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Lembeh - are we doing it wrong?

Discussion in 'Indonesia' started by diveUAE, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    3,198
    2,539
    113
    The guide is there all the time and dives almost daily. That would lead me to believe they are familiar with those specific other animals/features underwater you speak of and where those are relative to a specific dive site. His guess would be better than yours if he knows where to find that feature and you do not. My thinking is that they know the area, the diving, and the critters way better than I do, or anyone who even visits many times a year. It is their job and their livelihood, and many are very passionate about it all. I suppose that my resistance is that you are presenting yourself as being more knowledgeable and just as knowledgeable as the local guide and I am very skeptical of this.

    If someone didn't know that something exists on a particular other animal or feature, you wouldn't know to look for it there. Additionally, as you are photographing something, the guide is usually off over at the next feature trying to spot something so once you're done taking a photo or looking at the item you're looking at, you're ready for the next one to make the time underwater most efficient. We can agree to disagree on the value of a guide. I'm not insisting that one way or the other is right or wrong for someone else.

    With regards to the group size, I think it is very relevant. When the guide finds something, he points it out. Everyone takes a turn to look at it and photograph it. With 2 more people in the group, that takes up more time on the dive for the guide to not only show the other 2 people and for them to photograph, but having to wait for those other 2 people to finish before moving on. Let's say we're all friendly divers and we point it out for other divers. You have 2 more people behind you waiting to photograph it and waiting next to you and you might feel more rushed on time to get a shot rather than just having your buddy waiting for a shot. If there is another feature nearby, it's less of an issue and you can still somewhat move on, but that game of leapfrog still affects how much time you have with a critter and how quickly you can move from one critter to the next whether yourself or with the group, especially if there is no nearby feature. That is also 2 more opportunities for the other divers to silt you out, scare the critter away, etc. When there are 2 more people on a muck dive, it introduces more variables into the mix. It might be fine for many people, including yourself, but I don't think it is ideal for many.


    I would disagree with the cost. Compared to other places in Indonesia, when you factor in your total costs (not including airfare) of average accommodations/food/diving in Lembeh and break down your costs on a per dive basis, it is on average more expensive than other land based muck diving options in Indonesia or Philippines, barring even "overpriced upscale resorts".
     
    paolobl65, Wisnu and Luko like this.
  2. bintang_shrimp

    bintang_shrimp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas, USA
    51
    11
    8
    That is something I never even debated. Either we're looking for an animal that has very restricted range or we just blindly look around for something like hairy frogfish, or octopus/ cuttlefish that don't have a fixed spot. Also, the above is more pertinent to people who are new to muck diving. I'm no expert but by now I have seen pretty much every possible critter so I have a fairly good idea of what I'm looking at if I spot it myself. Many brand new people are amazed when they are pointed at a flamboyant cuttlefish for example, because they wouldn't even know what to look for.

    Besides knowing the hideouts, I value a guide more as 2nd pair of eyes and to multitask and look for the next animal while I'm busy with the first.

    Usually the kinds of shops that deal with 4-person groups a lot, are also not ones where serious photographers go. I almost prefer to be diving with non-camera-obsessed people. They're just happy to see a few cool critters. I'm more likely to be bumping heads at somewhere like NAD where pushy people come for to build their photo portfolio and hog the animals. I have run into divers like that underwater...not from NAD specifically but in general. I steer clear of anyone with a giant camera setup :)


    Perhaps you've evaluated a different set of dive shops. Definitely Philippines is more expensive. I've been to Anilao twice and I'm not going back ever again. Dauin is bit more reasonable as it has more non-resort choices. In Anilao transport cost, plus the cost of room and food at even the cheapest resort is comparable to middle-range in Lembeh / Bali.

    Diving in Lembeh at mid-range shops is around 30-35 euro a dive, which is comparable to almost everywhere except high-volume low end shops in Bali. Accommodations at Lembeh are on average more pricey, but food is included.
    This is one reason I'm probably never going to NAD unless I have my own dive buddy. Their room cost + single supplement is outrageous. I'd be willing to pay a bit extra PER DIVE for fewer people per guide, just to compare.....but no way it's worth to drop that much on the room.

    Froggies is about 52 euro now for single room with AC, for example. Factoring in food cost, it's about the same as paying 30-35euro in mid-range hotel in Bali + paying for food.
     
  3. dirtfarmer

    dirtfarmer Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Northern California
    1,118
    781
    113
    Yes it's cheaper than others but is it worth saving those Euro for what sounds like sub-standard guiding. Hopefully you can avoid a sub-standard guide by communicating ahead of time what you expect. Let us know how it works out.
    I'm heading to NAD in November and yes paying a single supliment, it's not cheap but has a great reputation for guides, service and food, all of which are important to me. I've dove with 2 fish 3x and aren't going back cause I found the food was food but not something I wanted to eat on holiday. I'm betting I won't be disapointed with NAD.
     
    Tippytoes12 and Luko like this.
  4. WetPup

    WetPup Weedy Sea Dragon

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kiwiland
    1,106
    660
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    :popcorn: Sometimes it really is a case of "you get what you pay for"...

    If I could afford to fly half way around the world for a muck diving trip (and thankfully I can), I wouldn't be skimping on staying at a resort with good guides. Just saying...

    To be fair, I'm sure I could go muck diving without a guide as well and find stuff. I just doubt I would find as much, or as varied, or likely even what I wanted to see in the first place. Even when I'm out with a guide I come across critters on my own. That doesn't mean my guide isn't worth their weight in gold for finding me everything else :)
     
  5. bintang_shrimp

    bintang_shrimp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas, USA
    51
    11
    8
    That's making a big assumption that only the one or two expensive resorts automatically have good guides, and the rest are generally bad. I've dived at twofish a number of times over the past 5 years, their guides have always been good at spotting. Often I've had my own guide or just 1 other diver in my group, since I used nitrox and not many of their guests use it. Too bad their room prices went up without making any updgrades, or I'd go again.

    None of those Lembeh shops are exactly bargain basement, run down low end backpacker places, so they should have comparable quality of guides. Maybe they won't give every diver undivided individual attention, but they also probably have fewer photo obsessed guests who hog critters and demand their own space. The question is if they are competent at keeping track of critters on day to day basis and can take you to proper dive sites to give you good shot at seeing what you want.

    Btw, I'm not going there just for this, I have 4 weeks of other diving elsewhere, including Bunaken. No way I'd fly all this way for a week at Lembeh. :D I'm curious to see what OP says after speaking with management.
     
  6. bintang_shrimp

    bintang_shrimp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas, USA
    51
    11
    8
    I'm looking forward to your review of nad! I made a note to check back in November. Of course, the best test would be for 2 people to go at the same time for about 7-8 days and give the same list of critters to two different shops. Then see how the spotting success differs. Two Fish in the past has found just about every critter for me that I'd want to see, even saw hairy octopus once but that was pure luck.

    I agree with saving a few euros, which is why I hate overpaying for rooms that are too nice, and food isn't a big deal to me. I'd rather pay for more diving out of the same budget.
     
    Lorenzoid likes this.
  7. Luko

    Luko Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Paris, France
    2,126
    1,670
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    Sorry but that sounds like real bollocks to me.
    I am three times more experienced than you are when it comes to muck (you're only 10 dive trips, I'm more than 30 as already said just for Indo and the Phils, some of them two weeks or more long, I don't even include in those other Malaysian, PNG or Indian Ocean macro oriented trips.).
    I have never ever met anyone even a worldwide marine biologist bragging they've seen "pretty much every possible critter", that is a laughable assumption or you don't have a single idea of marine taxonomy,...

    Even a beginner daltonian diver would spot a flamboyant on a sandy bottom, I don't think i't a good example at all. We're talking abot cryptic critters that are first guessed from their specific feeding habits, then you search guessing that the critter would be there but since you don't know the habits and you've never seen it before, you'd hardly find it by yourself or then you'd just cover not much more than 16 square meters in one dive.

    Everytime I go diving with Ajiex Dharma, Dennis Corpuz, Robet Lekatompassy , I learn something new that never ceases to amaze me. You probably haven't been buddying with one of these folks, so you can't say.

    Every diver who has been diving around knows that diving in the Phils is probably the cheapest in Asia... You've been to Anilao and Dauin... what about Puerto Galera, Malapascua, Moalboal, South Leyte, Sipalay, Alona, Cabilao, etc.
    To give you an idea I pay my dives anything from 22€ to 28€ in the Phils -except in Anilao which is the most expensive-.

    The public price of diving in LDC for instance is 28€ allowing you NX and private guide (you're alone with your guide), personnally I chose to pay 32€ per dive for being guided by the best macro dive guide in Bali, only for myself, Nx included . The most comfortable dive conditions anyone can have : your schedule, your decision, depending on no one else.
    You consider spending 20 euros per day eating in Bali (350kIDR) ??? you should stop going to MacDonalds'! I enjoy lunch for my guide and myself 70-80kIDR at a beachside warung.
     
    WetPup likes this.
  8. bintang_shrimp

    bintang_shrimp Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Texas, USA
    51
    11
    8
    Deleted, not wasting more time arguing with this nitwit.


    Now back to the topic at hand, I would love to hear from OP about how this was resolved.
     
    outofofficebrb likes this.
  9. Darnold9999

    Darnold9999 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Victoria BC Canada
    2,393
    521
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    Not even sure how to respond here. The guide makes ALL the difference in Lembeh. They are not all the same. If my guide was carrying a camera in Lembeh on a dive that would be the last dive with that guide and probably that resort. The difference between even a good guide and an excellent one in Lembeh is significant. An excellent one will find a hairy octo, or a hairy shrimp or some other rare and difficult to spot creature. A good one won’t even see them. There are lots of good guides in Lembeh but only a few excellent ones. I have had both, as well as a poor one. Is it worth paying extra to get one of the excellent ones? For me absolutely - saving a few dollars (or euros) after spending a small fortune and a couple of days to travel there seems crazy. NAD has become my first choice after trying a couple other resorts (where the guides were very good). Would not even think about doing it with a non local guide. Did that for a couple of days at the end of a liveaboard trip and then stayed at Black Sands for 4 days. The difference was more than significant. Along the lines that the OP described- pointing out banded cleaner shrimp. With the liveaboard guides I couldn’t understand what all the fuss re Lembeh was. After a few days at Black Sands it became obvious.

    The idea that you could have a guide point you to an area and you could find the more interesting creatures on your own is .... well I can’t find the right words.
     
  10. outofofficebrb

    outofofficebrb HARRO HUNNAYYY

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Francisco, California
    3,198
    2,539
    113
    Yes, and the liveaboard! It must have been terrible for them to leave *mid liveaboard*. o_O
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.

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