Padi Open Water Diving Certification in Bali
We got into Bali after 8hrs of total flight time from Cairns with a connection flight to Brisbane. Back to the humidity! It wasn't as bad as Hong Kong Wor Macau but you still get that icky feeling within a few minutes from being outside.
Our destination was Seminyak, North of Kuta and Legian on the West coast. Not many choices for transportation – take a cab or rent a car. Obviously you haggle for the price with the drivers. I should have researched the fare cost to Seminyak before arriving though. He told me it was 150k IDR ($15) to get there. Ended up paying 120k but I'm sure i could have gotten much lower if I threw in another driver into the mix to stir up the competition.
It took quite a while to get to our accommodation as rush hour just started and there was construction clogging up traffic on the main highway of Sunset Road. The driver took us through the back streets instead. We were in gridlock in the beginning with one lane traffic and scooters cutting in between the cars. Oh well, we just sit back and soaked up the surroundings as first time visitors. I was surprised to see so many temples here. Literally after 4-5 stores/buildings you would see one. I asked the driver when and how often do locals go to the temple. Basically whenever they can. And if they're too busy they can also worship at home too.
At a snail's pace
In front of the stores offerings were placed on the ground – a banana leaf with flowers, food, and sometimes cigarettes too? The new moon ceremony was occurring in the next couple of days so we came at the right time. We also saw a bunch religious structures made of bamboo erected on the streets. They looked pretty cool. Some of them have coconuts hanging from it and there was a basket where other offerings were placed inside.
The beach was a 10-15min walk from our hotel. It was ok. The sand here looked a bit darker so maybe the colour is attributed to volcanic rock?
Now that we were on location, we could start contacting the dive centers about the open water diving course. After doing this course, we are certified divers for life. Future dives could be cheaper and allows you to further your training for more advanced diving sites. There are about 300 dive companies in Bali. Damn that's a lot. Well after calling about ten different companies we decided to go with Bali Scuba in Sanur. They were a 5 star PADI Dive Center with good reviews online. They had the best price which included everything in their package (hotel transfers, lunch, certification fee, log book, training materials, and 4 ocean dives).
The first two days were theory testing and performing diving skills in confined water (i.e. swimming pool). It was like going back to school. We watched 5 segments of 40min videos with quizzes and a final exam at the end. In the last two days, we reviewed those skills in our 4 ocean dives. We weren't allowed to rent underwater cameras due to the fact that we were in training, which was understandable. One of our dives was the Liberty ship wreck in Tulamben. Regarded as one of the top diving sites in the world, it would have been amazing to take some pics there. The images from our dive in the Great Barrier Reef would pale in comparison to this site. We were awe-struck as soon as we approached the wreck. About 10-12m of the broken front hull of the ship was standing vertically upright. The whole thing was plastered with corals, looking like an otherworldly structure that came from a fantasy novel. Swimming around the rest of the ship was just as impressive. We saw a huge fish called giant sweet lips that was at least 1.5m long. There were huge cauldron shaped corals and a host of other sea creatures. An incredible dive and definitely worth coming back for if we visit Bali again.
So at the end of the fourth day we graduate with our certified license – woohoo! That was a very rewarding experience. If you never done scuba diving before I would encourage you to give it a try. It's a unique way of witnessing wildlife in their natural environment.
After the course we decided to head East to Flores to see if we can do more diving there. Flores was recommended by a Dutch couple we met back in Sukau, Borneo when we did the Bintangan River Cruises together. They've been diving for 16 years and suggested this area to us if we're in Indonesia. Apparently it's a good area to dive and see mantas rays. It's also where Komodo National Park is. Yes, home of the Komodo dragon!