26 May 2007, 1:40am
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by michael
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Back from Bali – A week later

Our first trip to Bali gave us great memories and we both agreed that it was definitely a destination we would gladly go back to. The service and friendliness of the Balinese made us feel very welcome throughout the stay. Also, I managed to get in 2 dives at Tulamben and caught sight for the very first time a pygmy seahorse.

After a very busy week catching up on work and Yh starting her new job, we finally managed to organize the photos and thoughts so shall be writing more about the trip over the weekend and next few days.

17 May 2007, 10:30am
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by michael
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Day 3 – Setting out for Akhyati Villas & Spa

We had met Pucaksana the day before on our dive and as we headed back to our hotel, he mentioned that he did day tours too and we made an arrangement for him to bring us around Bali. It was a great morning as we awoke at 7am and had breakfast at cafe. We spent some time on Kuta beach enjoying the morning sea breeze and catching some surfing action from the locals and tourists.

Pucak soon arrived at 9+ to pick us up. Our first stop before the day began was to Akhyati Villas & Spa in Umala Village, Seminyak, just a 30 minute ride from Kuta. Yh had arranged for us to stay at this resort via the friendly ops manager, Ms Manik Martinna, before we flew up and she had arranged the villa and package for us. We had gotten a Honeymoon package for 3 days/ 2 nights at US$310 which was a pretty good price considering we got a 1-bedroom villa with personal butler service. After a quick check-in, we saw our villa for the first time and immediately fell in love. Without having much time to unpack or enjoy the facilities, our butler briefly explained to us where everything was located. Our private pool looked incredibly inviting to jump in but alas we soon had to head out to the next destination, Ubud.

Akhyati Villas and Spa
Jl Bumbak, 88x Umalas, Kerobokan – Bali
Phone : +62 631 847 5022
Fax : +62 361 847 5021
http://www.akhyativillas.com/
[email protected]

Travel Notes:
Honeymoon Package – 3 days / 2 Nights
US $310

16 May 2007, 8:00pm
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by michael
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Day 2 – Jimbaran Beach, dinner and great waves

After getting some great dives at Tulamben, Pucak drove us back to our hotels. Since Yh and myself wanted to try out some nice seafood, he recommended that we try out the restaurants at Jimbaran Beach. We first stopped at Kuta to let Pam off at her hotel (6+pm) and then took a quick 20 min drive towards Jimbaren Beach / Kedonganan beach.

http://www.bali1.com/bali-island/sunset-dinner-at-jimbaran-beach.htm

 

The whole stretch of beach laid out before us with numerous seafood restaurants dotting the coastline. The dim glow of the candlelight on the tables (with chairs facing the sea) made for a great view. We were a little late to catch the sunset but nevertheless, it was still a sight to behold and hear (the waves crashing onto the beach made a great sound).

Pucak had brought us to Beach Bali Cafe where after looking through the menu, we decided on Package for II consisting of:

1 x Crab
1 x Fish
10 x Prawn
10 x Mussels
Chips, Fruits, Vegetable and Rice
2 x Welcome Drink

To be honest, looking at the items, we didn’t realise how much it was for 2 until everything arrived and covered our whole table! There was also band playing for each table as they seranded the couples with songs in several different language. They were pretty accurate in guess our nationality, Singapore and even obliged us with a mandarin song <月亮代表我的心>. Unfortunately, our favorite song <Unchained Melody> was requested by another group so we listened to another song.

It was close to 8pm by the time we finshed and relaxed as we waited for the shuttle to ferry us back to Kuta.

Travel Notes:
Package for II : RP $550, 000
Tips, etc.

16 May 2007, 2:20pm
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by michael
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Day 2 – Dive #12 at Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali

After the first dive at Drop Off, we had a quick lunch at the resort and chatted a bit about where the others had dived. I was the newbie in the group with just 11 dives so far (the others were in their 20++ region). I was anticipating the next dive since it would be my first wreck dive, the USS Liberty.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Liberty_incident

http://www.divetheworldindonesia.com/bali-diving-sites-liberty-wreck.htm

The best conditions to dive at Liberty would be in the early morning where the visibility would be much better. Since we were doing an afternoon dive, Komang mentioned that it would definitely be cloudier. However, since we were here, it was worth a visit even if it wouldn’t be in its best glory :)

Finning around, we caught sight of some great looking corals and also some moray eels as it hid themselves in the sand. As we rounded the 120m long wreck, we were supposed to go underneath the ship and come out on the far side. Komang has also mentioned that at least 100 psi before attempting this since it could get a little tricky if one panicked. Well, I gazed at my gauge, it looked good, and I finned after him as he brought us in. The initial feeling was definitely weird (this being my first time) but you soon get used to the ship being so close and also notice quite a few varieties of coral and fishes swimming about.

Komang suddenly stopped and pointed, asking me to take a photo. Just 3 meters ahead, a grouper (not sure if it was a peacock grouper)! Not being prepared, I forgot that the conditions were a little too dark and the camera mode being on auto, a flash strayed and all I got was a photo with a smudge of the fish and a lot of backscatter (above, right). Lesson learnt, always be prepared and in the right mode!

Moving out of the belly, we finned about a little more, taking in the wonderful view of the corals growing off the wreck. Amazing how a disaster grows into such a beautiful sight underwater. The highlight of the trip was when Komang pointed out a sea fan (gorgonian) and gestured I should take a photo. Being almost in the low 50s, I couldn’t control my buoyancy enough to take a macro shot so had to hand it over to Komang. He took a couple of beautiful shots of a pygmy seahorse as it hung itself to the branches. Truly amazing what the underwater world offers in sights!

As we were heading up, Komang suddenly stopped and started scratching his upper body. Both Pam and I were curious what he was doing since it attracted a LOT of fishes around us. It was pretty funny the way he mimicked an ape and the fishes just swarmed around. We later asked him the reason and he said the fishes had been trained that when the action was performed, they thought there would be food! So even when his pockets were empty, they just played along :)

The afternoon ended sooner that I liked… Wish had more time and more dives to check out the sights but alas, it was time to head back to Kuta. Thanks to Bali Hai for the wonderful dives and Seraya Resort for having such a beautiful cozy place by the beach to enjoy some wonderful dives.

Dive No 12
Date 16/05/2007
Dive Site Liberty Wreck 
Location Tulamben / Bali / Indonesia
  Time PSI/BAR
Start 13:30 200
End 14:11 20
Depth 22 m
TBT ((Total bottom time) 41 min
Accumulated Bottom Time to date 7:26
Weights 5 kg
Suit Time 0.5 mm skin
Weather / Conditions Sunny / No Surf
Temp 29 C
Visibility 5 to 18 m
Objective / Activity Leisure
Buddy Pamela Bauer
Dive Master Komang
16 May 2007, 11:20am
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by michael
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Day 2 – Dive #11 at Drop Off, Tulamben, Bali

Diving again after a long spell! My last dive was in 09/2005 was in Pulau Tioman for PADI AOW. That’s a long 1 1/2 years in between. Was a little nervous but as we headed out to “Drop Off”, I gradually got into it and was eagerly anticipating taking some photos with the newly purchase underwater housing for my Canon A80. Yh, being a non-swimmer, decided to try out snorkeling for the first time but she couldn’t quite get used to it so had to rest on the boat for the duration. Incidentally, she has said she will just go shopping next time I dive!

Immediately upon descending, my dive master, Komang from Seraya Resort, pointed out to our left. Barracuda! Just 2 meters away and this being my first time using the camera, I fumbled unsuccessfully to get a good shot. The visibility was surprisingly good considering the late hour (the photos don’t do justice) and we view some beautiful corals and various  fishes (too many to name!). We also caught sight of a reclusive octopus which I didn’t realize until I reviewed my photos. Had some problems with my mask (Mares Pure-Vision) fogging up constantly that kind of made it a little hard to see clearly. Also, was still getting used to getting my buoyancy controlled so a lot of photos were either out of focus or not framed nicely. Sure takes a lot of skill to handle a camera underwater!

Dive No 11
Date 16/05/2007
Dive Site Drop Off
Location Tulamben / Bali / Indonesia
  Time PSI/BAR
Start 10:30 200
End 11:15 10
Depth 28 m
TBT ((Total bottom time) 45 min
Accumulated Bottom Time to date 6:45
Weights 5 kg
Suit Time 0.5 mm skin
Weather / Conditions Sunny / No Surf
Temp 29 C
Visibility 20 m
Objective / Activity Leisure
Buddy Pamela Bauer
Dive Master Komang