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Photos of M/S Pelagin and Bali

Bali trip photo tour

BALI KOMODO/RINCA TRIP REPORT
Nov. 4 – Dec. 2, 2003

From the moment the first group stepped onboard our Singapore Air flight in Kennedy Airport, we knew our exotic adventure had begun! Warm, scented towels to refresh ourselves before our first of 5 on-board meals! Great wine, fabulous meals, personal on-board entertainment center, exotically competent flight attendants…..it made the long flights much more bearable!

Once we arrived in Singapore, we had a short layover with free massage chairs available to ease our transition into the Indo-Pacific region! The glitter of the beautiful Singapore Airport beckoned us to the adventure ahead! After a short flight from Singapore we arrived at the Denpasar Airport on Bali and were greeted by our Indigo-Bali land representative, Suyasa, and welcomed to his wonderful country Balinese-style! After a quick orientation and money exchange, our luggage was loaded and we were transferred to Benoa Harbour where the M/Y Pelagian is berthed. Traffic jams are the norm on Bali; we learned quickly that no matter how “far” our destination looked on a map, it was going to take us AT LEAST 30 minutes to get there, sometimes much longer! Roads are loaded with motorcycles, motor scooters holding whole families, cars and lorries (trucks)! We were able to observe numerous temple ceremonial parades along our various routes with colorful offerings, costumes and floats. What an introduction to a fabulous culture!

After a quick introduction by Capt. Peter Manz, our luggage was loaded onto the Pelagian, our group of six was introduced to our other four fellow travelers and the Pelagian commenced sailing. Crew introductions were made once we were underway and we were then shown to our cabins so unpacking could commence. The first dive site is a 17-hour sail from Bali so we had plenty of time to organize our dive and camera gear and get to know one another. After a great dinner and a fabulous sunset, everyone was ready for sleep in a real bed!

Diving commenced the next morning at Satonda Island and for the next 10 glorious days we were treated to underwater vistas that defy comparison to any other areas of the world. Diving is done from hard-bottom tenders with dive sites no more than 10 minutes from the Pelagian. Some open ocean diving is done on coral bommies that defy the average man to seek them out!Peach clownfish But our tender drivers, Basri, Henki & Arifin (Fin), though equipped with GPS and radios, seemed to use land-site options to figure out where the drop-off point was! Many of the dives were drift dives alongside sheer volcanic rock drop-offs of the various islands. The walls were encrusted with hard and soft corals, sponges and invertebrates too numerous to detail. From a photographer's standpoint, it was difficult to find a place to put a finger to anchor one's self long enough to take a photo! And take photos I did! Between both groups and the land tours in between, I took in excess of 4,000 photos! Currents ranged from none to fast; visibility ranged from 50 feet to in excess of 100 feet. Water temps ranged from 72-78 in the southern islands where the Indian Ocean meets the Pacific Ocean; northern island water temps were between 80-86 comfortable degrees! A 3mm wetsuit with a hooded vest or 5mm wetsuit were the thermal protection choices for the cooler water; 3mm alone was sufficient for the warmer waters. Cooler waters brought more varied corals and lots of new critters to view! Sea apples, zebra crabs & pygmy seahorses were among the newest items to add to our “sightings” lists. We also were able to dive with Pacific mantas off South Komodo Island on both trips, which was a highlight for everyone! The second group was treated to lots of mantas, both at Manta Alley and at several other dive sites along the way back.

Land excursions off the Pelagian featured a trip to the “Wishing Tree” at Satonda Island; a half-day tour through the National Park at Komodo Island viewing not only the famous Komodo dragons, but deer, pigs, cockatoos, orchids and other wildlife living on the arid island. We had a great opportunity to shop the “Komodo Village Market” and perfect our bargaining skills on carved wooden dragons, masks, pearl and wooden bead necklaces and other hand-made Indonesian crafts.

The Pelagian moored for 2-1/2 days at Horseshoe Bay off Rinca Island where we did ten fabulous cooler water dives to world-famous Cannibal Rock and other dive sites in the area. While moored at Horseshoe Bay the swim platform was dropped off the stern & four kayaks were available for cruises around the bay and to the shore for beach-walking and creature viewing. We were treated to sightings of fish eagles, monkeys, deer, pigs and even Komodo dragons walking the beach! The first group was treated to dolphin encounters in Horseshoe Bay as well as manta cruising the dive sites and right under our tenders one trip back to the Pelagian!

At the conclusion of the first 11-night Pelagian cruise, we sailed back to Bali where we started our three-night land adventure! Group number two arrived to join us at the Nusa Dua Beach Resort's fabulous Balinese facility. Cultural experiences, fabulous gardens, floating ponds and beauty were present everywhere and a smiling staff was ready to accommodate any request. After unpacking, we were picked up for our trip to Uluwatu Temple and the Kecak performance that evening. Ask me to tell you about the mischievous monkeys at the temple & their antics! It cost several of the group a few rupiah to recoup their personal items! The “monkey dance” or Kecak performance was a great introduction to the culture and history of Bali.

Day two dawned bright and early for our group of 16; we started the morning with a fabulous breakfast at the Nusa Dua and then commenced our whole day “East Coast Tour”. We viewed the “Old Court of Justice” in Klungkung; visited Tenganan, a village that is the oldest village on Bali; had lunch at a seaside restaurant in Candidasa; visited Goa Lawah, the Hindu Temple at the Bat Cave; did a little jewelry shopping; swam in the beautiful water pools at Tirta Gangga, the “water gardens” and tried to get to one of the highest points on Bali, Putung, to view the coastline & sunset, but the water gods were not with us! It started pouring rain and we were in the midst of the clouds at that elevation! It was impossible to see anything in those clouds!

One of our fellow travelers on the first boat, Ken Grant, is an American ex-pat living with his wife on Bali. He graciously offered to host dinner at his home that evening for our group of 16! He and his wife, Sherry, welcomed us into their lovely Balinese home with traditional dishes and we loved our evening with them! We were able to hook our laptop computers up to his big screen TV and view the digital photos taken by several of the first group of divers, so group number two had their appetite whet for their adventure to come while group number one were able to re-live their memories!

Day number three called for a change of plans from the planned day's tour! We were all tired from our long day of touring the previous day, so a deviation was made from our Central Bali Tour! Suyasa, our tour guide, was so helpful in accommodating specific requests and changing our plans! After a stop in the town of Mas at a woodcarving factory, we were treated to a tour of a wonderful batik factory and then proceeded to Ubud, the artists' market area. After some great shopping and bargaining, we returned to the hotel for an afternoon of relaxation in the pool, some magnificent massages and just some general “quiet” time! Unfortunately, it was time for the first group to head back to the Denpasar Airport that evening for their return flight home…..the rest of us had a quiet dinner at the hotel in anticipation of our adventure commencing aboard the Pelagian the next day.

On Nov. 20, group number two boarded the Pelagian to begin their 11-night adventure! We had a few crew changes to allow some of them some time off, but the itinerary for diving remained the same and even though the water was slightly warmer in the southern islands; great corals, critters and experiences were enjoyed by all!

From Peter Manz, our Captain; Dede & Brad & Chris, our divemasters & Cruise Directors; Basri, Henki & “Fin” our tender drivers; Irma, Yanti & Nia, our stewardesses; Wayan our chef; Bagus our assistant chef; Sukejdi & Bingtang our engineers (who kept the Bali wedding photoboat running, the water pure and hot when we needed it, air conditioning cool inside), the crew of the Pelagian was fabulous. We were able to learn some Indonesian from the crew, learn about their culture and their home islands. We were there during Ramadan and a few of the crew were Muslim so we learned about their religion and customs; a lot of the crew were Balinese Hindu and shared their unique culture and religion with us. Capt. Peter and Nia both had weddings planned to Balinese Hindus on Dec. 3 after our return to Bali so we were able to learn lots about Hindu wedding ceremonies also! Included in the trip photos is a photo of “Wayan” Peter and his new bride, Rena! The food for both trips was fabulous and the staff managed to accommodate all the vegetarian, chocolate and other special requests! They even managed to find a Butterball turkey in Bali and prepare a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner for us including stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin, apple pie & ice cream! Glenn, the Bali Operations Manager at Dive Asia-Pacific, did a fabulous job of coordinating the crew, food, special wine requests, everything! And according to our Balinese guides, the weather gods were happy with us because we had fabulous weather for almost 28 days!

The diving was fabulous, the culture incredible, the people were friendly & beautiful and we all had the time of our lives! Everything was so great, in fact, that I've rebooked the Pelagian for May 2005 doing their Incredible Eastern Indonesian itinerary encompassing the Raja Empat Islands! Watch the website for more details, only ten spaces remain!

- Janet Czapski

For more information: Contact Janet at (248) 442-2772 or by e-mail at: trips@divetravelservices.com

For personalized diving in Bali, contact: http://www.balidivetravel.com/




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