Bracelets - something I love to pick up wherever I go, a symbol of my travels. After two months here in Indonesia I have picked up a further three - one from Ubud and two from Lembongan with all three gifts from wonderful friends. I am going to miss this beautiful little island so much but hopefully I shall be back soon. (at Blue Corner Dive)
PIZZA, PIZZA, PIZZA! [18-24/2]
Rescue courses. Supposedly the most serious and yet most fun course PADI offers - it just depends on how it’s presented by the instructor. I’ve spent the week assisting Jo on two rescue courses and it can definitely be a lot of fun, especially for the victim (and aspiring actress).
View from Blue Corner - the volcano on Bali.
I started off the week with two days of drowning, yelling 'PIZZA' at the top of my lungs, running out of air, panicking under and above water, dying, being manhandled by instructors, boat-hands and students alike, given mouth to mouth, towed around and more. I loved every second… well, most. The taking of equipment on and off is tiring and irritating, but other than that!
View of Lembongan from the panorama point at the top of the hill on the way to Sandy Bay.
The students may have almost drowned me a few times but in the end all three passed the course and are now rescue divers! I was rewarded greatly when one student refused to let me go a minute without a drink in my hand (after we finished diving, obviously) and continuously bought everyone drinks.
I spent Wednesday at Sandy Bay with Caroline. We chilled out, read our books, sunbathed, did a touch of yoga and ate some wonderful food. It’s a really nice place to go on the island to just get away for a bit.
Camel by the pool at Sandy Bay.
After an enjoyable Friday night, in which I promised myself to be in bed by midnight and kept to it(!!!!!), I was up the next day bright and early (7am) for yet another rescue course in both the pool and the sea in one day!! Later that evening we had suckling pig at Blue Corner which was a lovely change and good fun.
Sunday brought about a day of fun diving when I got to go to Manta Point. Helene, one of the Blue Corner instructors, said there was a beer for whoever got her a decent photo of her with mantas - not just distant shadows, actual close mantas. Guess who succeeded… sort of ;)
My wonderfully photoshopped photo of Helene with the mantas.
Now it’s a new week and my last full week on this beautiful island. Today I’m jumping in the sea to help Jacqui out on an open water. She was in the IDC group before mine and this is only the second OW she’s done so she asked for an extra pair of eyes and hands in case her three students need some help.
Thank you, my love. I’m glad you’re enjoying reading <3 Maybe you’ll find yourself on here by the end of the year ;)
Glorious Getaways [14-17/2]
On Friday I finished my open water course with all three students, Anna, Fleur and Kaila, passing. We did the final two open water dives before coming back to shore and taking their quizzes and exams. There was a few hiccups here and there but they were quickly ironed out and before long we all had Bintangs in our hands and celebrating.
Top: (L-R) Fleur, Jo, Kaila, Anna and me
Below: (L-R) Kaila and Fleur with Anna and I backbending!
As it was Valentines and full moon the party was a bit more than the usual Friday night. Due to mild gang problems on the island (stop fretting, dear parents, it’s really not serious), Blue Corner had to close early because otherwise Jibaku (the gang) would have some issues as they hold a party every full moon. It was a good night, but I prefer spending my Fridays at Blue Corner. If I stay there, I don’t tend to get hit by motorbikes…
I promise I am perfectly fine and my most serious injury was a tiny graze on my foot, stop worrying.
By Saturday afternoon, Caroline and I decided we wanted to have a mini pampering session and a bit of a weekend getaway so we grabbed a mid-afternoon boat to Sanur and from there headed to Ubud.
We arrived early evening and found somewhere to stay before heading over to a restaurant Caroline already knew called Kafe for dinner which was lovely. We had healthy juices and yummy food before heading back to the room, tired.
Blueberry & watermelon juice and raspberry, banana, yoghurt, oats & honey smoothie in Kafe
Back when I was in Bunaken last year I met Divemasters and Instructor candidates, Sylvie and Joep. Shortly after doing the IE, they moved on to Lembongan where they met Caroline. Now they’re in Ubud so we decided to meet up for coffee, which turned into lunch and then dinner too. In fact, we spent the majority of our time with them which was wonderful. I hadn’t realised quite how much I missed spending time with them until I was with them again. Joep has got a job in Australia now which is great so they invited both Caroline and I to Sydney once they moved in a few months time.
After lunch we split and Caroline and I headed to look for somewhere to get massages. We had a lovely deep tissue massage which was quite like a thai massage and then had a cup of tea (which I surprisingly drank…) before heading off for some shopping. I ended up buying a new pair of yoga pants in a pretty green and a purple sports bra as well as two lovely summer tops all for less than £30. You just can’t do that anywhere else!
For dinner we headed back to where we had lunch, Clear, a vegetarian restaurant which had the most yummy food. At lunch I had a caesar salad and at dinner what they called a TLT (a veggie BLT) - tofu and tempe, lettuce and tomato. Absolutely delicious!
My caesar salad in Clear.
We had a few hours here and there do do some yoga and take some photos but soon we were tired and went to sleep ready to leave the next day. We grabbed a drink with Sylvie and Joep again in the morning to say goodbye and, bless them, they gave me this gorgeous bracelet as a congratulations for becoming an instructor.
Modified wheel in the garden of Ubud Sensasi, where we stayed.
In Sanur, we did a spot of light shopping and had yet another wonderfully healthy lunch - I want to keep up healthiness when back on the island but the chances are slim.
Back on the island and I realised just how much I missed my little Lembongan and all the wonderful people I’ve met here, but it was still nice to get away. I don’t know how I’m going to cope leaving in just a few short weeks.
Become loyal to your innermost truth. Follow the way when all others abandon it. Walk the path of your own heart.
Who actually likes Valentines Day, anyway?
The day everyone gets to tell their partner that they love them. Why should there be a specific day for something that should come naturally in a relationship? Valentines is over commercialised and irrelevant in my opinion. Maybe I’m just a bit of a romantic for thinking that you don’t need a day of the year to spread the love, or maybe I’m bitter because I find the day irrelevant. However, February 14th holds a special place in my heart, even if Valentines Day doesn’t.
Gran on our Mediterranean cruise in 2007
February 14th 2011 is a day I will never forget. It was a Monday and I was supposed to be in school but instead of going, my mum woke me up at 6am, bundled me in the car with my duvet and pyjamas and we drove almost three hours to where my Gran lived. My Gran had breast cancer, though at this stage she was not yet in hospital. We spent the day with her - taking her in her wheel chair to a garden centre. It was strange because when well, she was a very independent and active person. She would live her life as if every day was her last and I suppose that came from the first time she had cancer. My Gran was an inspiration.
On that day she was in a wheelchair, but her spirits were as high as ever. We had fun. We bought roses for her and just had an all round wonderful day. It is one of the last times I was with her before she went into hospital and never came out.
Me with my Gran during her hospice stay a few months after this in 2011 - the day she was allowed to start drinking again.
My Gran was and probably still is one of the people that have influenced my life the most. Everything I do, I do with her in mind. This trip I’m currently on, my diving instructor course and living in paradise for two months, could not have been done without her. She always wanted me to be happy and live my life to the fullest. I hope I’m making you proud.
You always remember your first course [12/2]
On Monday night, I had a message from one of the instructors at Blue Corner, Jo. I didn’t want to start teaching on my own as I didn’t feel confident enough to do so, instead, I wanted to try team teaching. Just helping out on a course, but instead of just assisting like a Divemaster, I could actually teach. Jo’s message said she was starting an open water course and she wanted me to team teach it with her. You don’t know how happy I was.
We had a chat and started planning and I spent the evening sorting out my slates for confined water. The next day while Jo was on the boat, I was going to show the students the videos and start them off on knowledge reviews, however, in true Lembongan style, we had a power cut from 9am until about 1pm. Helpful. Instead I gave them manuals and said to do as much as possible before coming back when power came on or at 2pm, whichever came first.
At 2pm, Jo was back and we set up kit to jump in the pool and get some confined dives done. Not getting out until about 5pm, we worked hard getting through a good few of the skills. It was okay, I was a bit nervous at first but I think I settle into it more as we went. Jo was really complimentary but naturally I was more unsure - she left most of it to me and just pitched in here and there. Teaching with Jo is fun, I have to say.
Today (Wednesday), Jo had to go out on the boat again so I was here at 8am to start the videos, power permitting. Thankfully, we’ve had no cuts and while my students work their way through the videos and knowledge reviews, I’ve managed to update my blog! Good use of time right here!
Jo’s not back yet and we’ve managed to go through all five videos and knowledge reviews and even done the answers, making sure they understand everything. I’m pretty happy with how much they know and they’re not difficult students so that’s good. I think I may even be looking forward to the next few days and my next few courses!
All good things come to an end [29/1-8/2]
The good times of the IDC became slightly more serious but no less fun as the Instructor Exam (IE) got closer. We were working longer hours and harder but the scores were getting better which is, of course, a very good sign.
(L-R) Andrew [our MI], Alina, [our CD], Damo, David, me and Callum
We had to complete the Emergency First Response Instructor course before we ended the IDC so we spent two days hanging out with some one-armed babies and armless adults. It was supposed to be a particularly dull two days but somehow, as ever, we managed to make it fun and had quite a laugh. That may have involved some serious ketchup action, interesting splinting techniques and being thrown in the pool. Some things never change.
The best of the EFRI
(L-R) Callum dislodging an object from an infant’s throat, Damo and I with splinted legs, David and his litte friends, me with a serious head injury, Callum and David using an AED and my serious bleeding injury.
Our final day as IDC candidates rolled around quicker than we expected and we were in the sea bright and early doing some open water presentations. What we didn’t expect was having to almost perform a real life rescue on our Course Director and another candidate.
Fun in the pool.
(L-R) Callum, me, Damo, Alina and David.
It all started when we decided to have some fun after finishing our skills and took some photos. Alina put on her Batman costume over her mask and we all had a laugh surfing on our fins. That was how it began - fin surfing. Alina took our fins and told us to race without them but it wasn’t until she handed them to Callum to carry that he and I realised there was one missing. One of Damo’s. Oops. Immediately we started searching for them, some of us went to the surface while others retraced our steps. Eventually the fin was spotted heading out into the surf - luckily it was positively buoyant and not too hard to spot.
David fin surfing.
With David, Callum and I up and trying to spot, Alina and Damo headed out into the surf - big mistake. Damo disappeared so we couldn’t see him and then we hear Alina screaming our names and see her with two BCDs, a hell of a lot of weight and no fins! David, the hero he likes to think he is, grabbed a life jacket, mask, snorkel and two odd fins, jumping from the boat and swimming out into the surf. We then moved the boat in the hope we could get closer without leaving the boat lane.
We found Damo immediately but Alina was father out and David was still miles from her trying to play the hero. Luckily, Damo had his fin and before long Alina and David were back on the boat too. Turns out along with the two BCDs and no fins, Alina was also carrying twelve kilos of weight from her and Damo and being battered by the huge waves against the shallow reef below. Quite the extraordinary way to end the IDC.
The next day we headed over to Sanur on mainland Bali bright and early, taking David’s friend, Jenia, with us for moral support, ready for the orientation and written exams that afternoon. Quickly we realised just how highly strung and serious all the other candidates were. Either they were being pushed crazily hard or they just took themselves way too seriously. The Instructor course is a serious course, there’s no doubt about it, but diving is supposed to be a fun activity, whether you’re an open water diver or a Course Director. You’re supposed to have fun so none of us could understand why there were so many who either hadn’t enjoyed there IDC or were taking it too seriously to let themselves enjoy it.
We all aced our exams and spent the evening preparing our classroom and confined presentations. David and I even took a cheeky trip to McDonalds seen as there’s no food like that on the island (I hate to admit it, but I miss that trashy food). The next day we were back in the exam room acing our classroom presentations and then getting straight 5s in the pool. We were the only group to not have any makeups in any section so far. That left only the open water the next day.
(L-R) Me, Damo, David and Callum
That evening, Alina took us all to Kuta for margaritas and bowling. Callum’s girlfriend, Anna, had arrived that day so we had some time to get to know her and have some fun. We had a crazy good time and although we invited other people, they were all working way too hard and taking themselves way too seriously to have a night off and relax. We were home by midnight with our open water sorted out beforehand.
Me, Alina and Jenia with our margaritas.
On the final day, we jumped in the sea for some rescue and then for our open water presentations. There was a 5 thrown in the mix and a few other very high scores and that brought about the end of the IE and, yes, we all passed! Damo, David, Callum and I are PADI Instructors!
Instructors! (Can you spy those Blue Corner tops?)
That evening we headed straight back to Lembongan on the last boat and actually ended up kidnapping two other new instructors, Dan and Lillian, from other dive centres who wanted to come to our party. We had a great night - as it was a Sunday, it was a little quieter, but there were friends from the island around who wanted to congratulate us which was wonderful.
Can you fit nine people in the back of a bemo? We can!
(L-R) Dan, David, [hidden: me], Damo, [hidden: Jenia, Callum, Anna, Alina], Lillian
It was sad to think that our time together was coming to a close. We only had two more days before Alina and Damo were leaving and then just a few more after that before everyone else went too and I would be left on the island with my whole IDC crew gone.
During our last few days we did a few specialty instructor courses such as Nitrox and AWARE Shark Conservation and we ended up having our last dives together on Engine and Toya Pakeh, where we had to abort the dive after half an hour due to stupidly strong currents.
Group photo before our last dive.
(L-R) Me, Callum, Jenia, Alina, David and Damo
David and I then decided to do some sidemount diving before he left with Jon, a graduate from the previous Blue Corner IDC/IE. I tried sidemount back in Lembeh last year but didn’t really enjoy it, however, this time I did the full course and somehow I loved it. Not sure how I’m going to cope on backmount now, but I’m sure I’ll get back to double tanks soon.
It’s easy to backbend underwater with sidemount!
We had another whopping friday night party which involved Stacie, a Blue Corner DMT, and Max, who did his DMT at another dive shop, doing their snorkel tests. The night ended with everyone in the pool and a hell of a lot of fun. As Callum, Anna, Jenia and David were leaving the next day, it began a bit of a goodbye party too. By Saturday evening, it was just me left.
Friday night fun!
(L-R) Stacie, Jenia, Anna and me
Don’t date a girl who travels. She might have wasted her college degree and switched careers entirely. She is now a dive instructor or a yoga teacher. She’s not sure when the next paycheck is coming. But she doesn’t work like a robot all day, she goes out and takes what life has to offer and challenges you to do the same.
Don’t date a girl who travels for she has chosen a life of uncertainty. She doesn’t have a plan or a permanent address. She goes with the flow and follows her heart. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She doesn’t wear a watch. Her days are ruled by the sun and the moon. When the waves are calling, life stops and she will be oblivious to everything else for a moment. But she has learned that the most important thing in life isn’t working.
"You’re having far too much fun to be on an IDC" [15-23/1]
Having been on the IDC for just over a week now, the overwhelming feeling from people around the dive centre and fellow dive professionals via Facebook is "you’re having too much fun to be on an IDC". Even my own brother asked how I had enough time to go out almost every night when he was studying every night of his.
Well, we’re actually really ahead of schedule. Our course director, Alina, arrived only yesterday but the MI and co-owner of Blue Corner, Andrew, has done an awful lot of work with us already. We have done a lot of our lectures, all of our pre-IE exams, some knowledge review teaching presentations, as well as being in and out of the pool and sea doing confined and open water teaching presentations. All in all, we’ve been working pretty hard.
Callum, me, David and Damien being taught how to teach the RDP by Crowley (right)
However, that has not stopped us having a lot of fun along the way. All credit to two of the candidates, David and Callum, who have pretty much been out drinking every night since they arrived - occasionally I would go along, while Damien, the eldest (and probably most sensible) often just has a beer and goes to bed.
Callum, Phil, Andy and I on one night at Blue Corner (after I’d been chucked in the pool fully clothed - hence the drowned rat look)
We have had a good few shenanigans along the way, including a night of Bintangs on David’s porch, a former DMT’s snorkel test, vodka joss shots, being thrown in the pool fully clothed (not once, but twice), body shots on the bar and even a very successful quiz night which Team IDDC (us) won! Surprisingly enough, the prize was… more shots!
Lars, a DMT, and I on the night of his snorkel test (hence the fancy dress)
Pool sessions are filled with laughter when the ‘devil child’ (me) strikes again, most likely due to my overly buoyant wetsuit or dump valve getting caught in my alternate air source. My title of ‘devil child’ was revoked today when all four of us became nightmare students on courses in open water teaching presentations. I think we’re quickly learning to try and not accidentally sabotage each other.
(L-R) David, me, Damien, Andrew and Callum doing a confined water teaching presentation
Amidst all this, we have even managed three fun dives in which we saw a wide variety of wonderful life of the Lembongan and Penida reefs including a white tip reef shark and a relatively big cow-tail ray. We have even sampled the steep thermoclines where the water drops from a comfortable 27 degrees to a freezing 22.
Finally, let’s not forget my daily backbends with David and the guys trying to find more exciting things for me to do each day, nor the extreme frisbee game on the beach with instructor, Phil, and DMTs, Thor and Stacie, and especially not the token game of broom cricket one afternoon which got some banter going on the Brits vs. Aussies - Callum and I are British, which Damien and David are Australian.
All in all, I’ve had an amazing week and thoroughly enjoyed myself; however, we’re all wondering if the whip is going to be cracked now that Alina has arrived.
The underwater backbend - my proudest moment (taken by David)
DHL Doubts [15/1]
From the hassle I’ve had to deal with surrounding my kit so far, I knew today was not going to be easy. Either way, it was an interesting experience.
One of the guys who works at Blue Corner, Ketut, took me down to the ferry port on the scooter and that was an experience enough. Having been on Lembongan for over a week now, I’ve been a passenger quite a few times but that was with Caroline and Tim driving. This was the first time with a local, plus the fact the roads were still wet from the rain. I wouldn’t say it was scary, just and experience. One I may not repeat.
Down at the terminal I bumped into Phil, the manager of Blue Corner’s other shop in Mushroom Bay. We chatted on the boat across and then helped me find the cheaper taxis as opposed to the tourist ones when we landed in Sanur. From there I headed off to the DHL office near the airport in Denpasar.
After about half an hour to an hour at DHL, they told me they no longer had my bag and it was with a courier to be delivered. I explained I needed it today and all credit to DHL, they did everything possible to help. In the end, they decided to have a courier take me to my bag. The woman said she felt very bad for all this happening and got me some water and a packet of caramel tarts and sent me on my way.
I was slightly apprehensive getting in a van with a random man, but I figured it was a DHL courier and a DHL van, nothing horrendous could happen. So we headed off on the main roads with the courier chatting away and asking polite questions but soon the roads became worse and more back streets and I began to get nervous. Eventually we stopped down a road outside a house with a huge iron gate - you can imagine I was especially hesitant which wasn’t made any better when moments earlier the man had asked if I was here alone and if I had a boyfriend in Bali.
Amazingly, my bag was in this building (which was full of women sewing). I’m honestly not sure why my bag was there - perhaps the other courier left it there on his rounds - but never mind. I had my bag. The courier asked me where I was going next and I said Sanur to get back to Lembongan to which he offered to drop me off there.
Arriving back at Sanur beach with my bag, tarts and water safely, I was ashamed of the scared assumptions I had made at some points of the journey. Perhaps that is western culture or maybe just me worrying about everything but having already spent time in Indonesia, you would hope I had realised by now how kind and generous the locals are. I’m not naive enough to believe all are, but if say the vast majority are.
At the ferry terminal, I searched for the next boat over and upon finding out that Rocky was the next one, bought my ticket and my bag was loaded up. However, one of the engines broke and I ended up waiting a further half an hour to get on the boat. Talk about pain in the arse.
Now I’m happily back in Lembongan ready for the main part of my IDC to begin. I have to say, it’s been a very interesting day.
Like GCSEs all over again [12-14/1]
My course started on Sunday with three days of IDC prep. At the moment there’s only one other candidate, Damien, but two more are joining after the prep days.
We started with introductions and paperwork but soon got straight down to business revising Dive Physiology and doing some practice papers. Andrew, our instructor, bought us cheese quesadillas and poutine (a Canadian dish of chips, mozzarella and gravy) to help us along. We barely stopped all day getting into Dive Equipment revision after lunch and yet another practice test. Homework for that evening was more practice tests and soon it all began to sink in.
Monday brought about my second week on the island and my second day of IDC prep. We spent the morning in the pool going over the skill circuit and I have so say it was the most hellish time I have ever spent underwater. I have been diving for almost nine years and I honestly have never done so without my own kit. I may have rented a reg set or BCD here and there but I didn’t even have my own mask, snorkel or fins. I was uncomfortable and everything was out of place. The afternoon brought us back to the classroom going over Dive Physics. Another practice exam and more for homework.
The final day of prep arrived quickly and brought storms along with it. At 8am on Tuesday morning the rain was pouring and the wind was blowing so hard that it left the classroom unusable. We had to shut ourselves in the office with a pool of water around out feet due to the way it was built on a slope. We studied Dive Skills and the Environment and then on to the RDP.
Just as we were finishing up, the other two IDC candidates arrived, Callum and David. Both are lovely and I can see us all getting along very well. Tomorrow Damien and I have the morning off while they catch up - I’m headed to Bali to pick up my kit. Finally!!!