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Thought I would post a trip report for our recent trip to Bali Indonesia. With my wife doing photos and myself doing video, we have certain expectations when booking with an operator. With Mike Veitch being both, we figured that booking with his company, Www.underwatertribe.com would be a good idea. After researching others experiences, we felt comfortable with moving forward with them. And we couldn't have been more pleased. Our group was a mix of people with varying levels of dive experience/interest, as well as non divers as well. Everyone also didn't arrive or leave at the same time, so needless to say, the booking for our group was challenging. Mike,Miho, and Luca handled everything great, and the trip went off without hitch. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending their operation to anyone, and I don't give those kind of compliments very often...lol. They handled all of the transports from each location, the diving, tanks, guides, gear cleaning, hotels, boats, etc...Everything went like clockwork, even if some things were changed by our group at the last minute. Their main guide Derek is excellent, and mike isn't too shabby a spotter either. Although they did miss a few things on the list, like a mimic octopus, mating blue ring octopus, and orcas. Although, I am willing to forgive them for the last 2. ;-). A lot of the diving is shore diving, so the diving isn't easy. Between getting to the sites, setting up gear, and lifting everything, rinsing it, and also helping you into the water, with breaking water, and rocks that my feet aren't used to stepping on, they were extremely helpful in every way, and made the diving as easy as it could possibly get. For those that haven't been to Bali before, a lot of the dives in the tulamben area, and Pemeturan area are shore dives and you have to deal with the sand in your gear. It makes getting geared up less than ideal, but have the right mindset and you will be fine. Also, I don't know if my feet are extremely sensitive, but the rock to walk on hurt pretty bad at times. I had soft sole booties, but highly recommend thick soles, if you have feet that are less than tough.. Though Derek, and Mike would help with cameras and fins for those entries we were less than sure of. Whether it be unstable rocks, or the surf, they were always willing to help. My only complaint regarding the diving would be the tank fills we generally around 2700-2800 psi. Although this isn't the fault of the operator as there is company that delivers the tanks to all the operators, so this would be the same for everyone. Mike, noticed my air consumption was subpar, so he ordered a larger tank for me. Which helped quite a bit. We had 11 days of diving, and started in the Pemeturan area, staying at adi assri, which was a nice hotel, with nice rooms. We startied diving with menjangan island. It has some nice coral dives, with some moderate walls. Some nice fans for photography. But for video, it was just reef stuff, nothing overly exciting. 1 day was enough for us there. We then dove secret bay, which had the best viz, that mike had ever seen there, so I think we lucked out a bit there. It was 10 degrees colder than in menjangan. Still worth a visit although if viz is low, probably not. We then dove puri jati on the way to tulamben. In Tulamben, we really got in a grove with 6 days there. The liberty wreck dive is the most popular, which we didn't prefer, as it had too many people for us. We liked the liberty slope more, and it had great critters. We dive site, which I can't recall, it wasn't a popular site...but we drove in, saw a cow that was in labor, did the dive, saw 5 mantis shrimps with eggs, probably a dozen ornate ghost pipefish, a clown frogfish, and a warty frogfish, in which I got video of it eating an anenome fish, and some nudis....got done with the dive, and the baby calf was standing next to its mom...will never forget that dive. It was amazing. Did a bunch of night dives in tulamben, have to admit it, it wasn't as good as I had hoped. But still was productive. Didn't help that we went on full moon, and the current was pretty strong. As we ended our time in Tulamben, we journeyed to Sanur, to dive with the mantas, and molas. But on the way to Sanur we dove in Padang bai. We really liked it. And wished we had another few dives there. The water was again 8 degrees cooler than tulamben, but in 2 dives, we saw a rhinopia, nudis, zebra crab, 5 frogfish. Nice diving and good viz. We chose to dive Nusa penida for the last two days. The first day, the surge was poor and we couldn't get to the manta site or mola site, so we dove the reefs there. They are nice healthy reefs, but we were bummed about not being at the other sites. The next day we were able to get to manta point, and chose not to try for the mola, as the chances of seeing one, and taking photos without anyone in them was remote, we chose to shoot mantas, and for the last two dives of the day we could shoot with nobody in the shots..the last dive we were the only ones in the water. Had trains of up to 8 mantas, and in one video frame I counted 13....not bad. We then spent a couple days off gassing in ubud, which is a must do....although two of our group members had to visit the first aid, after getting bitten by the monkeys in monkey forest. Dont take water bottles in there if you don't want a monkey to bite you..trust me..lol. Make sure you take time away from diving to experience the culture and sites, we didn't do too much of that as we had been there before for just land sightseeing a couple years ago, didn't do diving that trip. Also. Beware that if you try to take a drone in there they might cause you problems. They claimed a new law was passed an you needed a permit for one....they wanted me to leave a $3k drone at the airport....I had to promise not to fly it...;-). My overall impressions of Bali as a dive destination are good. It doesn't has as much critter density as Lembeh or anilao, but still very strong. Mike mentioned he thought it was strange that we didn't see more nudis on our trip..the muck diving is still one of the tops in the world, and the combine with nice reefs and manta diving, it really is superb. On top of that, it excels at the topside beauty and the richness of the culture that no other destination can compete with. Everyone should dive Bali at least once In their lives. I'm sure this won't be our last time, and when we come back we will be using Underwater Tribe. Dustin
You may have seen my 54-minute Bali DVD on the net before at 480p, but I have breathed new life into it by improving the colour correction and upscaling from 576i to 720p (by a fancy AviSynth method) for YouTube. At the size embedded size in the forum it really needs to be seen at 720p, which you need to turn on with the cog symbol at the bottom right. You can view the common and scientific names of all the marine life by turning on the captions under the CC button. [youtubehd]uCRBxtQ55_Y[/youtubehd]