Bali. I think the only thing I knew about Bali before going was that my brother and his wife loved it so much they went twice in rapid succession. I also thought maybe it was a setting for the musical, South Pacific, buuuttt, I think I’m wrong about that because, after a very rapid scan of the Wikipedia page, it seems to be set in or around Vietnam. I’m not a details person.
Going to Bali was all Marcus’s plan. He had high hopes for his gaggle of girls to become scuba dive certified so, he found a local dive instructor (Jack Tan with Dive Degree) and got us all set-up to become aquatic adventurers. To be perfectly honest, scuba diving has never been on my bucket list, but I went along with it because I didn’t want my girls to think I’m a wuss. Suffice to say, I am not a wuss but, after 30 minutes of our first training session, I was convinced I did not care to pursue this activity any further.
Despite my very thorough, 30-minute assessment of how I felt about scuba diving, I persevered. We all did. The oldest did the best out of all of us and was the most confident. She was also the one who spent most of her time trying to blow a bubble ring underwater, bless her heart. The youngest and I, who are very much alike, did well enough though apparently we aren’t very good at playing it cool and our instructor could tell we were anxious. I don’t know how? The youngest always kicks her legs frantically and I pretty much always swim with a furrowed and anxious brow; we’re the very definition of calm.
It’s definitely an activity that will take time to get used to and improve upon. I mostly had trouble with equalizing but also breathing entirely through my mouth. I also struggled with achieving neutral buoyancy, keeping my arms folded while swimming, and staying horizontal rather than vertical. So, um, I struggled with all of it. In case you think I’m overexaggerating, my favorite memory is of watching every one grow farther away as I helplessly floated to the top. Eventually I succumbed to the pull and just pitifully waved goodbye (not really, the other scuba dive instructor was able to help drag me back down which was equally pitiful).
Another hard part of scuba diving is the inability to mother. It’s an odd feeling of helplessness to not be able to do anything for your child because you’re a few meters underwater. Anyway, even if something was terribly wrong what could I do about it? It gives me a bit of anxiety just thinking about it.
Honestly, I think my favorite thing about scuba diving was our instructor, Jack. He was personable, kept the girls focused and safe, and best of all, is Singaporean. During our four-hour, round trip car rides to the dive sites there was much conversation about Singapore vs. the U.S. and I think we all learned a lot. I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I hope that if I ever run into Jack on the street, we’ll be able to greet each other as friends.
Finally, and possibly the only reason you’re reading this, where did we go for scuba diving in Bali? Our first day of diving was in Amed. We spent the day running the skills we had learnt in the diving pool the day before and getting more comfortable with diving. The highlights of that trip were giant, bright blue starfish, eels, and of course, clown fish and sea anemones. At the end of our day in Amed, we all boarded a “junkung” which is a traditional fishing boat and went a bit farther down shore.
Our second day of open water diving was in Tulamben. This little village is one of the most popular in Bali because of the USS Liberty shipwreck, a U.S. cargo ship that was torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942. To swim amongst the wreck under the ocean gives a strange perspective on not only the size of the ship but the vastness of the ocean. I’m getting a little too poetic here but I think you know what I mean.
Seeing how nature had completely taken over the ship was breathtaking. And then, as if things couldn’t get better, what with the giant starfish and clams and garden of eels (now I know what Ursula the Sea Witch was turning her victims into and 10-year-old me was quite giddy), a sea turtle came along making a lunch of whatever was living amongst the ruins. I swam away feeling happy and fulfilled with a small understanding of how an activity such as this could become addicting. Then I woke-up two days later with the most painful ear infection I have ever had in my life and as quickly as I took-up scuba diving I decided to give it up.