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Published: June 28th 2012
After an amazing few days in Nusa Lembongan, we decided to head back to Bali! Vinny went off to book our boat back to Bali and booked us onto the vegetable boat back to the mainland!! This is a tiny little boat, that comes over from Bali early in the morning loaded with vegetables and leaves with around 4 backpackers on the way back! We left The Secret Garden and headed to the beach, a little sad to be leaving and contemplating staying on longer!
We couldn't believe it when this tiny little contraption appeared along the shore!! We waded in and threw our bags on and climbed aboard! Another stop was made a little further to collect two more backpackers and off we went across the fairly rough sea between the islands! An hour and a half later, we landed on a black sand beach in Bali outside the town of Padang Bai. When we arrived in the town, we had hoped to get a boat to the Gili Islands but the conditions were not good and all crossings to Lombok and the surrounding islands had been cancelled due to 10 metre waves! It was mad to see hundreds
of trucks, parked for miles along the side of the road that led into the port town of Padang Bai. Drivers had just abandoned them on the road, sleeping in the shade nearby. Thank god for motorbikes! We were told it could be days before the ferry started again so we decided to head up to the North East coast to a place called Tulamben, somewhere we had planned on going at some stage so we could dive the WWII shipwreck up there, called the Liberty Wreck.
Vinny booked us into a nice hotel for a couple of nights (treating ourselves after the very basic accommodation in Nusa!) and we headed up there in a taxi. The hotel was lovely, in a quiet area outside the town with a big swimming pool, and a room that had hot water, air con (luxury) and a balcony with an amazing view of the ocean to the left and Gunung Agung, the largest volcano in Bali on the right! The town of Tulamben itself is very small, its really just one street with a handful of bars and restaurants, and lots of dive shops! People come here to dive and thats about
it. It is a very peaceful scenic place to visit, as it is surrounded by rice terraces and has an amazing view of the not so far away Gunung Agung!
With so many dives shops around, we were spoiled for choice and booked our dives with no hassle. We then had a couple of quiet days by the pool, and one of the days, vinny did a trek up into the hills outside the town, where he got chatting to a couple of locals who were farming goats. He also made the trip down to the black sand beach nearby where he discovered a soccer pitch on the beach!
The first night, there was a power cut all through the town, so we had a candlelit dinner in a local restaurant! The next night, Vinny was a little worried that there would be another power cut because Liverpool were playing Man Utd in the FA Cup. Thankfully, although there was a major storm, we made it to the local pub to watch the match (and liverpool won)!
On the day of the dive, it was just Vinny and myself, along with our guide and we decided to
do two dives, both of the wreck. The USAT Liberty is a US ship that was torpedoed by the japanese during the war, and brought to the coast of Bali where it broke in two. An earthquake in the 60's caused it to move off the beach and under the surface of the water.What was interesting about this dive was that we would be making a shore entry, which we hadn't done before. Instead of jumping off the back of a boat, we entered the water from the beach, wearing special shoes to protect our feet from the rocks. It was fun but actually quite difficult to get out without falling over because the beach was very stony, the equipment weighs a ton and you also have the waves to deal with!! Once out far enough, we regrouped, defogged our masks and went under! Visibility wasnt great in parts, but as the wreck is only 20m from the shore, it didnt take us too long to reach it and it was class! It just sort of appears out of the darkness, and it is enormous! From our depth, we were at the part where it broke in two. It is
a bit daunting when you first see it. Our guide stopped when we got there and we all just floated alongside this massive structure taking it all in. We then moved slowly along the side to the back of the ship. The coral and the many different types of marine life it supports was amazing. We saw so many different type of fish all sizes and colours.
The next thing we knew, the dive guide was signalling for us to head back towards shore. Once shallow enough, we resurfaced and headed back to the dive shop, which was based in a really nice hotel, where we could use their facilities while we were there. We needed to do a surface interval for about two hours (to allow the nitrogen to leave our systems), so we lay by the pool and had lunch!
Then it was time to go again! We got all the gear on, headed back to the shore and did it all again! This time, we got to the ship much quicker and we were able to take it in a bit more. We went all around one end and even went through a little bit
of it, which was a little scary but just amazing! All too soon, it was time to resurface and head back to the shore.
After a few days, it was time to move on again! We booked a taxi to Padang Bai and a boat to the Gili Islands and headed off early one morning for a second attempt at the long awaited trip to the Gilis!
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