Thursday, August 29, 2013

Diving Pemuteran, Bali

Diving Pemuteran Bali
Pemuteran predator waiting for a prey.

Does diving in Pemuteran, Bali, after last couple of years boom of new dive kiosks, still makes sense?
Can we still get diving operators and diving experience as it used to be?

a) yes
b) yes
c) yes
d) answers a and b are correct

As most things in life also this answers are conditional.
First you have to manage to avoid dive traps offered by “friendly” hawkers (homestay owners and staff, gardeners, taxi drivers, waiters...), offering you to call a friend for you who will give you the best price and fantastic very PADI diving services.
If you managed this and you did some evaluation on your own, then you might encounter the last few remaining old dive shops still worth the name dive shop. In some cases, doing your homework really pays off.
And professionalism, good atmosphere, good diving... everything will be the same as it used to be.
Good. Truly good.

As prevailing sign of creativity in Pemuteran is copycatting, village has now more small restaurants and dive centers than inhabitants. Competition between zero quality establishments (both local and foreign owned) is ferocious. As they can not provide any other competitive advantage as the price, they will probably in a year or two (if the trend continues) start to offer payments to any tourist willing to accept their services.

On the other hand, a few remaining old timers in scuba business, we are still using our income for all the education, equipment and training needed to offer you safe and good diving; for providing services that do not make you feel as cattle in transit; for decent salaries of our staff; for supporting community; for our own decent living...
And we are still enjoying our days of diving, chatting and from time to time dining with divers from literary all over the world. As long as our divers are staying longer than they planned; as long as they are coming back year after year; as long as we enjoy their smiles – true diving is still alive and present in Pemuteran village.

Our current most important world saving international scuba philosophical project is “Influence of scuba diving on global fusion cuisine”. Most of the papers are not (yet) published as we spent too much time meditating, daydreaming and enjoying diving on Pemuteran reefs or devouring “Pasta con chicken in Balinese devil's sauce”...

More info and how to join us in our efforts to make the world a better place you can find by a click on Easy Divers Bali, Pemuteran.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Diving in North of Bali

Diving North Bali
Immerse behind the veil of North Bali

Why scuba divers prefer north Bali dive sites to more conveniently located southern spots? Why they are willing to spend after long flights to Bali additional four hours to get here? Masochism? Proving something? Or...?

a) you can still find dive spots with more fish than divers
b) you can still find dive centers fueled by passion for diving
c) you can still find places to unwind and immerse into your holidays
d) you can still find your diving soul-mates, for instance by clicking on easy divers of Bali

South of Bali is where the airport is. Dive operators will pick you up at your hotels and drop you in the water. Sometimes even pick you up when you surface. In most (if not all) cases the only personal attention you will get is aimed towards your cash or credit card.
Not exactly what diving used to be.
And should remain.
When you, me, our scuba friends are looking for diving vacations we want something much better than this. And are willing to take the proverbial extra step to get it.

Is north of Bali really so different from south?
No, not anymore.
As a big majority of businesses (including dive businesses) are operated on principles that guarantee your overall dissatisfaction, it's not very prudent to just jump into the hands of the first beach (or street) bum attacking you with unbeatable offers.
Businesses where you as a person mean exactly zero, your payment is the only thing that counts, are not limited just to local population. Some Western operators will easily win this game. When it comes to promising you stars and heaven and delivering mud and sleaziness local tourist catchers are just babes in the woods compared to their western counterparts.

What we are looking for is a small minority of old fashioned dive businesses. Businesses, which mindsets are still focused on good diving and not ripping you off with 50% off on prices and 95% off on quality of services you get. Where you will be accepted fully, where you will be a guest of the chosen diving outfit, sure, a paying guest for services you agree, but with all the benefits of a true guest. Where owner and staff will share your joys, pleasures and sometimes sorrows without mental arithmetic what's the profit margin for this. Where you can immerse not only in fantastic waters, but also in our way of life, thinking, feelings, priorities and culinary preferences.

Where to look for something worthwhile of your diving vacations in northern part of Bali?
Sumberkima? Banyuwedang? Penyabangan? Desa Sayamauuang? Ghost resort village of Lovina?
As I've been reminded to instill an element of suspense in my posts - if these hints are not exactly your cup of tea, wait till next Thursday...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Giving or taking?

Who's receiving, who's giving?

What a diametrical difference. To give. Or to receive.
Why would we give anything to anybody after all, if any giving is making as poorer?

a) because we are stupid
b) because we like to suffer loss of something belonging to us
c) because giving is still better than whipping ourselves
d) because every giving is receiving

First, it's rather important to exclude any forced giving. Either by peer pressure (I will look bad if I don't give), either criminal extortion (if you don't give me money, I'll kill your child, I'll not sign your document...), or anything similar.

But we are looking into giving from our free will. Why we do it?
Because even if we didn't verbalize the idea “giving is receiving”, this idea is present somewhere in us. You offer something you have to somebody who wishes to have this and deserves this, just for whatever reason can not afford it. You receive person's joy flowing to you accompanied by a radiant smile and sparks in the eyes. On e-bay you can search for these items until your brain is fried, you'll not find them...

If you understand this, you don't have problems also with receiving.
When not long ago we received a nice package from Switzerland, loaded with fantastic traditional Swiss sweet stuff, we simply enjoyed, tasted, devoured it – and far away Reto was receiving our smiles.
When elderly nearby couple has a ceremony, but no means to buy essentials needed, providing these makes their days nicer. And our lives brighter.
When a woman with a child asks for a little something, a small help offered to her brings us a big smile...

And when fat government official comes demanding a donation (or else!) we also give. OK, not exactly money as he expects, but some questions to contemplate. Let's say a food for his soul.
How did your parents teach you? Are you not ashamed of what you do?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Diving or diving?

Just some true scuba junkies...

From thousands of dives I enjoyed, summary of this activity could be described:
Open your tank, open your eyes, open your mind – immerse into the rainbows of pleasures...
However, with Fox Bravo generation experience of scuba diving tends to be somewhat different.

a) if I survive this one dive, my FB post will be a killer
b) despite excruciating pain in the ears I have to make V-sign with both hands above my head and get my photo of me, myself as The Diver
c) even if I'm clawing through water as a wounded Godzilla, I can later properly describe my epic struggle from my point of view to my admirers
d) if my uncontrolled descent lands me on my ass on corals, if I break corals when crawling around, I can say: “Current was murderous...”

Yeah, a,b,c,d,e,f and g are cases sadly too frequent in July and August.
As professionals do not allow such escapades and they take non divers for their first scuba experiences safely and with necessary control; poor Fox Bravo generation must travel to Asia.
Here certain lack of respect to regulations, basic safety standards, some common sense..., allows for an absolute freedom of enterprises.
If comparing Wild West and scuba diving business in Bali, Wild West looks as a very tightly run ship...

And for adventurers who want The Experience and not some basic medical assessment, theoretical explanation, professional to escort them underwater - Balinese scuba kiosks and their moronic staff are perfect choice.

Some last month results in our area were not so perfect.

Two close calls:
One broken regulator, not delivering air – result: soiled (really badly smelling) wet suit of panicked victim, but he was still walking.
One wrongly prepared scuba unit: same result as above.

One straight between the eyes:
Asthmatic attack under water.
Result: autopsy.

Rumors say that local Ministries and international Associations hired additional staff immediately. For sweeping the news under the carpet. And who cares about few incidents now and then – most people survive and it's so profitable and amazing fun...

On one hand a bunch of retarded and greedy self proclaimed scuba operators, and on the other hand a bunch of not really blindingly bright customers – what a blessed combination...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Menjangan Island, Bali

Gliding through water, enjoying, not touching, not destroying - just snorkeling

When visiting Menjangan Island Marine National Park either for snorkeling or scuba diving, what we should do to protect environment?

a) protect our feet before stepping on and killing the corals
b) allow our guide to catch and bring marine species to the surface for a closer look
c) take wonderful photos when our guide is torturing fish with a stainless steel sate stick
d) praise our guide when he destroys old, healthy gorgon fan to find pigmy sea horse

You don't find these answers appropriate? Me neither.
Sadly these answers are not the seeds of my pervert imagination, they are just my observations.
Menjangan Island National Park is protected by Indonesian government.
Every dive operator is trying to protect life in marine national park.
PADI dive centers put even more of their resources (education, work, financial...) into protection.
Tourists are saints regarding preservation and protection of the nature.

These very nice statements look slightly less nice in reality:

Government protection: they diligently collect protection fees from foreign owned dive operators, their guests and guides.
Small part of this money they use for occasional raids to check if we paid everything. Rest they use for undisclosed purposes.
They stay in harbor whenever poachers are fishing on the protected reefs of Menjangan Island. When complaining about occasional fishing expeditions on protected reefs, they like to say “Maybe you and your guests see wrong...”.
In a nutshell – a total crap of a job.

Too many dive and snorkeling guides taking guests to Menjangan reefs are deeply in love only with money.
For a slim chance of a little more tip they will do anything.
If guest want to see why puffer fish is called puffer they will demonstrate it for you. If puffer fish finds itself in mortal danger it puffs itself to try to scare enemy away with bigger size. When inflated it floats to the surface. And in many cases it can not deflate soon enough to submerge and it dies. This is why you have to really torture it before she uses this final defensive mechanism. Stainless steel sticks are fantastic tool for showing holidaymakers what marine life can do...
And same stick is very useful also for raking gorgon fan coral to dislodge a few millimeters big pigmy sea horse and proudly showing tiny creature to you...
Or for poking a beautiful lion fish...

We have close to 20 PADI dive centers in Pemuteran. As for the exception of a couple foreign owned dive centers and two locally owned, rest are behaving really miserably.
Not only I do not support, I strongly oppose PADI position on what kind of businesses are allowed to use PADI name.

However, greed, total absence of ecological awareness, really bad behavior in national park conducted by some local, uneducated boys I can at least understand, if not approve.
But esteemed visitors from the West, enjoying and paying for this? This point is too much for me.
I'll simply try to take you to places not infested by snorkelers and divers with moronic attitude, where we do not have to observe idiots trying to devastate nature...
To places where we can enjoy in pure diving, without disturbing anything, to enjoy visiting all the creatures that rightfully call this habitat their home, where we leave only bubbles in the clear waters and take with us only memories...