So we’ve crossed into Bali. The island that, I think, evokes many images in people’s minds. From the spiritual. To the ‘sun and the sand’. A beguiling far away land.
It is a beautiful island. That much is clear from the moment we started zipping around the north coast. At the same time, we have seen so many incredibly beautiful places on this journey, and this one is no more stunning. Asia is beautiful.
Anyway, enough waffle. Where were we going?
We were heading to a small town, known only for its diving. And that is why we were heading there. To Tulamben. A one strip road full of 1) dive shops and; 2) dive resorts. Repeat infinitum.
We were there to dive Liberty (or more formally, USAT Liberty).
Liberty was a US transport ship scuttled by the Japanese in 1942, when it became beached on Bali, at Tulamben. It wasn’t until 1963 that it sunk under the waves; all because of a volcanic eruption. Now, obviously I hope no one was hurt in this eruption but ‘thank you’. What a dive site.
50 years since liberty was claimed by the sea…
50 years of creeping, comforting coral growth to hide away the cold, bare, industrial metal.
50 years of turbulence, weakening the hull, the rust, the erosion, forming organic shapes from what was once inorganic.
50 years of ‘a new home’ to the seas creatures, great and small.
It is a surreal dive site. So we dived it twice!
Arriving in Tulamben late in the afternoon we wandered around finding out prices for rooms and dives. We fell upon – after some searching and wrangling – Bali Permai, and the wonderful Kiki! If you are coming to Tumbalen STAY HERE. It is great value and Kiki is an awesome host. He will look after you.
And so, bags barely in the room we were putting on the swimmers and kitting up for a night dive. Why wait for the morning? Lets dive this legendary site when it’s at its eeriest! When all you can see is the short barrel of light that your torch can eek out in the inky blackness. Otherwise. Darkness. A void full of… Don’t think about it.
Was it worth it? Dive 28 – our first shore dive. Our best dive ever!
Following the rocky bank slowly down towards the wreck. The coral life sprang up within our first few fin kicks.
On and on. Until. The torch reflects back a black wall of coral. Impenetrable. The light shooting through small breaks in the, once, strong metal of Liberty.
But the best bit. Absorbed in the dive. Following the dive master. And flicking the light up. And you realise. Your in the belly of the beast. Liberty is all around you. You feel trapped and freed at the same time. Incredible. Incredible. Incredible.
We swam with Bumphead parrotfish. These are about 2/3 the size of me, in length and weight. They are graceful giants. We saw loads of them, hiding, sleeping, swimming amongst the twisted metal.
And the morning was equally epic.
A giant barracuda – almost as long as me. It followed us for most of the dive. Swimming close to check us out. Away. And back in again. It is the rapier of the sea. Quick and deadly… And I had just read about them attacking divers. Calm. Breath. Just swim.
We saw so many amazing things from these dives, words and pictures can not do them justice. Period.