Hanging Out at Denpasar International Airport

Right now, we are waiting for our flight out of Denpasar international airport. As we were hanging out, here in the international departure lounge we bumped into a father/daughter family who we went diving with in Pemuteran. That is the interesting thing about Bali and that is we keep meeting folks that we met in one region/town/village days later in other regions/towns/villages. In Ubud we also met another Dutch couple who was in the neighboring bungalow in Taman Sari, in Pemuteran we met this guy who dropped by Blue Moon in Amed for a cup of coffee, we even met Jaap and Ivana at a market in some town (I can’t remember the name) in the just before the Danau Bratan region when we were drivng back to Ubud, yesterday when we went to the market we bumped into George and Rebecca doing a Balinese cooking market tour… and the story goes on and on… Truly Bali is a small place…

Last Day at Ubud

This is our last full day in Ubud. I barely got much sleep last night not because it was noisy or anything like than, rather, we only had a bed sheet on our bed and no blankets. Its not that it was even cold or anything like that, its just something that’s rather quirky about me and that is I like to sleep covered up with something relatively heavy even if it is a light blanket or something like that. Anyway I was able to request for a couple of blankets and when we came into our room this evening we found that they had indeed remade our beds with blankets added. Just a quick side note here, the cooks here at Sania’s House make the best plain crepes I have eaten in Bali… only that everyone calls them pancakes and not crepes…

After final shopping for gifts and a much needed shave at Milano’s Salon (20,000 Rp or $2.00 for a shave) , we met up with George and Rebecca (whom we bumped into at the market earlier that morning) for happy hour after which we ended up at Cafe Wayan’s for dinner. All in all it was a great evening and now tomorrow we leave Ubud and Bali for Hong Kong

Back to Ubud

After breakfast and using just about the slowest Internet connection in the world (15 mins just to log into my email) we left to go back to Ubud. The drive back was actually nice and much more pleasant than the drive to Pemuteran. The route we followed took us through the central mountain region including the Danau Bratan area, and this road I think is one of the highest elevation driving areas in Bali. This area is really beautiful and has three high altitude lakes, Danau (lake) Tamblingan, Danau Buyan and Danau Bratan and also we were able to make stops and take great pictures. One of the other places we also stopped at was Air Terjun Singsing (Daybreak waterfall) which was about a 200 m walk from the main road down a slope into a small valley. We also stopped at an all you can eat buffet that was obviously meant for tourists and the more well off Balinese. The food was so-so however, for 60,000 Rp (about $6.00) why not?

We got into Ubud at about 5:00 pm and after checking out a couple of places ended up in a cheap but really nice place called Sania’s House. This is actually a really large family coumpound that they added a really really nice pool and about 3 or 4 extra 3 buildings for rooms. The photo above and others here will give you an idea of what the buildings look like.

Later that evening we went to Ubud’s palace to checkout The Barong and Legong Dance performance. It was pretty decent. I recognized the Barong part of the dance since I had seen it before in Batu Bulan but the Legong dance was new to me. What was different with the Legong is that instead of the dialog being done by the actors themselves, all the dialog including the women’s dialog is done by one of the members of the Gamelan orchestra. I must say I really liked it.

Tomorrow we will met George and Rebecca at Cinta Bar and Grill for some happy hour mojitos

Last Day at Pemuteran

Woke up feeling a little tired from the diving yesterday but the pain in my bicep is gone so that’s good. I wonder if I was suffering form decompression sickness. If so, then it’s a good thing it wasn’t in my spine or my brain cause that would have been really serious

This morning I went snorkeling again and there was some pretty good fish and other seal life to checkout and later that evening we went to the Turtle hatchery that is run I think by the same guys who are doing the reef restoration project. Basically what they do is they pay the locals for Turtle eggs they may find and be included to eat instead. They then incubate the eggs till they hatch after which they will then take care of the baby turtles for a number of weeks after which they release them into the ocean. What happens to the turtles? Normally when they mature they will come back to lay their eggs, however that takes about 20 years so that remains to be seen. The hatchery also takes care of and nurses sick or injured turtles then once healthy, releases them back into the ocean. Pretty cool place. They are always looking for donations, yet at the same time, when they do get excess donations, they turn around and support a local school and help provide educational opportunities to the local kids teaching them the importance of the environment.

Tomorrow we leave to go back to Ubud.

Diving at Menjangan Island

Today we went diving at Menjangan Island today. The boat ride took about 50 minutes to get there and was not bad considering that the waters were relatively calm and as an added precaution, I had taken seasickness pill this morning so I had no problems at all. A quick word about my dive buddies who are George and Rebecca, the couple from Germany we met last night. George is an avid diver, photographer and generally a really nice guy (Rebecca is also really cool too) and I think they will be a great couple to get to know during our stay here in Pemuteran.

We did two dives the first was a drift dive along a reef wall and the second was a simple slope dive. The one thing that I didn’t like was that I had huge problems with my mask which simply kept leaking so I had really great mask clearing exercises. But all in all, despite so-so visibility (especially for the first dive) was not super, the dives were great. I was able to see a White-tip Reef Shark and a Moray Eel among other sea life. Oh and I must say, the lunch we had on the boat was simple yet one of the lunches I have ever had, and not just in Bali but anywhere around the world. I guess the dive instructor’s aunt or some close relative prepares the lunches for the dive crew and the dive clients.

Later that evening we went out with G&R to look for a local hole-in-a-wall warung for some simple and cheap Balinese food. I had a fried chicken and rice dish while the other had noodle dishes. My food was pretty decent considering we paid a total of about 32,000 Rp for the four of us including sodas. That’s about $4.00!

Snorkling in Pemuteran

Woke up at about 3:00 am with a really sharp pain in my left bicep/deltoid area and though I am not too worried, it is a little uncomfortable. I am not sure if it is something that stung me when I was diving at the Drop-off or whether it is due to decompression sickness and traveling over the higher elevations… I will monitor the pain and see what happens… but if it is a problem with decompression, then I think I’ll be fine in a couple of days cause I plan to do some diving in Menjangan Island

Meanwhile, the snorkeling that I did on the reef right in front of the hotel was great. I went out in the morning during high tide and again later in the afternoon during low tide. High tide time was actually the better time to go due to visibility and all that. There were quite a decent variety of fish to see.

A quick word about this particular reef, it is the reef where the Pemuteran Coral Reef Restoration Project is being run. What they are doing is simply trying to restore Bali’s lost or damaged reefs. Apparently a lot of Bali’s reefs were destroyed by fishermen using dynamite and/or cyanide which to me I find pretty astonishing, but this is a post for another day… Anyway, you can read about the project here

We went to talk to Archipelago the dive shop that was recommended to us by the resort. We talked to some of the other dive shops and after considering everything, we really though that Archipelago offered the best value considering their experience, their equipment etc so tomorrow I go diving!

Off to Pemuteran

We left for Pemuteran at about noon today. The journey was rather uneventful other than the fact that the roads, although they didn’t have any potholes, were a little uneven and combined with the pollution and the smoke (that seems primarily due to people burning garbage etc) I was right there getting nauseous.

We made a couple of stops on the way, one in Singaraja at the big department store there to get some postcards and munchies and also to visit the parents of one of the Blue Moon Villas wait staff. I quick note about the department store, I found in the comic section copies of Asterix in Indonesian language. I thought that was pretty cool… The other stop was in Lovina, but the place really did not look exciting at all… but then again, what do I know?

We got to our resort about 5:00 pm or so. We later found out that there is a school of dance supported by one of the dive shop that puts on a simple performance every Saturday at about 7:30 pm so we decided to get a quick dinner and go check out the dance. It was actually pretty cool and the young dancers, though obviously learning, did five very impressive dances…

More Diving

Today I woke up bright and early to go diving again. Since I was the only one going diving today, we decided that rather than going to the Monkey Reef to do a slope dive, we would instead go to Tulamben Drop-off and do a wall instead. That sounded pretty decent so i was game. Both dives were great. I saw a number of Lion fish, Moray eel and even a White Tip Shark

The dive was actually pretty nice. I was able to take my disposable underwater camera and take some pictures of a solitary Lionfish that was just basically hanging out with all its spines extended. I made sure not to try to get in too close just in case… In addition, the water was really calm unlike a couple of days before so it turned out to be a relatively easy dive.

We leave tomorrow for Pemuteran and this being the last night, we ordered the Smoked Duck (which you must order a day in advance to give the folks time to go get one), a Balinese specialty. I am not really to big into duck cause it tends to be way to rich for my taste but this one wasn’t too rich. It also wasn’t too big and what I did not realize was when they said smoked duck they meant EVERYTHING including head and webbed feet. All in all, it was pretty decent…

Diving the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben

Woke up at about 6:30 am this morning feeling a little apprehensive. Today we go diving at Tulamben with Eurodive, one of the reputable dive shops in Amed Bali. I haven’t dove since 2001 and even though I will be doing an introductory half hour course, I still feel a bit nervous since I know enough to know that diving can be a risky sport if not done right…. I heard some diver mention recently that diving is like riding a bicycle, one you learn you never forget… hmmm…

We started off with the half hour introductory lesson before driving over to Tulamben to Liberty shipwreck. Like I said, I forgot my open water dive certification card at home and since I am certified through SSI and not PADI, they could not even check over the Internet to make sure that I am indeed certified so I had to do the intro course. But that was alright…

Overall, the dives today were good. Although I have done a sunken ship dive, I have never done an actual wreck dive so this was exciting. In addition to this, although we only went around the wreck the first dive, in the second dive we actually penetrated the wreck so that was awesome. The visibility was not super so we could not see too far. Getting in and out of the water was also a bit crazy since it was windy making the surface of the water rather choppy. Also being a shore dive, the actual shore was not sandy but very rocky. The rocks were not sharp at all, rather, they were very smooth which meant that even when you were completely out of the water, you had to be careful not to slip with all your dive gear on.

After the dive, we went back to the Euro Dive to get our gear washed, lunch and fill out our dive logs. That afternoon I was totally pooped so I napped for an hour or so. I forgot how physically demanding scuba can be if you’re not in shape.

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