Off the trip to Bali

So, what happened was, I finally quit my job. Had a 3 weeks of much needed break before starting at my new job. Naturally I had to go somewhere, and Bali being my most fav island escapade, therefore off to Bali I went. Prior to Bali, I went to Jakarta for 4 days. Did some shopping, feasting and sight seeing. This time around I opt to use their train service as my hotel is situated near Sudirman train station. Went to Taman Ismail Marzuki, which hosted their local theatre, cinema, art gallery, book store, planetarium and spaces for various cultural performances; ideal for the likes of moviegoers and theater lovers. I didn’t manage to catch any of the shows there though due to the limited time I had. Getting there is relatively easy btw, from Sudirman station, take the train to Manggarai and change the train heading to Jakarta Kota, but get down at Cikini station. From there there’s plenty of taxis and bajaj that’ll take you to Taman Ismail Marzuki.

Sudirman station



Cinema poster. This movie however wasn’t release yet .

I came back to KL on Saturday night. Sunday was spent on car and iphone repair works, laundry, last minute packing, a WEDDING and rushing off to the airport AGAIN at 2am! Phew! Didn’t manage to sleep that night but did doze off for a bit on my early flight to Bali. The views from the window plane were beyond beautiful early in the morning. Couldnt bring bulky dslr on this trip, hence this mediocre picture FML.


This time around I didn’t plan much about the itineraries. I had a week to kill there with nothing much on my schedule. I was busy at work before and this trip was kinda unplanned for me, hence the hefty plane tix and nothing much on schedule. What I know was that I definitely gonna go to Padang Bai to swim and laze around at Bias Tugel beach. And also I would repeat Uluwatu this time. This was gonna be my first time in Padang Bai and third time in Uluwatu. As usual my first stop in Bali was Sanur. I love its night market that’s got plenty of delicious and cheap halal food. Perfect for traveller on a budget like yours truly. Pasar Sandhu is located at Jl. Danau Tamblingan. Gotta say that the food and vendors were pretty much the same since last time I been here in 2012.


The next morning I headed out to Padang Bai. Like my previous visit, I use public transportation to get around. Not many people know this but the best way to move around between far out places in Bali is via bus. From Sanur to Padang Bai it’d cost me IDR75,000 via Perama Bus. Apart from Perama there’s Sarbagita bus service which is ideal if you need to move around to nearby places in Bali. Sort of city bus service. Initially Sarbagita was set up to cater to the tourist’s demand but sadly it’s not really popular with the tourists. Bad marketing, perhaps? I really hope these bus services stay as I really dont want to resort to using supir service.

Padang Bai

Padang Bai serves as a port to the neighbouring islands of Lombok and the Gili sisters. And for the more adventurous, yes there are ferries to Komodo island too. There are two beautiful beaches in Padang Bai; namely Bias Tugel beach and Blue Lagoon (which was featured in Eat Love Pray movie). Both requires a bit of trekking to get there. Blue Lagoon beach is tad bit smaller and further than Bias Tugel, and most of the people opt for motorbike to get there. I chose my accommodation that is nearest to Bias Tugel, but still it needed a bit of trekking to get to the beach.

And you wonder why would anyone fascinated with this hidden beach?..


Bias Tugel beach





Blue Lagoon beach

Diving in Padang Bai

Of course, I didn’t book diving trips prior because I wanted to look around on the price and availability of diving trips offered along Padang Bai area. Lesson learnt from diving trip back in 2012, dont rely on only dive trips available on the internet. Often times (though not all) the dive shops are run by the westerners and not by local people, hence the hefty price charged for dive trips. Thus this time around I decided to shop around for dive trips before securing any dive package. It didn’t take a long search though as I was quite impressed by the dive stories told by local instructor, Imade Widana or more fondly known as Pak Wi. He runs a small dive shop near to the port.


Price per dive is about RM100 (nego for equipments) and of course, depending on the sites. Diving at sites that are further from the port is more expensive. And it’s better to at least possess an advanced diving license prior to diving in Bali as the currents are pretty rough there. But then again, dive sites in Padang Bai are relatively calmer than those in Nusa Penida (possibility of underwater currents at Crystal Bay site). Pak Wi is definitely a macro expert. He has the flare of spotting tiniest sea creatures, some were even smaller than an index finger. So if macros are your fancy, then go look for him in Padang Bai.


On keeping it low key

Guillaume Nery, I doubt his ability to free dive up to a certain ear-drum-ruptured depth is based on a machine operated lung.

Michael Phelps is taunted as the fastest swimmer on earth. How does he able to do that; did he attribute his achievement to his teeny speedo? Or his goggle and swimming cap?

Doubt so.

These people are able to achieve such tremendous achievement due to their own determination, drive, passion, yada yada. Not because of their dazzling sponsorship, state of the art equipment and the likes.

Point is, find your passion and live up to it. I personally dont think that in order for you to enjoy your hobbies, you’d need fancy gears and expensive equipments.

Unless, of course you have monies lying around that you dont know what to do with it.

Say if you’re into travelling. You have time and passion, yes. However if you’re anal about hotel preferences, mode of transportation (i.e taxi over tuk tuk, MAS over Air Asia), food, then it’ll be difficult for you to enjoy your trips. Often times you’ll be complaining about your hotel, the foods that you eat and worse, the local people that you meet along the way. My advice, go for vacation instead of travelling. You suit better as a tourist rather than traveler  Go have your pictures taken with every sign boards that you see. Enjoy yourself in the comfort of economy class in MAS. And yes, people like you may only go to London and Paris for vacation, and leave the remaining 90% land for the common travelers.

Say you’re into diving. First ask yourself, why do you want to dive? To test your underwater ability / to experience different world underwater / to observe marine wildlife / for good cause (i.e save the sea) / or sadly, to showcase your fancy equipment? Reality check for you, you’re able to do all the above, without using any fancy equipment. Utilising dive shop’s rental non fancy fins, mask, BCD would not be a hindrance for you to go diving and experience the best that the ocean can offer.

It somewhat irks me to witness all these gadget flaunting people with hobbies. I mean, it’s great that you found yourself some hobbies, be it golfing, bowling, paintballing, diving, biking and the likes. But c’mon, where does it say that one needs to equip himself with the latest gadget in order to enjoy such hobbies? It’s like you passed your diving lessons today and the next day you’re out buying the latest model of underwater camera. (and you know shit about photography). What does this tell you then? Are you in for the passion or for showing off?

Let’s be real people. Enjoy your hobbies (but try to keep it low).

Diving in Pulau Redang

Pulau Redang is located in the state of Terengganu. There are practically 2 ways to get to the island from the mainland Kuala Terengganu; Shahbandar Jetty right in the middle of the town OR Merang Jetty 45 minutes from town. From Merang to Pulau Redang only takes about 35 mins boat journey.

We stayed in Redang Pelangi Resort for RM380 – 3D2N stay in triple room plus meals. No complaint about the room / meals. Even so I hardly comment on accommodation while traveling..the cheaper, the better. The only luxury local island stay was a few years back in Laguna Island Resort, also in Pulau Redang. Still I spent most of the times at the beach and pool rather than inside the room.

Diving in Pulau Redang

Since its nearing monsoon season, September may not be the prettiest time to go diving in the East Coast. However judging from my previous experiences diving in Pulau Perhentian in September, I know that this trip is not going to be wasted. Plus I HAD to put on my brand new mask for a try 🙂

1. Shore dive / house reef

The vis. was okay. Started at 3m deep and we worked our way deep. The stupid new mask decided to give me a hard time. The water kept on coming inside the mask, that I had to go up few times to re-adjust the mask. Cursed all my way throughout the dive.

2. Pulau Kerengga

Saw turtle, triggerfish, shark

3. Terumbu Kiri

I’ve always loved morning dive. Sadly I can’t recall the fishes that I saw haha.

4. cant remember the name of the site. imma check later with my log book.

Supposed to be a deep dive in the open sea and we were promised with nice soft corals. I had trouble equalising (my buddy was with me all the time) and when we finally gone down to 21m, we’d lost everyone. Tried searching for them for few minutes, but as the water got murkier and darker we decided to abort the dive and go up. The boat picked us two back and later on we saw the bubbles streaming from the water. Upon seeing that my buddy decided to go down again. But not me cause I know, me and my ear problems would only slow her down. Funny thing though my buddy has gone into deco stage that she had to stop several times during descending, only to be reunited with the rest of the divers while they’re doing safety stops. Ha ha. So, a very unlucky dive for both of us.

The rest of the divers reported that they saw lion fish while they were ascending.

5. Che Isa

Saw morray eel, crocodile fish. Pretty soft corals during safety stops. I think the best dive I had in Pulau Redang.

Photo 20-09-2013 12 25 45Photo 20-09-2013 12 32 57 (1) Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Diving in Perhentian Island

This would be my 6th time in Pulau Perhentian. My most visited island, my utmost favourite island gateway. Haihhh there are so many wonderful memories in Perhentian that made me put in the efforts of going there every year without fail. Twice a year even sometimes.

My fellow friends, I hereby present you the Perhentian island 🙂


Coral Bay

Basically Perhentian Island is divided into two;

Perhentian Kecil (small island) and Perhentian Besar (big island). Normally I would go to the small island for the sandy white beach and clear water. The two main beaches are Long Beach and Coral Bay. If you are a sun worshiper like me, then Long Beach is perfect for you. If you prefer privacy then go to Coral Bay. It is also cheaper to stay in Coral Bay.

Annnddd of course, diving. The main dive sites are Tokong Laut (temple of the sea), Sugar Wreck, Terumbu Tiga, D’Lagoon, Batu Layar, etc.


Dive sites and schedules


Off to dive


We had the most awesome dive in Temple of the Sea on a Sunday morning 9th June 2013. The water was clear, the visibility was perfect and being a morning dive, there was practically less current underwater. Saw groups of yellow tailed fishes forming highways (as they moved in line and in groups, sorta highway-like). If you could control your breathing, as in try to produce less bubbles outta your regulator, then you’d be surrounded by these fishes. Amazing.

Then we saw some huge ass morray eel, idiot shark (cause it does nothing, sort of harmless), scorpion fish and many more, I cant quite recall ’em. No pictures as yet, but if I get them I will try to post ’em here.

Oh yeah, these dives at Perhentian are my first dives in 2013, being the last ones in Bali, Nov 2012. So yeah, it felt good to be able to breathe nitrogen again. And mostly to be able to float underwater again after few months.

We dived with Ombak Divers, price is RM70 p/dive (w/out equipment). No complaint from me. But others have their disappointments with certain dive at the sites that were not supposed to be on schedule. 3D2N accommodation + food + transfer boat from Kuala Besut to Perhentian = RM400.




Travel Plan in 2013

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Is there such thing as a perfect plan? Nevertheless plan is all I have right now. And plane tickets.

May 1-7 – Gold Coast, Australia

May end – Palembang, Indonesia

Those are the planned trips in the near months. Apart from Cambodia trip in January, I have also Sandakan trip somewhere in 2013 (can’t remember as it was my bro who purchased the tickets).

Here is the list of places that I definitely want to go before I die (not in any order) :

Machu Picchu, Peru
Raja Ampat island, West Papua
Luang Prabang, Laos
Borobodur & Prambanan temple, Yogjakarta
Beijing, China
Goa, Sri Lanka
North Korea
Holy City of Mecca

andddd more….this list is not exhaustive!

Then there’s diving. I have no plan yet this year. Most probably will go somewhere local. Maybe the furthest overseas trip that I can afford is Koh Lipe in Thailand or Pulau Weh in  Indonesia. Fingers crossed!








Diving at Nusa Penida, Bali – pictures

Of the pictures that I took while on the diving boat :-


We were able to see Mount Agung from our journey back to Sanur


Clear water at Ped / SD


One of our boatmen manhandling the boat 🙂


Sanur beach


This is Bali Scuba

I didn’t have proper diving equipment with me, i.e BCD, reg and mask. Therefore I had to resort to renting those from Bali Scuba. Glad to say that I didn’t encounter any problem using those rented equipments, as in there was no problem of water getting into the mask / reg, as I have often encountered when using the dive shop equipment in Malaysia. So I could say that my diving was a pleasant one, despite the rough water at Nusa Penida.

Diving in Nusa Penida, Bali

What I remember most:

  • Freezing water
  • Beaaaauuutiful reefs and marine life
  • Drift diving, less effort 😛
  • Strong currents that could kill
  • No manta rays, no mola-mola 😦

Nusa Penida is an island southeast of Pulau Dewata Bali (I heard the stewardess referred Bali as Pulau Dewata, somehow it got stuck in my head). Its an inhabited island with the people mostly doing seaweed plantation as their means of living. Its a beautiful hilly island with coastal cliffs, different from what I’ve seen in Malaysia.

To get there you’d need to ride a 40 minutes speed boat from Sanur in Bali, but most of the time only divers go there.

Why Nusa Penida?

“There are more than 20 identified dive sites around the island, the most notable including Crystal Bay, Manta Point, Toyapakeh, Suana Bay and Malibu Point. The rich waters around the three islands support no less than 247 species of coral and 562 species of fish.

Many dive operators based in Bali and neighbouring Nusa Lembongan offer specific dive trips to Nusa Penida. Special attractions include fabulous Mola Mola (Oceanic Sunfish) in season and large Manta Rays year round. Mola Mola are migratory fish and most likely from July to October although sightings are reported all year round. There is diving available here for beginners but most of the dives require a decent level of experience as currents are strong and unpredictable.”

-an excerpt taken from Wikitravel

I really wanted to see manta rays and the nearest dive site that I could go to from Msia is Nusa Penida in Bali. Thus when Airasia has offered a promo tix for only RM166 return, I grabbed it fast; bought in Feb & travel in Nov.

So I booked a dive trip with Bali Scuba (upon searching over the internet, this one provided me with an affordable rate, some other dive operators even quoted in GBP!). Initially we agreed on diving at Manta Point, Crystal Bay and SD sites for USD145 exclude the equipment charge.

A little insight on dive sites at Nusa Penida (taken from Dive the World and Bali Scuba websites) :-

1. Manta Point (South Coast area)

Here the sea is quite shallow, cool and can have strong surge. The water is often quite murky too due to the plankton which attracts mantas, often in small groups. The manta rays come here to feed and often stay for quite a while, seemingly oblivious to the attentions of observant divers. If you give them space then you can watch them circling about for most of the dive in depths ranging from 18 metres up to the surface.

2. Crystal Bay (channel between Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan)

Crystal Bay is perhaps Nusa Penida’s best dive site. It is located in the south west of the island and features a shallow bay, carpeted in corals. The bay provides shelter from current and is a good place to start your dive. Apart from the superb corals in the bay, the big attraction here is that this area is a favourite spot for mola mola, which gather to be cleaned on the slopes of the reef just outside of the bay.

3. Ped (North Coast area)

Ped is the most popular dive site on the nearby Nusa Penida north coast, as it tends to offer currents milder than some of the other sites at Lembongan. Healthy low lying hard coral reef banks slope gently to 20 metres, then down to 40 metres. Occasional manta rays and schools of chevron barracuda add to the rich variety of smaller fish which seem to prefer the calmer waters of Ped.

4. SD or Sekolah Dasar (North Coast area)

The most dived area of Nusa Penida, and rightly so. Rich & healthy stands of coral which are home to an amazing variety of reef fish. Good coral diversity, including long spiraling Wire Corals, Tables and Domes. A great place to see Mola mola in season, and the best drift diving in Bali. This entire North Coast is one long stretch of healthy reef with at least five distinct dive sites.

So I went there on 14 November, which means the mola-mola or sunfish season is over. Oh well. Mola-mola is  migratory by nature, so they’ve probably migrated to colder water somewhere, perhaps Australia. And yes, no mantas as well.

“Airnya jelek sekali”, that’s what I was told by Bagong the Dive Master. Said for the past four weeks the water at Manta Point has been very murky; vis. is about 1m only. Oh well, never mind that. There are always other opportunities, plus the reefs and topography of the island are beautiful, hence resulted in a rewarding experience for me.

Bali Scuba team picked me up at my guest house at around 7.30am. After settling the balance of payment plus rental and inspection of the equipments, we were then transferred to a large boat to start our diving. There were only 3 lady divers (me, J from Seoul and Maripe from Manila) with 2 DMs. As J and I have about similar logs – < 30, we were grouped together with Bagong as our DM. Maripe has about 100 logs (!) so she was coupled with another DM. Its funny that all of us are from different nationalities but we have similar passion in travelling. Maripe has been saying that we were bunch of crazy girls doing crazy things independently, but both J and Maripe are the crazy survivors! J has spent one year doing RTW (oh how I wish I could!) and Maripe is a single mother of 3 kids, the eldest is 15 (!) and she’s a physician in a province area in Philippine.

Prior to this dive trip, I have been doing research on the dive sites at around Nusa Penida. Crystal Point terrified me a bit, as there were divers drowned in the area, with the most recent case reported in August 2012. Everywhere that I read there are warnings on the condition of the water at the dive point; strong current and very cold, with temp reported up to 16c. But determined (and out of curiosity) that I was, I made a point that I should at least experience it as I was hoping to see mantas or mola-mola there.  Bagong assured me, saying that an advanced diver should be fine there, for as long as I follow him and practice safe diving, as in don’t dive further that 20m, etc.

But oh my god I was seasick..haha I never thought that I would be sea sick as I am used to the sea conditions. I puked 4 bloody times in Crystal Bay alone, both before and after diving. Crazy. J was not sparred too, in fact she was a lot worse that I was. Nevertheless lucky for us that we had an awesome dive there despite of the nausea and headache. Oh as I was warned about the freezing water there, I put on a 5mm shortie on top of my 3mm suit. I felt huge, heavy and restricted, as I am used to diving with only tops and shorts. Upon descending I have felt the strong current fighting my way down, but luckily I had no problem equalising and made it to the bottom of 12m. After that everything else was forgotten and nothing seemed to be significant anymore; my mind was shifted to exploring the beautiful reefs and at the same time trying to locate any interesting fishes. Still, I was hoping that we could get lucky and spot mantas. And then the water turned cold. Damn it was freezing,  I wished I had gloves with me. Interestingly the water temp changed few times, warm to cold and back to warm again. Alas we could only managed to dive around 35 mins as our air was running out; fighting the current and the cold temp made us consumed more air. Safety stop was a bit challenging too as I kept on fighting the  current pushing upwards. Yes guess what, I vomited again after we were back on the boat. Damn you currents!

Next dive was drift dive! Yes this could be fun..I’ve never done any drift dive before. I was feeling bit better this time at the next point, Ped. Had no problem equalising, it wasn’t a deep bottom; kinda like shallow then  moved to deeper bottom. I like Ped instantly..very pretty underwater life, effortless dive that I didn’t have to do much kicking to move, the current pretty much brought you along the way. It was rather hard to stop and look at the creatures, as you were being drifted. The downside is when I kept on going deeper than 25m, that I had a bit of narcosis surge (I had felt narcosis before when I was doing my Advanced OWD training). Bagong kept on calling me asking me to move up and maintain at his level and at one point we switched position where I was heading the direction, J was on top of me and Bagong behind me at about 5m-10m away. Gosh it was difficult to switch back to position myself behind Bagong so we remained in that positions throughout the way. I saw puffer fish, giant ass moray, white color scorpion fish, lobster (!), trigger fish, etc. Nice, very nice dive.

After that we had our lunch break on the boat. J was feeling really sick, that she kept on vomiting. But this is a very determined girl; still wanting to dive our last dive at SD. Cool beans. Luckily we were told that SD point is also a drift dive, nothing too rough like Crystal Bay. True enough, I had fun diving at SD point, or rather, drifting away 🙂 But I had a bit of trouble equalising at the beginning, so Bagong and J had to wait for me down below. After that everything was fine and I was able to dive at ease. I think I enjoyed SD the most, eventhough its not as pretty as Crystal Bay but this is less effort for us divers. Again, I was separated far from Bagong as I somehow took the lead. The current was quite strong and we were drifting really fast that it was hard for us to stop and pause to look for creatures. Our air consumption in both Ped and SD were better so we were able to dive longer. And oh, the water is cold in SD. I didnt know this but I had already stripped the 5mm shortie since the dive in I was shivering a bit in SD. But it was okay with me, I really had fun there.

We finished diving at about 2pm and we were transferred back to Sanur. If God’s willing I will come back again to dive and witness the majestic mantas and mola-mola, probably during their season. Or I could go to Tulamben or Amed or Gili islands. Perhaps?