Scuba Diving in Indonesia

2016/05/12

I was a bit anxious going to the airport because I thought I may have forgotten something. It was 10 on a Wednesday night with a little bit of rain here and there. The drive eventually calmed me down. I enjoyed being in the car at night. Less people, less problems.

I checked into the Malaysia Airlines counter. I was able to carry on both of my bags. On this trip, I brought my blue Converse backpack, normal sized, and I borrowed a friend’s backpacking backpack to take along. The backpacking backpack was only half filled and the checkin staff said the flight was not full. I also got my choice of seat: window.

As for the flight to Kuala Lumpur (KL), the capital of Malaysia, we boarded after the takeoff time and didn’t get onto the runway until about 2 hours later than scheduled, due to heavy rain and wind. I had the opportunity to watch the movie Creed while on the plane, waiting for it to taxi out, but I was dozing off by the end of the movie. I slept for the majority of the 6 hour flight.
Even with the delay, I landed in KL with plenty of time to spare. While wandering around the airport, I stumbled upon a Lonely Planet store. In there I realized I had forgotten to pack a travel power adapter. I bought one.

I did not have a window seat going to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, which was less than ideal but it wasn’t too bad considering it was a 3 hour flight. I got to watch Jurassic World on that flight. It was less scary than I thought it would have been.

Landing in Denpasar, I easily found the driver with my name on his sign. It took us approximately 1.5 hours to drive along a motorcycle (and helmet) filled road to get to Bamboo Paradise, the hostel I reserved a night at, which is located in Padang Bai.IMG_1417

I arrived at Bamboo Paradise without getting carsick and got situated in my assigned room. I asked an employee where I could eat non-spicy fish for dinner and I walked to her suggestion. At the restaurant I had the recommended barracuda. It was tasty but it was not THAT good, but I still enjoyed eating fish, nonetheless.


2016/05/14
IMG_1418Yesterday started off with a tasty omelet, toast, and fruit. I talked with a couple of guests in the hostel. They were both from Germany. After breakfast, I headed to the well known white sandbeach, about a 15 minute walk up and down a rocky hill. It was quite a cozy little cove, with hardly a person in sight. For awhile, I only put my feet in the water, but later came a local woman to set up shop for the day and convinced me to get in.
I was enjoying the waves for a good
10 minutes before I started to feel itchy. I have felt this sensation before in California waters, so it could only really mean one thing. I looked down, and sure enough, there they were. Little white jellyfish. Probably no bigger than half a dime. I could have stayed in if I wanted to, the stinging was bearable, but considering that I didn’t have much time left, I decided to get out and change clothes.
IMG_1435A man later came to the shop I was sitting at and
was informed that jellyfish were in the water. He had a look with his mask and snorkel, and my discovery was confirmed. He said that there were thousands, probably millions of them. He also mentioned there were small blue jellyfish yesterday. After I ordered and enjoyed a banana juice, I headed back to the hostel to pack for the boat ride to Gili Trawangan.

IMG_1421The boat, which probably had about 150 people on board, stopped at Lombok, Gili Air, and then my destination, Gili Trawangan, aka Gili T. I disembarked the vessel and found my hostel, Gili Beach Bum, relatively easily. My next task was to find Lutwala Dive, which was the diving school I found online and I wanted to take a diving course with them. I informed them that I was going to take the 2 day course called Scuba Diver, but they told me that I could decide towards the end if I wanted to extend it to the 3 day course, Open Water, which would grant me a first level certification, under the same name as the course. I had time to think about it. It was mainly dependent on time. I had scheduled the return boat for Monday but unsure of the time. If I wanted Open Water, the later the boat sail time, the better.

IMG_1444Being that I hadn’t eaten lunch, I was pretty hungry. I headed to a nearby restaurant and ate the seafood platter. The plate. Was. Large. Shrimp, fried calamari rings, red snapper (I think?), fries, and rice, plus a salad from the salad bar. I also drank another banana juice. So good. Like the barracuda the previous night, not the best tasting seafood but it was fresh and worth ordering.

 

 

 

IMG_1511Following dinner, buying sunscreen and a swimsuit, I called it a night and read most of chapter 1 of the Open Water Diver textbook that Lutwala gave me to read before 9 AM the next day.

 

 

IMG_1442Being close to the center of action on Gili, Beach Bum isn’t exactly quiet at night, but I didn’t have too much trouble falling asleep. Beach Bum is also next to a mosque, so at 5 AM, it projects a voice chanting something from the Quran (I’m guessing). An hour or so after the chanting stopped, I fully woke up and ate quite a simple breakfast provided by Beach Bum. It was a crêpe with 4 banana slices with some watermelon slices on the side. Though it was tasty, it wasn’t a lot. Shortly after I headed to Lutwala.

 

 

IMG_1473Once everything was sorted, I was grouped with a dive master named Sergio, a dive master in training named Kal, and an older couple from San Diego, CA. The husband already had his SCUBA certification, but hadn’t dived in over 40 years, so he was required to take a refresher course. The wife had never gone diving before and was taking the 1/2 day course, called Discover SCUBA. She and her husband were essentially taking the same course, with the same length, skills, and procedures. They were a friendly pair and I got along with them really well, as well as Sergio and Kal.

IMG_1474Saturday had a theory session, pool session, another theory, the first open water dive (this was the final stage for the Californian couple), and another pool session.

The first pool session went well. I got most of the skills down on the first try. The exception was filling the mask with water and emptying it. I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to purposely allow water into the mask and empty it. I thought we were simply emptying an already empty mask, performing the action and its motions.

IMG_1452The first dive site was set for Halik and the boat ride was very short but I still got a bit of motion sickness. It was also prevalent when we were on the water’s surface preparing to descend. Once we had descended, it went away. I was at peace. The only sound I could hear was my breathing. My air source. If Sergio needed to get someone’s attention, he would tap on his tank with a metal clip that he carried around.

IMG_1457The first dive was really fantastic. Halik was a really good site with really good visibility. The couple had some problems equalizing the ears, but they got the hang of hit soon enough. We saw 2 hawksbill turtles (which I recognized were hawksbill on my own because of all the nature programs I have watched. Thanks mom and dad.) For me, the most surprising and cool creature to see was the mantis shrimp. I only saw it for a few seconds but I did see its global eyes. I didn’t realize they live in this part of the world, but it makes sense that they do.

 

IMG_1512We all made it back to the surface, the couple said their goodbyes, and ate some lunch before some more learning and another pool session.

Scuba diving for the day ended around 5:30. I had some more reading to do in the PADI Open Water course book, so I headed south to the eastern side of the island (Lutwala is at the very north) where both Beach Bum and restaurants are located.

IMG_1483For dinner I ate mahi-mahi with baked potato. It was the best fish I had eaten so far on the trip.

 

 

 

IMG_1488The next morning, Sunday, started at 9 once again. Sergio, Kai, and I talked over some more theory then we all headed into the pool so I could practice more skills.

For the dive, we all went to Shark Point, which is on the western side of Gili T. We didn’t see any sharks, sadly. The other divers said sharks tend to like stronger currents, which was not present. But we did see a lot of turtles, mostly hawksbill but also 1 green sea turtle.
I had a non-satisfying seafood fried noodle dish for dinner that day. It was basically a ramen package with tiny bits of seafood mixed in. I also had my last readings of the trip to complete so I once again headed back to Beach Bum fairly early, read a bit, and fell asleep.


2016/05/17

IMG_1472This was my last day on Gili T and I arrived at Lutwala with all of my things around 8:30 in order to set out on the boat at 9. We went to Shark Point once again, hoping for some better results than the previous day. It turned out to be the opposite. The visibility range was at 5 meters, significantly lower than the 20 meter range I had in the preceding dives. Regardless, we did see a clown triggerfish and a scorpion fish.

IMG_1508I had one more dive to complete before leaving Lutwala, so at 11 the participating divers headed out once again, this time to Turbo, located 10 minutes north east of Gili T.

Turbo had good visibility at 20 meters and I we all saw blue sea stars, 2 green sea turtles, a trumpetfish, 2 mantis shrimp, clownfish, and a blues potted stingray, detected by me.

IMG_1515It was a memorable dive and leaving Lutwala proceeded it. It was a overall wonderful resort and team that I hope to return to one day.

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Is a Crab a Pet?

I woke up this morning at 7:20 (I don’t have class until 1 pm today), and walked toward the window of my room to open the curtain in order to let light in. As soon as I did, I noticed that the trees in view were moving and waving at me. I noticed that there were no gray skies and I could see farther off buildings. Overnight wind has cleared the smog! Right then and there I sent a quick thank you prayer to God, including that I did not want to wear a mask for a week straight. I don’t have to now (for the time being)! The AQI for Beijing right now is 27! So low! I should really go out an exercise.

As I write this post, I gq.pico to the window, and I look down at the little park and fountain area that is within the apartment community. A lot of parents and grandparents take their little children there to play around and such. There are usually a few strollers parked on the sidewalks and the children are attempting to play in the water of the fountain. I have seen some strange stuff at this area, looking down from my 5th story room. I have seen kids pee in the water. Parents prefer to allow them to do that than take them to a bathroom or change a diaper. But today, looking down, I see a child chasing something. I look closer and I see that it is a crab. Its body is about the size of my fist, with it legs trying to escape the people’s harassment. The child is following it closely while stomping. The crab makes it to the edge of the grass, stops there, and the grandmother (I assume) approaches it, holding a 2 foot long black rope. While the crab is not facing her, she takes on of its legs to pull it closer. She ties the rope around the crab, and hands the other end to the child. He starts to walk to the fountain, which is no more than 5 feet away. The crab is dragged along the ground, somewhat roughly, and thrown into the water. It was quite a sight. I have no idea if the crab is in actual pet, or they are enjoying its company before they cook it up for dinner tonight. I have a feeling it is the latter, not the former. I know for a fact it is not originally coming from the fountain/pond area, for there is not enough food to support it and I would have seen more crabs at other times. This has been a mildly interesting way to start my day. I may ask some of my Chinese friends to see how the feel on the topics of crabs as pets or play things.

Song of the Day:
솔즤하게 M.U.P. by iKON
This is a very new KPOP group, under YG Entertainment. This song is off of their first, and currently, their only album.

I have 3 hours until class starts, so I better collect myself and prepare for the day. Talk to you all soon!

高丹玉

Nat Geo Wild’s Wild Hawaii

My dad and I were watching Nat Geo Wild’s Wild Hawaii and learned these interesting facts:

  • Mantis shrimp have the most advanced eye vision in the entire animal kingdom
  • There is a invasive species of frog that lay 75 eggs every 2 weeks. This adds to around 10,000 frogs from one female frog
  • 1 in every 1000 sea turtles survives to adulthood
  • The monk seal is one of 2 native mammals. The other is a ‘ōpe‘ape‘a, the Hawaiian hoary bat
  • It snows in Hawaii. Snow falls on the big island, Hawaii, Hawaii. This reality was then expanded to fact that it snows in every US state

Some other facts that my dad and I have already known are:

  • Sperm whales make the loudest sound of any animal. It is as loud as a firing shotgun. The sound they make is comes from their large head and is used for echolocation
  • Sperms whales dive up to 2 miles below the ocean’s surface in order to echolocate and eat their favorite food: squid
  • The longest parental care term of a bird belongs to the frigate bird. Both the father and mother frigate bird take care of their young for 1 1/2 years
  • The only sea-going lizard is the marine iguana, which is native to the Galapagos Islands
  • The orca has the largest brain in the animal kingdom in proportion to its body
  • The sun fish is the largest boney fish
  • The highest blood pressure of an animal belongs to the giraffe

Reference Site:
Hawaiian Encyclopedia: Native and Endangered Species