November 9, 2017
We just got back from two weeks on the Pelagian and could not be more satisfied. Leslie thought perhaps the second round might not live up to our memories, but Ramon, Judith, Ketut, Yaya, Ari, Agung, Wira and the rest of the crew provided top notch service yet again. Like any extended trip halfway around the world, it wasn’t without its hiccups, but those will provide fodder for future stories.
The self-proclaimed “Spoil Leslie Tour” started and ended with a massage. The first took place in a tree house overlooking the lush Ubud jungle hillside in Bali while the last was enjoyed in a palm roofed hut on shores of the Wakatobi Resort. Somewhere in the middle, she also scheduled a four-treatment spa session that ended with soft skin, relaxed muscles and a firm understanding of her limit … sadly, a realization that came at the 2.5-hour mark of a 3.5-hour session.
Other land based highlights included a stop at the Caviar House in the Doha airport, trekking through a monkey sanctuary that saw several primate attempts to get into Leslie’s purse successfully rebuffed, a stroll through the thousand-year-old Pura Erita Empul where we watched the faithful bath in holy spring waters and a visit to an artisan wood carving village that resulted in the purchase of a Barong mask that promises to ward off evil spirits. Oh, and there was a plantation tour where they harvest Luwak coffee beans from the poop of Asian palm civets.
That last stop was serendipitously recommended by our car driver, Maddy. If there is one piece of advice I would offer to people it is this: chat with the drivers. Want a great local restaurant with affordable food and quiet ambiance? Perhaps you have an uncontrollable urge to show everyone your inner diva at a dive bar with the best assortment of karaoke hits from the 80’s. Need a place that has replacement parts for your equipment? Whatever the need, your driver probably “knows a place/guy”. The recommendations are free and often very useful, but if you lean toward the skeptical/anal retentive end of the spectrum, you can always follow up the conversation with a quick double check on your travel reference app of choice.
As for underwater highlights, there are far too many to count. Muck diving, reef diving, drifts, day and night dives…sooo many opportunities! The next big hurdle is adding the appropriate meta data. Tagging dive site names and information, fish/creature/coral identification, dates, etc. so that our photos and videos can be organized and, more importantly, so we can find what we are looking for later is no small task and will likely take the next month or two to complete.
I am writing this on the return trip so we honestly don’t have too much ready other than the few photos here, but I hope this serves as an appetizer to what will undoubtedly be a steady multimedia stream. In the meantime, here are a few metrics I thought were interesting.
|Total Travel Time||3 days, 12 hours|
|Number of Dives||47|
|Time Underwater||56 hours|
|Number of Video Clips||2007|
|Disk Space Used||7.23 Tb|
|Monkeys Seen||Several hundred|
|Fish Seen||Tens of thousands|
|Most Number of People on A Scooter||4|
|Frequency of Potential Scooter Accidents||Every 15 - 30 seconds|
Finally, as if uncounted Ink Master episodes weren’t providing enough motivation, inspiration or envy, there was a couple on the boat proudly displaying their love for diving through body art. The dark green hammerhead swimming across the back and matching stingrays have piqued my interest.
I was going to wait until retirement to get a tattoo as some sort of life chapter marker; but this sabbatical, more than previous journeys, has adjusted both my outlook and timing. I no longer feel the need to punctuate that moment in that way. From a practical standpoint, all the free time would be a fairly good reminder that I don’t work anymore. Instead, adorning some part of my body with a splash of color could just as easily serve as a beacon of the future or a symbolic lifestyle compass that always points to true happiness.
I will likely get something new school with bright colors and exaggerated features. I would also steer clear of clichéd subject matter. It may be a boxfish or perhaps a frogfish. Nudibranches would be perfect for new school. Then again, Leslie and I first bonded ten years ago about Flamingo Tongues. In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised to be writing about a road trip dedicated to ink next year.
Look for the first collection of photos and a video in the next week or two.