We’re in Nusa Lembongan right now, and it’s a lovely little beach town on the island. Very walkable. Very chill vibe. Doesn’t have the scores of touts around constantly offering you taxi rides or asking you to buy souvenirs. I mean, folks here still have a lot of ambition and energy spent towards tourists (most places seem to serve multiple functions. Laundry service that also offers motorbike rentals and lunch. Or a water taxi who also rents out his house as a home stay. Local eatery that also coordinates snorkeling trips and shows movies each night). It’s a really great energy. Weather continues to have clouds and rain and thunder, but luckily it’s only ever been for half of the day.
Today we went snorkeling and the weather was gorgeous this morning. So lucky. Our first stop in Manta Bay and I’m a bit nervous hopping off the side of the boat, but as I plunge in and put on my mask, I see a very large Manta ray swimming right towards me. VERY LARGE!!! Amazing. We saw so many!!! Or possibly just the same two or three making a very large circle route in our area. I am used to the small ones in American aquariums. And I knew these would be bigger, but holy moley. Felt like a 4′ or 5′ wingspan (fin-span?) as they swam by. Then to Crystal Bay, where the water was super clear and the reef was nice with small tropical fishes. But we actually saw better varieties and bigger fish when we did our own snorkeling at Blue Lagoon in Padangbai. There Jessica was able to rent a snorkel on the beach (I brought my own. A purchase I made years ago… Worth every penny. Even if I only snorkel once or twice every few years. I got the kind with a stopper so if one is prone to distraction, like every time a turtle swims past, and turns their head too far, this stopper prevents snorkel from becoming a straw. I swear, I used to inhale so much seawater before I got this). We could just walk into the ocean and swim right over the reefs. The reef in that area wasn’t in the best shape, and being in a small bay (on a crowded island with a trash problem), we were also snorkeling with a fair amount of garbage. And that’s a real bummer as a Pringle can floats by, or a plastic bag. Gorgeous tropical fish, sun shining through clear water, and then garbage floating underwater past you. Still, that was a fantastic afternoon. Not even spoiled too much that we set our towels down near some biting ants. Oops. Unpleasant surprise when we came back. Guess that’s one reason to not cheap out (which we did) and actually renting one of the beach chairs. Ha. Still, was able to brush off/shake off most of the ants. The Bloo Lagoon eco-resort was lovely on the Cliffside above the harbor. They were hosting an aerial yoga retreat while we stayed there. Found ourselves invited to their performance/recital. It was very impressive. The yoga students had been instructed by their teacher to go into town and invite people. So not only were there other tourists and much of the resort staff, but a few families from town came up the hill to watch, too. Very sweet, as each pair had put together a routine of these yoga moves done in the air while the other partner is holding them above their heads. Wild.
Turns out the very vocal cat we befriended poolside (with blue collar and distinctive crooked tail), makes the rounds all over this small harbor town. Because next evening he was all the way up the Cliffside, meowing around us at Bloo Lagoon hotel. Probably a decent life, being a cat in this small fishing town. Not sure which resort owns him, but he puts in some distance.
While in Sanur waiting for our fast boat to Lembongan Island, we stopped for a meal. And I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, in Bali of all places. The local food is pretty amazing, and while I could eat noodles and rice forever, it was nice for a change, too. And such a pleasant surprise when it was super delicious, with a fried egg on top. Yum.
Weather was great for the fast boat ride (hooray). I’ve definitely read some stories of rough crossings/sea sick boats. Went with Glory fast boat, as they were recommended by the Fairmont. As much as our driver had said we could “bargain shop” between all the outfitters, and that using my Indonesian would help us get a better price, I was willing to pay more for safety and comfort. Considering some of these smaller/newer boats can carry horror stories (there are no regulations and no Coast Guard if something happens), and when the cost difference is less than $20 (a big amount in Bali), I felt much more comfortable with this. And the Glory fast boat to Lembongan was wonderful. Very well maintained big boat, ample life vests, professional crew, and they were blasting techno mixes of Adele and Taylor Swift. Huh.
We’ve adjusted our itinerary and won’t be going to Munduk anymore. I’d wanted to stay in a smaller highland town, and see the waterfalls, etc. But when we extended our stay in Ubud, that only left us 2 nights. Which still would’ve been fine (even if locals were horrified we were contemplating 3 hr drive for only two nights). But I seriously tweaked my back climbing back into the boat the last time during our snorkeling trip. So the thought of hiking up and down slippery trails (already emotionally hard for me… *shakes her fist at slippery downhill trails*) to see some waterfalls… Doesn’t seem like a good plan. And Jessica didn’t have her heart set on it. At breakfast this morning, she’d asked, “now, what exactly is there to do in Munduk? I haven’t looked it up yet.” So that’s a good thing that she’s not disappointed. I am, a bit. But it’ll be okay. Plus, she was brave enough to rent a motorbike and ride around the island, while I’m stretching out my back in our room. Had a blast! Sounds amazing. While the roads/driving situation in most of Bali is insane and it’d be seriously dangerous to ride a motorbike like the locals do, on this small island that just has one road that circles it, it was perfect for her.
We’ll be staying the extra 2 nights in Sanur instead, which has lots of shops and stuff and a supposedly great 4km beach walk. And it’s location is much better for taking day trips, so we can go see a few more temples and other sites on the island. Happily my back seems to be okay walking around. Just problematic sitting in some chairs and getting up from lying down. But once I’m walking again, it’s okay. So probably not that temple with the 1,700 stairs on this trip. But there are many options. And my back is an excuse to get another massage. *fingers crossed that it will help*
We’ve found ourselves invited to a fundraiser for animal charity Paws for a Cause to help spay/neutering clinics for the stray dogs. Should be fun. We ate lunch next to the British expat woman organizing it. She’s lived here for 5 years now. 🙂 And her niece was visiting from England (the niece happened to have been born in Seattle, too!!). They seem lovely, and it’s really a labor of love. While many dogs are owned and cared for, spaying/neutering is rarely done (not a concept folks know about and also prohibitively expensive). But to try to control the stray dog populations, Miss Donna has coordinated with vets from mainland Bali who make occasional trips to Lembongan island to perform discount surgeries fixing the dogs (in hopes of controlling population. Because official govt response is to send culling teams in). She seems to have a dedicated group of helpers. We wish them much luck.
We met a lovely German couple on our snorkeling trip, and saw them again at Bali Eco Deli (who run a “do it yourself” plastic bottle recycling program. Amazing. Small island with water that’s not good to drink, leads to so much plastic waste. If you bring in some plastic bottles for recycling, they give you 10% discount, too. And arrange to have it shipped by boat to mainland Bali for recycling). Also, their dragonfruit popsicles are delicious and beyond gorgeous.
We’ve invited Max and Rosa (the German couple) to the dog fundraiser this evening. Your ticket includes two drinks and a buffet. And there’ll be some kind of auction. Should be fun.