January 18, 2004

Bye Bye Bali

The festival was nice... about 2/3 of all the people on scooters were dressed in lovely clothes and carrying offerings to one temple or another. In a way it was low key, because there wasn't lots of music, dancing, fanfare, but so many people were going about the business of offering... strangely ordinary...

I ended up assisting with an Open Water Course at Spice Dive, which was loads of fun! So I guess the Indo diving was not quite over ;) Thanks Robbie!

Yesterday morning I hopped in a mini-bus back to Ubud. I'm staying at a really lovely place called Nick's Hidden in the paddy's just outside of town. It's lovely!

After one false start, I managed to find Dewa Warung for dinner last night! Wow!! Fantastic and cheap Bali food! Yum! Anyone comming to Ubud, I highly recomend this place!

This morning, I'm just doing practical things, shopping, getting directions to the hotel in Bangkok, checking email, etc. I have transport to the Airport setup for this afternoon, and I'm flying to Bangkok this evening.

I guess I don't really have much news from this week. It has been really wonderfull being in Bali. The countryside is really green at the moment, the weather has been almost ideal, the people here smile a lot, they are very relaxed, and enjoy chatting about pretty much anything, esp. if it's funny :) Not that unusual really, but there is a warmth and simpleness here that invites joy and laughter.

There is so much more to see and do here and somehow, I'm ready to move on. I'm really looking foward to seeing Wade and diving in Thailand.

Very much Love,

-- Bindu

Posted by binduwavell at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2004

Bali Laugh

Despite having a yucky tummy, Ubud was really nice. Some great restaurants! Diane Cafe and Casa Luna in particular were VERY good. I also browsed many cool art/craft shops and watched lots of jet set rich folks comming and going :) I didn't make it out to the rice paddys so I'll probably stop back in Ubud on my way out of the country so I can do that. The ones that I did see were great and I keep hearing stories about lovely secluded places in the fields...

From Ubud, I took a bus to Padang Bai which is on the east coast. I did 2 very so-so dives and one reasonable one with Geko dive. Vis was not good, currents were annoying (not terrible) and DMs were not very good at all. I met a lovely woman from Singapore (Lynn), who is also a divemaster and we were buddies for all 3 dives and then headed to Amed together.

When we arrived in Amed, we went to Euro dive and the guy in the shop seemed like he was on valium or something... very strange, and the town was completely empty. So we got back in the van and headed straight for Tulumben.

Tulumben is probably the most famous dive site in Bali, with the Liberty wreck right off the beach. We did 6 really nice dives in Tulumben, most on the wreck and one so-so dive on a wall on the east end of the beach. Our dive guide (not DM) was VERY good and we saw tons of stuff. My first pigmy seahorses and garden eels, ribbon eels, huge hump-head parrot fish, loads of corals, reasonable vis... a white tip reef shark with white panels on it's chest... I've never seen these before (even in a book.) Flashlight fish on a night dive... Turn of your light and this school of about 200 fish flash on and off like fire-flys... The guide also pulled an octopus out of it's cave on the night dive. Was very impresive, but not something I'd care to see repeated. The octo turned deep red and inked off in a very bad mood (quite rightly).

Lynn headed down south for some more advanced drift diving with a friend from her work and I headed for Lovina. I've been here about a week. It's a very laid back place. And has the cheapest diving to Mengangan Island... Strange since it's over an hours drive to get there, but all the places that are closer are in really fancy resorts.

I have been to Mengangan 3 times, 2 dives each time. I've been diving with Spice Dive. They are quite professional, although their equipment is a bit old (not surprisingly since their customer load is about 10% of what it was before the bombing.) I had 2 fantastic dives and 4 OK dives. The only new things I saw at Mengangan were razor/shrim fish and a lizard fish. Neither of wich was a big wow, but the sites and the corals are really lovely! Also, on the second to last dive, we dove a site called eel garden, after about 30 minutes of following a really awsom wall, we came to a huge underwater sand area that was covered in thousands upon thousands of garden eels... WOW!!!! Garden eels are very skinny snake-like fish that live in sand burrows, they protrude about 2/3 of their bodies out of the sand and wave around like a forest of branchless treas... They are shy so when you get close they pop down into their holes. It's pretty cool to swim over them... you get a big sandy patch around you and then about 10ft out the eels start popping up again...

I did a really nice hike yesterday with a local family. Walked through the fields and forest near their hose. They also prepared a fantastic local meal for me and we went to some so-so hot springs... the day was quite magical. A real treat to be with some local people for the day and get an idea of what life is like for them. Thanks Putu and Ria! :)

I'm planning on heading back to Thailand on the 19th so I can meet up with Wade on the 20th. I don't have much planned for the rest of my trip. I'm excited about a huge festival that's going to happen all over the island mid week, sounds like a really amazing thing to behold! Other than that, I'm enjoying reading and walking on the beach, meeting people, etc. Like I said before, I'll probably head to Ubud after the festival for some hiking. Not sure that there is much more Bali scuba diving in store for me, but I'm alway open if something great turns up.

Loads of Love,

-- Bindu

Posted by binduwavell at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2003

Lombok and Bali

The dive shop sent a boat out to drag for the wreck 3 hours before the dive was supposed to start. When we arrived there was a float at approximately the right location so we got all geared up and decended down the line to 40 meaters and an anchor surrounded by sand! Well rather than abort the dive, we both (Adi my guide) and I decided to head into the current. Within a minute we saw the wreck looming out of the deep blue! Yipee!!! So had about 17 minutes to look around a Japanese submarine destroyer. This was my first wreck dive and my first (official) decompression dive. I have never been particularly excited about wreck diving, and this dive didn't convert me... Having said that it was interesting to see a ship with loads of machine gun bullets and depth charges in the sand arround it... What really floated my boat though ;) was being at 40m for 20 minutes-ish and seeing the soft corals and other fish on the boat. I also got a bit high of the Nitrox wich is always a bonus :) So all in all it was a great dive (rough starts and all). Turns out that the boat that had been dragging for the wreck had run out of fule and had to go fill up. They left the float where they thought the wreck should be. I'm sure glad they were close!

I did a really nice dive in the afternoon and then one of the most amazing dives ever the following morning (before getting the boat back to Bali). We dove a sight called Sunset Point. We saw 6 sharks very close, loads of really nice coral several small turtles, a huge cuttle fish and finally a HUGE octopus!!!! We spent 5 or 10 minutes just watching the octopus hunting. It never actually caught anything while we were watching... Maybe the voyers were cramping its style... But it was amazing all the color AND texture changes to match the background... All puffed up and spiky it's head was about the size of an American football. Not sure exactly how big it was all streatched out as it kept its arms pretty close in to its body most of the time.... WOW!!! Amazing!!! Lovely!!! Powerfull!!!! Cool!!!! :)

So came in from the dive and had about 30 minutes to clean up before getting a lift over to the fast ferry terminal. Then hung out for an hour because the fast ferry was late... In Indonesia they have a phrase "Rubber Time".... Seems very appropriate to many places in Asia ;) My tummy started feeling pretty bad before we got on the fast ferry... by the time I'd arrived in Ubud on Sunday afternoon I was not feeling well at all. On monday morning (my birthday) I headed to the loca clinic for something to settle my tummy down. So I'm now taking some pretty strong drugs to deal with the nasty belly. I had been really looking forward to this birthday... seems like the first time in years that a birthday has felt like something I was really looking foward to... Oh well, I postponed the spa treatment. Hope I'll feel better enough tomorrow to go. Otherwise I may just head over to the ocean and see if I can find something out there (most people seem to think the best ones are here in Ubud though...)

I think that brings me pretty much up to date. Instead of writing two updates in two days, I'll send you all wishes for a fantastic new year!

Loads of Love,

-- Bindu

Posted by binduwavell at 04:49 AM | Comments (1)

December 25, 2003

Silly Gilly


I would have sent this yesterday, but we lost power in the early afternoon and didn't get it back until about 9am this morning... I'm on Gilli Terwangan (sp?) which is a really nice little island of the north west coast of Lombok (which is the big island east of Bali for those - like myself - that are geographically challenged)...

Accomodation here is cheap and quite nice by SE Asia traveler standards. Food is fantastic, the snorkeling is quite good, diving is also quite good.

The relationship between the local community and the backpacker scene is a little strange. Some local people have really plugged in, but mostly the community here seems quite stand-off-ish.... but glad for the income from the travelers... and also not pushy (like on the rest of Lombok). Also, there are VERY FEW travelers here (or in Kuta) at the moment. They are supposed to be having a short high season around XMas and New Year, but many places are empty or only have one or two guests. In some ways, it's very nice to have so much space here, but it's a bit eary walking down the main road that has 10-20 fancy (by backpacker standards) restaurants, hotels, dive-shopes, etc that are mostly empty.

My first dive was amazing! We saw 6 to 8 of the following: Tutles, Cuttle Fish, and Reef Sharks. And a huge eel hiding in it's cave! Second dive was OK, but didn't see too much and since we were drift diving in tepid water we all got very cold... Snorkeling on Christams day was great, 4 turtles (spent 30 minutes hanging out with one of them), a school of 40-50 squid, many moorish idols, a huge variety of smallish trigger fish, banner fish, surgeon fish, unicorn fish, several small and lovely puffers and box fish. Also saw a very large eel and a tuna fighting... what a writhing mass that was! Also did a night dive last night that was OK but started out badly (just not planned well by any of us) I saw a huge ray (unfortunately not close enough to identify what type of ray).. we also saw a lovely big turtle, a HUGE parrot fish, and 3 very large lobster and lots of different shrims. The bio-luminescense was fantastic! Had my hand in the water on the way back from the dive and it looked like sparks exploding all over the side of the boat! Wow!

I was super excited about doing a cool technical dive this morning. 40 meters for 20 minutes on a sunken japanese submarine chaser with nitrox with a bunch of deco stops... Too bad the shops GPS was out on a liveaboard and the captain who could find the site without the GPS was home sick (oh and they didn't have the location written down anywhere so we could use my GPS)! Too bad that we spent half an hour setting up gear and then an hour on the boat before they figured out that they weren't going to find the site! Hopefully I'll have a redo tomorrow, sounds like a wonderfull dive, and I'm psyched to get to use my deep and nitrox certifications for such a cool dive.

I'm planning on heading back to Bali on Sunday, I'll probably head straight for Ubud so that I can do one of their fancy spa treatments for my BDAY :) I also hope to check out some of the local dances, which are supposed to be spectacular! Then I'll hop around the island and check out some of the dive sites...

Loads of Love to you all!

-- Bindu

Posted by binduwavell at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Arrived in Bali

Had a pretty crappy flight from Taiwan to Bali on Thai. They included "one night accomodation" in the Bangkok airport. Which consisted of no more than 6 hours in a very loud capsule and being woken up by the desk because they dialed the right... wrong :) number... I had paid more for the Thai ticket because I had heard they were such a great airline... So now I'm bitter ;) But it's hard to sustain on such a lovely island. I just arrived and have arranged some of my travel to the Gilli islands. There was supposed to be an express ferry but apparently it has stopped opperating so I have to fly to Lombok, bus up to the north coast and then take a local boat... sounds like an adventure... Hope to be there in time for a night dive tomorrow night :)

Sorry for the many emails in such a short time, just wanted to let you all know that I arrived safe and sound (and pissed off ;)

Lotsa Love,

-- Bindu

Posted by binduwavell at 03:48 AM | Comments (0)
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