Tulamben Wreck Divers 11/07/2010
Do you know to ride a motorbike? Why indeed would I want to ride a motorbike (sepadar-local lingo) when i came here to dive ??
To begin, tulamben is a long long way from bali airport. Took us 3 hours to get here. try to avoid travelling on the roads during busy periods--in this case from 8am to 9 pm--there were some roadworks to be fair...and the roads are single-lane winding and not lit at night. Makes the road to mersing/tioman look like an expressway !!
The MPVprovided for us made things a lot more comfy. slept three times and we were still on the road.
Finally arrived at close to 10pm, picked up the keys at the dive center which is one km from the villas which we were staying. So tired, we just unpacked the necessary and washed up and crashed into a big and soft mattress. From what we could make out in the darkness, this was an upmarket accom. no dreams...
Woke up to glorious sunshine and lo and behold! It is an upmarket accom. Just like a 5-star resort. we were in villa 3 and it has 3 humongous rooms. Air-cond with hot showers and balinese style (take a dump in the open air) toilet. Each villa capable of sleeping 6 or more. Breakfast which came with the package was just downstairs and it was a cooked English breakfast.(about 40,000 from the menu list) absolutely perfect to start 3 dives a day!
The staff at the galley was very friendly and chatty. Something i appreciate when i visit a foreign place. They are at ease starting a conversation, and they speak good english. Our DM -nyoman--came and introduced himself, again, impressed me, and told me to take my time whilst he bring my dive gear to the DC..remember my introduction to this?
Can you ride a motorbike? He asked..Of course i said! Folks, you will never know how convenient it is if you have a motorbike to use during your stay. I rented one when i was at chalong and it was fun!! With a capital F. So we rode behind him to the DC and set-up our gear and my camera. Usual paperwork, house-rules, saw the usual place where the other divers stayed--no comparison folks (check and compare pictures).
We were at USAT liberty within 30 mins. Not much left now to remind us that it was part of WWII. And very soon it will be gone. Shore-dives are a class of its own. waves lashing at you whilst putting your fins on, pebbles are harder to handle then sand,more rocks at low-tide. Marine life abound in and around the wreck. Soon the crowd from the city came and it was like carrefour on a weekend! The streams of bubble make as if we were trying to raise the liberty. usual suspects were in attendance--porcelain shrimp, lionfish, leaffish, cleaner shrimp, cuttlefish, nudis.
Ggoing off topic for a while...this was written during world cup 2010, if it is a world event, perhaps diving trips should take into account whether the resort has cable/satellite tv, well at time of this report, tulamben wreck divers did not have sattv at the villa. only a tv with a disc player, disc could be rented at the dc. but their sister business-wayan restaurant-did! remember my opening line? Yyes we rode our motorbike at 0220 hrs to watch the finals at the restaurant. Ok coming back to topic, the DCis about 600 meters from the shore, you have to carry your weights, fins, mask and camera to the dive site for liberty, coral garden, alam anda (board a boat) and drop-off (helluva long walk) the tanks with the bcd is portered by ladies. They make my gym work look like knitting!! They carry 2 complete sets to the beach and come back with 3 empty tanks on the heads!!. omg. i tried to carry one and it was undoable.
On the way to the shore dives, passed by a warong that sold very good gado-gado. Healthy mix of boiled vege and egg with satay gravy. Yummy. cheap and good. 2 persons with drinks came to 50,000 rupiah. 8 bucks? looked clean and had a good following of divers.
So the first day ended with all 3 dives at liberty, coral garden and coral garden i. Fantastic collection of macro. Water temp was 29 degrees. no currents. life was good.
Dinner was near the dc and we had transport!!
During the night found out that the cheapest place to buy beer was a sundry shop owned by wayan restaurant who is the supplier for beers in the villas. go figure..?? I also recomm these bali nuts, they are absolutely divine.3 course dinner--soup, babi panggang (bbq pork) and salad, 2 drinks came to 98,000 rupiah. But it was better surroundings and we had to make friends with the head-waiter to reserve seats for tonight's final between spain and holland (world cup 2010). Hmm betting that there will be fried octopus tomorrow !!
T-shirts to commerate your visit to the USAT liberty vary in prices from the dc to the guy selling at the warong. Started at 150,000 to 80,000 for the same piece of t-shirt. Also found out that nemowetsuits.com made wetsuits to order at kuta. A range of their material can be found on the racks at tulamben wreck divers.
The rest of this report will focus on the eating spots around the area rather than what-we-saw-kind-of-report, i think that would be more helpful for folks coming here. Balinese are mostly Hindus, so they do serve pork dishes. Although the style which they cook the pork leaves a lot to be desired. Lucky i brought my bch's, a life saver.
After 8 shore dives in swell and under-tow, rocks-under-your-feet and donning and doffing of your fins, i gotta tell you that this is not for the unfit/aged! I am 52 and i am being tossed like a leaf in the wind here! Trying to balance yourself and the camera and holding on to your fins is getting to be a bit unfun. oh we also found out from tony that the porterage of the tanks by the locals is not negotiable. It is a means of benefiting the local economy. So there you go...the dc must pay them to carry the tanks/bcds'.even if you have the hands to do it. i suppose it helps the locals with employment.
The night dive at the liberty was like carrefour on a weekend. First there was the 3 of us then all of a sudden, there were 10 !! I thought Steven Spielberg was shooting a sequel to one of his blockbusters.lights were everywhere. that tender moment alone with the bumpheads was instantaneously shattered.
Seraya Secrets was awesome! Second only to manado (imho) the biggest porcelain crab i ever saw. and mantis shrimp that could feed a family of one! (just joking-lah, put down the phone to project aware now). Not much nudis, come to think of it, this place is not nudist colony.
Seraya is actually at batu nitti, don't know why its seraya. must be the guy/gal who discovered it. A small warong selling home cooked meals and soft drinks. friendly ppl. took pictures with the extended family, 3 generations. Building better toilet and shower facilities. You will not get away from the smell of pig-sty and chicken feed. also noteworthy, is a well sunk into the sands where the toilet is!! Ppl shower after their dives with this water...i took a rain-check.
Next up was Kubu reef, another exercise in entering the dive site whilst being pounded by waves. An old man who was minding his grandchild helped us with our footing, he was in his loincloth and he had tentacles for feet. very sure footed. A few nudis and scorpion fish. nothing spectacular. We were actually diving behind another dc!! a stand-pipe was made avail to the public. That thingy with the porters? yes, they insisted even if its just 20m to our entry point.
Alam anda is the most memorable cuz' we saw our first pygmy sea-horse. 4 of them!! All on the same coral. Had to beat some guy with a dslr set-up off after 6 mins of waiting. the nerve of some ppl!! He could see we were waiting in line. Noticed that the 4 of them were wearing shades with all that flash going off. We boarded an outrigger with a lawnmower for an engine. Found out that if we did not buy the package from twd, then we would have to pay the boatman.
Now i can appreciate why during the basic OWC, we were required to don and doff our bcd in the water. the boat was so narrow, that was the only way to do it. There was also a ladder that they left in the sea for all to use, in getting into the boat. Then you just throw it back into the water. Neat!
Last dive (sob, sob) was at drop-off. Kinda like a drift dive but no current. 2 juvenile lionfish (not so fierce now eh??) and shiver me timbers!! Another pygmy seahorse...wow! we must have tipped the dm correctly. We also found out that the leaffish dives into the sand when threatened. Plenty here. Ok 3 mins up and reluctantly we got out of the water. Hmm 14 dives went really fast when you are having fun...
Ok in closing, we paid a total of 3570rm for 6d5n and 14dives each (2 divers) with own equipment. We were picked up and dropped off at the airport. Only b'fast was provided. You may want to keep 2 copies of your receipt if you paid thru the internet like us. We gave one copy to the guy at the dc and we were asked again on the day of departure. We were given the use of a motorbike, petrol was provided. The entrance to the villa from the main road is not well posted, at night you can make out a reflecting disc. The villa was 5-star accom. It was by the sea.The maids made sure the rooms were cleaned every day. Towels were changed as well.there are mosquitoes, so bring your own repellant. No facial tissue paper, they are avail at b'fast, so you can stock up then.bbq at the villa was at 75,000 per head, drinks are extra.Not much of a bbq really, sweet sour chicken, pork roast, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, fried noodles, white rice, salad, chicken curry and tempeh.
Lunch at the warong on the way to usat liberty is my recomm. Dinner at wayan rest is good. also recomm is the deep blue studio, bigger menu, same prices. Sandyha rest is very pricey. Did not get a chance to try Paradise. and where is poppies lane? There are 2 paradise one next to Tauch terminal and the other near the villa.
Tauch terminal seem to be the most convenient place to stay as all dives start at their side entrance. but the smell of the pig sty is very strong on the eastern wing of the resort. Same for the chalets at twd. If you stay anywhere else, you may have to walk or wait for transport to your accom. So if twd puts you up at the villa and you do not have the confidence to ride a motorbike, get ready to walk. Next door to tauch is paradise and across the road is deep blue with budget accom. vans provided transport for all the other divers that we saw. There are many more resorts at tulamben but the ones above are closest to the dive sites. They open all year round, dives during the NE monsoon are mild according to tony who owns twd. but european summer are the peak season.
Twd seems to be the busiest and biggest of all. And they provided good service. The air in our tanks, did not have any objectionable odour (in tioman it was real bad). My wife's regulator acted up and they repaired it quickly. Conveniently located (if you are in the chalet…) and overall, we felt we got excellent value. We certainly will recomm them to all. Harap berjumba lagi!!