It was sunny, in the middle of the day, when the ship arrived near the Togian archiplago in the Gulf of Tomini in Sulawesi. The sun was shining brightly, casting its ray upon the vast indigo ocean. The deep blue and the glittery smooth waves were almost blinding. I feel nothing. A good nothing. Like nothing else matters in that moment, except that I was there, on the boat, indulging and experiencing this magnificence.
After 4 hours of sailing, we finally reached our destination in Togian. The destination was… almost nowhere. We could pick which island we wanted to go to, or where exactly we want to jump into the wild ocean to start snorkeling. At some places, instead of the indigo blue of the ocean, there’s a light turquoise with a hint of beige color, and one will immediately feel drawn to it. Just like I felt. The turquoise-colored area were where I wanted to go.
As the boat neared the turquoise, my brother gave me his fins and his snorkel.
I’ll jump first, and you can throw these down as I give you the clue
So he walked up to the front part of the boat, get on the railing, and jumped off the boat, 5 meters above the water surface. In and splashed he went and in 3 seconds his head popped up, smiling. As he gave the clue, I threw the fins, one by one and he put them on, and then the snorkel, and off he swam to the turquoise. My stomach felt a funny feeling. I want to do that, but I am afraid.
After watching an uncle, and another cousin, and another cousin jumped off the boat into the deep indigo, I was finally able to gather my guts. But that was after I put on a life vest, took a goggle with me, and praying frantically inside. Before I jumped off the boat, my dad told me to put on my flip-flops because standing on the coral may hurt a bit. So I did. And I walked up to the railing, chanting bismillahi rohman nirrahim, and jumped.
The 2 seconds before I went into the water were 2 of the scariest moment I’ve ever experienced. My heart felt like it stopped beating. My bowel felt like they didn’t exist. I felt weightless. And then I felt the cool blue ocean, and heard the splash, and somehow felt safe.
As I swam towards my brothers and the rest of the group, I understood why my brother is willing to save and spend his money for snorkeling trips to Karimun Jawa, Belitung, and Komodo island. It was like a dream world down there…
What I saw was exactly like in the movie. Only more real. Colorful fishes swimming around – yellow, green, blue, brown, black, blue with a yellow stripe on top, and rainbow-ish and with fluorescent colors too. There were sea stars with a diameter of 30-50 cm, two with bright blue color and one with spikes and red color. There were sea stars with long, slim, hairy black arms that looks almost like a centipede, which I thought was sea snake and got me thinking, oh, shit, I am going to die by these poisonous sea snake. There were anemones with fishes hiding in between the tentacle. There were colorful and bland and scary looking corals. There were black and black-and-white sea urchins hiding under the corals. There were algae, meters tall. There were small fishes, no bigger than your finger nails, almost transparent color, that you can only see the eyes and the slight shine of their skins as they swim in big groups to left and right and left and right.
They were all like a dream, because it’s right in front of your eyes, but once you want to touch them, you cannot. They were all floating, swimming, in a distance so you cannot grasp their real-ness. Their vivid color seems to beautiful to be true. You wanted to dive deeper and touch the colorful corals, the sticking corals, the swaying anemones, but you’re afraid that they may be poisonous, that you may not be able to dive up again, that it may react in ways that you cannot think it. It’s something strange, something out of this world, something un-perceivable. But also stunning. It’s the embodiment of terrifying beauty.
Whatever I write here, no matter how beautiful or scary the world under the sea is, is underrated. The real “ocean park” is really a park that amazes you, entices you, allures you in a way that parks in Vienna does, and in a way that the Six Flags amusement park does.
To be able to grasp it all, is to go down there and feel the cool indigo ocean caressing your skin like silk, and to feel the corals beneath your feet, and to watch the beautiful creatures playing in front of your very own eyes…