July 03, 2013

Turtle Island, Bali

I took a trip to Indonesia with two close friends from China. For our last day in the island paradise of Bali, we rented a car and driver to take us from Padang Bai to Kuta. When my two travel companions decided to head to a generic children's water park in Kuta, I swiftly distanced myself from them and headed for Turtle Island instead. This resort area is teeming with water sports activities and the aforementioned island has a collection of turtles and other local critters.

My Indonesian driver spoke English well and was a friendly guy. This fact is worthy of mention only since I was making a trip to Indonesia from South Korea, where even a PHD candidate in English Literature can have significant trouble composing full sentences without consulting an electronic dictionary. We discussed topics such as Bollywood movies, family life, and other deep subjects. He joined me on the boat ride to Turtle Island as he had never visited it either. Once out in open water, I took the helm and piloted a boat for the first time.

I had not expected to indulge in water sports on this day, so I did not have any aquatic wear with me. The resort staff provided me with a body hugging wet suit. As I walked to the beach, slowly running my fingers through my curly black hair, I drew many admiring glances. Tourists and locals alike licked their sun-chapped lips at the sight of my toned figure. Since I was in a wetsuit I was allowed to enter the pool where gigantic turtles lazed about. I also had close encounters with snakes, bats, and Komodo dragons.

It turned out to be a day of firsts, as I also tried out a jet-ski (e.g. SeaDoo) and scuba walking. Of the two, I much preferred the freedom and excitement of a jet-ski compared to the constricted environment of scuba walking. For those that do not have any scuba diving certification, scuba walking is the next best thing. I was transported to a platform in the middle of the sea and equipped with a massive dome shaped helmet. Something that resembled a toilet seat was put around my neck to seal the space between the helmet and the top of my wetsuit, so that no water could seep in. A tube attached to an air canister was also attached to my back and I was lowered into the sea.

Looking like a cross between a Russian cosmonaut and a string puppet, I went down a ladder from the platform and then dropped to the sea floor. Although its not possible to go down to any significant depths while scuba walking, I was still submerged beyond my comfort level. With the large helmet weighing me down, I swayed back and forth like a drunken sailor as I walked the seabed and witnessed schools of fishes swirling around me.


Try to be like the turtle - at ease in your own shell. ~ Bill Copeland