As you may have noticed, I updated the pictures. It took me about 3 hours non-stop, that's not so bad especially considering that Ubud is the cheapest place I have found so far for Internet (9000RP/h). I was so tired after that I decided to have a Balinese massage nearby at the Milano salon .
I took a Perama bus this morning from Sanur at 10:30AM to go to Ubud. I'm staying at Dana Sari, 43 Hanoman St. which is the first place I found. It is very nice and won't complain about the price (40000RP bargained and of course breakfast included). There is no swimming pool (what ?? !) here though it seems strangely kind of a standard in a lots of place in Ubud, but I really don't care much for now.
The United States delayed the visa procedure to October 26, 2004.
I offered myself a birthday present. I had the idea for a couple of weeks now and this is all set today. I will leave on Oct. 4 for a 11-day liveaboard starting from Manado (North Sulawesi) with Murex, probably onboard of the MV Serenade as we are 12 divers.
Took the bus this morning back to Sanur for 25000RP. I went through Ubud and was astonished by all the hawkers that jump on the tourists leaving the bus to stay in Ubud. This place looks insane, it must probably be a Kuta bis . I have asked the people in my bus if it was always like this in Ubud as they stayed there before and they told me that painfully, it was. In their opinion it was much better staying in Padang Bai and do all the daily circuits from there rather than staying in Ubud, even though it involved some additional driving . I understand now why some people told me they basically stayed there less than 2 hours before leaving somewhere else...
I'm back to Padang Bai, tonight. I was quite undecided today about what to do. Stay another night and leave early morning to Lovina or go back to Padang Bai. ( I need to go back to Sanur quickly). Finally I took a couple of bemos back to Padang Bai (25000RP). We had to charter a bemo for the last part as it was quite late, thus it is a bit more expensive than during daytime. I will probably leave to Sanur tomorrow morning.
I did another 2 dives on the USS Liberty wreck. First dive was around 7AM during 80min and second one was around 12PM during 104min. The wreck is absolutely amazing and full of marine life. You could dive here hundred of times without being tired of it, it makes me think about the Lighthouse in Dahab. I'm quite pleased by the pictures I took so far and I start to reasonably use the strobe coupled with the wide angle or the macro lens. It gives me way more possibilities than before. I hope that you will like the pictures as they are much different in style(when I will be able to post them).
Today I'm in Tulamben. I left Padang Bai early morning to get some cash in KlungKung as there are no ATMs in Padang Bai, Candi Dasa nor Alampura. I found at least one ATM that was working in Klungkung. I went back to Padang Bai early enough to catch a chartered car to Tulamben. I paid 50000RP for this one and it took me less than 2 hours to arrive there. I did not feel like taking a bemo for this one, though it would probably be piece of cake and about 20000RP total (and probably 3 to 4 hours).
I took a bemo from Padang Bai to Amlapura (8000RP) followed by a rip-off ride to Abibi (5000RP) to see a magnificent view with rice terraces. The Royal Pool/Water Palace in Tirtagganga was a bit disappointing especially as I missed the 'swimming pool' but I did not go there to swim anyway. I then walked a bit from Tirtagganga to the beginning of Amlapura and jumped into another bemo where the driver tried to overcharge me with 2000RP. Sorry guy, no way I can be ripped off twice in a row, 1000RP is way enough for this ride. I then took another bemo to Candi Dasa (4000RP) which is nothing but a disappointing town.
Internet access in Indonesia is nerves cracking. I have never experienced something THAT slow and it looks like I won't be able to upload pictures before leaving the country. It would probably take 48h non-stop to do it.... It takes me about 10 minutes to check one email in bearaway.org and I need almost 30 minutes on Hotmail (note that I disable pictures loading for that...). This is even slower than a mobile phone connection at 9600BPS shared between 4 users in the Perhentian Islands. And this is not even cheap, roughly a little more than US$2 / hour.
I'm now in Padang Bay. This is a small village known as the main port to go to Lombok as the ferry is leaving from here. I left Nusa Lembongan this morning taking advantage of a small boat that brings fruits and vegetables to the island from Kusemba. I was in the boat with 2 nice german girls, Ines and Jessica who are medical students in Munich and it took us a short hour of sailing/engine to reach Kusemba. (It is basically 10 minutes from Padang Bay)
I decided to stay one more day in Lembongan, giving me another chance to see the Mola Mola that keeps escaping me since the beginning. After all that's my birthday and I'm officially turning 30 today, so it MUST be there. I was very surprised by the number of people that wished me a happy birthday as the word spreaded obviouslly quickly. That was nice from everyone. And thanks to all of you that wished me a happy birthday via email
I'm still pretty mediocre at using the strobe with the camera, moreover the camera itself is very different than the previous model which does not help. I manage to make some excellent pictures from time to time and discover the joy of the wide angle lens underwater, I would need more and more lights however in some shots. Amazingly while sometimes I need more light at full power I find myself overexposing badly some pictures despite being at f/8, 1/1000. All this seems very weird to me since I was used to have only the internet flash and there is no way I could get enough light at something like f/8 1/50 ! What a change !
I've been diving Nusa Lembongan with World Diving since monday and I must say that it is very impressive. The visibility is simply awesome, as is the coral reef and the marine life. The water is however subject to huge thermoclines and ranges from about 24 to 18C, you'd better take a 5mm wetsuit. The downside is that there are impressive currents sometimes reaching up to 5 knots and in every way: left, right, upward and...downward. Some dive sites are not recommended for beginners.
Diving Manta Point and Gamat Bay. As you can guess we are supposed to see Manta rays in Manta Point. The B&W stylish picture is made to avoid the hideous overexposure as I did not anticipate that the Manta would pass right between the sun and me !
I'm moving tomorrow to Nusa Lembongan. It is a very small island about 1 to 3 hours from Sanur (well you never know...), just north of Nusa Penida which itself is between Bali and Lombok. Ok it does not say much to you but it is supposed to be very nice .
I arrived in Bali yesterday evening. I was stuck at the immigration for about 30 minutes as the police officer requested to see my return ticket and of course he could not figured that the date on it was just a fancy one 'July 30' and it was in reality an open ticket.
If you're not a developer don't spend too much time reading this . While in Singapore I have been able to hang around in Computer Books Centre and I was amazed at the number of interesting titles that recently came out. I was also stunned by the number of books about Apache Jakarta products. (Erik and Steve as you might be reading this, yes your book was there of course).
Technical article for now. I have had this question a couple of times so I will try my best to answer questions people may had. Fact is, that is very easy to find internet access anywhere I have been until now even the most remote places you could not think about. Prices are very differents but mostly you will find the most expensive places in industrialized countries which should be around US$2 for the least expensive. For example in Singapore it is S$2.5-3/h, you will get S$6/hour in some places like Orchard Rd, but there is really no point in paying that much.
I went to Qantas to book my ticket. I was not able to find the flight originally as Qantas forked a new company called Australian Airlines last April or around which does only economy seats (some kind of low-cost fares) and basically some domestic and Indonesian flights are now proposed by this one. Anyway, I will be leaving tomorrow and arrive to Denpasar/Bali around 10PM.
I finished everything I had to do in Singapore, and I'd be glad to fly to Indonesia to spend a little bit less money. I will look tomorrow to leave ASAP. Amazingly it looks like there is no flights anymore between Singapore and Bali via OneWorld airlines...strange, were they all canceled ? I will know more by tomorrow hopefully.
I have been reading in the newspaper today that the US will probably delay the visa rules by one year (assuming the countries applies for it). The decision has not be made yet, but it looks like they are thinking about it due to the mess it creates. CNN and BBC both have an article about it. The BBC states the truth in its article about the France situation: Some European countries, such as France and Spain, are reported to be struggling to provide MRPs to their nationals. Even then, only one machine would be available to produce MRPs for all French nationals living abroad[...]. I have had the same information from the French consulate in Singapore, they expect to receive the machine by next year at least...ridiculous.
I went back (again) to the botanical garden to try to make better pictures of the orchids. Unfortunately the weather was not very nice to me as it was very cloudy. I spent countless hours messing around with the settings trying to understand the camera better. I find that it sometimes get confused with the autofocus and that you are better off to switch to manual focus. Also it might be me but it looks like it is often overexposed and that I need to correct it by about 2 EVs.
I took the local metro, the MRT (S$1.60 OW) to go the Jurong Bird Park (S$12) today to try out the new camera. I miserably failed most of the shots with a focus or overexposure problems as I'm still learning the features of it. It is very much different from the C4000Z. Notice, you need at least a 300mm to get there (and of course a tripod).
I spent a couple of hours in the morning at the Singapore Botanic and Orchid Garden. I will have to take the bus next time. This is about the 6th time that I'm doing the walk to this place or around and I'm starting to get tired. I did not take any public transport until now but rather I chose to walk and my personal counter leads me to believe that I'm way over 20km a day (in sandals which does not help )
This is basically the question I'm burning to ask when I have to deal with an insurer that is switched in 'claim' mode. All replies to emails become evasives, do not answer all the questions about the procedure and takes suddenly days. Sun Tzu's tactic at its best.
I'm moving this to a separate article as I put more details into it. This information may help people looking for information as I noticed that I got a good number of hits from Google, MSN and Yahoo search engines. Basically, I have news from DEPP but I'm still working on it. It looks like the job sheets from Olympus do not really satisfy them as there is no amount specified for a possible repair. I can understand that but Olympus does not want to look at it anyway as it is corrosion, so I hardly can see how I can force them to give me a quote for something they don't want to bother repairing as 'it will not be economical'.
I hardly could believe it. I went to the US Embassy this morning and was told that they do not issue tourists visa for people not being resident in Singapore for less than 6 months. Basically I was told to get one somewhere else (Indonesia or Australia) as this is a Singapore specificity. They told me they do this otherwise there would be a queue of 1km outside the embassy.
I don't have any news yet from DEPP despite faxes and emails and basically I'm starting to lose patience a little bit. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt for now as the timing (week-end) and time difference (16 hours) does not play in my favor. However considering the delay for a reply to my claim, I fail to see how the procedure can end in less than 10 days which I would appreciate avoiding, this is always unecessary expenses and delays.