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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Indonesia: Togian Islands

The dive centre on Kadidiri Island
The dive centre on Kadidiri Island

After recovering from my forest food poisoning, I took a long bus ride from Gimpu to Palu, then on to Poso and finally Ampana, where I managed to stay in the noisiest losmen I've ever been in; between the nocturnal cockerels, the cats on heat and the workmen who ripped the roof off my mandi at 7am, I was dog tired and ready for a rest. This proved to be fortuitous, because my ultimate destination, and the reason for the long bus journey, were the Togian Islands, an undiscovered paradise of coral-fringed islands just 25 miles south of the equator, sitting in the middle of the c-shaped bay formed by northern Sulawesi. After so long in French Polynesia I might not be that impressed by yet more beautiful islands, but in the Togians I saw a potential advantage: peace in isolation.

My beach hut on Kadidiri Island
My beach hut on peaceful Kadidiri Island

Diving in the Togians

A small island
The Togians consist of lots of tiny volcanic islands with great diving

With all that reef about, it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to throw off all the cares of the outside world, and enter the silent world of scuba. During the four days I spent in the Togians, I went on two dives. The first was easily the most amazing: a B-24 bomber had come down in the sea off the south coast of Pulau Togian back in 1945, and it's a pleasant 20m below the surface, perfect for diving. It's now encrusted in coral, and exploring a wrecked but pretty intact plane at the bottom of the sea is an amazing experience, especially when the water at 20m is a balmy 29°C. Everything is covered in growth, not surprisingly after over 50 years, but it's amazing how much is almost untouched: the pilot's throttle controls, the engine's radiator fins, the machine guns, the landing gear and so on are all instantly recognisable, and living on this plane-shaped reef are plenty of weird and wonderful marine creatures. Diving the site was a clash of history, surrealism and imagination, where you could almost hear the conversation as the crew prepared for crash landing, an event that they would all survive, to be rescued by the inhabitants of the local fishing village of Liberty. It was my first wreck dive, and hopefully not my last.