The atmosphere of excitement begun with the arrival of Krisno, one of the new members, on Thursday, September 18, 2003 at 11.00 in Bali. The airport pick up man, Hengky, start his duty. Krisno was then driven to the villa where he would be staying for the next few days. He then met the other KSDC members who were based in Bali.
The next team to be arrived in Bali was on the next day at 10.00am. The team was consists of Alice, Elice, Richard, Yoni and myself. They left Jakarta at 07.00am just in time avoiding the hustle bustle of the airport since it was the last long weekend of this year. We were picked up by the airport pick up man, Hengky, accompanied with Mia and also Krisno. After welcomed hugs and kisses to the two dugongs and a welcome aboard shake to the three new members. We then load our diving gear bags and travel bags to their cars except for Yoni who were left at the airport waiting for her prince.
By the time we arrived at the villa, we were amazed by the huge buildings painted in elegant Mediterranean color scheme. There was 1 main big villa in the middle and 2 smaller villas on the sides. We were then welcomed by the host lady, Nike. She then took the girls to the girl's villa. It was a nice villa with one big sleeping room on the second floor and an open big living room with kitchen facilities. Then after all bags are stored in the villa, Nike took us on a tour around the villas. Then we decided to go out for lunch since it was 02.00pm already. We then drove to Denpasar and had lunch at Warung Wardhana. After lunch we went to visit one of the members at his working place and had some ice cream. Unfortunately, he was in the meeting. We then went for a small food shopping at one of the mini market.
While waiting for the next arrival in Bali, we then gather at the girl's villa. The next member to arrive in Bali was Oka (one of the dugong). Unfortunately, since the air traffic was very heavy in Jakarta, her flight was delayed more than an hour. She supposed to arrive in Bali at 06.00pm. The airport pick up man started to look weary and tired. We then drove to Bali Scuba Dive Center to meet up with some friends. Erwin and Rizal then joined us after their office hour. We met up with Irene who was also joining us for the safari diving trip. Then we split up, Hengky, Erwin, Krisno and Lala went to pick up Oka at the airport. The rest went with Rizal to have dinner at the Arena.
After Oka arrived in Bali, we then went to have dinner at the Bakmi Jakarta near airport. After we drove to the villa and met up with the rest of the members. It was a great time to get to know each other and had a brief of the trip plan.
The last member to arrive in Bali was Tom. Same with Oka, his flight was also delayed for an hour. That made the airport pick up man had to pick him up at 11.00pm. At 10.30pm. Hengky left the villa and accompanied with Rizal and Erwin, they went to the airport. They were back at the villa at around 23:30 some of us was already asleep.
At 04.30am the birds were not awake yet at the villas but the activity was already heavy. We were dragging ourselves to get ready for the safari dive trip. At 05.30am, Hengky, Rizal, Ottie and Yoni arrived at the villa with 2 cars (Hengky's and Ottie's). After loading our diving gear bags and travel bags, we then hit the road to Bali Scuba Dive Center where we met up with the rest of the members. At Bali Scuba, we then switch cars as per planned :
We left Bali Scuba Dive Center at 06.30am heading to Padang Bai. The drive was marked with almost an accident on the bypass. Luckily our driver was quite responsive! (Bravo!!).
We arrived at Water Worx Dive Center Padang Bai around 08.00am. Then we started to assemble our dive gear and load them to the boats. We were using 2 fiber boats from Padang Bai. From Water Worx Dive Center there were Wolfie and David. Boat 1 consists of Hengky, Erwin, Ottie, Mia, 3 dugong (Yoni, Oka and I) and lead by Wolfie. Boat 2 consists of Rizal, Armando, Richard, Krisno, Ulin, Elice, Alice and lead by David. Krisno and Richard were taking their Advance Open Water Course with David.
We left Padang Bai at 08.45am heading to the first dive site which was Sental. After 30 minutes of boat ride, we arrived at the dive site. After a short brief by Wolfie, we then enter the water. The water temperature was 26°C. 16 Kapal Selam divers dived at 09.21am. It was a mild easy drift dive for some of us. The new divers still had to be guided closely by the dive master and leader. After 40 minutes, some of the divers surfaced while the others still trying to figure out the size of a big Green Frogfish and took pictures of it. I was trying to look at its eyes and I realized that my flashlight was flooded!! After an hour of dive, the rest of the divers surfaced with great satisfaction. On the boat, Irene was trying to convince all divers that she saw a Mola mola from a distance. She tried to bang her tank; unfortunately the tank was covered with rubber protection.
The boat then sailed to the second dive site which was Crystal Bay. At the bay, we met up with group of divers from BIDP and exchanged story and jokes. After 1 hour 38 minutes of surface interval, we were ready to go for the second dive. The group was divided into 2 directions.
Divers from boat 2 dived to the left side of rock and divers from boat 1 to the right side of the rock. We were trying to get into the cave. Unfortunately, the current was too strong and it was low tide so the surge was also quite strong. After we reached the outskirt of the bay, we could feel the current was trying to push us to the open sea and a thermo cline hit us with water temperature of 18°C. It was like being showered with ice water from the fridge!!!!! The thermo cline stayed all the way with the down current. We tried to fight back the down current but it was quite strong. We decided to wait for a while by holding to the rocks. Unfortunately the current did not slow down, so we decided to head back to the bay. The dive back to the bay was not an easy one. Exhausted because of the current and cold water, we had to hold on every possible rock. Entering the bay, we still had to fight the current and surge. After 39 minutes, we finally surfaced with headache! What a dive! A great experience and exercise!!!! ?. The divers from the boat 2 were already on board.
Story from the other boat (quoted from Rizal Prayuga)
Since the other boat was still lazing around, our guide, David decided to go dive ahead. When we dived down, we could the cold water surrounding us. The temperature was 19°C but the visibility was excellent around 25-30m. We passed a group of divers from BIDP. By the time we passed the big stone we could feel that the current was swirling around. Considering the condition of the divers in our group, we headed back to the bay. We then dived around in the bay area for about 20 minutes.
After the second dive, we felt that we were in need of an easy drift dive for our third dive. So then we headed to SD dive site. We took 1 hour 41 minutes of surface interval. After that we started to back-rolled to the sea. I felt something funny when doing so. I was twisted in a funny way. I remembered that Wolfie was laughing at me looking the way I was twisted. Then it was time to dive down. Before even started to deflate my BCD I felt something missing in my waist…Weight belt!!! My god!! I forgot to put it on! How embarrassing! I knock on Erwin's head (he was the closest one) and gave him the signal to wait for me. Luckily the boat was still there! We dived at 02.23pm.
After 30 minutes I was looking for my camera. It was gone with the whole bunch of slate and stick! Well, it was not my lucky dive. However, I spotted 2 big sea cucumbers (a black spiky one and the usual black sea cucumber). Wolfie was trying to hand it to me and I tried to get away from it. We dived for 70 minutes then we surfaced. We realized that Hengky and Erwin were not with us. We figured out that they must be still down there exploring something. After 20 minutes of waiting, we came to conclusion that they must be running out of air already. I started to become nervous since the current looked like peaking up ever since we surfaced. Wolfie then instructed the boatman to go a bit further but there's no result. The boat then headed back to the exit point hoping to spot them around there. We then passed by a boat of divers from other group, they told us that they have spotted our missing friends on the opposite site of the entry point. Confused and nervous, the boat started to head that direction. After passed the pontoon, we still could not spot them. After 20 minutes of search, the boat man finally spotted their orange sausages on the shore. Apparently, they got drifted with the current which was flowing to the other direction. Erwin was having several rashes caused by the coral while they were waiting helplessly on the shore and pushed by the waves.
We then head back to Padang Bai. The other boat has left long before. By the time we arrived at Padang Bai, they were already waiting for us and start to wonder what happen.
When we dived down, the water temperature was not as cold as the previous dive. It was about 24°C however the visibility was dropped to only 15m. Mild current come and go exchanging with stronger ones. Fortunately they all went the same direction. The group was torn apart since some of them kept on kicking whilst the current could have already drifted them. I was left behind quite far. After a while, one diver started to look a bit nervous so a more senior diver had to guide and hold her. We decided to give a signal to them to surface while we monitored from below since we still had some divers diving around. After a while, one diver was missing, apparently he was already 100m ahead of us!
The journey back to Padang Bai was more of a sleeping journey since most of the divers passed out!!! By the time we arrived Padang Bai, we were welcomed by some of foreign girls (cewek-cewek bule) who were trying to get some sun tan!!!! A good sight though!
After down loading our dive gear and showered, we relax for a while at the table and took some pictures. Then it was time to depart to Tulamben. We load our dive gear to the cars and bid farewell to David and Wolfie (even though we would meet them again the next day).
We left Padang Bai at 05.30pm. Driving slowly to Tulamben enjoying the view and chat about today's dives. In the car, we started to feel hungry. We ate up jelly and honey star cereal. It tasted good after that day's dives.
We arrived at Tulamben at 06.30pm. Room assignment was a bit of confusion but at the end everybody got room and started to carry the travel bags and dive gear bags. We then gather at the restaurant for our dinner. Sonia and Bayu arrived and joined the group. Also the group from Bali
Scuba joined our table. No diver interested anymore to do a night dive. After more than an hour waiting for our dinner, finally the dinner was served. Jokes and story was exchanged on the table. At around 09.00pm, one by one excused them to retreat to their room and enter the dreamland.
It has been quite a tiring day, since the morning after some of the members complained that their roommate snored!
My alarm clocks went on 06.00am!! It was the time to catch the sunrise! We then headed to the restaurant and waited for the sun to come up. There was Hengky, Rizal, Mia and myself. I went back to fetch the other two dugong when the sun came up. I missed it! Anyway, we had our breakfast with the sun came so strongly on our faces.
At 07.45am we started to assemble our dive gear next to the restaurant. The lady porters started bringing the tanks from the dive center. Hustle and bustle started!!!
At 08.00am a briefing was conducted by Erwin explaining about the Jukung boat assignment and the depth limit at first dive site which was the Batu Kelebit.
After 15 minutes Jukung ride, we arrived at the site. The water was calm and quite warm compare to Nusa Penida. The temperature was 26'C. We dived down at 08.38am. We dived down all the way passing 40m! Some of the divers went down to more than 50m! Nothing to be seen nor proofed it was just a curiosity of "feeling the deep"!! But of course safety has to be maintained! Only after 10 minutes all divers were already at the safety zone. We were then trying to look for some unique creatures around the corals. After 20 minutes of diving we all headed to our safety stop, to some of divers it was a decompression stop. The dive ended up after 35 minutes. We then boarded to the Jukung and headed back to the hotel. After disassemble the tank, we took a rest and once again every diver started to chatter about the dive. One of the divers was having a "light meal" during this surface interval. We took 2 hours and 14 minutes of surface interval concerning the depth that we've been diving.
At 11.00am we ordered our lunch for later and started to walk to the entry point to the second dive site, the famous USS Liberty Shipwreck. This time we did a shore entry. We dived down at 11.27am. There were quite a few divers already. But not too crowded though. After dived around the wreck for 30 minutes, tank banging sound was continuously being heard. Every diver looked at each other trying to figure out what that tank banging means. Apparently, it was the guide friend from other group was making fun of us!! Then it was photo time. I started to look around for I can not find Oka. I asked Yoni and others, but no one seemed to spot her around. The banging sound started again. Suddenly Sonia picked up a spoon which I recognized that it was Oka's. We then start to look around while the tank banging sound kept on. Suddenly, a diver tapped my shoulder, it was Oka! Apparently she got a problem with equalizing and had to go up a bit. All the time she was banging her tank above us until she dropped her spoon. After that we headed to the slope and did our safety stop. The dive lasted for 64 minutes. Every diver surfaced with a big grin on their faces. It was a fun dive.
We then headed back to the hotel and disassemble our dive gear and took a quick shower. Then we moved our personal belongings to the assigned rooms for late check out. Lunch was served and we ate with no comment. After lunch some of the divers fell into their dreamland. There's one having a massage treatment. But most of the divers were chatting, exchanging jokes and made fun of each other.
After 2 hours relaxing, we got our dive gear ready and the porters once again load them to the Jukung. We headed to our third and final dive site for this trip. It was at Kubu. There was this story at this place where a pygmy hand signal was discovered (Salam Pygmy)! We dived down at 03.07pm. The first stop was at the sea fan where some of the divers had spotted a pygmy seahorse on their previous trip. 4 divers trying to find it!!! Finally Rizal spotted that tiny little pygmy seahorse (later called as Pygmy Prayuga by Hengky!!). We then continue dived to other area.
Spotted some strange school of fish eating algae from corals (they are quite big). After 55 minutes of great dive, we made our safety stop where there were quite a few of nudibranch eggs (some of the divers did not want to believe me). We then surfaced then walked to the beach. Pak Herry was trying to assist the female divers out of the water; unfortunately she was doing her nature business when he tried to help her got up of the water. After another 30 minutes of Jukung ride, we arrived at the hotel and straight disassemble our dive gear and pack them in the bag. The dive trip has come to an end. After shower and packing up, we gather at the restaurant and started to chat about all the dives that we had.
We left Tulamben at 06.00pm heading back to Kuta where a BBQ party has awaited us. We arrived at Kuta around 09.00pm. The dishes looked so tempting and mouthwatering. Not to mention the condiments that went with all the seafood barbeque. I didn't mean the sambal and krupuk but it meant the bottles those have been prepared long way before the trip even begun!!!! There was a great crowd of around 25 divers (beginners until instructors) and also non divers. Jokes was thrown here and there and glasses being raised and tossed!
The party went on until around 01.00am. Every body started to retreat to their nesting place.
A great dive trip with lots of stories to tell, I am very sorry to write such a long story, but I can not miss any of the details which brings the trip such a great memory!!!! Of course there are more stories to tell in this trip, but I rather keep them out … if you knew why….