On holiday in Indonesia, Yo-Han Cha contemplates the long journeys we make in search of great diving, overseas and here in the UK.

It was a long flight. Just over 12 hours from Heathrow to Singapore. I only had 90 minutes to make the transfer, so I was praying for a flight that was on time, or early if possible! I was worried that I would miss the second flight or that my hold luggage would. But it turned out that’s not where it almost all went wrong.

Apparently, Mares Cruise Roller bags are popular among divers travelling to Indonesia, as some fellow enthusiast accidentally claimed mine before I had got to the carousel. Thankfully a particularly fleet-of-foot member of airport staff ran to the exit and found the fellow diver who had mistakenly picked up my bag. He was very apologetic, but all’s well that ends well, at the end of the day, it was just an honest mistake.

The rest of the journey was very relaxing. With the knowledge we had all our luggage, we were picked up from Manado airport, where we were driven an hour to Bitung to meet our boat to our resort in Lembeh. Which is where I’m writing this column now. It’s a hard life sometimes! Thankfully, not all journeys to go diving take this long, but if they do, they better be worth it... so far, Lembeh has been awesome!

When the diving’s great then the difficulty and length of the journey don’t seem to matter

There are some epic journeys in the UK too. None of them involve transfers, but all of them have the potential for things to go wrong. I remember a certain Clare Kingsbury (Manchester University SAC) locking her keys in her car at a service station on her way to Mull. I remember car sharing with Jan Moore (Trafford SAC) for a trip to Coll, where she realised at Tebay services that she’d left her handbag in Manchester. As for me, I’ve been 30 minutes down the M56 to Anglesey before realising that my drysuit was still in my living room.

Thankfully, most journeys for dive trips are, on the whole, successful; if you’re like me and you don’t live next to a dive site, you’ll always have to make one to go diving. They’re not all epic journeys. The most epic pure road journey I’ve made is to Kinlochbervie in the far north west of Scotland, which I made when living in Reading. It was well worth it – the diving there is amazing. Trips to the Scillies and Scapa Flow have been equally epic; I’ve not yet been to Shetland, but I’d love to at some point in the future.

Having friends who live en-route is a massive help. A special shout-out to Sue Mitchell of Reading BSAC for letting me crash at her house and park my car there for this latest trip. Thanks also to Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown of Frogfish Photography, who let me crash at their place in Manchester when I’m heading north for some Scottish diving.

Talking of Scottish diving, when the diving’s great then the difficulty and length of the journey don’t seem to matter. Which goes to explain why I’m heading from Bristol to Mull the weekend immediately after I get back from Lembeh. Mull’s great. Even in March. Yes, I know it’ll be a long drive, and it might be a wee bit colder than Lembeh, but it’ll be great.



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Article 'Come on, Pilgrim!' by Yo-Han Cha first published in SCUBA magazine, Issue 135, May 2023. For more membership benefits, visit bsac.com/benefits.

Images in this online version may have been substituted from the original images in SCUBA magazine due to usage rights.

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