Diving Into Indonesia!
After a quick stint in Beijing that included lots of walking and lots of plane time in just three days, we were ready for some R&R. Our third and final stop would be in Indonesia - home of the beautiful sunset.
Our first night was spent in Bali. And as cool as that sounds...it's really not that cool. Kuta Bali is a huge tourist trap filled with backpackers and pedaling vendors who will follow you down the street until you buy that "I <3 Bali" shirt from them. My first reaction was, "Oh god, we're going to be in Indonesia for the next eight days. This was a mistake."
Thankfully, we had already booked a private villa on an island about two hours from Bali - Gili Trawangan. The moment our boat docked on the white beach we knew that everything would be ok. Better than ok, in fact. It would be perfect. There were no cars on the islands, just bicycles and horse drawn carriages.
We booked the villa through the Manta Dive shop, where we would be getting our diving certification over the next few days. It was beautiful. We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen/bar, a sitting area, a private pool and a sala for poolside naps. Oh, and breakfast was cooked for us every morning by our private cooks. Ok I'm done bragging now.
After a full day in the pool learning skills and testing scuba equipment it was time for us to take the plunge - literally. We boarded the boat with our class and headed out in the crystal clear waters. Now, I have no problem with open water. The ocean doesn't make me nervous and I like to think of myself as a pretty strong swimmer since I've been on a swim team ever since I can remember and I've spent countless summers as a lifeguard and swim instructor. But once we were out of sight from land my heart started to pound. Go 12 meters underwater? This isn't natural. What if I run out of air or sneeze? As we slowly submerged and released the air from our BC's (air-filled life vests), I would sink below the water to see fish and beautiful coral and then slowly bob back up to the surface to see nothing but our small boat which was getting further and further away. Waves continued to flow over me. Under the water to see Nemo, above the water to see clouds. Below the surface to see friends gliding through the water, back up to the top where I now found myself alone in the open ocean. I guess the panic on my face was pretty evident and both Joe and my instructor helped me submerge into the water and within in minutes I was cruising and loving everything about scuba diving!
Success! The whole team made it through the dive and surfaced with mask rings around their face and a new appreciation for mouth breathing. The next few days were spent diving and practicing skills under the water - sharing air, taking off your equipment and putting it back on, learning how to untangle your hair from your air tank. Ok, that last one wasn't a real skill, but it was a real problem for me while down there. While looking at the biggest turtle I have ever seen or imagined in my entire life, my long hair decided to wrap it self around the valve on my air tank, pulling my head back with it. Joe slowly swam over and tried to help me out of my predicament. Note to self: don't wear your hair in a long pony tail when diving.
Unfortunately, my under water camera cannot withstand the pressure of the depths we dove to, so I have no photos of our underwater exploration. Except for this bad boy that a friend took with his Go Pro. We dove at a nearby wreck and found a few bikes to play on - notice that pony tail of death!
We wandered down to Sunset Point to watch, yes, the sunset. As we walked around the island we were able to see the progression from backpacker area, to low budget hotels, to high end resorts and villas.
Don't make us go back to Kuta Bali! Ok, fine we'll go to Seminyak instead. Seminyak is another area of Bali but a bit more posh. High end restaurants and lounges and nicer resorts. It's a place I could see the Big Guy buying property in. We found a nice hostel with a pool outside where we could order Mexican food. Score!
Our last day in Indonesia was spent beachside watching surfers young and old, Indonesian and western. It made me feel pretty lazy so I thought I'd get some surf lessons. But once I had that idea the sky turned black and the waves got bigger than I would have liked.