Bali Annual Trip 2004

I've waited impatiently for this trip for quite some time. I really needed a holiday outside Jakarta, especially since I almost got typhus about a month ago. I was weary of the big city life and yearned for the salty waters and my not-so-normal friends in Bali. I did all but threatened my physician, doc, I don't care what you do to me, just make me well for the trip OR ELSE. As the day got closer, more and more questions came to mind. What adventure lies ahead out there? How can I be prepared? One cannot anticipate enough what kind of experience one will get with any KSDC trip.

We gathered at 7 AM (-ish) to load the tanks and distribute breakfast boxes provided by our very own Rumah Roti. Boys were put in Hengky's car, girls at Lala's. Thanks to our extra caring trip coordinator, the girls' car was loaded with snacks, in addition to the breakfast boxes, so we were full and in high spirits by the time we reached our first stop, Padang Bai. We met Vincent in Padang Bai, and soon after the stuff were loaded into Baruna boat operated by Pak Karma, we're off to our first dive site of the day. Yay, diving at last! Our guide was Made Mawi, and Rini bought along his 'baby-sitter' (her own words) Made, from Tulamben.

  • First dive: Gili Biaha (10:30 AM)

    We divided into two groups, one lead by Hengky and one by Mawi. The first half of the dive was uneventful in spite of the strong current, and Lala saw a cream-colored nudibranch with green spots. Then we arrived in front of the cave, and some signalled Mawi to lead us to enter it. Lala and I waited outside while the others went inside the cave. Soon they came back, unable to enter the cave due to the current. Alas, Ari, Mulyadi, Lala and myself were the last to leave that area. Suddenly a whirlwind of current sucked and spat us over and over around the cave. Got myself more than a few scratches on my gloveless hands, holding on to the rocks whilst being blown away to all directions. In that moment, several huge midnight spanners came out from who knows where to feed, quite an awesome sight. Although it was scary as hell, I'd have to admit that it's the best adrenaline rush I've had in ages!
  • Second dive: Gili Mimpang (12:37 PM)

    With stomaches full after lunch on the boat, we geared ourselves up for the second dive. There was also current but not as malicious as the first dive. We were practically drifting all the way, which was rather nice. Also saw a couple of white tip sharks, small in size, one below and one on top of us.
    After the dive we took a shower at Mawi's, had a few agreeable chit-chat there then drove away to Paradise, minus Vincent who drove straight to his house nearby Tulamben.
  • Third dive: Tulamben Drop-Off (19:23 PM)

    Mulyadi was keen on doing a night dive, and so was I. After much persuasion, Ulin, Armando, Lala, and Rini (along with Made the baby-sitter) decided to follow suit. We ascended in front of Drop-Off site then swimming to the left. We saw a Spanish Dancer (only it wasn't dancing), and some cuttlefish. After approximately an hour we ended the dive and surfaced right in front of Paradise.

End of the day: Had a nice dinner at Paradise, but without anything spicy for me. Lala was actually fiercer than my physician, constantly guarding me against the chillies that I so craved for, eternally reminding me that my stomach wasn't ready yet for any spicy food. After dinner we sat and chatted for some time whilst Hengky popped one pill after another into his mouth, in the attempt to cure his flu. I think he ended up being a walking drugstore, although none of the pills took any effect whatsoever. Finally everybody retreated to the comfort of each own's bed at 9.30 PM.

Everybody was having breakfast at 7.30 AM ' except for Mulyadi, who decided to take a solo sunrise dive at the Shipwreck site. So we had to wait for him to finish before heading to Amed. It was also Hengky's birthday so congratulations, old man! Vicent was already waiting for us at Diver's Caf' in Amed, as well as our guide for the day, Nyoman Kanjeng.

  • First dive: Amed, next to the Underwater Island (10:16 AM)

    The current was against us so we couldn't make it to the Underwater Island. Instead we decided to follow the current. Rini summoned up some courage to finally dive without her baby-sitter, and I'd have to comment that she's getting better and better with every dive. The highlights of the dive are the banded boxer shrimps and the anemone shrimps.
  • Second dive: Lipah (13:48 PM)

    Easier current compared to the first dive. I decided to tail Nyoman, who dutifully showed me a cuttle fish happily floating away. It seemed a bit annoyed by our presence, though. Since the compressor at Diver's Caf' was broken, there was no way we could fill the tanks there, so we decided to drive back to Tulamben for our third dive and refilling the tanks. Somehow we managed to squeeze some time to visit Vicent's lovely house nearby Tulamben, enjoying the afternoon view while sipping our drinks.
  • Third dive: Shipwreck (17:10 PM)

    What a lovely sunset dive. We met a rather sleepy Napoleon, a bumphead parrotfish, two very small moray eels, in addition to the usual surgeonfish and sweetlips. Since we all know the site considerably well, no guide was necessary. We split up in small groups, poking around here and there, some was even alone. I met Lala, Ardi, Hengky, and Mulyadi just before the surface interval and joined their deco stop as well, sharing tank with Hengky. Just a few moments before ascending we spotted a rather large barracuda idling around. It didn't seem to mind us getting closer and closer, and only swam away after Hengky pinched its tail. It was almost dark when we finally surfaced.

End of the day: Had shower and dinner in Paradise again then headed straight to Lovina. Arrived in Angsoka Hotel around 10 PM. Hengky said he's had enough drugs and that it was time to try another kind of medication: Absolut Vodka (vanilla and citrus). High time for a birthday celebration! As what normally happens during his 'happy' sessions, all conversation turned into Javanese, causing heaps of laughter from all party attendants, Mulyadi was practically rolling on the floor laughing over nothing. All went to bed after the two bottles are finished, around 1 AM.

We somehow managed to woke up rather early, albeit with some headache from the previous night (I will quit drinking, I swear. YEAH, RIGHT). After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime for our breakfast eggs, we decided to skip them altogether and drove to Labuhan Lalang. David, Rizal and Dwi arrived earlier and were waiting anxiously when we arrived. We said hello and launched into the usual pleasant banter that divers enjoy ' stories about previous dives, meanwhile our tanks and gears were being loaded into the boats. A few moments later we walked to the pier and hopped into our places in the three boats assigned to us.

  • First dive: Kapal Budak (10:52 AM)

    This is my first time diving in Menjangan again after more than a year, and I have quite forgotten how beautiful it was. The fat corals were just bursting with life, and the areas around the wreck seemed to be the breeding grounds for sea cucumbers. Nudibranches and blue flatworms were also seen. Due to our poor breakfast, everybody was already starving after the dive, so we had an early lunch at the pier of Pos 1. We ate lots and lots of nasi bungkus and ayam betutu, courtesy of David. Unfortunately Miss Bodyguard was still adamant that I touch no chillies throughout the trip :p
  • Second dive: Peti (13:16 PM)

    I actually didn't see any peti. Due to the short Surface Interval, almost everybody deco'ed, including myself - although I cannot prove it since I didn't use a divecomp. Lots of joshing around underwater, it felt like kindergarten! Taking off someone's fin, playing trains, putting mask upside down' please deh. The current was rather mild but pleasant. There was a brownish nudibranch with batik-like pattern, a small lionfish was also present.
  • Third dive: Pos 2 (15:28 PM)

    A beautiful wall with beautiful corals, with more flatworms and a decorated flabellina. There was one huge brown old batfish that followed us throughout the dive, seemed very curious with its newfound companions. Dwi started making obscene gestures which, strangely enough, the fish misunderstood that some sort of food's coming his way (eh?). It got close enough for Ardi to take his shots. We sailed back to shore right after the dive, with Rizal finishing off the snacks that Lala brought all the way.

End of the day: Our safari was officially ended by Ayam Betutu dinner in Gilimanuk (guess who had to sit out on this one, too). After everydody was full, most were sweating and puffing from the 'volcano' chillies, we drove back to Sanur and arrive at around 11 PM at Bali Scuba. After offloading everything and saying our goodbyes, with tired bodies and sleepy eyes we went our separate ways to our homes -in my case, to Lala's.

Conclusions? In a nutshell, it was an amazing trip. The coordinator worked really hard for the trip, and we appreciated all her efforts (have you noticed how much better the provisions are when a girl organizes the trip?). The participants were in tune with each other, which is always good when diving together in a group. Good teamwork, always ready for a laugh, nobody went astray nor missing, only minor cuts and bruises, and the most important thing was that we took care of each other both underwater and on land. Heck, we even took care of the vodka! The chosen dive sites were more than satisfactory, especially for some of us who have to compromise with dive sites in Jakarta :p~ Leaving Bali is always hard after such diving trip but at least the memory of it will linger for a long time. Can't wait for the next trip, guys!