Bali, that gorgeous little island wedged in the middle of Indonesia. If you come from Europe, it’s known as the island of the gods, if you come from Australia it’s known as the island for drinking. Our idea was to make this final destination a real holiday, one where we just chilled and not a whole lot else. It would also provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between Europe and Australia.
After another long journey of 3 planes, we arrived into Bali and headed straight for our room where we crashed out. We thought we would try tackle the jetlag head on, but even the noise of the street could not rouse us. It was at sunset that we finally got out and down to the beach.
As we strolled the Kuta/Legian beach, full with tourists lounging on bean bags and consuming copious amounts of Bintang beer, Sandra asked if this is what Bali is like. She was not impressed with the crowds, noise and the rubbish and thankfully is not always this way, but to get away from it we would need to get further out.
So we spent a few days acclimatizing to the weather, the food and the mass tourism. We caught up with some Perth friends, Cassie and Dan, and enjoyed a sunset drink. It was whilst watching the Australian football final that we over dosed on the Australian culture and departed the pub in search of some peace and quiet.
The next day we headed across the water to the small island of Nusa Lembongan where we established ourselves in a small and quant homestay. With a scooter, we could traverse the island and get to some of the better beaches. It also gave us freedom to try the famous Indonesian warungs (eating huts) and while the food is pretty basic, there is definite value in the food.
There was, of course, an ulterior motive to our visit to Lembongan and that was to dive with Manta rays. We selected our dive company but had to wait a few days as the swell was too large for diving. This gave us plenty of time to relax on the beach, but the swell was again hindering our plans.
Our explorer/adventurer experiences taught us never to settle for what was not what we wanted and so, taking a small path through a restaurant and over a rocky cliff, we arrived at a white sandy beach bordering the turquoise, calm water. This was to be our chosen beach for the next few days.
But it wasn’t all lazing on the beach. We also went on a snorkeling tour which was pleasant as we spotted plenty of reef fish, but was a little annoying when we drifted past large pontoons packed full of tourists. It was also very sad when we started seeing large patches of dead coral. They were laid out flat like a storm had come through and flattened them all. We learnt later that it was the locals using dynamite to fish. So sad in such a beautiful part of the world.
We finally went sub sea once the swell dropped and we had high hopes that the Mantas would come closer to shore. As with all nature experiences, it’s a matter of patience and after some time the first Manta came cruising in over the “cleaning station”. It was such an amazing time, and the ray seemed enormous to us.
The way it moved was spaceship like, floating in and over objects, using its enormous wings for propulsion and maneuvering. As it turned to face us it paused, taking us in and decided we weren’t worth the time. With a few little sweeps of its wings, it was gone.
We continued to peruse the area searching for Mantas and there were 2 other sightings but the visibility was not so good and the rays moving too fast for us to really appreciate them. What we did see were other divers. In a single count there were 48 in our vicinity and probably about 150 in the bay. This was the same on our second dive and it’s another example of tourism running rampant. We are not a solution to the problem but we now know it’s not a nice way to enjoy these creatures.
On the return to the main island we cut straight across to the cliff side region of Bingin where we met up with Steve’s brother Adam and his girlfriend Jenn. Calling a large villa home, we caught up around the pool and over drinks. On the cliff top we enjoyed a breakfast with a view, whilst below we would eat lunches in the local warung with ocean view. Dinners were usually grilled seafood on the beach, feet in the sand with the sun setting.
Steve and Adam went surfing down at the famous Uluwatu and Steve did more looking than surfing whilst Sandra and Jenn got to know one another lazing on the beach, their Latin heritage creating a quick connection.
After a few days, we all moved to the north. We went back to our original room as we had left our larger bag there and we chilled again on the packed Legian beach for the sunset. Armed with a scooter we attacked the streets, negotiating and haggling hard for the smallest things. It’s not the nicest thing but the Balinese love it as much as we did.
We caught up with Jenn and Adam again, the boys went for a surf while the girls attempted to shop. The location and heat proved too much so we all met at a beach side warung for lunch. After a quick massage, we joined again for drinks around the pool and then had dinner at a local beach side restaurant.
Decked out in a gypsy style theme, we enjoyed the tapas and the drinks listening to the waves crashing on the shore. It was a great time had by all and we enjoyed catching up with family in Bali.
The next morning we were on board a plane and heading back to Perth. This would call an official end of our tour du monde. It was a nice way to end the tour, enjoying the gentle culture of the Balinese, the warm weather and affordable prices.