We were very excited to have a week off, do some great diving, and see our friends Thomas and Inga again. When we announced that we’d be moving to Bali, they were both very happy for us and almost immediately called us on the phone, first saying congratulations, then asking when would be a good time to visit (they are always down for a meetup!). We originally met Thomas and Inga on our very first liveaboard trip in Thailand. Becoming fast friends over our mutual love of travel, diving, and bacon, we have gotten to see them quite a bit in our wonderings. After brainstorming some ideas, we made the decision to meet up for another liveaboard trip in Komodo National Park.
Diving in Komodo was an amazing experience! Not only were the various dive sites we visited teeming with life of all kinds, but we all got to dive together as a small 4 person group and share the daily adventures of looking for yellow box fish, avoiding trigger fish attacks, and working on our buoyancy through challenging currents.
Unfortunately, there is no underwater photos or videos from this trip. On the second dive of the first day, our trusty GoPro broke off its housing stick and sank into the deep. None of us saw it happen but the evidence was clear. Back on the boat, clipped to my BCD was the stick, but no GoPro. “An offering to the ocean gods” I remember saying. We were a bit gutted but this unfortunate incident forced us to be more in the moment and stay present to everything happening around us. Well, those ocean gods clearly loved our wonderful gift because the entire trip was full of incredible sights and creatures! We saw turtles, sharks, all kinds of mantas and rays, eels, and tons more. Some of the dive site highlights included: “The Shotgun” (a small channel between two island where the ocean rushes through and carries you along for a rollercoaster-like ride!), “Shark Alley” (an intense current dive where you hook into the reef and sit back and watch all the sharks come in and out of the current) and “Manta Alley” (an amazing reef site where, you guessed it, the mantas love to hang out at the cleaning station). We all got to see some of our favorites, except for Thomas. Sorry dude, no whale sharks on this trip; sign us up for the next one!
Aside from the fantastic diving, our liveaboard also arranged for us to see some of the other amazing natural highlights the Komodo islands have to offer. We stopped off one afternoon on a very small, secluded beach. “Pink Beach” got its name for the mixture of white and red corals which, over time, get ground down into sand which has an awesome pink color to it. Another morning we got up early to take a small boat to Padar Island to catch the sunrise. At the top of a short hike, the incredible landscape of the Komodo islands showed off all its greatness. A variety of mountains and valleys scraped along the horizon of the sea. It’s as though someone took a strip of paper from a heartbeat monitor and laid it across the ocean.
Our trip would not have been complete without seeing the infamous komodo dragons! We stopped off on the main Komodo island and were greeted by the park rangers, all of whom are walking around carrying large, robust sticks with a “Y” shape at the end. No guns, boots, or tactical gear. They only protection we had was a couple of dudes in flip flops and a big ass stick. There are a few established trails that the rangers take tourists on in hopes of spotting some dragons. It didn’t take long before we encountered our first one! We weren’t sure if we’d even see any (no guarantees with mother nature) but we ended up seeing quite a few. One even followed us for a little while as we were heading back down the trail towards our boat. We’ve seen a few creatures that we might compare to living dinosaurs, these magnificent beasts are one of them! Very cool!
Upon our return to Bali, Thomas and Inga used our place as a home base to tour around and explore the island, while Alison and I…went back to work! Fortunately for us the week we returned was also Halloween!! A little context: during the weeks leading up to Halloween, I put together a few classes after school teaching special f/x makeup application and design. It was a lot of fun and the students I had in this mini-course were amazing. They really got into the ideas and loved getting messy. They left each session looking like zombies or car crash victims in all their horrible, macabre, gory glory. Needless to say, they scared the shit out of the security guards as they exited campus. It was awesome. On that Friday, the school hosted their annual Halloween party for the school community. They hadn’t been able to throw the party for the past few years, for obvious reasons, but this year the school was determined to bring it back full throttle. I got asked to apply makeup for some of the teachers who were running stalls and participating in the event, and Alison was a huge help as we had so many kids and teachers wanting makeup. It was a few tough hours of balancing and juggling all the makeups but it was a ton of fun to walk around afterwards and get caught up in the spirit of the Halloween festivities. Kids and parents all got dressed up in costumes to enjoy the festivities and activities that the school put together. It was amazing to be around that much Halloween energy. It definitely brought us back to the amazing Halloweens we had growing up in New England.
That weekend was also our last weekend with Thomas and Inga before they flew back to Germany. We had some really fun times with them while they were here and it was wonderful to see them again and create more memories! Thanks you guys! We’ve already decided another reunion meetup will take place sometime in 2023. Stay tuned.
Alison and I both love to adventure and have new experiences. But during the “normal” week, we also both love our routines. Settling into Term 2 at school had its challenges. For one, the amount of time we spend in the classroom each week took a little getting used to (not to mention the planning/grading that comes with it). The first year at a new school is always a challenge as you’re constantly learning (and attempting) to keep your own self afloat in all the new chaos. But in Term 2, we found our mojo. Alison stayed consistent with her increasing extreme athletics. During a weekend in November, Alison ran one of the wildest races of her athletic career! It was a 55k trail run where competitors run up one of the volcanoes here in Bali (Mount Batur), then around the lake at its base, up another mountain on the other side, then complete the loop of the lake only to run up Mount Batur again before finishing! Seriously, my girl’s insane. But she’s also an absolute animal and was the second place female finisher!! We’re very proud! It’s worth noting that out of the 54 total competitors for this event, only 23 met all the various cut-off times and finished. Wow! You’re a rock star Li’l Bug! It’s been a busy season for Alison as she’s also completed a few other events as well including a 100k L’Etape (Tour de France) cycling event and trail run up Mount Agung (Bali’s highest peak). She’s also been an avid member of a local running group. No one knows where she finds all her energy. It’s a mystery that rivals the Shroud of Turin or the Bermuda Triangle.
Not to be outdone, I’ve also been doing my share of cycling and running (though I can never make myself quite enjoy running; audiobooks certainly help but only so much). Many of you may know that for most of my life I’ve practiced martial arts. I started when I was a kid right up through my mid-twenties; even owning a school of my own for 4 years before getting into teaching. But I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I had a great instructor while we lived in China and tried to find my place in Bulgaria but things/COVID didn’t really work out. Here in Bali, there is no shortage of things to do and try. I recently started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have really enjoyed it. It’s terribly difficult and mentally taxing but I suppose I like it that way. More progress to come.
In early December, Alison and I celebrated our anniversary at a very chilled out, off the beaten path kind of place not too far from our home in Canggu. It was quiet, comfy, and even a bit swanky. We had a lovely time and thought it could be a place to keep in mind if we ever need to just get away for a day or two. The food was incredible, the beach was practically empty, and the sound of cars and scooters was nowhere to be found. It was idyllic. We might have to make it a tradition while we’re here!
Term 2 wrapped up and we found ourselves preparing for our much needed holiday break. A scuba diving trip to the nearby Gili Islands. More on that later.
We wish you all well and hope you are all happy, healthy, and doing the things you love.
Peace and Love,
Grant & Alison
One thought on “October Break and ‘Fall’ing into Bali Life”
Hi to both of you, amazing to read about your adventures! Grant, congrats on the vasectomy! I love hearing about friends, who are also childfree by choice! Alison, you are incredible and it’s inspiring to read about your triathlons and more! Wishing you the best from snowy cold Vermont, I’m sure you heard we had -40 wind chills yesterday.