TV crews come to Les

I’d been in Bali filming with two TV crews, one from France’s biggest travel show and another with an MTV-ish Indonesian youth TV channel, pictured below. 


That was just three months after I first visited Les in 2012. And, no kidding. The village is truly a village. Then, it had no tourist infrastructure.

The village head, Pak Gede, built a cottage that could house tourists. But the village never hosted tourists before. So I was tourist guinea-pig. Things transformed before my eyes. My casual observations about what could be done “next time you build a new cottage” were taken literally, and instantly. The bathroom was rebuilt. Pest traps were set to dissuade ants feeding off dive-bombing night beetles. Balcony railings to hang wet dive gear were installed by bamboo weavers. A pebble pathway for divers to descend from the cottage to the beach miraculously appeared in the time I surfaced from a dive. Pak Gede sold his car to finance more new cottages. His wife practiced her vegetarian recipes on me.

Next, we had to find and train English-speaking villagers. We structured a volunteer program around the ability of the locals to communicate with the volunteers. We coaxed village waterfall guides through stage-fright. Ditch the powerpoint. 

Meantime, a new coral farm structure -  think concrete pylons underwater – had to be built by the fishermen. We then blessed it. 


Back to the TV crews. In Australia, everything is dogged by occupational health and safety but for good reason. For instance, so that your youthshow presenters don’t dive without certification. Or your cameraman doesn’t shoot an underwater documentary on his first dive after open water certification many moons ago. In the picture below, the guy floundering at the back was actually filming. Had he managed to hold onto his camera. 


I mentally checked off that my pro diving liability insurance was still in place before wandering in underwater as film subject, anticipating – and it transpired indeed – that I would end up safety supervising the film shoots. Still, that French cameraman – yes the one floundering in the photo - was the best beginner I ever met. By the end of his second dive, he was smoothly panning along the freediving fishermen and maintaining stationary hovers superbly. That’s the best thing beginners can learn about diving – just don’t THINK about it. Instead, relax and let the body take over.