Monday, October 31, 2011

Menjangan to Mengwi

Early this morning Nyoman picked me up at Mimpi and we headed east and then south; first another beautiful temple overlooking the sea...and lots of silver monkeys to guard the temple. Most of them were nice but a few were naughty and I got some close attention from a bunch of the babies...I don't think they were happy that I wasn't feeding them!

We headed south near Singaraga and visited the Munduk Golden Valley Waterfall which is's 246 meters from the road...down dirt and bamboo steps! Thankfully the young man at the entrance gave me a walking stick...helped a lot with no rails!

We also visited two crater lakes at the top of the facing east and just across a fairly narrow stretch of land, another facing west...very beautiful with the mist on the top of the mountains and the blue, blue lakes.

We stopped to visit another gorgeous temple which is also on the water and then arrived at Puri Taman Sari, my home for the next three nights. It's located in Mengwi and was the palace of a royal family and has been turned into a 5-Star Property. They put me in a 4-bedroom villa with a private pool...good thing some of the group is arriving tomorrow to share this beautiful place with me. The private infinity pool overlooks a love rice terrace as well....I think I'm in heaven!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Diving in Secret Bay

Secret Bay was discovered a number of years ago by a well-known photographer and he was so captured by its amazing diversity that he kept it "secret" for a long time, but word is out and it hosts small numbers of divers daily. Today it was ONLY Anton & I....amazing! It's near the ferry port of Gilimanuk, which is the crossing point between Bali & Java and it has good water flow so it's a bit cooler water (like 77 degrees today!).

It's an easy shore entry and they have a nice shore support facility right there with bathrooms, showers, camera and gear rinse tanks and benches in the shade so it's a simple dive. It's also shallow...our maximum depth for both dives was only 25' so we had lots of bottom time....the only problem, of course, is that I got cold so we limited both dives to 60 minutes and I came back with chattering teeth & lots of air left in my tanks!

It's a dark sandy bottom with bright green algae covering a lot of the sand...lots of places for critters to hide! The algae is large-leafed like Romaine lettuce and quite attractive as a photographic background I found! It's also good perches for nudibranchs and other small critters.

They also have put out concrete "structures" with holes in them which are covered in sponges and offer safe haven for schools of striped catfish, shrimp, cardinal fish and lots of other creatures.

We saw three different species of pipefish including a Halameda ghostpipefish in only 5' of water on our way back to shore after the last's a beautiful green and did some lovely posing for our cameras! All the nudibranchs we saw today were new species for me and the other "usual suspects" like dragonets, lionfish, anemonefish, fang blennies inside of name it, we saw it...except for any frogfish which are usually present here...oh well, maybe next time! Enjoy the images, I'm back to land touring tomorrow and won't be diving again until we get to Scuba Seraya near Ahmed on the 5th of Nov.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm going diving in Secret Bay today with my long-time friend and dive guide, Anton's a few images from the past two days. I'll update with some critter images later today...this is supposed to be "critter heaven"!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bali's NW Coast

Upon my arrival on Bali on Wednesday, I was met outside the arrivals area by my driver & guide, Nyoman Dana. I also was able to meet up with Agung, the adminstrator extraordinare for Dive Damai! He's been working with me for months on practicing my Bahasa Indonesian and it's great to finally meet him face to face!

After loading all my gear, we headed out of Denpasar with a quick stop to visit a long-time friend and dive guide, Anton Kusmayanto, who now owns Bali Dive Travel. We spent a short while having tea and catching up but with traffic picking up, it was time to head north! The road north out of Denpasar is called the Sunset Road, but there's so many buildings and so much construction going on, I haven't a clue how one could possible see the sunset from that road! Traffic on Bali is tremendous and short looking distances on a map take forever to travel. My first stop on Bali was Medewi Beach Cottages, about a 3 hour drive north of Denpasar. Medewi Beach is known as a hot surfing spot with a famous "left-hand" wave. There were a few surfers waiting to catch a wave but the sea was pretty calm while I was there...needless to say, the surfers from around the world were slightly disappointed!

Thursday's drives included a stop at Bunut Bolong, a huge Banyan-type tree that has had a road carved through the middle of it...looks very healthy and has put out many, many more roots outside the roadbed so it's thriving!

We then headed farther north to one of Bali's nine seaside temples which surround and protect the Island. Pura Rambut Siwi is made up of six separate temples all situated on a cliffside overlooking a peaceful stretch of black sand beach. One of the temples is actually located down many, many steps right at the water's edge.

Next we headed further north to Pura (Temple) Gede Perancak, another of the seaside temples. It's closed to visitors right now because of ongoing refurbishment, but my "find of the day" just past the temple was a whole fleet of Javanese-style fishing boats! These fishing boats are all painted in vibrant colors and all sport decorated icons on their's a gorgeous spectacle to behold and I was able to speak (through Nyoman, of course) to some of the fishermen. They go out at least 50 miles to fish for "small tuna"...each boat holds 60 men! The catch for his boat the night before yielded 20 ton of fish! As a diver, such huge harvests makes me sad to think they do this night after night? Soon there will be NO fish left in our oceans!

Friday morning's drive was 1-1/2 hours north to the NW tip of Bali, driving through Bali Barat National Park. The park is over 74,000 hectares plus over 7,000 hectares of protected coral reef offshore. The Park is home to many birds, 200 different species of plants and lots of wildlife. We saw lots of macaque monkeys sitting by the side of the road but none of their signature "mouse deer" but it was the middle of the day and hot, hot, hot there! It's the end of the dry season on Bali so it's quite dry up in the Park, not as lush as farther south where it's a more tropical climate.

Today's plan is a 2-tank boat dive with Mimpi Divers here at Mimpi Menjagan Resort. I have a lovely walled villa with a private natural hot spring pool in my courtyard! It will be something to look foward to jumping into after my dives today.....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Back to Bali, Indonesia

I'll be back in Bali on October 26 and the first 5 days will be spent with a guide and my cameras, exploring the NW coast of Bali....including diving at Menjangan! I'll be visiting temples and other cultural areas and trying to immerse myself in their culture...can't wait! The rest of the dive group arrives on November 1st and we'll do more temple visits, Barong & Kecak dance performances and let them learn about the fabulous Balinese culture that I so love! By the 7th of November, the whole group will be gathered at Scuba Seraya, on the East Coast of Bali, doing some signature Bali shore dives and awaiting the arrival of the MSY Damai, our home for FOURTEEN fabulous nights! We'll be traveling from Bali, through the Komodo/Rinca (Cannibal Rock) regions and end up on Ambon so follow along and share the adventure with us!