We just got back from a quick getaway to Bali (per Brian's suggestion!). It was too short, but we had a great time. We flew to Bali after work on Wednesday night and stayed in Sanur that evening. We were up bright and early on Thursday to go dive.

We dove at Tulamben Bay, which is the site of the USAT Liberty shipwreck. The Liberty was a US transport ship torpedoed by the Japanese in January 1942. A US destroyer (the Paul Jones, for those of you into that sort of thing) and a Dutch destroyer immediately tried to tow the Liberty to a Dutch port on the north shore of Bali, but she was taking on too much water, so they beached her at Tulamben to salvage cargo and fittings.

In 1963 the tremors associated with the eruption of Mount Agung (a still-active volcano on Bali) caused the Liberty to slip off the beach, and she now lies broken up on a sand slope in 30 to 100 feet (9.1 to 30 m) of water. The ship is a coral reef now; almost every surface is covered with fans and polyps and all kinds of reef life.

We did two beach dives at Tulamben, peering into guns and through windows and under decks. It was a completely different experience from our reef dives in Malaysia. I was almost more intrigued by the skeleton of the ship than the fish, but of course those were fascinating too. We saw parrot fish and heard them snapping off coral with their front "teeth", butterfly fish in pairs, larger brown fish that were so curious they'd swim right into your mask if you let them, and tons of other tiny and less tiny reef fish.

We also saw huge shoals of jacks, swirling in silver tornadoes.

One of the more interesting things about the experience of diving at Tulamben is the porter system. Balinese women serve as porters to carry dive equipment from the vans to the beach and back when you're done. This is their livelihood.

The beach is rocky and I lost my footing several times. Standard tanks weigh about 32 lbs empty, and I have always needed help getting one full tank from the ground to my back and I am always so relieved when I finally get in the water and the buoyancy lifts the weight.

It was truly humbling to watch these women--sometimes girls!-- load multiple dive tanks, BCDs, and weight belts on their heads and run over the rocky beach in their flip flops.