Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bali 2011

A week of Easter Holiday comes and on this trip, only me, my mum and my dad went. My sister had her exams coming up, so she decided to stay at home and study instead- what shame... Anyway, my parents decided that we should go to Bali and dive (usual). We always go to Bali every year- even when my I was not born yet! I think it's a tradition in our family! My dad bought a new Olympus camera, which is the Xz-1. It's a compact camera like the Canon we used to have. We gave it away because the lens got stuck, so it needed to be serviced. When my sister started underwater photography, my dad got her a lesson with a famous Australian underwater photographer, Jeff Mullins. He thought that it might be useful if I get a lesson too- and it'll then be fair! I had a two day course in Tulamben. After Tulamben, the three of us had a car ride to Menjangan, North West of Bali. We stayed at a very luxurious hotel, called Mimpi and dived with Disthi Scuba.

On all the three days at Tulamben, my parents and I started it off with a one hour morning dive at Liberty Wreck. This dive site is one of my favourites in Bali. Many bump head parrot fish swim there early in the morning, nudibranchs can be found either on the wreck or on the sand as well as flounders hiding in the sand. Liberty Wreck is full of life. I saw Spanish Dancer Eggs stuck on the rock, while swaying in the water following the water flow. Beautiful like a flower, colourful like a rainbow!

After the morning dive, Jeff had a look at my previous pictures, therefore he will know what I needed to improve on. This also happened on the second day of lesson. Me and my dad visited jeff's house and Jeff gave my dad and I some papers to read, learn and understand.
(I love Spanish Dancer Eggs because the colour is pink - my favourite colour - and it sways in the water, therefore like a ribbon.)

On the first day of lesson, I was taught about the basics of a camera and underwater photography. There is the manual option, the auto option, the aperture mode or the shutter speed mode to use. He also told me what these mode or options are for and why they should be used. Since I love macro the most - and I didn't know how to take wide angle shots yet - Jeff increased my knowledge on taking macro shots. He showed me the best on using macro lens, thus the main subject becomes bigger without the picture being blurred.
(These fish are tiny. They are the length of a toe nail and I used double macro for this picture.)

(This Peacock Grouper was hiding under a stone. The shadow hid its beautiful colours until Jeff told me to tae a photo of it.)

On the second day of lesson, Jeff introduced me to taking 'wide angle shots'. Of course, I can't take wide angle photos as good as my dad's because my camera is only a compact camera. Also, it doesn't have the right lens therefore I have to go further away from the object, though the light from the strobe won't be powerful enough. he gave me some tips and like the previous day, we went diving again. I tried to use the knowledge Jeff taught me. In the end of the day, I produced some wonderful pictures! (This is an Emperor Shrimp on a Blue Sea Star. I used two macro lens and this photo is one of my best works!)

On the last day of stay in Tulamben, my parents and I only did one dive- which was a morning dive. We went diving at Liberty Wreck, only because we had to go to Mejangan- on a CAR (not that there was any other nice private transport)! Like our previous dives at Liberty Wreck, there were MANY giant Bumpheads!!! We saw a Flounder and there was also a bit of current. I love wrecks because there bug fishes swim around them- though I'm not so sure why... Whatsoever, I really enjoyed the last dive at Tulamben, it was fun and I would suggest the Liberty Wrecks to dive lovers- excellent for any diving levels, as well as for snorkelers!

(There was this Moray Eel and I decided to take a photo of it. Suddenly this blue Cleaner Fish came into the picture and the Moray Eel opened it's mouth. The Cleaner Fish swam into the mouth and started cleaning the Eel. This picture seems as if the Cleaner Fish is lying on the Eel's teeth!)

On the way to our next diving spot, we stopped at a school where they teach students around my age. We donated some books, since we had way TOO much! Also, it would be a waste if we threw them away- recycle the books ->save the environment, donate the books -> elps other children! Anyways, the trip from Tulamben to Mimpi Resort took us around 4-5 hours. Once we checked-in to our resort, we explored around the villas, then we visited the dive centre Disthi Scuba later on in the evening.

Disthi Scuba was very well known for it's magnificent pearls. Me and my family went to the same shop a few years ago, but it didn't have any diving centre or maybe we didn't even knew. The hotel I mentioned before was popular for it's hot springs. I didn't have enough time to have a relaxing warm dip. Apparently, you're not allowed to go into hot spring right after scuba diving. However, my parents and I had a chance to dip our legs in. It was warm and very soothing...

On our first day of diving at Menjangan, we actually went to the the Menjangan island. We went to three different locations and my favourite was nearby a beach. There was a temple on the hill and when we visited the place (for lunch first), it was very busy- full of people wearing kebaya, trying to get on the shore. Anyway, the diving there was beautiful! It was steep but very clear. What i love about this dive site is that we saw Pygmy Seahorses!!! It wasn't very deep and we saw about three. There were two red ones and one yellow, though the guide said that it was yellow because it was getting old. We were wall diving and it was very COLOURFUL! I loved the blueness of the sea and the colours of the corals. We only went diving for about 30 to 45 minutes. This was because I wanted to dive at the Pearl farm. I have always wondered how it looks like. We stopped at the farm and jumped in as soon as possible. I didn't imagine the clams to be that ugly. Okay, it wasn't ugly but I didn't expected it to be covered in corals and sponges. In cartoons the clam always seem clean and shiny, looking very priceless. However, when it is actually underwater, without the corals and sponges, it would look dull and dirty. I was surprised. The dive was marvelous though I hated one thing. This is at the fact that clams eat plankton. Luckily for the clams and unluckily for us divers, the water was full of plankton and it stung me a dozen times! I was itching my body when I got out of the water. This experience was something I did not expect and something that I will remember!

(When the Pearl Clam is still young and is starting to grow, it is put in a net. Corals, weeds, sponges start to grow, attracting other widelife to the Pearl Farm. This is a picture of a shrimp on the net.)

(This is a photo of the pearl clam. I'm not fully sure what the orange thig isn, but it looks like sponge. The tiny black thing near the white stuff, is actually the gap of the mouth!)

Second day at Menjangan... That meant that it was our last dive at Bali for 2011. Our guide was explaining that there is a dive site - not at Menjangan Island - just a few minutes away from the resort by car. It is called Secret Bay. He said that it is good, but FREEZING! The lowest temperature was 24'C and at that time, I didn't know how cold that was. However, they did suggest me (told me actually) that I should borrow their thick short wet suit, since my wet suit is only 1mm. Anyway, when I laid a foot in the water, I felt like screaming (exaggeration)! I nearly felt like I won't be able to take the Apparently, there used to be a Pearl farm at Secret Bay too, but I don't know what happened. There was also some Lobster catchers and I saw a Lion fish over there. There were corals but it didn't cover every single area of the dive site. They were mostly on a rock; some as small as a cushion, others as wide as a sofa. There was also a boat wreck. The sea bottom is white sand and it was very light, therefore it was easy to muck up the water. We saw a Sweetlip or too. Many fishes on the wreck and there was also a sea snake! This snake is not the usual Banded Sea Snake in fact, it seemed like the 'Blinded' Sea Snake! It was swimming like it couldn't see and it nearly bumped a Sea Urchin! I wonder what specie it is... lso, on a rock there was this Frog fish. It was orange and reminded me of an orange! I took many pictures of this creature and guess what? When my dad were looking through my photos on the laptop, he realised that there was also another Frog fish- just a much TINIER one! It was around the size of a thumb nail- maybe a bit bigger. I was very surprised! We also saw a File fish near the weeds, as well as a Gurnard. After a while, my parents and I couldn't take anymore and came up to the surface. As my dad always say, there is always some positive and negative points to everything!

(I didn't get much photos of this juvenile Box Fish because it kept on swimming into the coral. The fish looks really cute.)

(This fish was not tiny, as big as a child's foot and is an excellent dancer! The fish kept on wiggling and wiggling it was quite difficult to take a photo of this fish...)

After the dive, me, my mum, my dad's friends and the guides had dinner at 'Mba Lina'. We ate yam Betutu (Betutu Chicken) which was a Menjangan specialty. It was delicious, but it was also VERY S-P-I-C-Y!!! Menjangan, Tulamben in fact, the whole island o Bali is full of surprises. Either you encounter it underwater or in your tastebuds, Bali is amazing! This trip was really fun and exciting. I enjoyed it very much and I can't wait to go to Bali AGAIN!


  1. narratives are informative, pics are awesome, salute and thank for sharing …!

    love bali's under water very much too,


  2. Oh wow, u are good with the XZ-1, my 1st trip with it in May too & your photos are superior! Such a shame, I m twice your age! Guess advance in age doesn't equate to advance in talent... :p Please keep up the good work! We need young people to love the ocean & protect it! :)

  3. Nice article, Tulamben is also one of my favorite dive site. Superb photos, it's really inspiring..too bad i didn't have the chance to shot spanish dancer, hopefully next visit will give me chance to take pic of this beautiful creature