Bali the finale
Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
23Trip End Dec 21, 2009
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Where I stayed
Two different places - one expensive, one cheap
We arrived back to the already familiar Kuta and found a slightly less than desirable hotel. Not as undesirable as the first one we looked at which really was the pits and only the utmost desperation would have inspired us to stay there despite the momentarily tempting low price. We settled on a very basic room which smelt quite unpleasantly of moth balls and damp but was habitable non the less and even had a swimming pool thrown in to ease the slightly over ambitious price. Still the likelihood of sharing the bed with undesirables (in the insect form) was lessened somewhat and so we took it.
I don’t think we got up to much that day - it pretty much poured with rain all day and everyone thought the rainy season had arrived early. We got soaked but as it was still warm it didn’t seem too much of an issue. We had a walk around the town and sorted out our action packed final few days in Bali
Our first of that nature began the following morning as the sun made its reappearance much to everyone’s relief. We were picked up from our hotel at 8ish and hopped on the back of bikes to the beach. Miriam shot gunned the back of our surf instructors bike which was very unfair altogether as I’m never the quickest in the morning and so I resigned myself to the back of the not quite so attractive tour company operator. Alex the surf instructor turned out to be quite a character!
The high tide was pretty, well, high when we got down to the beach and so in true Bali style we just chilled on the beach for the majority of the morning - we were supposed to have a 3 hour lesson from 9-12 but as none of us really had anything better to do it sort of turned into an 11 - sunset day of beach, sun and surf. Alex took the opportunity of the high tide to have a quick surf himself and so after just telling us he had never surfed until a year before hand when he moved to Bali from Sumatra, proceeded to show off his new found talents with many a large wave well surfed and even a few well executed handstands on his board while riding a wave. He also had a crash which was far more entertaining we reckoned!
After a little longer under the palm trees he decided the tide was low enough and waves low enough so after a few ever so slightly amusing stretches on the beach, we picked up our surf boards, tucked our tails between our legs and set off in search of some humiliation!
‘I though you said you could stand’ he asked with raised eyebrows as I fell off my board for the umpteenth time. I explained that I had been able to and then gave a little lesson in the basics of the past tense as wave after wave crashed over and I struggled not to inhale half the Indian ocean. Towards the end of the first half I was beginning to get back in the swing of things but I still spent more time under waves than on top of them so there was a long way to go. We crawled back up the beach and collapsed in a big heap under the welcome shade of the conveniently located band of trees which run along the top of Kuta beach. Before long we were back paddling furiously against the waves with hope of some more success. I had my ‘soul mate’ waiting for me back on the beach I was assured and watching my attempts to surf. He was another Indonesian beach bum who was one of the many who regularly (so for the hours of daylight) hung out in the same spot on the beach - by Alex’s surf boards everyday. By some weird coincidence under a tattoo on his arm he had in very small writing my name tattooed onto his arm
Meanwhile back in the water I was having a little more success. Standing up was getting a little easier and was beginning to gain a little control over my board at last. It was encouraging. Although still a long way to go before handstands!
Under strict instructions we returned back to the beach for sunset and a few beers and a lot more harassment from the boys. Whose numbers seemed to be multiplying. Still a guitar appeared and I decided it wasn’t too bad a life sitting on a beach in Bali watching the sunset, drinking beer for next to nothing and all the time listening to Indonesian covers of good songs. We found or rather we were found by a rather hilarious guy whose name escapes me but whose knowledge of Irish was quite impressive. It’s quite astonishing to think when people as close to home as England and France struggle to comprehend Ireland has it’s own language at all that you can sit on a beach in Bali and listen to an Indonesian say hello and how are you and the basics in fluent Irish - his accent wasn’t half bad either! However the evening was interrupted somewhat by Miriam when after a stroll to the toilets came running back to the beach, fortunately rescuing me from the chore of being on my own with a very exciting surprise she said.
I grabbed my bag and we rushed back in the direction of the road. I saw them from across the street - Sarah and Stephen sitting outside another 7/11 having a beer. It was so good to see them again - not that we had a huge amount of catching up to do after only a few days apart but it was still good to see them again especially with the added excitement of being in Kuta and actually bumping into someone we knew! They didn’t stay too long as had been up to do the same Volcano walk we had done the night before and so were pretty wrecked. We headed back down to the beach until we had had our fill of being serenaded by the music of Oasis and Damien Rice and headed for an early(ish) night.
It was an even earlier start the next morning as I was picked up at 7.30 to head right back up the North East coast for an exciting couple of dives. My dive master was lovely and it was just me him and another Polish diver setting out for the day. We had a 3 hour drive up to Tulamben which was just slightly further north than we had managed to get on the scooters the day we rented them from Candi Dasa so I was rather retracing my footsteps but it was nice in a way getting to be passenger and just take it all in rather than winding up and down the sides of mountains on scooterbikes. The dive site itself was a small stony beach in the shadow of the rather large and imposing Volcano Agung. The wreck itself was a US cargo ship which had been hit by a Japanese missile and had ended up on the shore. However in the 70’s when Agung last erupted the force of the volcano forced the ship into the sea and now there it lies to his day between the depths of 6 and 30 meters and hosts a vast multitude of underwater life.
Our first dive was spectacular. It was my first time doing a dive from the shore rather than the boat but it was all fine - easier in a way as you descend much slower and more naturally so have less potential problems. We slowly made our way along and down the sea bed which became steep shortly after leaving the beach and then suddenly the huge bow of the ship loomed above us - just the silhouette visible. It was quite eerie but as it had been a cargo ship there were no deaths associated with it which makes it a more pleasant atmosphere that it might otherwise be. As we got closer the colours became clear to us and soon we were surrounded by them - the most vivid and intense colours I have ever seen - it was spectacular. And there were so many fish - many of the same varieties I saw on the Great Barrier Reef but some who were even bigger and brighter than I’d ever seen. It was spectacular. The wreck was incredible - quite unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Our dive was about 35 minutes long and we went down to about 27 meters - however it didn’t feel like the big deal it had when I’d gone that deep to complete the speciality course - think like when I had the camera the lack of focus just made it all the more comfortable. And with the spectacular scenery the distractions were abundant.
We came up and headed back to the shore for lunch before wading back into the refreshingly cool ocean for the second dive of the day. We had had a choice of a second dive on the wreck or to head to a site further up the coast to dive on more of a reef. The Polish guy had been keen to do the second site but after discussion we settled on doing two on the wreck which was without doubt the best choice. That became apparent with the look on our dive masters face when we told him. On the second dive instead of swimming around the 120 meter wreck we were able to swim along the top of it and even inside it. It was amazing. The room we were able to swim inside was awesome. There was still room to get out of it as the roof was pretty eroded and open but we had to swim through this really narrow passage to get to it which required small spaces not to be an issue!
Along with all the normal fishes which inhabit warm tropical water we also were lucky enough to spot 2 sea horses which were so cool, an octopus, a sting ray and many giant fish. The coral and plants were amazing and combined with the colours of the coroded boat it was simply spectacular. More so in a way than the great Barrier Reef in my opinion. So it was an extremely successful day! Headed back to Kuta to find Miriam on the beach and after finding new and cheaper accommodation next to where Sarah and Stephen were staying we got a reasonably early night.
Yet another early start for me the following morning as I got up and got down to the beach for 7. I had half planned to get down there before 7 and before Alex had arrived as I’d begun to have enough of all his nonsense and he said rather sulkily the evning before that he might be there in the morning so I had no quarms about finding a new teacher if he didn’t turn up. However I bumped into him on his bike as I was walking down to the beach and he was driving up to collect his own board so I continued down to the beach and waited for his return and then the boards to arrive. We headed out into the waves to begin a far more successful session. I fell off much less and became musch more comfortable standing up and even began to get the hang of turning. So glad I went back for that second lesson and it was an excellent way of waking up and preparing for a day of travelling! Alex only proposed marriage twice that day. Once as I was about to catch a wave which was not the sort of distraction which was condusive to improving my surfing and probably fell off the wave. Then got one more proposal on the shore after the lesson. However tempting to stay in Bali forever as a beach bum it wasn’t enough to sway me! So I left the beach in time to head back to the hotel, have breakfast, a shower, pack the last of my things and head to the airport satisfied that I looked like less of a spastic frog when I fell off my surfboard as Alex had kindly told me after the first. Me and Miriam had managed to get our own back 5 minutes later though when he tried to convince us he was eating buffalo soup and that they lived on Lombok - we pointed out that Buffalo to the best of our knowledge didn’t reside in Indonesia and came to the conclusion that he meant Ox and that he was eating beef. Much to our amusement!
I did realise however while eating breakfast at 9.15 that I had meant to get a taxi at 9 not 9.30 as I had stuck in my head as my flight was at 12 and as it was an international flight was supposed to be there 3 hours before hand! I got myself sorted, headed out and then bumped into Sarah and Stephen so by the time I actually left Kuta it was quite late and after the taxi’s petrol stop even later however luckily there were no ques and so got through the airport in no time! Before I knew it I was regretfully leaving Bali behind and on my way to Bangkok. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point though!