22 April, 2024

By Barry Clarke 

How would you celebrate your 30th wedding anniversary? 

By tradition, the gift of a pearl would be appropriate. I wanted to do something untraditional, so I booked a 30-day (and 30-night) vacation to Indonesia. 

The SeaTrek Super Trip 

I booked and planned everything around a back-to-back SeaTrek cruise on the Ombak Putih to the Maluku Islands and Raja Ampat. Both are the islands of the Malay Archipelago that I had longed long to visit.  

And to be honest, I had an ulterior motive, but don’t tell my wife. Being a fan of Alfred Russel Wallace, I also wanted to join the cruises because the onboard naturalist was Dr. George Beccaloni.

Barry Clarke who booked the seatrek super trip with his was group photo with their fellow traveler on Ombak Putih
Group photo with Dr. George Beccaloni and my fellow travelers on Ombak Puith  

George is not only the founder of the Wallace Correspondence Project (which SeaTrek actively supports) but also a very entertaining zoologist with a passion for butterflies, cockroaches, coral reefs, evolutionary theory, and much else. 

I first met George over a decade ago when he was at the Natural History Museum in London. That led to my involvement in a project to erect a statue in Singapore of Wallace and his long-term assistant, Ali. 

My Dream Wedding Anniversary  

So, playing down the Wallace connection, I sold the idea of a long sea cruise to my wife for our 30th wedding anniversary, and we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.

We both studied zoology at university in the 1980s, so we not only found the snorkeling and trekking to see the birds of paradise enthralling, but we attended George’s lectures diligently, most of them twice as the two cruises had a similar program of evening lectures as George found himself on both of our trips this year.  

Apart from the extra zoology, the main advantage of spending so long on the Ombak Putih was that we got to know the crew very well – and they got to know us: our favorite dishes and how we like our coffee. And with so much practice, we became much better and more confident at snorkeling and underwater photography.

Barry and YT Clarke with Ombak Putih on the background

Also, we better appreciated the changing geology, fauna and flora as we sailed/cruised a thousand miles through the archipelago. Perhaps not quite as immersive as Wallace’s adventures 170 years ago (he covered 14,000 miles). But it was a good attempt.  

How often do you think that your holidays could last a bit longer? Trust me, you can make it happen. You’ll know what I mean when you join one of SeaTrek Super Trips.  

PS: My wife got her pearl… from Banda Neira. Everyone’s happy. 

Banda Neira

*Barry Clarke is a guest on the SeaTrek super trip from Ambon-Ternate and Ternate-Sorong. Read more stories from Barry Clarke about his experience doing the Kora-Kora Fun in Maluku.