Finding Nemo!

Trip Start Oct 15, 2006
Trip End May 01, 2007

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bali - even the name seems evocative - palm fringed beaches, volcano's, glorious weather - and yup, it's got them all!

I've mentioned this to a couple of people, but weirdly, the travelling to date had kind of taken it out of me - now, don't all reach for the tissues at once,  but packing and unpacking, constantly travelling, always thinking you have to do something is tiring. So, my decision to spend a week in Bali, before hitting Oz was, in hindsight, a very good one. In terms of doing stuff, well other than diving and golf, I've done bugger all. Seen the odd temple from a car, viewed distant rice terraces and even squeezed off a picture of the volcano - but other than that, it's been sitting by the pool, reading loads of books and having the stupidest cocktails in the world at the pool bar (you sit in the water...). So, there you go - if you weren't wound up by the thought of me travelling for 7 months, this little week of sheer laziness should push you over the edge!!

But in truth, the major reason for coming here was to do some diving - Bali's renowned for having some of the world's best dive sites and marine life and I haven't been disappointed. It also gave me the chance to play with my new toy - an underwater case for my camera. Admittedly the first dive was paranoia in extremis - checking the casing every minute to see if there was an sign of water getting in, but after 5 dives, I can report not one drop got even close to breaking in. Hopefully, as you can see from some of the pictures, it's not bad at all!

But, as for the diving itself, one major find - I mean it wasn't that difficult - poodling along in the reefs around the northern part of Bali, there was the anemone and there he was - Nemo!

I mean the little guy's been missing for so long they even made a film about him - admittedly he was a bit phased about being found and dived back into cover as soon as he saw me, but, mission accomplished, thought I. Nope, Nemo's a little bastard. So as soon as we leave him, he obviously gets on his mobile, or whatever they use 20 metres down, and phones his mate Trigger, to "have a word" with us. Now, for those of you who know anything about marine life, you'll know what a problem this is - for those of you who don't, Trigger

is a nasty piece of work and also quite stupid. He's quite a big fish but his biggest attribute is his teeth - big and bloody sharp. First of all he goes for my dive buddy and gets a pretty good bite on his flippers - one kick from the flipper and he decides that's no fun, so he comes after me - It occurred to me as this narky sod swims after me that  picture for the police might be a good idea, so I turn and snap him - I think the flash might have distracted him, cause he gave up the chase at that point.

But seriously, the diving's been great - fantastic visibility and water temperature in the high 20's - perfect conditions - wrecks, reefs and hundreds of fish, the occasional shark (Reef one's so not dangerous, Mum!) - really good fun.

And, to complete the overall sense of  debauchery, I've managed to squeeze in a couple of rounds of golf - didn't play too badly considering the length of time since I last picked up a club in anger.

The one thing that has surprised me slightly about Bali is how quiet it's been. Admittedly the bombings of a few years ago still seem to have an impact - every major shop and hotel has security check points, but even so, I'd heard it had recovered. Indeed one of the guys in the hotel said last year had been one of the busiest ever - yet this year, it's been very quiet. One of the problems is that the surf this season has been poor - I'm staying in a place called Kuta which is supposedly one of the best surfing beaches in this whole region. But I've barely seen a wave of note (hugely disappointing as I'd every intention of learning to surf, to add to my skiing experience....) - for this reason the bars have been empty and there's a slightly empty air to the whole place.

As for the Balinese, they've struck me as being incredibly friendly and polite and immensely proud of their tourist trade. Whilst diving the other day, there was some excitement at the hotel we were diving from - apparently a gang had been caught stealing from a room in a hotel - amongst the gang was one policeman. Not being great believers in the Balinese justice system, the locals formed a lynch mob and broke the policeman's arm and leg!! Apparently this kind of thing is quite normal as it sends a better message to the other crooks that robbing tourists is really not a good idea!

And so to Oz - I catch the red-eye to Perth in a few hours and in two days it's the start of the third test. I hope we can extract some kind of performance in this one - it'll be a real bugger to have to spend an entire month with a bunch of Aussies gloating about cricket - if it does happen, might have to pretend I'm Czech again!!


PS Disappointed to read about Arsenal's attitude to the whole Ashley Cole thing at the Chelsea game - I think they should have encouraged the fans to burn effigies of the little shit, not try and pretend he's forgiven.
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