So this is part of my “On the road in…Indonesia!” series. As I’ve travelled around Indo a fair bit, I believe each region deserves it’s own special blog entry.
Raja Ampat is another destination in Indonesia that I travel to for the sole purpose of scuba diving (at least so far). There’s some mining going on in West Papua, which is the gateway to Raja Ampat, but my current employer won’t let me travel there due to security issues. I’d love to get out there into the highlands one day though!
Travel to Raja Ampat is through a port called Sorong, which is in West Papua. It’s a bit convoluted to get there, but I tend to go Australia-Bali-Makassar-Sorong on Garuda Indonesia. The connections are terrible, but that’s just the way it is I suppose. I’ve posted before about the vegan food offerings on Garuda Indonesia. They get vegan food well enough, it’s just that nearly everything on your tray will contain gluten. I’m used to it, and despite the long overall travel time, the actual flights to get from Australia to Sorong are relatively short. You just end up spending a lot of time sitting around airports in transit. So I have never been especially bothered if I am unable to eat the food on board Garuda flights. I can always eat at the airport on my layovers. And I always have my trusty stash of rice cakes and Vegemite in my backpack!
As for the food in Raja Ampat, please bear in mind that the best way to dive the region is on a liveaboard dive vessel. Which means that my options were extremely limited because boats are small and subsequently don’t have a whole lot of storage space. I knew a couple of people who had been diving in Raja Ampat before, and while they were happy with the boats they went on, they did make it clear that they wouldn’t recommend them to someone with dietary restrictions, which meant I was back to square one with my research. After my issues with the boat I went out on in the Galapagos Islands and the whole “you get what you pay for” lesson, I decided to just spend the money and go on the best boat in Raja Ampat and basically cross my fingers that they could cater for me like they said they could.
They did. Thankfully I was able to eat more than just fruit on my 10 day liveaboard dive trip! Amazing! Seriously though, I was able to get fresh fruit, salads, vegetables, and they managed to pull together some other things like vegan and gluten free Gado Gado and other Indonesian dishes that they modified. I was ecstatic! Don’t get me wrong, I do love fresh fruit, salad and vegetables…But I do like eating regular food like everyone else as well.
This is yet another case where you need to notify the boat (or booking agency) well in advance of any dietary requirements. They have set menus on the boats, so if they need to deviate from that to meet your needs, they need to know so that they can buy appropriate food for you. If you don’t tell them, they don’t know to buy the food, and once you’re on board, it’s too late to do anything about it.
The diving is always epic in Raja Ampat!
Actual vegan and gluten free Indonesian satay! Drooling over the thought of it…