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Tarsius in North Sulawesi picture DeDan.

 

Obviously North Sulawesi is famous for its amazing diving: Bunaken, Bangka and Lembeh Strait, but it's not just the underwater world that is truly amazing here.

 

1. Tangkoko National Park

Tangkoko National Park is about 2 hour car ride from Manado and is one of the best places in the world to spot world's smallest primate Tarsius Tarsier. In Tangkoko you can also see Black tailless monkeys, wild pigs, kuskus, hornbills and many tropical birds, green vipers... Read more: https://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Indonesia/Sulawesi/Tangkoko-National-Park/blog-837506.html

 

Tangkoko National Park / DeDan Living Colours

 

2. Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center


The Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Center is a rescue, rehabilitation and release center dor animals saved from the illegal wildlife trade. Visit or become a volunteer! Read more: http://www.tasikoki.org/

 

3. Tomohon area


Wonderful flower gardens, visit Lake Linow and hot springs, famous Tomohon traditional market, this beautiful highland village has charm you won't forget. Read more: http://wikitravel.org/en/Tomohon

Tarsius in North Sulawesi picture Heini Harsila

 

4. Mt. Lokon and mt. Mahawu


Interested of doing some mountain climbing or easier trekking in the volcanic jungle? Mt. Mahawu is easy option and Lokon for more advanced trekkers. Both giants located in Tomohon.
Read more: http://www.indonesia-tourism.com/north-sulawesi/mounth_lokon_mahawu.html

Green viper / DeDan Living Colours

 

5. Climbing Manado Tua


Usually we just dive there but hey, why not climb it. Ali won't join you though, he's done it once and regrets it badly. He said no one told it was so high! :D But others say it's great!

Read more about trips: https://livingcoloursdiving.com/en/info/other-activities

 

Tarsius in North Sulawesi picture DeDan.

 

 All pictures except Lake Linov are taken by DeeDanz http://www.danzjourney.com/.

Lake Linov picture Heini Härsilä.

 

 

Diving Resort in Bunaken

For those who don’t know, Living Colours Diving Resort consisted of three main departments. The dive center, the restraunt and the accommodation. These worked seemlessely in the open to produce the “Living Colours Experience”. Unknown to most, and still the source of many conspiracy theories is Living Colours R+D devision. The research and development division is, to the naked eye, just a bar. But this is the place where magic happens.

On a normal 35 degree June afternoon the two Finns sat in the shaded bar, quietly talking over an ever increasing pile of Heineken bottles. After a while they stood with purpose and headed into the sunlight. Curiously I watched two Finns building a fire on the beach, placing rocks on a makeshift metal frame over the fire. They almost resembled how I would imagine cave men looked. Feverishly working away gathering wood, rocks, more wood, more rocks, more wood, and even more rocks. Hardly taking the time to sip their Heineken they grunted their plans, nodded, and sweated in the heat. They seemed to work together each knowing the others thoughts, almost like they were two guys, with one brain. After hours of work the fire was extinguished, the rocks hot, and the pair was ready.

Sauna on the beach at Bunaken

The first sauna on the beach 2010. 

 

A crude tarpaulin and bamboo frame was placed over the heated rocks, the steps from the beach would be their seat. Inviting all who had spectated they ushered some ten people under the tarpaulin. With a proud smile, they pored water onto the rocks, causing hot steam to rise. Enjoying the heat the proudly explained the Finnish sauna tradition. THEY had dared to dream. And over the past eight hours they had produced Bunaken’s first operational beach sauna.

After that day, Living Colours Diving Resort was to gain an extension to its R+D division, a place where ideas would be hatched in the comfort of a Finnish sauna. From the design to the importation of Finnish materials, rocks, and scents the sauna was in place. Everything was ready – almost.

A sauna “tonttu” or elf, is a man who tirelessly prepares, heats, and cares for the sauna.

Since 1689 Sauna elves have been graduating from Lapland’s coverted “Heateri Experti” college. Located in the small hamlet of O'Vykeeni just south of the town Purk Elle, the college is shrouded by secrecy and intrigue. Some say the course syllabus is contains teachings from the first Tonttu’s who came to Finland from England after getting lost on their way to the crusades, other myths include “Heateri Experti” being the birthplace of salmiakki. All that is certain is that only the most capable “elves” gain access to the college. The course is a long and hard one, which demands much from the students and profesors. All that is known for sure is that only students with Pure Finnish blood (about 40% alc.) make the grade. But due to budget cuts and funds being diverted to support the failing National Ice hockey team, the college has only limited places for ten Tonttu every five years (average training time). After numerous letters, emails, telegrams, smoke signals, and carrier pigeons sent from Living Colours Bunaken requesting immediate assistance, we heard no response. In desperation we decided our Tonttu would have to be trained on Bunaken. But who could make the grade amongst the few? I alone heard the call. I stepped forward and volunteered.

 

Authentic Finnish sauna in Bunaken island

Salmiakki Koskenkorva aka Black Death 

The first obstacle was to gain some “Finnish blood”. Short of becoming a vampire and draining an unsuspecting diver I'd have to “marry into the club”, this proved to be challenging. The average Finnish girl is not overly impressed by, what can only be best put as, Jungle hygiene. But luck was to be on my side when a group of three travelling Finnish girls arrived to the resort. Once my future bride was selected I would be cleared to begin my training. I proceeded to procure the tools I would need to woo the maiden. These were three small and cute kittens, 24 heineken, and about 2 hours of “Gunther and the Sunshine” girls music videos, she stood no chance. Within six months terms and conditions were arranged and she had clicked the “I agree” box.

The training began in ernest, mastering the skills of the Tonttu would not be easy, more than simply lighting a fire was to be learned. The first week was spent “straightening the liver”, this was done by increasing the levels of Heineken to an acceptable Finnish standard. Before moving onto consumption of the Tonttu’s worst enemy, or best friend, – Salmiakki Koskenkorva aka Black Death. No stories that start with a shot of Black death ever finish with “and then we got home safely”, and it is rumoured that more than a few Tonttu’s have succombed to its sticky claw. In Finland, the great Helsinki sauna fire of 1878 was said to be caused by a particaulary stronger batch, four saunas burned for three days creating of the nations largest ever smoke sauna.

The next Tonttu training focused on the wood. Getting wood is easy, but keeping wood for a long time can be a tough order, especially in the jungles of Sulawesi. Your wood is sensitive, delicate, and neglect it for a moment and you can loose it. This proved to be a tough lesson on Bunaken, a pile of sauna wood drying will look like a steak dinner to the termites, who will turn it to dust in faster than you can imagine. Keeping your wood, and keeping it dry was no easy order. But persivere I did, and I am proud to say that even my wife stared approvingly at my wood.

Dive resort in Bunaken

 

The training continued, long hours, hot days until finally my Fiskars axe was a mere extension of my taught, ripped, upper body and muscular arms. Chopping wood for hours in the blazing sun all under the watchful eyes of father Peter, a Catholic priest who had volunteered to supervise this phase of the training. Always a touching presence, Father Phyle was encouraging. Adjusting and advising me to position my body with my back to him as I swung the axe. This phase of the training was oddly photographed by Father Phyle, and though I wasn’t too hot, he insisted I not wear a shirt. I was saddened when father Phyle was recalled to the Vatican to polish the gold, leaving me to my training.

After months of training I was introduced to my final Guru – Mr Harvy Arr, a Finnish hero. He was the most Finnish man in the southern hemisphere. His skin was whiter than snow, reflecting natural light, a permanent frown engraved on his forehead, which I later learned is how Finns smile. Being raised in Lapland he had an aversion to sunlight, so from now on we worked at night, heating the kiuas to temperatures that would make fukushima reactor 4 look like a Sunday bbq, and giving our eco resort the carbon footprint of Chinese power station. Unfaced we continued, working long hours and being brought food by his wife, Lulu Arr, we worked on. Finally it was time to test. The Arr family all joined, Harvy, Lulu, and their daughter Lisa-Lulu Arr. After a few short steams Harvy looked happy, he frowned a big happy Finnnnish frown, and I knew I had graduated with honours.

That was over five years ago, and two Kiuas' later we are still here. Still the only true Anglo-Finnish sauna in the southern hemisphere. On hot days I sit upon the sauna balcony I wonder what happened to Harvy, if he still teaches. The thoughts make my forehead throb and extend into a happy Finnish frown. I read that father Phyle is helping others all the time, the latest I heard he was helping the police with their enquiries, he does enjoy giving. As for the two pioneers who dared to dream, sweat, drink, and build a sauna in the topics, that’s another blog post.

If tree falls in the forrest and no one is there to hear it, who chops the wood for the kiuas?

 

Accommodation in Bunaken island

 

 

 

 

Living Colours group getting ready to clean COTS, picture Heini Härsilä 2015.


 This week Earth Day celebrated its 45th anniversary! Congratulations, many good things have been achieved but many things yet to be done.

Like we could read this week from news, WWF's recent report is clear: Oceans are world's seventh largest economy worth $24tn BUT are in immediate danger due to overfishing, pollution and climate change. it is obvious how important our oceans are to so many people around the globe. This is what was said:

The report warns that nearly two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are “fully exploited” with most of the rest overexploited. The biological diversity of the oceans slumped by 39% between 1970 and 2010, while half of the world’s corals and nearly a third of its seagrasses have disappeared in this time.

Crown of thorns at Bunaken National Park
Crown of thorns, picture Heini Härsilä 2015.
 

Obviously we as diving resort are as well depending of the sea and healthy coral reefs bursting with fish. Scuba divers are the ambassadors of the underwater world because we love the reefs and we can see the change better than many others. On Earth Day Webnesday 22th of April 2015 we gathered a group from divers and snorkelers from the resort and from Bunaken villages and headed to the reefs to collect poisonous reef eating Crown of thorns sea stars.

 

Divers at Living Colours Bunaken National Park
Divers collecting COTS, picture Heini Härsilä 2015.

 

Crown of thorns is coral polyp eating carnivore and sometimes large populations can destroy huge portions of reef. It doesn't have many predators, but one of them is beautiful triton's trumpet (also called giant triton), which is often captured and killed by its gorgeous shell.

 

Triton's trumpet at Bunaken National Park
Beautiful Triton's trumpet, picture Heini Härsilä 2014.

 

First we took our boat to Mike's point on north side of Bunaken where's we've seen quite many cots recently. Diver's and snorkelers collected 51 big cots which is less than we expected - which is always good news! Current was getting quite strong so we headed to Living Colours' house reef where we didn't find any! The tide was getting low so we had another try the net day and then snorkelers collected around 30 cots in the shallows. Not a huge catch but like said - just good news. Living Colours has been collecting cots from Bunaken's fragile reefs with NWSA for more than a decade and we really hope it works! :)

Have you been participating any earth day activities? Let's make this planet little better place and do everything we can to save our precious seas!

Get sustainable sea food guide to your phone!

www.seashepherd.org/support-us/


Heini

 

 

Living Colours group getting ready to clean COTS, picture Heini Härsilä 2015.
Living Colours group getting ready to clean COTS, picture Heini Härsilä 2015.

 

 

 

Nudibranchs at Bunaken Marine Park /Havula
Nudibranchs at Bunaken Marine Park /Havula

 

Well yes when we go to sauna we get naked. That's what Al is gonna talk to you about next time. But this time I'm just gonna tell few things about nudis, those naked gill guys who happen to be the candies of the reefs, beautiful little sea slugs.

Did you know there's more than 3000 species of nudibranchs? The number is unbelievable, I wonder how many painters God had when he/she was creating these marvelous creatures. New species are being discovered all the time and also us here in Bunaken National Park have encountered many never before seen species. Go to http://www.nudipixel.net/ if you can't find nudi you spotted in any of your fish books and find out if you really have found new species or did it just look very different than the ones in the book!

Did you know that nudibranchs are carnivores? They eat each other - among other things. Their daily diet also includes other slugs, coral, sponge and fish eggs... Few years ago we had a guest who was studying nudis and she told us some species also eat coral with algae and that algae is actually able to do photosynthesis with sun and that's how nudi can be fed with nutrients for long time (even in the tank with no food!). How cool is that!?

They don't live very long, from few weeks up to one year. And they taste bad, I've heard. But they really like to be photographed. Maybe on your next visit you will bring a UW camera and start hunting these beasts with it!


Heini

 

About Nudi Pixel

Nudi Pixel, as the name suggests, is a website dedicated to Nudibranchs. Well, some of you might be asking "Why nudibranchs?", why not a shrimp site, a fish identification site, a turtle site, a coral site or maybe a sponge site? Aside from their obvious beauty and mystery, nudibranchs have played an important role in the friendship of the three founders of this website: Erwin Kodiat, Yuji Law and Hengky Dotulong. They are all fascinated by nudibranchs, their gorgeous colors, texture and rarity are always the main topic of conversation when these three meet. And they really can talk about an exciting new nudibranch they discovered from lunch till dinner!

Therefore, after they each independently amassed large collections of nudibranch photos, they decided to set up a website dedicated to Nudibranchs. Nudi Pixel serves as an online reference tool for Nudibranch lovers. Each species of Nudibranch in the website has detailed photo references, location and scientific classification. To make the website more competent and attractive, we have designed it in such a way that every Nudibranch will have at least two images for reference. We are proud to report that some of the Nudibranchs uploaded to Nudi Pixel are being identified and examined by leading nudibranch experts like Dr. Dave Behrens, Dr. Richard Willan and Neville Coleman.

Nudi Pixel also hopes to create a stockpile of Nudibranch images for reference purposes. These images are contributed by friends and fellow Nudibranch lovers from around the globe. Here, the Nudi Pixel team would like to thank each and every one of you for your images, efforts and support to develop this reference website

http://www.nudipixel.net/

 

 

 

PADI divemaster course in Bunaken
Coming back from Bangka trip / picture Heini Härsilä

 


To do or not to do? This question was circulating on my mind when i started to considering about doing a PADI Divemaster course. I used to had a huge problem about taking my mask off underwater and I think my first words after arriving Bunaken were "when is the day of horrors I'm gonna have to do it...?" Well, I did it. Now taking mask off is one of my favourite skills to do. If you see me underwater without mask on, I'm propably just enjoying feeling fresh seawater wiping my face or I might be teaching. I fell in love with Bunaken island and diving in here and became first PADI divemaster and then PADI dive instructor. This is a brief story about how i started my professional diving career by doing Rescue & Divemaster courses with Living Colours Diving Resort.

I arrived in Bunaken on May 2014. Next day Ali, me and Amore, guy doing a rescue course with me, started working with rescue skills. Together with studying theory we had some fun rescue scenarios. One day after lunch I came back to the resort and found one unconcious person lying on floor, other one slightly panicking and bleeding and one acting angry with machete. "Ok. Stop, think and act." So I did and first I took this angry bird and locked him inside office. Then I checked unconsious nonbreathing person and gave him first aid, called help and dealt with the panicking dude. It was hilarious to watch Amore going through the same situation when he arrived from lunch. During few days we did rescue scenarios underwater, on surface, on land, on boat, on my dreams. It seemed like where ever I happened to be, there was a rescue situation going on. It was real fun course and after finishing Ali made rescue-pizzas for us. Yamiiii.

 PADI Divemaster course in Bunaken

Checking scuba gear with divers / Picture Heini Härsilä

Divemaster course started with a fundive. I was amazed about underwater walls we have in here and the variety of species, corals, colours, everything! "What a diving, I did choose my location spot on!" After fun we continued with different fun, assisting on PADI Advanced Open Water Course. Theme of the day was navigation. I think universe through a curl ball to me with this. I used to got lost a lot. On land I mean. It never bothered me, since by getting lost you always find something new. Now with the navigation part of advanced, I was reminded of how to use compass and landscape for navigating. Funny enough, on my instructor exam almost a year later, one of the skills I had to present and teach, was navigating. Girl who use to be lost a lot teaches now how not to get lost. Thank you universe!

"Ooooh my, I can take my mask off and I wanna do it all day long!" One morning Al gave me task: "Slave, go sit on mangroves and do not come back before you can take the mask off". Al is always joking and so was the case in this too, but I actually went into the mangroves, sat underwater, followed Al's instructions and practiced until my mask problem was solved! Repeat, repeat, repeat. That's how problems are easily turned into mastering skills. Man I was happy that day! One day we got to go to Bangka island to take part of Coral day 2014 which is all about protecting underwater environment (http://www.coraltriangleinitiative.org/events/coral-triangle-day-2014) and to protest against illegal mining. We actually went diving to area where they dump mining trash so they had to stop working since we were there underwater. After we landed to Bangka, ate local food, enjoyed shows kids had prepared and had a lookaround the island. Great day!

Diving in Bunaken Marine Park / Manado



During four weeks we polished our diving skills, did many scenarios, got to fun dive and guide, saw sharks, seahorses, cuttlefishes, octopuses, nudibranches, crabs, frogfishes, experienced currents going up and down, laughed lots and had many nice evenings sipping ice cold Bintang at our bar called Safety stop. Then it was the last day of course. Everybody knows that last day includes two stress tests, one underwater and one on land later on. The famous underwater stress test was about to start and I was nervous. "Shitshitshiiit, either I make it or I fake it..." I pushed myself. I had decided beforehand that if I find it hard, I'll just do it anyway and look cool while doing it. It was actually fun and easy. Me and Al changed our equipment underwater while sharing air from one regulator. Everything went smoothly and both of us looked silly after. Al had my small mask, I had Ali's wide-angle-tv-alike way too big mask. Al stuffed his poor legs into my small fins, I had his huge fins and even bigger BCD.

Thank god stress test does not include switching wetsuits. In the evening we had divemaster party and stress test number two for me and Elina, lovely girl who was doing DM same time with me. Stresstest number two included snorkel test and tasks to do while in chains, local palmwine, staff and customers partying with us. That's the proper way to celebrate after accomplishing DM certification!

PADI divemaster course at Bunaken Marine Park

 Finally done! Snorkel test / Picture Dee Dan.

 

I was planning to become a dive guide so Al let me guide a lot. And I loved it. Still do. One of the best things is to go muck diving and try to find as many critters you can to show to your group. Even better is muck diving at night. Frogfish, octopus, shrimps, stargazers... And the feeling when you surface from night dive and look at the black sky, see stars shining, milky way glowing and gentle wave is swinging you back and forth... As you may have noticed, I could go on ages describing how wonderful it is to dive, but lets get back to DM course. I was assisting a lot in courses. I learned how to fill tanks. I got to dive as much as I wanted and so I did. My logbook says I dove 69 dives during one month and got to assist on Discover Scuba Dives, Open Water and Advanced Open Water courses as well as Scuba Review dives. I reached confidence level underwater that I was not expecting and started to feel like fish.

GOPRO become PADI divemaster in Bunaken



Among best things about DM course was lifelong friendships with Ali, Heini, our diveguides and Elina my DM buddy. Thank you Living Colours' people for taking me with open arms, teaching me, being my friend and letting me pursue my dream.

See you underwater!
Mia

 

Want to be part of divers' happy family? Book your PADI Divemaster course with Living Colours NOW This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!

 

Highlights

Thumbnail     Thank you all for the great reviews again! We're pleased to announce that Living Colours Dive Resort has been recognized with a 2018 Certificate of Excellence, based on the consistently great reviews...
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Hiding behind the mangroves
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Contact Details

Living Colours Diving Resort 
PADI 5 Star Dive Resort S-36220
Pangalisang Beach, Bunaken
North Sulawesi, Indonesia

Tel: +62 812 430 6401 Mia | +62 81 2430 6063 Jaakko

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