Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bali to Lembongan

We arrived in exotic Bali...and were immediately heartened to see that DFS had a sale on! Sanur, labelled in lonely planet as 'genteel', I found to be quite crazy, it actually reminded me of Phuket. There is a main drag and many side streets filled with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops selling the same tat, massage parlours and scantly dressed tourists. There was even a multi-storey 24hour McDonalds next to an equally dominant Pizza Hut building. 

Despite this we found some quiet back street charming places and had a wonderful evening catching up with Eva over a couple of beers and some gado gado - a local vegetable dish. She gave us the update on TRACC and we exchanged stories of our recent ventures.

The next day after a farewell brunch, Eva headed to Sulawesi and we headed to the port and caught the fast boat to Nusa Lembongan.  The boat had to weave its way through the huge reef breaks off the Bali coast, dotted with crazy Aussie and local surfers.

Lembongan is one of three islands off Bali's south coast, famed for their deep waters, strong currents and awesome diving. As we approached we could see the huge swells pounding the limestone cliffs despite the sea being relatively calm! Potholed, narrow roads, some paved, circuit the island and the two villages and we found a motorbike was the best way to get around the island and explore. 

Balinese culture is unique, predominantly Hinduism with elements of Buddhism, Animism and ancestral worship, blended to form a peaceful, ceremony rich religion and way of life. A number of temples dot the island of Lembongan and it's neighbours. All properties have alters outside with offerings. Small palm leaf baskets called Canang Sari are seen everywhere on the streets, temples, entrance shrines and just about anywhere. They contain offerings of rice, flowers, sweets and incense sticks and are made daily. As you walk through the villages rich smoky aromas of burnt spices, joss sticks, juniper, borganvalia and frangipani waft past you.

There are a number of coves and beaches now quite developed on the west side of the island. We found a cosy place near our dive centre with breakfast provided and cheap beer right on the beach.

Views over the Javan volcanoes on our descent to Bali

A traditional Indonesian sailing ship moors up for the night in the spotlight of sunset

Sunset lasts but a few minutes here just south of the equator

Cosy little beachfront place

The promenade  obviously takes a battering during the monsoon storms

Gunnung Agung, Bali's largest volcano (3142m) towers over the islands

Shrines and alters are everywhere, this sits outside one of the many temples on Lembongan

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