The ride from Ubud to Tulamben was quite pleasant, any other time I would have said amazing but I think I’ve been spoilt for great rides over the last few weeks, it took me through the winding forest roads of central Bali and then along the coastal road to the little coastal diving town of Tulamben. Tulamben is best known for the USAT Liberty Wreck which is one of Bali’s most visited dive sites, the 120 m long vessel was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 and was then stripped by the American military and sat on the beach until a volcanic eruption in 1963 shifted the ship back into the water. Much like riding, it doesn’t matter how often I dive It still gives me a lot of enjoyment, even though I had done over 1000 recreational and commercial dives last year I was still looking forward to getting in the water and diving the wreck.
I got to Tulamben in the afternoon and was expecting to dive the next day but when the offer of a night dive presented itself I couldn’t turn it down, the wreck has a large variety of coral and fish life (including pygmy seahorses) and when illuminated by the torch beam they came to life with vibrant colours. Over the next 2 days I dived the wreck 2 more times in the daytime and also dived some of the other sites in the area. The amazing thing about Tulamben is that there are so many impressive dive sites just a few meters off the shore, it’s easily the most accessible diving I have done. I enjoyed Tulamben because it gave me the chance to talk about a subject other than motorbikes for a few days and it was great hearing other peoples dive stories and hanging out in a town that is totally centered around diving. I’m sure in the peak season this quaint little seaside town would be bustling with diving tourists but at the moment there was only a handful of people so my dive buddies and I had free run of the town and the wreck,…perfect!
One of my friends from Tulamben had the problem of not being able to organise transport to the town of Lovina so somehow I managed to create enough space on the bike for a passenger and all our gear, the bike was pretty oddly weighted so the 75 km ride was a little wobbly but we made it in one piece. Lovina is a small resort town where tourists go to see dolphins, I had seen plenty of dolphins in Australia but I was in town so I went along for the sunrise cruise. We were the first ones out on the water so it was quite enjoyable watching the Dolphins swim as the sun peeked over the horizon but all of a sudden I looked up to see the silhouette of no less than 100 small boats heading toward our direction. Soon wherever a Dolphin surfaced a group of small but extremely noisy boats would scream full throttle to the area so the tourists on board could get a glimpse. I must admit I lost quite a bit of interest and was put off once we were surrounded by so many other boats, I was glad to head to shore, I guess I am lucky that in many places in Australia you can see wildlife in its natural habitat without being overrun by tourists.
The next day I headed for the town of Gilimanuk to catch the ferry to Java, once again I had a passenger until we arrived at the dive site of Menjangan where we said our goodbyes. I continued alone to Gilimanuk and as I was pulling into the ferry terminal I was halted at the police checkpoint, I was a little tentative because I’ve previously had to pay a fine/bribe for not having my paperwork on me, in this case however I had everything required and after thoroughly checking the papers the officer ended up being quite pleasant. The ferry to Java was the simplest to catch yet and by far the cheapest, only 39,000 Rupiah (AU$3.90), it was a short trip and after an hour of chatting to some friendly locaIs I was back on the bike. I had been warned about the horrendous traffic congestion in Java but the East side of the island wasn’t too bad, I headed straight toward the hills to visit Mount Ijen, an active volcano where Sulphur is mined.