We got a public boat to the island, a very basic contraption which we shared with the weeks grocery shopping. There were dark clouds hanging over south Bali and the island, all adding to the islands humidity. We found somewhere to stay and took a little walk through the town. The town is a strange mix of basic and tourist friendly with lots of evidence of their main export, seaweed. They harvest the seaweed offshore and export it to be used as thickener in ice cream and cheese.
Yes we are addicted, time for more diving! Nusa Lembongan is famous for its Manta rays. Our first dive was to Manta point and we could see the dark shapes and curved fins from above the water. We did most of the dive between 5-8metres and saw so many, maybe 30 or 40. They really are majestic creatures, they look more like they are flying than swimming. The dive had a very strong surge and we were swimming forward whilst swaying side to side. The funny thing is that groups of fish do the same thing, carried by the force of the water, quite unfazed!
We boarded the boat for tea and cake and had our break on the waters in crystal bay. This dive was to 21 metres and was so colourful. The dive site was on a slope covered in various corals and with swarms of fish in all shades of blues and yellows. We saw several amazing attempts at camouflage by fish that buried themselves in the sand or were the same colour as the coral they were feeding on.
Back on the island we spent the afternoon around the pool. In the evening we headed into the small town for dinner. Our waiter was very friendly and wanted to talk to us about all sorts, mostly football. Football is something that we get asked about a lot, and although we stare at them blankly it amazes me their commitment to it. This man followed all Liverpools games, watching them in the middle of the night. When he joked if we could get him a trial his reply was “if I lived in England for a few months I would be beautiful and pale.” This is another thing that continues to amaze us, different races ideals and whilst we find a tan healthy, he described pale skin as clean looking.
A more leisurely start was well deserved and we took the day to explore the island by motorbike. The island is home to 3,000 people and attracts tourism. It is neighboured by Nusa Ceringan and Nusa Peninda, more populous but no tourism. We headed north along some very basic roads to the Mangrove forest, then circled the island to a suspension bridge which joins Lembongan and Ceringan island. The rickety wooden bridge was quite scary on bikes but the crystal blue waters below were beautiful.
On the other side the roads were just as basic, rocky and hard to ride on. We headed to dream point and found a cafe with infinity pool which looked out to sea and relaxed enjoying the beautiful view.
As we continued round the coast, following a very questionable map we ended up at Blue Lagoon cliff jump. The water here was amazing crystal blue, so clear it looked shallow but was infant 10 metres deep! David braved the 13 metre jump first although you could see the fear in his face. Anything David is scared of is usually enough for me. It took David’s two launches into the water below before Ricky could resist no more and also took the plunge. He emerged shaking like a leaf but also adrenaline pumping!
We passed through several other basic settlements, passed friendly children on their way to school before crossing back to Lembongan for lunch with a view! In the afternoon we ended up at the stunning dream beach with icy cold waters (very welcome) and huge waves.
We continued down the coast taking in Mushroom bay and Tamarind bay which we had to ourselves. As we followed the coastal path the road began climbing up to reveal a beautiful view of the islands coastline. We stopped for a drink here at Panorama point before descending the twisting roads back to the town.
We caught the islands early boat back to Bali mainland and got a shuttle to Kuta, Bali’s liveliest town. Here it seems are three main attractions, partying, surfing and stocking up on souvenirs. We walked around the towns markets in the days heat and hit the beach in the afternoon. The beach wasn’t very special, mainly occupied by surfers as it was too hot to sit in the sun and the waves crashed in. I was surprised to feel the most uncomfortable I have ever felt on a beach here. It is a place which regularly gets tourists yet wearing a swimsuit I felt very uncomfortable, especially when a grown man asked to have a picture taken with me, and later 5 school girls. It was then we decided to take to a beachside swimming pool to cool off.
On our final day of our travels we tempted fate by renting motorbikes one last time in order to explore more of the south coast. The roads were very busy, like being back in Vietnam where motorbikes rule the roost, however getting out of Kuta we got very lost, circling the town several times and heading up a dual carriageway where low and behold we encountered a police trap. They asked for the bike registration and our driving licences which we produced, however they refused to accept our licences as they weren’t international. He began talking us through a fine and when we would have a court date. Here Ricky, David and I took three different stances. I tried to turn on the tears, David got stern and Ricky played dumb. We explained we were leaving and did not fancy returning for a court appearance and he said, “maybe you can come up with a solution.” Having recently read a book about police corruption in Bolivia, our ears pricked up realising he wanted a bribe. In actual fact, he asked for £5 for each bike, wrote David a ticket which Ricky signed and sent us on our way, not before giving us directions to our next destination knowing full well he had no intention of curbing tourists renting bikes.
We headed to the south west corner, Ulu Watu. Here lies a small temple set dramatically on a cliff face. They dressed us up in attractive purple sarongs and we walked through the grounds to admire the temple. The bluest shades of sea rolled out, a dramatic cliff drop between you and them, and at the top a small Hindu temple perched on the edge, a beautiful site!
We biked back along the coast to Jimboran, a fishing town just outside Kuta. Here we had the 4km white sand beach almost to ourselves with just a few fishermen casting nets into the sea. At the far end of the beach aeroplanes were landing right over the sea. It was a beautiful scene but it did smell a bit fishy. Late afternoon we returned to Kuta enjoying the one way streets several more times before heading home.
Here ends the on the road part of the trip for some time as we head to Perth, Australia on a working visa to replenish the funds! Asia has been a culture shock, one that some days has frustrated us and other times liberated us with their embracing culture and beautiful scenery.
Of the many things I have learnt, here are a few;
A smile transcends all language barriers
Home is where there is a bed and a shower
The amount of possessions I need can fit on my back
Patience is indeed a virtue
The world is both smaller and bigger than I thought
Pretty much any driving rule is negotiable if you use your horn
For every step of new ground I discover, I realise how much more there is to see!
We will be back!