Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bali Adventures #3 - On The Road

Immediately on arrival in Denpasar one of the first things that struck me, and many others I am sure, was the traffic. Not necessarily just the volume, but the driving habits and the frequency of motorbikes and scooters.

Scooters are everywhere. Not only do they transport people, but they can also carry an amazing array and amount of loads. These photos give some idea of how they are utilised.

In addition to this, the scooter is also the family car. But no child safe restraints here, in fact it was not uncommon to see Mum and Dad wearing helmets, with the kids (including very young babies) totally unprotected. A younger child was often seen standing at the front on the scooter between Dad's arms, with Mum cradling a baby. This would certainly raise more than a few eyebrows in NZ!

However, my observation of the Indonesian people is that they are pretty laid back. As is indicative of this, road rage was non existent. A gentle toot of the horn to advise of their presence is constantly made by drivers. Defensive driving seems to be an innate skill, especially for the scooter riders. Same with a finely tuned sense of balance and quick reactions. The rules of the road and traffic signals were unclear to me as a passenger. Because of all this, I would have expected to see several accidents, however the only one I saw was on the open road on our way to our diving destination, when the motorcyclist simply didn't look behind him. But in the hurly-burly of the built up areas, where traffic was thick and constant, I didn't see a single crash.

It is the patience, consideration for other drivers/riders and adherence to (likely unwritten?) "road rules" that appears to enable safe travel in what looks like a certain disaster zone to the novice visitor. We could learn from that here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bali Adventures #2 - Christmas at Jimbaran Beach

Christmas Day 2012 was the most laid back Christmas I think I have ever had. Yes, it was weird to be without my family, but it was also very cool to be doing something completely different somewhere far from home. We ended up travelling to Jimbaran Beach in the late afternoon, at the suggestion of our taxi driver (always keen for a longer fare, though to be honest, pretty cheap travel).
The plan was to watch the sunset, which we did as we supped cocktails and watched both tourists and locals go about their business. A longboat was, we believe, completing the final stages of a funeral. Other locals were digging for shellfish. Some were searching for other treasures... amongst the rubbish. This was the one disappointment of the beach; an incredible amount of litter, both on the shore and in the ocean. We were not keen to take our Christmas dip because of this.
Whilst the sunset was not especially spectacular, there was a peace to the evening, which belied the hurly-burly that sometimes accompanies a celebration such as Christmas. So it is for the relaxing vibe that I will most remember the day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bali Adventures #1 - Under the Ocean

It's been a good 13 years since I have been diving. The same amount of time since I reconnected with my then-and-now-again fiance, and yes, there's a connection with him and the diving too.
Not one to be renowned for things physically adventurous, it is really only because of his encouragement that I even learned to dive in the first place. Diving in Bali was again his suggestion, and one I was a little dubious of... 13 years is a long time between dives, even with a planned refresher course.

Fortunately for me, Shane's daughter, also with us in Bali, completed her Open Water training while we were there and I was able to piggy-back on her pool sessions to have a proper refamiliarisation with the experience. This meant I could go in to the ocean dives with greater confidence and therefore enjoy them more.

Enjoy them I did. Our refresher dive was off the beach at Sanur, an amazing array of colourful marine life in warm, clear water. Only a shallow dive, but perfect for re-learning.

Next day we headed away from Denpasar, travelling over two hours to dive the Liberty wreck at Tulamben. The wreck lies very close to the shore, and whilst nothing is visible from land, the sea was peppered with snorkellers and divers, which clearly gave the location away.
Looking out to where the Liberty lies

 I hired a little digital camera for the experience, and although the photos I took could have been so much better (I was grappling a bit with concurrent safe diving and effective picture making!) I am very happy to have these digital reminders of our time beneath the waves.

Mind you I came away with other reminders as well... A tasty fist-sized graze on my calf from the first Sanur dive, a sting rash from some marine flora on my first wreck dive, (gotta love short wetsuits) and a decent bruise on my shin from falling on the rocks whilst exiting the water at Tulamben. They are now fading, but (vomitous cliche ahead) the memories of an incredible experience will remain for a long while yet.