Monday, April 23, 2012

did somebody say advanced open water?

"What do you do after this?" Eric from Tulamban Bali asks us
"I don't know"
I look at dominik eyebrow raised, he shrugs.
"We have no plans"
"Good!" Eric smiles and nods with approval.

Its 3pm Bali time. I finished my theory and now I just have spare time to relax, chill and enjoy my long weekend in tropical paradise. I guess its sinking in that now I am advanced open water certified.
I should say I am writing this drinking *large* Bintang beers and eating seaweed pringles chilling on the balcony looking over the ocean the sounds of scooters in my ears. The combination works I promise. Dominik is passed out on the bed we were watching the great barrier reef BBC documentery but two days of excessive diving has worn us out and he chose sleep. I chose another beer hehehe.
On arrival to denpasar my plane was delayed what jetstar delayed thats crazy! by half an hour. For no reason except the plane before us was delayed... so we had to wait for them to fix their issues before we could leave. even the pilot over the intercom was saying "I dont understand why we were delayed but singapore flight had priority so we had to wait for them" I almost missed my flight showing up 45mins before departure the girl at the check-in desk was less than impressed and informed me of her power to not let me through so I batted my eyelids and promised I wouldnt do it again. She let me through. Im certain it was because of my superior seduction techniques that and because I had no check-in baggage & had checked in online already.... Anyway the flight was short & uneventful for a cheap airline ticket I must say I was comfortable & my seat could even recline! not like my flight to Ho Chi Minh which was 4.5 hours of discomfort!! Honestly though you get what you pay for.

I had booked my advanced open water diving course & accomodation for Tulamben through Tulamben Wreck Divers which included the 2.5 hour return transfer to the airport. As I arrived late it was nice to have a driver waiting for me with a sign so I didnt have to worry about making my way to the small diving village. The drive was shit, I was so tired, the 1.5 time difference meant so much when it was 11pm / 12:30 am my time. I dozed in the back seat, but as we went through this random town about 12am there were about 20 police men blocking the road they waved us to the side and then my driver disappeared. So Im sitting on the back seat ...alone in the middle of fucking no where as policemen search the whole car with no idea what the fuck is going on. Well I did what any normal person would do I stretched out lay my head on my bag and went to sleep. WHo knows how much time went by but i was woken by my driver who mysteriously reappeared.
"Are you ok"
my eyes blurry i mumbled that yes I was but I was tired and asked him why we had been trapped there so long
It turned out the car was unregistered. wow. fantastic.
But honestly who the fuck decides to have a police check point at 12am thursday morning in fucking nowhere bali?

Thankfully we made it to the resort I got my keys and stretched out on the bed promptly falling into a deep sleep.

When I woke up the next morning about 630am I noticed the sun outside my window. So I rose and walked over to my balcony yes thats right I suddenly discovered I had a balcony, and not a small one either a beautiful balcony overlooking the ocean. I took in the sunrise with a smile. Paradise.

Breakfast was served in a quaint little cafe by the pool, all included in the ever reasonable $30 a night accomodation cost. expensive for bali apparently but cheap for me! Hot water, wireless internet, swimming pool etc. I got bacon & eggs with coffee and I was good to go. But I had 20 minutes so I headed back to my room and relaxed. A knock on the door drew me out of my sedation and there was dominik in all frizzy haired glory! I've mentioned him a few times an old couch surfer of mine from sept 2010. I was his first host, we hit it off & kept in contact. He returned to darwin dec 2011 staying for about three months and then left again end of february. When I heard about his Bali plans I kept an eye out for cheap tickets and lo and behold $150 return arose next thing you know I was heading to Bali to have one last hurrah with one of my favourite germans!! Its always nice when couchsurfing can bring people who would never normally meet together. SO many awesome people ive met since hosting!!

As we headed down to the dive shop together we met our instructor. Eric, a local indonesian guy who grew up 1km from Tulamban area. Not going to deny it but it was hard to concentrate on learning the nesscary skills, he had what it took. looks & personality. He was so adorable and well sculpted I was easily distracted. Since we were diving which involved getting in and out of the wetsuits a lot I was offered a lot of skin that kept me satisfied. It could be the bintangs talking right now but whatever, you should go with Tulamban and ask for Eric and you will understand me. He joked around with us a lot and his smile was to die for! Ok ive rambled on enough. maybe when I become one of those rich westerners I'll go hunt him down and carry him around as my trophy husband. hehe.

Our first dive was the deep dive. Was I scared, yes. I was terrified. I remember my first feeling when I was getting my open water. I have slight claustrophobia and the idea of being surrounded by water to me sounded terrifying but the reality is quite the opposite. Being underwater actually gives an immense sense of freedom that cannot be found above the surface. if anything agrophobia is more likely to affect you. thankfully agrophobia is not a problem that has ever affected me. But the difference between 10m deep and 30m deep is the real risk that if something does go wrong you can't just swim for the surface. So heading into the deep dive esp since it had been about 5 months since my last diving I was freaking the fuck out. Yet as I entered the water and began my descent that peacefulness overcame me. If you have never dived it can be almost impossible to comprehend the feeling on the ocean floor. Its as if the outside world no longer matters and suddnely everyone everything is equal. you swim along in this perfect harmony its easy to forget all the problems in the outside world all that matters is the beauty in front of you, and maybe how much air you have left. It does remind me of those bluebird powder days where you the only person boarding fresh tracks through the mountains wolfmother pumping in your ears the mountains stretching out in front of you.

So before I knew it I was 28m under water sitting on the bottom looking up and thinking about the distance to the surface. not being the slightest bit worried if something did go wrong i was a long way from help. Eric pulled out a chalk board and got us to do a few simple maths sums under the water to see if we got affected by nitrogen narcosis. I passed, nice to know my brain could still work. A thumbs up and a slow ascent and then it hits. 30m is no issue. ive dived 30m and surived. I am fricken invincible.

Our second dive was peak performance buyoancy and despite passing it I know my buoyancy control can use some work but its learnt with exerience rather than theory so hopefully down the track i can improve my skills. After checking off a few points we headed down to the deep end of the wreck - did I mention I could go to 30m now? Wow, being that I am quite new to diving it really doesn't take much to impress me but the Liberty Wreck was proving to be spectaculor. My only regret that my camera couldn't capture the beauty. I know I will be purchasing special lens & colour filters for my barrier reef dive in a few months! We only saw one part of the wreck as the next day we would be swimming the wreck in full. But my appetite was now wetted.

Thursday night was dive #3 of our advanced course. Night diving. Only a few skills were learnt and then we got to explore the reef in the shroud of darkness. We saw this awesome cuttlefish moving along the corals because we shone the torch at him he got confused what colour to change to and his skin kept changing designs as colours as he moved. we also saw this awesome caterpillar with science fiction type good looks. no snakes sadly despite my best wishes. Thats cool though we watch part #1 of the BBC Great Barrier Reef documentary and then fell asleep early probably because the anticipation of visiting the Tulamben wreck in full at 630am had us positively wet!!

The next morning I very grumpily crawled out of bed, no coffee just staight into my wetsuit. Eric was so cheery, did I mention how good looking he was? well he was and with that grin at 7am in the morning my day was suddenly brighter. So I grumbled and I groaned but whatever I could follow his shirtless torso into 40m & below into fricken Antartica.
Back on topic. The Liberty wreck is OMFG UNBELIEVABLE!!! drawing my eyes away from eric occasionally ;) I was able to see the omfg beauty of a man made wreck we swum through the wreck at some points and got to see the cannons. As I was swimming something stung me on my left forearm causing welts to appear underwater. The pain was encruiciating but I didnt want to give up my dive for a sting so I beared it and maybe 15 minutes later the pain was gone. As I came to the surface I looked at my arm and red dots like mosquito bites eric came over and grabbed my forearm and ran his finger along the welts WORTH IT ALL THE PAIN WORTH IT!!!! "oh you got stung" I shrugged "yea but its all good now pain is gone"
then my moment was over.

The last dive to become advanced open water was navigation. Fuck navigation who cares. Im an IT nerd I use gps and when i can afford it ill buy a dive computer! So me trying to navigate using a compass involved a lot of confusion, esp which way was north. despite the obvious i tended to go every way but north!!! I guess the positive is eric had to grab my hand and point me the other way a few times ok so I might have deliberately made mistakes in order to have contact but I am honestly a horrbile navigator. And im ok with that. so we dived I probably should have failed but he passed me. therefore next dive maybe watch me instead of your guide kk?

and that concludes tulamben and dominik has awoken so i think we will go eat something, or drink some beer. whatever this is Bali we can do whatever the fuck we want....within reason ;)

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