Warning - long, and very picture heavy (around 90 - mostly mine, plus a few from wifey). A mix of diving and non-diving, supplemented by inane ramblings fuelled by Bintang and Chang.
Day 1 - Heathrow to Bangkok
Wifey (Claire) and I flew from Heathrow to Bangkok with BA. Used a bunch of Avios and an AMEX 2-4-1 voucher, so we were in business class. We had a huge luggage allowance (64 kg in the hold, each, plus 46 kg in the cabin, each), but didn't get anywhere near it.
Each dive bag was around 23 kg, camera kit (hand baggage) around 9 kg for me.
Day 2 - Bangkok
Stayed at the Pullman G hotel. Very nice, great breakfast. Not the cheapest place in Bangkok, but we've both done budget places in the past.
Swingy seats in the lobby
Booked into an executive suite - it was massive.
The bedroom is around the corner - it even had 2 bathrooms
Being on the 33rd floor, we had a good view
'Broken' building opposite our hotel - I love the design
Day 3 - Bangkok
The main thing we did was go and get fitted for clothes.
A small sample of the various shirt fabrics
I did lots of eating.
Chicken with chilli sauce - I kept asking for it hot, or "Thai style". They never were.
Fish (of some sort) encrusted with salt then barbecued - damn good
Deep-fried crispy pork - bloody hell that was good!
The bar on the 37th floor had a decent view
Night-time in Bangkok
However, Bangkok in April - never again! It was roasting, even the Thais were complaining about the heat. I was sweating so much my watch went into dive mode!
Day 4 - Bangkok
We were supposed to have been leaving Bangkok on an early flight, so booked ourselves into the Novotel at the airport. Bloody Garuda airlines switched the flight to a 1410 departure. Oh well, the hotel was booked and paid for, so we stayed there anyway; went for a swim, had a few beers and generally chilled out.
The hotel entrance lobby
Day 5 - Bangkok to Jakarta
Well, it was supposed to be Bangkok to Manado, via Jakarta, but the flight change from Garuda forced us into an overnight stop in Jakarta. After a bit of encouragement, they agreed that as they had forced the overnight, they should put us in a hotel. They use the FM7 hotel. One of the strangest laid out places I've ever been in. Food wasn't great, and the bars were pretty crap too. If it happens again, I would just pay for the airport hotel that is at the actual airport.
Garuda offers a bid-to-upgrade system, so for £80 extra, we ended up in business class. Well worth it, decent lounge, extra baggage allowance, better food and drink on the plane, and the sort of seat BA short-haul business flyers could only dream about (it's a better seat than BA long-haul premium economy).
Day 6 - Jakarta to Manado
A stupid-o-clock flight had us getting up at 0400. The previously mentioned upgrade to business meant we breezed through security and were first onto the aircraft. The 3hr flight 'flew' by (hahaha) with the aid of a film on the laptop.
Met at the airport by a driver for the dive centre, and trawled across Sulawesi in heavy traffic for a couple of hours. At the port, we transferred to a boat, and headed to our home for the next 12 nights - Divers Lodge Lembeh.
We were in the top (as in highest) bungalow - Rajawali. It's 80+ steps to get up to it - brutal in the Indonesian heat - but after so much food in Bangkok, I really need the exercise! Low water pressure as the tanks are only a couple of metres above the bungalow - we were told this before booking.
Looking down at the bastard steps
Good view from the top though
Lashed down overnight.