Day 160-162: Lovina to Tulamben, Bali

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July 5th 2009
Published: July 8th 2009
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Lovina to Tulamben

July 5th

After a delicious breakfast we said a sad farewell to Kuba Lalang. Of all the places we've stayed on our travels, this was by far the best (and not even close to the most expensive). Our time here has been like a second honeymoon and we'll definitely return one day.

Just before noon we set off east toward Tulamben. We were warned that there's no ATM there so we stopped for a fat chunk of cash in Singaraja. Once outside town the road condition deteriorated rapidly. We were bouncing all over the place and couldn't dream of averaging more than 60km/h.

Around lunch time the constant shaking had our bladders screaming for release. We spotted a sign to Poinciana Resort where we stopped for lunch. It's a small and gorgeous resort. There's a sparkling pool a stones-throw away from the black pebble beach, the villas are big, clean and modern, the staff is friendly and the food real good. It's a little pricey for our current budget but we'd love to go back one day and stay for a few days.

After lunch we set of once again. Through the trees on our right we could catch glimpses of Gunung Agung, a volcano 3142m high (yes, we intend to climb it before we leave Bali). We reached Tulamben at about two thirty, checked in to Puri Wirata resort, unpacked and after a quick briefing with Ric (the owner of Ocean Sun Divers); we read a bit and had a nap.

We had a few beers and a lovely dinner, then sat chatting with an American guy, Ken, who lives in Shanghai and has many crazy stories about the Chinese.

Today's highlights:
1. Great lunch at a beautiful spot.
2. Our first glimpse of Gunung Agung.
3. Reaching Tulamben and settling in.

July 6th

This morning Ferdi woke a whole year older. 31 don’t feel different from 30, but being able to celebrate ones birthday in a place such as Bali is a true privilege and a pleasure.

We hadn't planned anything specific for the day, so over breakfast we decided to go in search of a nice snorkeling spot and a sandy beach where we could enjoy a bottle of wine this evening (true sandy beaches are hard to come by here).

We drove east toward Amed, a sprawl of beach-side
Gunung AgungGunung AgungGunung Agung

One day soon we’re coming for you!
bungalows, dive shops and restaurants starting about 15km from Tulamben. On the way we got a great view of Gunung Agung. It's pretty intimidating, towering more than 3km above us. We found a little dirt track that led to a deserted stretch of black pebble beach. Here we attempted to fly Talita's kite. It was a complete and utter failure. The kite has the head of a dragon with a long tail, but the head is so heavy that every time the wind dips, it turns kamikaze, plunging head-first into the ground. After numerous failed attempts we gave up. We suspect you need gale-force winds to keep that thing airborne.

We continued on to Amed. The road winds along the north-eastern coast and is a beautiful drive. We didn't really know where to go or what exactly we were looking for so we just drove until something caught our eye. We knew that there was a dive spot in the area called Japanese Wreck (because of the 10m sunken Japanese boat, duhhh) and when we stumbled upon it we knew we had found the right place. The wreck is shallow enough to make a great snorkeling spot and there is a little warung (restaurant) right on the beach. We could leave our bag there and they rent snorkel gear so we got a pair of fins each and headed into the water.

It was our first time snorkeling a volcanic sea floor and the black backdrop made for some nice pictures. We had a blast! We saw a bunch of creatures we've not seen before. Amongst our favorites were a small school of juvenile Teira Batfish (you can get right up to them cause they pretend to be floating leaves), Garden Eels (a first for us, these guys pop straight up out of the sand and are usually found in big groups), a juvenile Midnight Snapper (absolutely gorgeous little guy), and a small Yellow Boxfish. After a while this viz started to deteriorate at the surface, but once you dive down past 2m it magically cleared up.

Since we didn't bring any sunscreen along (we really won't ever learn) we didn't stay too long. We headed to shore and had lunch. After a while we couldn't wait anymore and got back in for another session. The snorkeling here is really good and we’ll come back another day for some more.

At about 3pm we started the drive back to Tulamben. We downloaded our pictures and proceeded to name all the fish we'd seen while enjoying a few beers. Later we got a bottle of wine, but neither of us had the energy to go and look for a beach. The snorkeling was hard work. We decided to have the wine with our dinner and enjoyed a wonderful night chatting and laughing.

Today's highlights:
1. Ferdi's birthday.
2. Snorkeling the Japanese Wreck.
3. Juvenile Teira Batfish.
4. Sharing a bottle of wine.

July 7th

Today was our first day diving in Bali and we were very excited! After getting all our gear, a lady porter came and carried both our BCDs and cylinders (one on her back and the other on her head) the 5mins to our first dive site, the Liberty Wreck. This WWI cargo ship was hit by a Japanese torpedo in the Lombok Strait during WWII. She was towed toward Singaraja, but she didn't make it and was beached on a sand bank here in Tulamben to stop her from sinking. When Gunung Agung erupted in 1963, the resulting tremors finally sunk the Liberty when she rolled onto her side and disappeared beneath the surface.

Okay, enough with the history. The dive was spectacular, to say the least. The viz was amazing and the wreck beautiful. We saw a whole bunch of creatures we hadn't seen before, but the highlight was seeing our first Pygmy Seahorse! Finally! We'd been hunting these little guys since our first dive in Borneo and Talita was ecstatic. Ferdi tried to take a picture but soon ran out of patience. Talita was determined to get a picture and took over. After a few tries she got a nice one. We also saw a couple of Harlequin Ghost Pipefish, a humungous Double-Headed Parrotfish and a big group of Many-Toothed Garden Eels. Near the end of the dive a group of Diagonal-Banded Sweetlips allowed us within touching distance of them. It was a spectacular dive!

After lunch at our resort went for our second dive, this time at The Drop-Off (also 5mins walk away). Again, we saw a bunch of new creatures, amongst others two of the rare Robust Ghost Pipefish, a Squat Lobster and an Intermediate Flounder. Ferdi was taking pictures and was continually struggling to stay with our guide, while Talita was always alone somewhere between them. Our guide swam like an Olympian and Ferdi ended the dive totally exhausted (and a little irritated) from chasing after him.

The diving here is superb! The black sand, new creatures and the big viz is awesome! We can't wait to go out there again! The rest of the afternoon was spent in a hammock, reading and being lazy.

Today's highlights:
1. Our first Pygmy Seahorse!
2. Gigantic Double-Headed Parrotfish.
3. Our first beach dive.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


The Liberty WreckThe Liberty Wreck
The Liberty Wreck

It is biiiggg, very biiiggg!
Break time!Break time!
Break time!

Finally Talita gets to snooze in a hammock!
Squat LobsterSquat Lobster
Squat Lobster

It is actually a crab and is sometimes called Half-Crabs

18th July 2009

Oops! Looks like we have missed a birthday!!! Didn't know we did, sorry and a late HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

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