Bali is a quick hop by Air Asia or Jetstar from Darwin. We took two weeks there to 1) apply for retirement visas through Evie with Rami Formality Services and 2) go diving from the island Nusa Lembongan which is a 40 minute fast boat ride from Sanur beach. Sanur is on the east coast of Bali east of Kuta and south of Denpasar.  While in Sanur we had great value accommodations at the Puri Mesari Hotel and Tropical Bali Hotel.  Both were well managed and had very good staff and facilities.  Tropical Bali Hotel is really not a hotel.  It's a boutique facility with only about 10 rooms around a very nice pool and is run by a lovely French couple, Mathew and Audrey.  One of the very nice things there is that due to their being a bit out of the way they have organized to have food delivered from a variety of restaurants (of all types including Italian, Indonesia and McDonalds!) and then they serve it on proper china on each guest's private verandah.  It was better than being at home.  Susan did not have to cook and I did not have to wash up afterwards plus the prices were very low.

Two Fish Divers on Lembongan has excellent online ratings and reviews, so we chose to stay and dive with them.  It was a good decision.  It is a very professional organization.  The accomodations are simple but well maintained, air conditioned and quite convenient to everything.  

Upon arrival, Laurent, the senior instructor gave me a 2 hour workout in the pool to be sure that I remembered the necessary items from my former training.  In addition, he buddied with me the following day for 2 dives and really help me with "bouyancy control".  For those of you that don't dive, this simply means not sinking and not floating up.  Since pressure under water increases one ATM for each 10 meters, the air spaces in ones websuit, BCD (bouyancy control device) etc, get smaller as you decend.  Conversely everything expands as you go up.  Thus the idea is to be bouyancy neutral when near the surface by adjusting the amout of lead weight ones uses, then add or subtract air in your BCD to keep the right depth.  Well it is a lot easier to write that than do it.  What I have learned is that this is a bit like riding a bike, it gets easier with time and practice.  Thus, it was great to dive six days in a row and feel the improvement each day.

The islands of Nusa Lembongan and its big neighbor, Nusa Penida, lie in a wide strait between the much bigger islands of Bali and Lombok.  This strait carries a lot of flowing water as it is connecting the seas in the middle of Indonesia with the Indian ocean.  The point of telling you this is that diving in this area requires addition to detail.  The currents can be very strong and they can and do change direction.  On one dive we went west at the beginning the current changed to easterly, then before the dive was over we were back to westerly.  In other words, the currents change with the depth you are diving as well as with the tide.  The staff for Two Fish are very aware of all these factors and work the diving schedule to optomize the safety and enjoy of each dive.

Unlike my dives in Thailand and India's Andaman Islands, the coral around Bali is in excellent health.  The colors were great.  Unfortunately, I have no evidence of that fact.  I recently obtained a cool GoPro camera that can be taken underwater.  Unfortunately, I did not do my research beforehand and failed to understand that a red filter is essential for artificial light-free photography under 6 or 7 meters.  It is simply a matter that the red light is filtered out by the salt water.  So a red filter is needed to trick the automatic color balance in the electronics to get it closer to what you see.  In any case, I did get some photos that indicate that I was under the water a bit and saw some neat things.

A big draw for diving Nusa Penida are the manta rays and the mola molas.  Unfortunately for me, the molas are seasonal and are around only between May and October.  However, the mantas were out in force.  The west side of Nusa Penida faces the open ocean and the mantas come into shallow areas to be "cleaned" by small fish that eat the things that have attached to the mantas surfaces.  It is a neat sight and well worth the trouble.  Susan joined us on the dive boat one day for a trip to Manta Bay.  She watched the mantas from above while I watched from below.

Here are some photos from my experiments with the GoPro camera.  I learned a lot using it and shall get better with time.  Cheers, Dana

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Travels of the crew of Villa G