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Published: July 31st 2012
A few months ago leaving Sumatra I transitted through Bali and on arrival at the airport found a cancelled flight so had to stay an extra night. I found out why the airline cancelled the flight (runway curfew) and posted it here, on their facebook page and on a few Facebook travel pages - and was instantly contacted by them with vouchers for free return flights to..Bali, so Giant and I decided to zip up for a few days diving. My friend from childhood Michael runs several dive outfits on Bali and surrounding islands and I have dived with his people often so I gave him a call and asked if he could organise somewhere new for me to dive and all the pickup and transfers. Pak Mikes staff went to work doing their awesome organisational stuff for Miss Cindy, VIP Client. Mike knows I hate Bali and knows where ive dived so suggested Tulumben for something different and assured me it was nice and peaceful up there with no nightclubs full of drunken russians or aussies.
My son has recently started work with Giant so two days before we were due to leave they were doing nightshift...until Giant came
screaming home with my son covered in blood after having his stomach sandblasted with garnet shot into his skin at 650km an hour. Insert choice words as to why he is here not directly at the hospital as I bowled out the door with my son to the Emergency Department. 21 hours later I arrived back home with my very heavily bandaged and medicated baby to find....Giants sister had arrived from China, just what I needed, a houseguest when we were on our way overseas. I didnt want to go at all, leaving Paddy my son in such a state made me feel like the worlds worst parent, but his dad and my extended family stepped in to take him to and from the burns unit for dressing changes. To be honest, having Giants sister rock up turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I had planned on taking the big leap of faith and allowing my teenagers to stay at home - with her here, I could rest assured there would be no suprise facebook parties and I wouldnt turn on the TV to see Riot at Party in Armadale.
Heading to the airport wasnt what
I wanted to do but Paddy asssured me he wanted me to go and he was OK, such a brave kid. I havent ever boarded a plane with such a heavy heart but I thought things could only go up from here. We got into Bali at 2am and Pak Mikes driver was holding a sign up with my maiden name, which no one has called me for 20 years so after a bit of confusion I realised it was me he was looking for so off we set on the two hour drive north to Tulumben. At that time of the morning the drive was smooth and traffic free and soon we were bumping down a dirt track to the dive centre. Giant looked at me and said.."Why is there a tent here? where is our hotel?" right as our driver Gidday dropped our bags out and sped off. I was tempted to play along that this was it but assured him that Mike had set the tent up for us so we wouldnt have to pay an extra nights accomodation and it was only until noon when we could check in to an actual hotel.
Doing it the Balinese way
Amusing the locals carrying my groceries bali style
alarm clock...the jungle fowl...relative of the chicken we eat at KFC was on the ball as usual. A nano second after our heads hit the pillows in the tent Bohdo Ayam started...ALRIGHT IM AWAKE. I peered out of the tent to see something I havent seen in a long long time...the sunrise. A pretty spectacular one at that I must admit. Giant was mumbling about killing roosters and who ever this Ayam I was yelling at to shut up while I was trying my best to break into Mikes dive centre and find coffee. I dont think I will ever take up a career as a cat burgler, because my attempts only woke up the Indo divemaster who ran down yelling profanities in Indo mixed with Oh? You Miss Cindy? ohh ok, sorry, Pak Mike tell me wake up early get you coffee. Indeed. Black strong Bali Kope, another thing I dont like. I asked him where Pantai was and he pointed out infront of the dive centre...to a black boulder and stone beach with a howling wind whipping up breakers a surfer wouldve been overjoyed with. No, Pantai for Dive. He looked at me and pointed again...what? there? where
is the boat?.....no boat, motor break yesterday. Only shore dive.
SHORE DIVING?? You have to be kidding me! I do not
shore dive. At all. Ever. Poor people do that. Lugging tanks over slippery moving writhing rocks into breaking waves? nah, you are surely playing one of Pak Mikes jokes on me. Giant was mumbling about breakfast and the diveguide pointed up the rocks and said we could find little resort there that would have breakfast. We rolled and tripped and slid along the rocks walking up to find a bunch of German people who spoke no english looking at us very strangely. I can understand why. We have been having night time temps in the minus range, almost unheard of for perth, and thanks to the cold and our very naughty teenage delinquent juvenile puppy he had no thongs. So theres this giant in shorts, a jumper and workboots. Stylish. Pointing at menus and flashing of credit cards got us breakfast with the people who actually belonged there staring fascinated at what had washed up on the shore overnight.
Back to the dive centre and the dive guy whos name I cant remember, (pick one, he wouldve
Waiting for night dive
Shorely you're kidding me? Jumpers and Jeans?
been a Made, a Wayan, a Neoyman or a Ketut) has mustered the troops and called in the big guns, Ily, Pak Mikes manageress up there. She knows im not happy and is ringing Pak Mike while ive already decided to just forego the hotel already paid and head to Amed and catch a fast ferry to the Gilis where you can dive out of actual boats. She tries talking me out of it and suggests we go for just one dive just infront of the dive centre while she rings Pak Mike and see if we like it. And then she did a number on me, I got owned by a pretty young Indo lady with the business acumen of Oprah Winfrey.
She looked me in the eye and said.."Problem, you are SPOILT!. You dive Papua, you dive Sulawesi, Ningaloo, Merguiis, Komodo, you dive our wishlist spots we dream of diving. Manta Ray, Mola Mola, Whaleshark, Hammerhead, I know you see. Pygmy seahorse, mandarin fish, giant baracuda, turtles you dive with before. People come here from all over the world to see these things and you think every dive now same standard. You go where no divers go
and see 3 people total! You even get bloody earthquake! Twice!"
I looked her in the face and....burst out laughing. She was right. I am terribly spoilt. When I did shore dive the wreck of the liberty there would have been 30 divers wandering around plus the same amount coming and going across those treacherous bloody rocks wading thru the breakers I lost a contact lens while trying to get in the water. I didnt realise anything was wrong with my vision as I quickly descended to stop from getting washed back in with the next wave and was already exhausted so I set off to find Giant and Made and a nice guy from San Diego. I looked around and couldnt see anyone familiar..so I sprinted off which is something you never want to do while diving after what I thought was my group. It wasnt. It was three young girls who looked at me like....who the hell are you??? and why are you diving with us???? How you mistake a 6'5 bald man for a trio of girls I have no idea but id like to commend the manufacturer of suprised girl no.1's mascara as she had
ONE 3mm wetsuit and trusty hood.
perfect makeup on - I noticed that while almost kissing her peering into her mask before I realised she was not giant.
So the Liberty was a ..wreck. It had coral, it had fish, it had divers, millions and millions of them, like triffids coming from Mars, in waves they just kept coming. Im used to fish soup not human soup. I couldnt see too much - later discovering when I tried to remove my contact lenses why this dive had been so..average..and why I had gotten lost. Reinserted contacts before heading out again, I needed somewhere with less people so we headed just up the road to coral gardens where more divers were gearing up on the rocks wading through the breakers. It was as funny to watch people falling over on the rocks as it was to actually try and count them. I have to admit, coral gardens was a nice dive site, as was the drop off which we did later in the afternoon. At the drop off there is a tiny cave at 39.9m - its fun to zip down there and if you are small like me hide for a few minutes checking out
the extra large moray eel who was as suprised to see me as I was to see him. More entertaining is seeing Giant and Made's faces when I disappeared for a few minutes so they couldnt see my bubbles...shes down there but no bubbles!!!!
Ok, I couldnt help but be a bit naughty...I had planned my dive profile - I knew what I was doing. I hung around at about 25m for two minutes and again at 15 for two minutes to degas a bit..ok, not your typical dive profile, more multi level on the spot type dive profile. I didnt get the bends so no idea why everyone was spinning out so much. Hey, they didnt notice when I was lost at liberty!.
We did see a hammerhead hanging around the drop off of a decent size, stopped by a cleaner station with two massive sweetlips happily at home and as I had to deco a bit I decided to take advantage of the cleaner station and whipped out my reg and had my teeth cleaned by the resident cleaner shrimp who did a fantastic job, if a bit ..squiggly...
There is some nice aquatic life
at Tulumben, I have to admit. I love ribbon eels so was happy to see a lot of those and there is the famous Nat Geo eel who lives in a tyre. A lot of nudibranch and most importantly for me, cephalapod action.
Our night dive was FREEZING. I lost my torch while getting smashed against some boulders while trying to make it through the breakers over the rocks so began the dive on a fantastic note. One of the dive centre guys ran out thru the breakers to give me a replacement while I struggled against the waves to put my fins on. Finally geared appropriately we headed down along a rocky reef and found some lovely cuttlefish and octopi which are my favourite night dive must see's however had a very short dive due to the ever increasing surge washing us back and forth against the rocks. I watched Made struggling to get past the surge by crabbing along holding onto rocks and realised the dive was over just as my borrowed torch failed. Great, in the dark being smashed against rocks and my reg comes out...awesome!. We surfaced just infront of the dive centre and had
Candi Dasa Lagoon
Perfectly place to be a ladyboy.
to struggle over the rocks to try and get out - absolutely frozen in 3mm with a hood while everyone else had two wetsuits on. To top it all off, the rock I had my left foot balanced on decided to make a break from the rock my right foot was on so I ended up flipped upside down and washed aground onto the rocks like a turtle on its back flailing around uselessly swearing my head off. But I saw cuttlefish so that made it all OK.
The next day we dived some other same same site but met an amazing women, one of the diving women of Korea. She was 78 years old and still freediving every day. If a 78 year old woman could do it so could I. She didnt fall over on the rocks but once again I did. I had planned on diving the liberty again with two eyes the next morning but got bitten by a spider just before dawn so spent the rest of the morning with my arm burning and huge welts appearing everywhere. Im still here so it obviously wasnt deadly poisonous.
We left Tulumben counting bruises and
Who is in the bath?
Abi Bali villa..when giant saw this pic he asked..who is that? Ahm, could be any number of large tattood white men
injuries and found the drive south to Jimbaran for a couple of days luxury peace and quiet during the day was vastly different. It took us 5 hours with multiple stops for beer for Giant (drinking again!) and me to be a ladyboy and use the wrong toilet.....WHY CANT I GET THAT RIGHT!!!. Candi Dasa stop was most embarassing as I walked in to a busload of elderly japanese men using urinals. So Sorry.
All in all it wasnt too bad. Uli is right, I am spoiled. I am a spoiled diver. I am ok with that. I never thought much about it before, but she did have a point. Seeing the old Korean woman made me realise people actually DO shore dive and there are worse ways to see what is below the surface.
After a lovely overnight at Abi Bali again and a walk along Jimbaran Bay at sunset I was more than happy to get home to my sons...so we arrived at the airport in due time and checked in early. We payed our departure tax, went through Imigrasi and decided to have a quick meal before boarding....the boarding sign was still open when we
had finished our meal so we had no idea what was about to happen. As I walked through the gate I was met by a airline representative grinning smugly who checked my name and then said.."Boarding closed 3 minute ago, you cannot fly". I pointed to the boarding sign and he smiled and said.."Captains Discretion".
Call it a strange coincidence, but that night, at the bloody mercure bypass road hotel, where I had ended up last time I tried to leave Bali on that airline it occurred to me, im either a really suspicious and paranoid person or you probably shouldnt publish airlines sneaky dealings and encourage the rest of the passengers on that flight to seek compensation.
I was glad to get home to my boys eventually to find they had not trashed the house and that Giants mother had not died, as we had several phonecalls from his sister while we were away saying she was now totally incontinent and in the final stages of her life...which also turned out to be somewhat of an exageration as she was happily at the bloody nursing home Bingo hall the next day when Giant went to see her.
We finally got off a plane 19 hours after the one we were booked on just in time for Giant to start a 12 hour shift and for me to race to the burns unit to get Patricks dressings changed.
I need a holiday........so im planning one....while I have written this Ive booked myself a dive trip to Alor..ive been assured there are no people there. And no Russians!
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