Sunday, December 15, 2013

Diving Gili Air (Without Chuck): Halik

Almost immediately after recovering from her zombie eye affliction and heading back out into the deep blue, Chuck was plagued with yet another affliction: that of the stomach variety.  Sigh.  Poor kid.  I set her up with plenty of TP, Pocari Sweat (Indonesia's Gatorade, although I think it's technically Japanese) and the AC blasting and headed out for some diving by myself.  Don't think me callous: I checked in with her every hour and brought her drinks throughout the day, but there's only so much one can do for a person with Montezuma's revenge (what is the Indonesian equivalent of that?).

Sadly, the dives I did when Chuck couldn't join me were pretty amazeballs.  Within a few minutes of dropping in at Halik (a site Tim and I hit up last time we were in the Gilis) I spotted this super long banded sea snake... make sure to check him out full screen and in 1080p.  Also, wait for the end of the video when he swims away.... so big!  I bet he was at least 10 feet long, which is why I kept my distance, remembering quite correctly that he is venomous:

There was some turtle action, fo sho:

And then this big mofo: a dog-sized, colorchanging cuttlefish.  So cool.  I love how he changes from solid color to mottled to thick light and dark stripes...  I only wish my dive buddies woulda let me get closer.  Eh, I guess whoever has the bigger camera wins.  If my Blair Witch-style shaky cam below is not good for you, check out this video... amazing.

And the rest: nudibranch!, pretty coral and fish, moray eel at 0:18 (sticking his head out behind that large-ish grey fish), a lobster! at 1:03 (you can see his long tentacles/feelers/whatever you call them sticking out of the coral), Nemo at 1:15, pretty sea fans, some sort of red tooth triggerfish convention right below the surface at 2:53ish.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Diving Gili Air (With Chuck)

After some lounging, sunset viewing and snorkeling as well as some reassurance from Chuck that she was ready to descend the depths of the ocean again, albeit as a zombie, we headed back out for some diving with Gili Air's Manta Dive:

We were paired up with divemaster Hell, the same fellow Tim and I dove with earlier in the year, he of the butter knife.  This time the butter knife he used as his pointer for diving was literally grabbed off of someone's breakfast plate... it still had food stuck on it!

Our first dive was at Mirko's Reef, which has some lovely coral. We had a bit of a short dive because someone (ahem) ran low on air, but it was quite beautiful.  Highlights include: a couple beautiful anemone fish (Nemo), nice table coral, a blink and you'll miss it lionfish inside of the table coral (you can see Hell pointing it out to us with his trusty butter knife at 1:02), Chuck perfecting her double hand wave...    not pictured: a bright yellow trumpetfish:

Dive #2: Hann's Reef

This dive, one I had done before with Tim, was awesome.  We coached Chuck through breathing a little slower and more deliberately to save air, so the dive was much longer than our first. Plus, Hell informed us that we would be able to see the turtles only if we were able to stretch our dive out to at least 45 minutes... a good incentive to conserve air.  And turtles we saw!

Highlights from the first part of our dive at Hann's reef include:

- a blue spotted stingray in the sand that I caught sight of and then carefully maneuvered over, lest I go the way of Steve Irwin
- a giant giant clam!
- lots of fish and pretty coral
- the near invisible stonefish...  or maybe it's a scorpionfish? (Hell points it out at 1:17)
- some moorish idols
- some pretty yellow-tailed fusiliers (1:37)
- Chuck double hand waving
-  a cool, tiny, basically transparent anemone shrimp (at least that's what I think it is) at 2:30

And then, the turtles!!!  We were able to make it to turtle town, and, as promised, there were lots of turtles hanging out.  The first one was so sound asleep that he kinda looked dead, with his head hanging down.  The second and third were congregated around a large barrel sponge, one sitting in it and one next to it.  I am pretty sure they were in the same exact position when Tim and I dove that site in April.  Check out the remorae on the back of the one that swims away.  And, of course, Chuck double hand waves behind the turtles before we depart:

Post-turtle we did some swimming across a large patch of sandy bottom, punctuated by mini-reefs covered in fish.  Highlights:
- scuba selfie at 0:08!
- super aggressive Nemo guarding his lonely anemone at 0:23... check out how he lunges at me!
- a spotted boxfish munching on the coral at 0:50
- ginormous barrel sponges
- a fat, gross sea cucumber (found by Chuck) at 1:53
- double and single hand waves from Chuck

Another awesome find on this dive: two blue ribbon eels sticking their heads out of the sand, waving their flared nostrils to and fro (they're a little hard to spot in the first part of my video, but be patient, I get closer.):

Not pictured, but seen: the amazing mantis shrimp, a moray eel, a titan triggerfish, spotted garden eels!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Super Sunset

Gili Air provides some pretty beautiful sunsets... it helps that you can walk around the whole island in an hour, so you get to see the sun setting from all angles and over 2 separate parts of Indonesia's Ring of Fire (i.e. volcanoes: Bali's Mt. Agung to the west and Lombok's Mt. Rinjani to the east).

Zombie Chuck also likes the fading light for documenting her face:

 OMG, put your sunglasses back on!!

Ok, back to pretty sunsets:


Thursday, December 5, 2013


After the shenanigans with our Liberty Wreck dive, zombie Chuck and I just chilled the remainder of the day on the beach in Amed so her face could deflate, then, the following day, we made our way to Gili Air.  Once we landed on the island, we hopped the only method of transportation (besides feet), the cidomo/horse cart:


They are so jingly and decked out with pom-poms, fringe and tassels!  And bumpy.

We dropped our bags off and immediately jumped in the water for some excellent snorkeling... right off the bat we saw this massive puffer bopping around:

At one point we were swimming around, watching schools of tiny fish dart all around us, when we turned around to see this dude feeding the fish some sort of chum-like substance out of a water bottle... they went crazy for it and surrounded us:

I caught sight of these cool juvenile teira batfish... Tim and I saw them (or some just like them) last time we were on Gili Air, but we didn't have the camera to document them:

Chuck tries to attract parrotfish to her with sparkle fingers:


More snorkeling footage... highlights include: some bee-you-tee-full coral, some super-duper-shaky footage of a cool black and white eel (Chuck's first time at the wheel) at 0:38, a trumpetfish at 1:18:


Zombie Chuck loves snorkeling:

Snorkel selfie:

Check out this fish fight club I witnessed... not exactly sure what these grappling fish are but they kinda looked like mini (2 inch long) scorpion fish... the camera work is a little shaky because the waves were rocking me back and forth.  Sorry.:

Gili Air's BioRock, a reef restoration program... see photos of its installation here and read more about it here:

After snorkeling we retreated to the comfort of the Chill Out's lounging area:


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Diving the Liberty Wreck

After our jungle adventures on Sumatra, Tim headed back to Bangkok, while Chuck and I made the journey to beautiful Bali.  Our destination was on Bali's east coast, Amed, a spot to which I had previously traveled with Tim, the EPA girls and Martha. Specifically, we headed to Amed because a) it is very close to the Liberty wreck dive site, which I thought would be a good refresher dive for Chuck, b) it has lovely snorkeling and views on Lipah beach and c) it is the jumping off point to the Gilis.

Tim and I did this dive over a year ago for my birthday and really enjoyed it... it's a relaxing shore dive: a cool, historically interesting wreck (check out my previous post for background) that is now coated in coral and teeming with fish.  And this time I had my camera so you can see just that!

I split the video into 3 parts. Check out this map to get a sense of the wreck and the route we took.

Part 1: Descending and approaching the wreck on the south side, at the stern, then swimming around the far side, with the deck on our left.  A big titan triggerfish (watch out, they're bitey!) at 1:09.  Sweet, giant barrel sponges all over the wreck.  Moorish idols and other fishies.

Part 2: Swimming through the wreck through the part of the ship that is broken in half, into the hold.  A freediver passes us in the hold... lots and lots of coral covering broken ship parts:

Part 3: our ascent over the sandy bottom between the wreck and the beach.  Chuck pointing at another titan triggerfish. A cool anemone with a couple Nemos in it.  Some fish trawling the sandy sea bed (Chuck and I decided that if they could talk, they would be saying "Hashtag om nom nom nom."). And the piece de resistance, at 0:42, a cuttlefish hanging out and then ultimately expressing his displeasure at how close I got by changing colors: he goes from sand color to bright yellow with distinct black spots right around 0:54.  Then more Nemos, a goatfish sniffing around with his weird little barbs, then some cute electric blue fish.

The dive was quite lovely, but the whole time there were some some shenanigans going on inside of Chuck's mask.  You can start to see it below a bit... Chuck's eyes look a big buggy/squinty, no?

That would be because she was in the midst of a mean case of "mask squeeze," which is an affliction experience by newbie divers once (and usually never again).  When you fail to breathe a little bit of air into your mask to equalize it as you descend and the pressure increases, putting major pressure on the blood vessels in your face around your eyes.  

When we surfaced, Chuck's eyes were almost swollen shut, her eyeballs were bloodied, and there was bruising all around her eyes (she looks a little weird in this shot because I took it with the underwater camera, which has a bit of a fisheye lens thing going on).  Scary!   

Thankfully the swelling went down within a few hours and she was left with two black and bloodied eyes, but no permanent or really even painful symptoms.  Phew.  But she did have a lot of people staring at her over the next few weeks, as her face looked a bit zombie-esque:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Waterfalls and Jungle Facepaint

Breakfast with our jungle friends was soon followed by a trip to the local waterfall.  There, Chuck got the royal spa treatment to turn her into the jungle queen:

Jakka delicately crowns her "Queen Tomatoface of the Jungle" and declares his intention to marry her some day:

Jakka admires his work:

Then, after the jungle facial treatment comes a massage, care of the waterfall:


Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Circle of Life

(this photo is only minimally relevant to the blog post because Chuck is eating breakfast in it, but I just had to post it because her face is priceless)

Here we were, enjoying breakfast by the river after a night of camping, when...

This fellow joined us from upstream:

He sauntered out of the water:

And hung out for a bit:

Then we noticed these guys approaching from all sides, determined to get some of our delicious breakfast:

Then, to complete the jungle scene/circle of life/what have you, Jackie (remember her? she likes holding hands?) and baby took up a riverside seat:

We were kinda hoping for some sort of 3-way, interspecies fight club to commence, but things remained peaceful:

Aw, how cute are Jackie and baby?

The only shenanigans occurred when Jackie decided to make a move on our kitchen tent (although her plans were quickly foiled by Simon):

All the while, Tim ate fruit from this, the most magnificent fruit plate to ever be consumed: