Tag Archives: Bali

Post-holiday blues.

This week I have been mostly wallowing in the post-holiday blues.  Getting back to reality is no fun is it?!  Well actually, life is pretty good, but you know, holidays are better! Especially when, as in this case, holiday equals the first opportunity for a very long time to go scuba diving. 17 months out of the water, all told.  A bad combination of me being pregnant and then being on a very short leash whilst breastfeeding, and Ratty breaking his foot and then needing months of recovery and rehabilitation time.  We were definitely ready to get wet again!

Having been to Kubu Indah dive resort and spa previously (12 months earlier for our babymoon in fact!) we knew the dive set up was good.  Or perhaps I should say that Ratty knew, as I’d been sitting watching from the sidelines, drinking mocktails in the shade by the pool and trying not to be jealous when he went off diving every day!  Ian had assured me that the house reef was fantastic, and even better, available for residents to dive independently from dawn ’til dark for up to two hours at a time.  A walk-in entry gently sloping down, with 30 metres visibility and healthy reef alive with fish and marine life. Perfect.

Kubu Indah dive resort

Looking out to the house reef….

To be honest, even if the house reef had been less incredible I think we would have happily dived it every day.  Having dived repeatedly in UK inland dive sites where the visibility is atrocious, the water is frigid and the aquatic life is absent or uninspiring at best, you learn to appreciate the small things.  Usually just relishing being under water for the experience of stepping away from your on-land worries and being at one with the water for an hour. Or in the UK winter months, maybe twenty minutes….if your willpower and frozen fingers last that long….

So imagine my delight when we toddled off for our first dive, leaving baby girl with her pleased-as-punch grandparents for some quality time together.  A dive, at long last.  We’d actually managed it!  And not only did the dive site location make it quick and easy to abandon parental responsibility for a couple of hours of me-time, it was also every bit as good as Ian had lead me to hope.  When you see something as big as a (herd of!) bumphead parrotfish, having looked up from a patch of tiny garden eels hiding in the sand, and then you look over and see a fluttering cloud of moorish idols and bannerfish over the reef you know that you have found somewhere pretty special. Where do you look first on a dive that good?!

Bumphead parrotfish

Bumphead parrotfish…sheep of the deep, grazing on coral!

Better still, because most visitors to Bali don’t want to miss out on the iconic dive sites like the USS Liberty Wreck, Seraya Secrets and Manta Point, the house reef was practically our own private playground every time we dived.  I do understand the ‘dive site hit-list’ mentality.  If you have travelled half way around the world for a once-in-a-lifetime trip somewhere you want to see the best it has to offer.  I’ve been there myself on many a dive trip.  But having been to Bali a few times now and dived a lot of the well known favourites, this time it was lovely to take advantage of the convenience of just re-diving the incredible house reef and seeing what surprises it had to offer up each time.

Getting back in the water has definitely reawaken my dive passion.  Before Bali we were umming and ahhing about going on another big dive trip at Christmas and whether the effort was really worth it.  With a baby in tow as well as the usual dive and underwater photography paraphenalia the logistics and luggage requirements are quite phenomenal! But now, here we are researching locations and travel options.  We fancy a change from Bali and are trying to find the holy grail for diving with a family in tow….affordable, quick and easy to get to, safe and health-risk free, with un-crowded awesome dive sites.  It may take some time!  But at least it eases the post-holiday blues a little to be thinking about the next one!

 

The dragonfly – friend or foe?

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Candidasa lagoon, Bali

In our house, ‘just back from holiday’ goes hand in hand with ‘time to download all the photos off the camera’. As usual, there are hundreds!  Looking through them on the laptop around half of them are family shots, with a further tiny smattering of general shots of people and places around the Balinese town of Candidasa, where we were staying. The rest are shots of the stunning lily-filled lagoon our villa looked out on, and the various wildlife found in and around the lagoon.  Mainly egrets, lilies, and dragonflies.  Lots and lots of dragonflies!  But then that is hardly surprising I guess, as their main food source is mosquitoes and their larvae need water to live in.  Location, location, location, as the old adage goes!

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Asian Groundling dragonfly

We were sat by the swimming pool one afternoon, and this beautiful specimen was crying out to be photographed. The colours were just stunning.  Not being a dragonfly expert I tried to identify him using the miracle that is google.  With a little bit of searching and cross-referencing, my best guess is that he is an Asian Groundling.  Although I have discovered that the same dragonfly can have many different names, depending on where in the world they are seen.  So this one might also be called a Ditch Jewel, an Asian Amberwing, an Orange Skimmer, or a Common Amberwing.

Dragonflies are not only given different names, but are also given different cultural symbolism in different parts of the world. In Japan, for instance, they are held in high regard.  Perhaps unsurprising as Japan was once called Akitsushima, or ‘dragonfly island‘. Dragonflies are revered as symbols of power, courage and agility in Japan and are a popular subject of traditional haiku poems. In neighbouring China, they are used as a good luck charm, symbolising prosperity and harmony. Some Native American cultures hold the dragonfly as a symbol of renewal after hardship; others belief they are the souls of the dead, bringing their blessing.

By contrast, in many European countries, dragonflies have traditionally been more darkly symbolic.  The colloquial names vary, but their translations are revealing. With names like ‘devils’ needle’, ‘eye poker’, ‘horse stinger’ and ‘snake’s servant’, people in countries as widely spread as Wales, Denmark and Portugal were clearly rather wary of the dragonfly in years gone by.

Folklore from different countries associates them a whole host of malevolent characters including the devil, snakes, witches, and hobgoblins.  In Sweden, legend has it that trolls used dragonflies to sew their clothes and also poke out the eyes of their enemies. American folklore speaks of dragonflies stitching closed the mouths, eyes and ears of lying children. It’s certainly one way to make a child behave, scaring them silly about dragonflies sneaking in to sew their mouths shut whilst they sleep. I’m so pleased I wasn’t a child of the traditional folklore storytelling age. I can only imagine the nightmares!

For such a small, fragile looking, beautiful creature, I find it fascinating that they have such negative connotations in so many countries. And interesting that Asian countries generally they have a much better press. But then perhaps the people there caught on to the fact that they were mosquito munchers…and honestly, who could not love a creature that keeps the mosquito population down?! They were definitely very welcome by us for exactly that reason!