Everyday life

Tulamben Bali

The holiday mood started on Tuesday afternoon for me even though I did do work on Diwali. Thursday morning came and I lugged my Osprey pack to work. I was ready for my holiday. Still manage to get a couple of good hours of work done and decided that I should join my colleagues for lunch. It had been a busy week and I relished the chance to catch up with them.

I’d finished my lunch and was so engrossed chatting that I lost track of time. Only when I glanced at my watch, saw that it was close to 2pm, and remembered that my flight was at 4pm did I jump up, bade my friends a hasty farewell and rushed for train. Yes, I managed to not cab to the airport this time. I made it to the counter 2.5 minutes before the time stated on my boarding pass. Probably one of the closest shave I’ve had with flights. But I’ve only myself to blame.

I really dislike flying, but Changi Airport offers such a wondrous experience that I actually love passing through this part of Singapore. It is a little bubble of reality that is generally insulated from the problems of the world. The prettily patterned floor and soft orange light gives the place a warm and fuzzy feeling.

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We stayed at Matahari Dive Resort and dived around Tulamben. What I remembered most about my open water dives a year ago, was the feeling of peace while floating around in the water. Unfortunately, this time I had trouble getting my buoyancy right. I was always either too heavy or too light and kept having to adjust my BC. Even so, the feeling of wonder and amazement as I look around at the living organisms is still the same as before.

Fishes are so cute. And the coral reef is just an amazing place. We dived twice at this place called the Liberty Wreck and the second time we went was probably the most memorable of the trip. It started off awful enough. It was a 6.30am dive which meant we had to get up before 6am. The waves were really strong so my friend and I fell while walking into the water and the DM literally hauled us into the water. But other than that, it was perfect.

It was just the 3 of us, and Liberty Wreck is just such an amazing dive spot. It’s got all sorts of interesting stuff on it. The moment we descended, we saw one big Barracuda swim past us. Then DM pointed out a nudibranch. He also made us swim through small holes created from the ship parts, which was quite fun but abit unnerving. We were looking out for the bumphead parrotfish but were told that we’d had to be diving at 5am to catch them, so we weren’t too optimistic about it. But then as we were just swimming around, I turned around and suddenly there was one swimming less than 6 feet away from me! It was so much bigger than I expected! Then another emerged from behind the ship! I immediately started retreating–I didn’t want to be bitten. But that wasn’t all. A third one followed and finally a fourth one swam past. It was such a sight to behold. Just before we came out of the water, we saw a grey stingray on the sea floor. Altogether it was such a good dive–certainly helped that there was little currents and my buoyancy felt right-er this time.

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I spent another two days and night in Seminyak. The first night we took a taxi to Ku De Ta. It was such an amazing taxi ride! The roads in Seminyak can get pretty busy during peak times and traffic can be quite slow, so our taxi driver decided to take a shortcut, driving into streets that were only wide enough for one car to pass through. Even 2 motorbikes had to be careful. However these tiny passageways were open to traffic two-ways. In order for this to happen without accidents and frustrated motorists stuck in these tiny walled streets, was to have physical human beings act as traffic lights. Someone will sit at one end and inform the motorists when they could proceed and when they should stop. Sometimes they relied on their visuals, sometimes (when they can’t see the other side), they used walkie-talkies. And the motorists will just wait for the human signal to be given to proceed. It was an incredible eye-opener.

I spent the second evening on my own, walking around Seminyak and trying not to freak out as I failed to recognise my surroundings. The beach was lovely at sunset. I realize now that I hadn’t seen all the sunsets in the world. This was my first time seeing a beach sunset during lowtide. It’s really beautiful how the pink and orange hues become reflected on the wet sand. I stood close to the waves for a while, just drinking in the sight. This time, I didn’t bother with Beanie. It was enough to have this grapefruit coloured scene peppered with dark shadows of happy humans imprinted in my memory.

Walking along the beachfront also emphasised to me that Bali was such a tourist destination. It teemed with White people. Throngs and throngs and throngs of white people. Honestly speaking I got a shock when I first landed at Bali International Airport. At the immigration, there was a huge line of people from Australia, UK, America and other parts of Europe. All descended on Bali and all there to spend money and have a good time. I know I’m judging but I’m sure many of them spend most of their time in those beautiful luxurious resorts, served by Indonesian people, and spend money eating well. Which is all very fine, but its such a consumerism activity that just doesn’t do justice to what Bali has to offer.

Bali is such a beautiful place. It’s got these amazing beaches, those tall mountains, padi fields, dive spots, temples and great people. I feel bad that Bali and the people have offered so much to visitors like me and yet I’ve nothing to give back to them except my money. As much as I know this sounds hypocritical, it felt wrong that such a place should be dominated by capitalism.

Even so, I could see myself going back someday. There are still the mountains that I’ve yet to explore.

 

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