18 May, 2008

Tulamben Impressions

April in Bali brings the end of the northwest monsoon which marks the wet season. While the southeast monsoon marking the dry season does not start normally until June, running through to September, May is one of my favorite months to be diving there as both weather and water conditions are good yet it will be another while before the start of peak season and the arrival of more divers in the water.

In all fairness, one of the great attractions for me to diving along the northeast coast of Bali is the fact that, no matter when you go there, with the exception of few dive sites like the Liberty wreck, it tends to be what I like to call low-density diving.

Tulamben was a change from the busy live aboard scene in the Similans (Thailand) the week before. I stayed once again at a place that has become like a virtual home for me in Bali, the Scuba Seraya Resort aka SSR.

In a previous post I did mention that one of things that attracts me back to SSR time and time again, apart from its location, is the fact that on every visit I always meet some truly remarkable individuals. On this occasion the title must go to Anna, a 73-year-old Scottish lady who took up diving 4 years ago and whom, traveling solo, was spending a few days in Tulamben before venturing out to Manado. I had the pleasure and the honor of diving with her on a couple of occasions and, while roaming around at the bottom, I was thinking how truly remarkable a person she is. If you read the post Anna I just want to thank you for having taught me something very important!! It is never too late, never stop learning!! Your grandchildren have a VERY COOL granny!!

On this outing I managed to try out a new pair of ScubaPro Twin Jet Max fins. Up until now I had been using a pair of OMS Slip Stream fins which are great in strong currents but which, personally, I always found a bit hard on the legs. The Twin Jet Max were a very pleasant surprise! Provided you follow ScubaPro suggestion of going for a modified flutter kick against the traditional scissor kick, they give you incredible speed and maneuverability while you hardly feel like you are wearing them.

I also managed to try out my new little camera, the Olympus Miu 795SW. I must admit that having had more time to play with it underwater at my own leisure compared to the time in the Similans, produced some satisfactory results. I have always been against missing special underwater moments by getting stuck behind a camera view finder but lately both the creation of this blog and the need for getting into some new underwater activity provided me with the stimulus to have a go at it as long as I could find something very compact which would not become a burden while diving and which would not require a lot of maintenance and care. This little thing packs a solid 7 Mega Pixels (more than my Nikon D70 DSLR!!!!), it survives depth of up to 10 meters without any additional casing and with the addition of an optional casing ( PT-035 ) is rated for a 40-meter depth although on a morning dive at Batu Niti with Patrick I took it at nearly 60-meter depth without a problem.

My guide Degang, one of the resident guides at SSR, was like a hound. Always able to spot the tiniest wonders and allowing me to take some really nice shots of Coleman and Harlequin Shrimps, Boxer Crabs, tiny and giant Frog Fish just to name some. Early morning dives on the Liberty Wreck did not fetch us Mola Molas as we hoped, but brought us close to the large school of resident Giant Trevallies and the large and lonely resident Barracuda. Other early morning dives at Alamanda gave us a chance to see some Black Tip Shark action and also to engage with a 20+ strong school of Hump Head Parrot Fish. While repetitive afternoon and night dives at Seraya Secrets provided plenty of macro action!!

This destination appeared in a previous post titled “Bewitched by Bali”.

All pictures and videos in this post were taken by Marco Gorin whom retains their copyrights.

See some Giant Trevally action at the Liberty Wreck in the video below:

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