Meet the USAT Liberty

Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, May 8, 2008

06/05:  in the morning, our hotel phone does not work. We have to use our mobile to call a mobile in Indonesia via Belgium: ouch! But: pick up at noon. We meet Wayan and ... Tony from Perth, would you believe????
Those Australian Tonys start yapping and do not stop. We are taken to lunch in a very picturesque resto in the middle of nowhere. And I really mean 'taken'. They paid. For the first time in my more than a year travel, I experience REAL hospitality, like you read about but not meet. We are the guests. Wayan and Tony own the resort and dive shop: Tulamben wreck divers resort Bali:
Resort and dive shop in one: the way we like it. Over the road is a nice and cheap restaurant and a little supermarket, is one of the many things Tony tells us. Also: many people on Bali all called Wayan: it means: 1st born and can be a boy or a girl. So, it you call a Balinese Wayan, you have a big change of being right!
We have the choice of a standard room and a beach villa. We booked the standard room, it is next to the swimming pool and dive shop and we do not swap for the villa, which is 700m away and much more expensive, of course.
Priority: diving tomorrow! We go to book and we are told ... we can decide on what time we go diving, as from 06h45. How can that be? Well, every group (whether 1 or 6 people) get their own private diving instructor! So, you decide: how many dives and when. Of course, we do not choose that early: 9h is good enough for us. We get our own dedicated instructor: Arie. Although, we are happy to give the local people a job in 3rd world countries, it is a disadvantage to have a none native English speaking dive master. It is not so easy to understand their accent and often their English is not good.
 We go and discover the restaurant and indeed: very nice. I admit: I eat western food. STILL did not get over my 5 weeks of rice in Malaysia.
Early night because tomorrow is THE day!
07+08/05:  diving the USAT Liberty! Nr 11 on the top 100 of the world's dive sites. In January 1942 the US Navy cargo ship the USAT Liberty was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine near Lombok. Taken in tow, it was beached in Tulamben so that its cargo of rubber and railway parts could be saved. The ship sat on the beach until the 1963 eruption of Gunung Agung broke it is two and left it just off the shoreline, to the delight of the divers. We dove the Thistlegorm in Egypt, which is also a sunken ship from the 2nd world war (nr 3 on our top 100 list, nr 1 on ours). But this is whole other cattle of fish. In the Liberty there is nothing left inside: you cannot even penetrate it. Why is it nr 11, then? Well, we will see, we hope... .  And, man, do we see!
First thing we notice is ... women are carrying our tanks with BCD's to beach. Small, skinny things, carrying as many as 3 at the time. If they carry 3: 1 on their bag and 2 on their head! Carrying those heavy things a couple of hundred meters to the beach for the costumer AND the dive master, who does not carry his own gear either! There is a bell in the dive shop: when the girls have to show up for carrying, the bell is rang and they show up from nowhere!
We walk over the road to a 'beach'. It is black gravel.  The beach itself is big pebbles. Hard to keep your balance on. From there, you put on your equipment and walk into to the water. The Liberty is supposed to be 40m from the shore. I guess: 40 touristy meters which equals 60m. The first dive IS the wreck. I am an instant fan. The Liberty became part of the ocean and is completely integrated in the sea life. It is hardly recognizable as a ship: overgrown with the most beautiful corals, for 45 year already. I know there is a thin line between what I call 'junk' in the water and this ship wreck. For me, ships are - sort of - part of the ocean: this is what manhood uses to transport their goods from a to b. It is not nice of a lion to kill an antelope but it is survival. The same way men use a ship to transport food. If it sinks, it becomes part of the life underwater. Around a huge coral container, fish life is all over.  After the first day of Liberty diving, Hubby is not THAT impressed but the second day, he also becomes a fan. In the afternoon, we do the 'drop off' which is a coral wall, next to the wreck. Notice the boats behind me and the pebbles on the beach on the 'above water' picture, in between 2 dives. The boat will have its own story later and you can imagine walking on these pebbles.
The afternoon dive is almost as nice as the Liberty. Tomcat gets a manicure from shrimp fish, we study a pipefish together (yes, this is a fish), nice sting rays, puffer fish, great corals, ... .
The restaurant across the road is used for morning and evening meals.
Next day, again the Liberty. We did not even do 50% yet! This time, the parts of the ship are clearer. Hurricanes of fish are surrounding us.  I let the pictures tell the story!
In the afternoon, we do the coral garden drift dive, again from our own shore. We find a barracuda, with teeth bigger than ours. I approach it as close as I dare for the picture!!! We really dive in an aquarium: it is difficult to take a picture of Dr T without a fish in between.
Did we do anything beside the diving and the obvious? Hubby found a huge lizard on the wall of our room. I believed it was a real one. When he was still there, many hours later, I decided it was made out of stone. Till it disappeared. Then Tony found pooh in our bathroom. I mean: a small one on the floor. And guess what: that same lizard was on the roof of our bathroom!
We also met B. he is handsome and very chatty. We started off on the wrong foot. He whistled at me! NOT done. But, then, we kissed and made up. He says: 'I love you' in such a cute way. Unfortunately, his English is crappy and my Indonesian is none existing, so our relationship will not go far. Did I mention he is a mynah, called beo by us AND the Indonesian?
Tomorrow, I want a day of 'rest.' Which means: a day above water. We asked Wayan to arrange for a car and a driver (you do NOT drive yourself in Bali). But that did not work. Diving again tomorrow? This time a boat dive. I imagine an easy entry and exit. So, OK, tomorrow diving again, despite all the blisters on my feet.  
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