the flats of Farquhar, one of the remote outer atolls of the Seychelles.  The big draw for me is the diversity of species that can’t be found on my side of the world with the main target being the monstrous Giant Trevally (GT or geet for short).  But first some play time on the main island since I arrived a day early just to be safe…

Note, just because a hotel is listed as 7 km from the airport does not mean it’s a quick cab ride away. I learned quickly that you have to ride up into the mountains and back down to get to the other side of the island. After a forty minute ride (and fifty bucks gone) I arrived at my hotel.

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And just in time to catch a piece of the sunset.

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I quickly learned that this was a popular honeymoon spot and there were only a few couples walking around.  Here’s me at dinner with no friends…

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Luckily new friends were on the horizon, I just didn’t know it yet.  Got picked up for my Reef Safari Tour and of course a hundred Chinese tourists were waiting at the marina. Luckily there was also a group of stylin South African women waving around a red bra as a banner. They quickly adopted me into their crew but initiated me with the red bra…

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My girl Jenny up front has one hand on the knee…and you don’t want to know where that other hand is…ayeeee yooooo!

On to some snorkeling and an island tour with native tortoises!

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Had an amazing day hanging out with these beautiful ladies! Back to my hotel to pack up and grab some dinner then out to their hotel for drinks and some dancing!

I call this one “Half Asian guy taking picture of creepy Asian guy taking picture of dancing ladies”.

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Had to roll out to get some sleep before my early flight and got the best group farewell ever!

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Ok on to the fishing!

Met up with the rest of the crew at a private little hangar.  Two South Africans, five Norwegians, one Dutch, and one other American. The Norweigans knocked out a few 7am beers and didn’t stop the rest of the week!

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On to our private charter flight for a three hour hop to the outer atolls.

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Leaving the main island…

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Approaching outer atolls…

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And we finally arrive at the Farquhar International airport…last week’s crew is rolling out and we’re rolling in.

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Tractor ride to the lodge…

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Those are resident pet geets…no fishing from the dock ha!

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More randoms from around the lodge…the dude in the white shirt is wearing a wig because he had some kind of blooper during the day…I think his was blowing a shot at a GT which would have given him a grand slam for the day. Another guy wore it once because he opened up two empty rod tubes when he arrived on the island.

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Guides plotting the next day’s itinerary…

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At some point we do actually go fishing. After a quick orientation they send you off on your own to check out the flats near base camp and work out the kinks. I caught a juvenile geet, a small bluefin trevally, and a three spotted pompano. I thought I was the man!

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I would learn pretty quickly the next day that catching real fish would be much tougher than expected. Saw a handful of bonefish in the morning that chased the fly but wouldn’t eat. Cast at a couple of geets that wouldn’t eat. Then we made about 20 casts into a school of a hundred bonefish…fiiiiiiinaly hooked up. Luckily the bonefish got more cooperative as the week went on and I caught a bunch which saved some otherwise slow days. Here are a few of many…My biggest was about 8 pounds but the pic is on some stupid usb drive so I’ll have to add it later.

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The other thing that saved me when the fish on the flats were either non-existent or just wouldn’t eat (or I never got a shot because I was getting boxed out by my fishing “partner”) was the bomie bashing. A bomie is basically a coral head or a large expanse of coral. You either anchor up or drift making blind casts over the top of the coral. What’s cool is you get a grab bag of different exotic species and you pretty much always see the take. Sometimes a fish would rise and you could actually site cast it subsequently. This ended up being my favorite thing to do since the flats weren’t kind to me.

Ruby Snapper

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Red-ish Snapper (I forget the real name)

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Brown-spotted Grouper

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Honeycomb Grouper

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White Spotted Marbled Grouper

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Blue Spotted Marbled Grouper

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Bohar Snapper (I actually caught two other huge bohars twice the size of this one…both broken off when the guide manhandled the leader that was shredded against the reef…infuriating).

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Crocodile Needlefish

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Spangled Emperor (one of the few fish caught site fishing in the flats besides the bonefish)

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And finally my one GT. I really expected to catch several of these but I just didn’t get that many shots. When I did get a look I either missed casting into insane winds or the fish would chase but not eat. I was super lucky to even get this guy as I was casting at a few bluefin trevally and he came out of the depths and inhaled my fly.  Took me way into my backing and got caught on some coral. After being in a stalemate for a good minute I got desperate and walked a few meters to the side and locked down the drag and started pulling. I could feel the line sliding against the coral and then boom, I felt the fish and started to make up some ground.

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The group that went to an even more remote atoll caught 85 geets during the week. We caught about 15 tops. I also hooked a huge bumphead parrotfish that would have made my trip but he got off after running about 50 meters. Really the only guys that had a solid week were the ones smart enough to bring spinning gear. They caught 15 geets in one day plus some yellowfin tuna and some huge snapper.  Oh well, still a great experience and definitely many lessons learned for next time.

Random pics from various areas. I will say it was pretty cool to go from a sandy flat to a grassy flat to some gnarly coral to a choppy surf zone to bomie bashing etc. all in one day. What’s not cool is dealing with typhoon winds while casting to spooky finicky fish.

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On the last night a few of us loaded up in the tractor to head into the bush and track down some coconut crabs. I eventually built up the courage to scoop one up!

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And finally a quick mention of my Norwegian buddy here…

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He may look like your typical fisherman, but I overheard him talking about some film he was in and this big battle on the planet “Hoot”. Didn’t think much of it until I heard “George Lucas” and “Harrison Ford”. I was like wait a minute, are you saying you were in the battle scene on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back? “Yes it was filmed in Norway…I was a stormtrooper”. A real life mother effin stormtrooper!!! Once I heard that the fishing didn’t matter any more…I was hanging out with a true movie icon!!!

On to the Maldives for a little surfing, diving, and hopefully a little r&r in paradise…

Halftime break in Dubai

Two days in Dubai mark the exact halfway point of my journey. I really only booked the extra day to do a very specific kind of fishing and the idiots canceled on me the night before.

“Sorry sir your boat is broken.”

‘Well don’t you have any other boats?’

“Yes of course we have many boats but YOURs is broken.”

‘Hmm well I guess the fuckin thing’s broken, thanks.’

So I decided to be an all out tourist and spend way too much money on some super touristy excursions…but first I took some time to enjoy my super expensive hotel…

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Not a bad view…

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Even the gym has a view…

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And of course the real reason I booked this joint…the water park!

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And of course, as made famous on FB already, here are my water park buddies…

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After these little thugs rolled out it was time to get ready for my desert safari! Ha I told you I was gonna do that tourist thing.

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Some of it was pretty cheesy but for the price it was actually not bad…the desert sunset and buffet dinner were worth the price of admission alone.

Stopped by the hotel bar which was totally dead but had a nice view of the resort…

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With no fishing on the agenda I was able to catch up on some sleep and hit the gym for a little exercise. Then I got really bored and headed to the Dubai Mall to check out the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and to search for the mysterious “gold to go atm machines” where you’re supposed to be able to get gold bars out of a vending machine!

Well I scoured that entire big ass mall and this is all I could find…

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All it had was these stupid little trinkets that you would expect to get out of a plastic bubble for a quarter at the grocery store. Oh well, you know what doesn’t cost a quarter? A trip to the “top” of the Burj Khalifa. I don’t know how close to the top we actually were but the limit for the public was floor 152 or something like that. All I know is with all the Chinese tourists up there with idiots like me who paid a ridiculous amount of money for an elevator ride, they can probably build an even taller building next year.

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After that I did the one thing you can do for free and checked out the fountains outside. It was soooo moving watching the water dance and explode into the air to the sweet melodies of Whitney Houston while being surrounded by a thousand Chinese tourists.

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Alright enough of that nonsense…back to the hotel to pack up and get ready for some Seychelles fishing adventures. Curled up and watched one of my favorite movies….

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“I see Chinese people”

And I’m out!

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36 hours in Bali

Quick update on my short stay in Bali.  Booked a little “homestay” at Berawa Beach to get a more “authentic” Balinese experience. And then I went into town to meet the Danish boys from my dive boat at Tony Romas steak house ha! Went out to the main stream megaclub for unlimited drinks from 9-11 for $12 and made it to 10:00 and went home and passed out.  I guess all the diving and traveling finally caught up to me…

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Went surfing in the morning and had the same conversation I always have… “Sorry it’s never this crowded, you should have come yesterday, the waves were perfect and we were the only ones here!”.  So I’ve spared you the same gopro pics in shit waves…sad part is I still got more waves in a few hours than three days in Fiji.  The crew from Baruna Surf Culture was still great to hang with and I would definitely roll with them again…

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They also set me up with an afternoon “cultural” tour…aka “some local driver dude is gonna take you into the middle of nowhere and stop at every tourist trap, I mean ‘temple’ along the way”. Still pretty cool to get away from touristville for a bit, especially for 40 bucks…

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That’s right I rolled solo to the damn butterfly garden!  And I LIKED it!

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Went straight into town for some tshirt shopping and right to the airport.  What a blur!  On to another quick stay in Dubai before a legit 9 day visit to the Seychelles!

Komodo: dragons and mantas and sharks oh my!

“Here comes the sun and I say……it’s alright…..”

After three weeks of shit weather I finally reached the turning point!

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Sunrises, sunsets, supermoons! I had it all! Such a welcome change…

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Flew from Bali to the little harbour town of Labuan Bajo for the night.

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View of the harbour from my hotel in Labuan Bajo. My home for the next five days is out there getting prepped for some amazing dive adventures.

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And there she is, the incredible Wunderpus Liveaboard!

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My air-conditioned cabin wih my own bathroom and hot shower…

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Hanging out on the boat…

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And of course the main event…the diving operation is a well-oiled machine. Equipment laid out for every dive…speed boat pre-loaded with freshly filled tanks and BCDs. Full detailed briefings for each dive.  Never more than a few minute speed boat ride to the sites…

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The diving definitely lived up to the hype. From little critters the size of a pea to giant mantas, huge schools of fish, huge reefscapes full of colorful soft corals……oh and clown fish. Tons and tons of clownfish. Yes I have an obsession with clownfish…they play hide and seek and smile for pics, so cute!  I definitely got some of my best shots ever, especially the smaller “macro” stuff.  I’ll attempt to categorize everything although I don’t remember all of the names. Big stuff first…

Mantas!  We saw several mantas on various dives but the main event was a site named Manta Point.  Eleven mantas total including the super rare all black manta (kind of a blurry pic but still pretty sweet). A few of them hovered around us for minutes at a time putting on a hell of a display of grace and beauty. Incredible experience and one of the most memorable dives ever (keep an eye on Facebook for some sweet vids).

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Turtles and big fish.

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Cuddles the cuttlefish!

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Eels (classic morays and bad ass ribbon eels…the black one is a male that will eventually turn into the blue female…ultimately the fully mature female will be yellow).

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Random weird fish (the skinny guys are leaf scorpionfish and Grumpy McGrumperson is a frogfish)

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This first one is some type of lion fish and no idea what the mean red guy is…

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Clownfish!!!

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This one is extra special, one of my favorite pics ever…

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Nudibranchs (aka sea slugs, or weird little alien looking thingies)

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This one is called the Picachu nudi!

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Critters: little shrimpies and crabs

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And the coolest teeniest thing ever…can you spot the pygmy seahorse???  There are actually two in this first shot.

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I know I know don’t touch…but I had to get some perspective…

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Ok I think that’s it for the diving pics. Here’s a few from our Komodo Island excursion!

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Back to Labuan Bajo for the night before heading back to Bali (remember  The Firm? … 24 hour dive to fly time!).  Sunset drinks with the crew and Indonesian bottle service!

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Thanks to the amazing Wunderpus staff for an unforgettable trip!!!

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Next up a quick blurb on my 36 hours in Bali…but first it’s on to Dubai for a quick Halftime break and then on to the second half of my journey!!!