Thursday, March 16, 2023

50 years - plus 2

 I graduated high school in 1971. That makes 2021 my 50 year reunion, but the world was still reeling from Covid that year so it got postponed a bit. They scheduled it for 2023 and it was right after we got home from Indonesia. It was at my good friend, Alex's house in northern Florida. She has a big yard and is a fellow RV with hookups and all. So, we drove the camper van up to her place and stayed in her yard throughout the festivities.

Chris and Arynne who still think they're 17 year old high school besties. She came all the way from California for the Novapalooza!

Looks like trouble! Yes, Jim knows he was not in my high school, but he graduated the same year somewhere else! He fits in with my class peeps just fine.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Jet lag zombie

We just touched down in Miami. It was a very light touch, smooth landing. I looked out at the blue lights lining the runways and reflected on what had just happened. We left Istanbul Turkey 12 hours ago. Turkey is 6,000 miles away and part of a different world. How is this possible? I've done enough travel by air to take it for granted, but I'm always amazed when this multi ton craft with a couple hundred people on board revs it's engines, starts barreling down the runway and then lifts off the pavement. How does it do that?

Bali is exactly 36 hours different from Florida. That's one day different (it's tomorrow there) and exactly opposite part of the day - 1pm here is 1am there and vice versa. 

We got home about 9pm on Wednesday (that equals about 9am in Bali. ) We went to sleep OK, but woke up ready to go at midnight. 
Sleep wake sleep wake. Got up about 5am feeling pretty good. Had our toastmasters meeting then went out for breakfast and I was done for the rest of the day. Read a book. Napped. Devon came over.  Jim was better, he cooked dinner. Thursday night slept good. Had our Martin meeting, then my Yoga class over Zoom.  Hungry, then stomach ache. Watched a movie. Snacked. Filled the toilet. Went back to bed. Jim made salmon and mussels for dinner. Usually my favorite but I could only eat a few bites. Found another movie. Rumbling stomach,non functioning brain. Back to bed. I hope tomorrow is better? Gotta create our show for Sunday--

Traveling halfway around the world can be grueling. It was somewhere in the air between Istanbul and Miami that Jim and I looked at each other and said, you know - the diving in the Caribbean is great and it's only a couple of hours away. Maybe this will be our last big International trip. 

Our Apple Airtags did there job. We could see exactly where our luggage was. No problems at all this whole trip

We picked up our luggage and sailed thru customs with our Mobile Passport apps making it easy. 

After a couple nights good sleep, and telling others about our adventures. We looked at each other again and said, well - maybe one more time.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Bali - not diving

 Alvin and Lisa planned the Bali portion of the trip and we joined them in their Vacation Club unit at the Marriot. Quite the luxury accomodations! This plunge pool was cold water - if it had been hot, I would have been in it twice/day!

Lisa and Alvin in the "plunge" pool of our suite at the Nusa Dua Renaissance Resort in Bali

It is a beautiful resort. We especially like the pool bar!

There were several excellent restaurants at the resort as well.

Alvin and Lisa still had a couple more days of diving that we did not sign up for. So we did some sightseeing.

There's this massive statue that we saw as we landed at the airport. Curious about it, we learned that it is called Garuda Wisnu Kencana. It is a new statue intended to be a memorable icon of Bali. I'd say it succeeded!

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Statue

Statue Height: 75m (246 ft)

Total Height: 122m (400 ft)

Constructed: 1993 – 2018

Location: Bali, Indonesia

It's pretty close to where we were staying, so we took advantage of the resort's transportation to take us there and back. We took the tour that went inside and up to the top of the statue. This is a surprisingly new statue - finished in 2018. It's bigger than the Statue of Liberty, but smaller than the Grand Buddha at Ling Shan in China, or the Statue of Unity in India (the biggest 2 in the image below.)

More than just a statue, the park is home to performances and music

The next day we took a guided tour north into the Ubud district. As it turned out, it was primarily a shopping tour, but that's fine, we needed some souvenirs.

Coffee and Tea tasting in the jungle

We learned how they make Batik - and bought a sarong.

A wood carving shop

Our purchase.

Elephant cave temple. For Hindu temples, your legs must be covered so they lend you a Sarong

One last day to relax around the resort. Chris took a Bali dancing class.

Then we headed back home. 13 hour flight from Bali to Istanbul, 9 hour layover in Istanbul, and another 13 hour flight to Miami.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Last dive

How do I capture this feeling? The feeling of being so comfortable in such a foreign world. I'm underwater, completely dependent on my scuba gear. If something goes wrong with my flotation control (buoyancy compensation device) I could sink to the bottom or pop up to the top and get the bends (decompression sickness)   If something should go wrong with my breathing device I would not be able to breathe and, well, die. 

But I know my gear well, and it always works great. I AM very comfortable flying along and breathing underwater.  Especially on this last dive. In the last 3 weeks I've made 35 dives and been underwater for 32 Hours

This last dive was off a traditional Balinese outrigger boat called a Jukung  that was just so cool, and the weather was gorgeous. I felt especially happy. I made it thru 34 dives without mishap so I was extra confident and comfortable in this 35th one. We do a backward roll of the gunnels of the boat then give a few kicks to get past the outriggers before surfacing to check that all is ok before letting the air out and descending into the deep blue water. 

It was disappointing at first, just a bunch of rubble, but then the bottom began to slope and the coral was growing large. Pretty tropical fish were everywhere. I didn't have a care in the world as I floated along weightless. Just a tiny kick of a flipper now and then to move along the way. Come around one coral head to find a beautiful turtle casually munching away. Then a brilliant blue ribbon eel.

And, of course, a key to my being so comfortable underwater is that I have Jim, my partner, my buddy, my other half, always right there with me. We both love scuba diving so much and we do it together.

As I drifted along, in joyful peace with the universe, I thought ... the only thing that could make this dive even better than it is would be to see another Cuttlefish. 

Here's Jim's video of that last dive. I'm so glad we have this to remember it by. Just past the 2 minute mark, you'll hear the rattle, rattle, rattle of my noisemaker trying to get everyone's attention. Because, yes! There was another Cuttlefish.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Diving in Bali

Getting here on Lion air had delays and we didn't get in till late, then had to get up at 6:30 to be picked up at 7:15. 

The first day was diving the Liberty wreck at Tulamben, a 2.5 hour drive. It made for a long day, but we got some nice scenery along the way. Rice fields and monkeys. 

The dive was a beach dive. The dive masters had us walk out in the water then they brought our gear out and put it on us in the water, making a very cumbersome dive quite easy. Visibility was poor and the temperature was cold at 78 degrees. 

The wreck is called the Liberty wreck and it is apparently quite famous. Here is Jim's video 

I never have cared much for wrecks and this was no different so I skipped the second dive. I was fascinated to see the women carrying scuba tanks on theirs heads! They just rolled up a towel, put it on top of their head and put the tank on top. They also carried another tank on their shoulder. 

Day 2 was diving from the boat out on the island nusa penida. The first dive was manta point and we did see 4 manta, but the remarkable thing was the number of boats and divers. Wow. 
The manta were beautiful and majestic but even without them it was a beautiful dive. 

Donut Rock

Day 3 was diving off of traditional outrigger boats called Jukung. Interesting - and Beautiful Dives

15,000 to 1 - tidbits about Indonesia and Bali

No, not our odds of survival, that's Indonesian rupiah to dollars. This looks like a lot of money, right?

Each bill is 100,000 Rupiah (IDR) - in US dollars, that's about
... wait for it ...
7 dollars. Yikes.

Speaking Indonesian

Other tidbits about Indonesia. I learned how to say yes, no, and thank you. 
"Yes" was so easy - "Ya" 
I figured that no would be Na!?! But, no, the Indonesian word for no is tidak. huh?
Then there's "thank you" by the last few days of our visit I finally had it down ... Terima Kasih

Black and white checker skirts - we saw them everywhere, even wrapped around the base of light poles. Apparently the black and white checker symbolizes good and bad, kind of like yin and yan. 

From Google: 
Bali is a highly spiritual place. It is an island where East meets West and where Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism co-exist peacefully next to each other. Although majority of Indonesia is mainly Muslim, Bali itself is strongly rooted in Balinese Hinduism, which originated from Java as 'Agama Hindu Dharma'.
One of their festivals is called Nyepi. It is 6 days long and day 3 is the day of silence. It's a day of silence, fasting, and meditation for the Balinese. The whole island shuts down for a full 24 hours, and the streets are off limits to everyone.

I prepared for this trip by getting a special money card called wise.
Did not have a lot of opportunity to use my new wise card. We tried to use it to pay at Thalassa Dive, but it was denied. I figured it was because we had not set up a IDR acccount in the Wise card yet. It took me a while to figure out how to do that.
But we did get to use it at the ATM in Bali. Worked great. Got 1 million Rupiah! That's about $70. And, it didn't need to come from the IDR account. It used that up, then took the rest of what it needed from the USD account.

I also used it in the Turkish airport to buy snacks. I didn't have to set up anything to use Turkish Lira.  Here's the info from my account:

That was easy - it's great, but our Chase Saphire card works just as well. And, it's credit. With the Wise card, it's like cash. You add $ to the card direct from my bank account and it's taken when you spend.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Togian Islands Recap - an Epic Trip!

 Ten days on a boat - or in heaven, same thing! I love that you take your shoes off when you board and you don't get them back until you leave. The oh-so-warm water may be a bad sign of global warming, but I sure enjoyed the sensation. And, lots of interesting people to talk to when we're not underwater.

The diving, the boat, the crew, the passengers, the food. EVERYTHING was superb. This trip was put together by Epic Dive Adventures out of Kona, Hawaii. I wouldn't hesitate to take a trip with them again. However, I will be hesitating to go halfway around the world again. We have great diving right here in the Bahamas and Carribbean - not sure if I'll make this kind of Epic Dive trip again.

Here's a little video overview