Archives for posts with tag: Bali

Lovina.

I wake up 5 minutes before I’m supposed to be there, I’ve slept through my alarm, shit. I brush my teeth, throw on some clothes and run out the door. Thankfully I have my trusty moto. I speed to the meeting point taking 10 minutes to do what usually takes 15, granted it is early morning and traffic is light, still I go fast. Arriving at the Indomart about 10 minutes late there is no one to meet me, I’ve missed it. But I ask a worker and he yells out a name and from 2 doors down a man pops his head out and say, “you late”. Yes I know, I’m sorry, can we still go? He grumbles and wants to charge me more money, a lot more, almost double. I’m not really in the mood for this, it is 5 am after all and I haven’t had any coffee, and he’s not just grumbling he’s being really attitudal. I snap at him, either we go on this trip which I have already paid for or I go get my money back and you don’t get paid at all, what would you like to do? He agrees to go and we start to walk to his boat, he’s grumbling the whole way until I tell him I don’t like his attitude and if he is going to be like this the whole time then we can just forget it. We can either be happy with each other or we will not go. I guess he sees that logic in this, seeing as we will be stuck in a boat with each other for the next hour, and his attitude improves. Mine too.

At the last minute a middle aged local woman decides to come along for the ride, she hops in the boat, cackling wildly. This should help lighten the mood.

We’re going to see dolphins as the sun rises, this should be magical right? Not so much. As we make our way across the water I see more and more boats up ahead, I’m not sure I would be exaggerating if I say there were 100 boats. And these boats aren’t just hanging out in the water as the dolphins cruise by on their morning feed. No, these boats are actively chasing the dolphins, getting really, really close. Also these boats are cutting each other off, gunning their engines to make rapid turns and generally being a menace not only to the dolphins but to each other.

This is crazy. I feel major tourist shame. What are we doing disturbing this lovely animal as it tries to go about its business of eating breakfast? Why isn’t there some respect by the guides in their maneuverings? Why did I think it was ok to give money to someone to perpetuate this problem? In my defense I had no idea it would be like this, and quite frankly I am appalled. I ask the driver to back off, to not chase them, I don’t think he understands me and the lady behind me seems to be loving every minute of it so it continues. Resigned, I sit, I take the mandatory photos and I feel shame.

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With so much time on my hands while waiting for the visa extension and a motorbike that’s already paid for I spend my days in Lovina exploring along the main coastal road and also up into the mountains.

On one trip I drive way up into the mountains to see the view over two neighbouring lakes, on the way I pass lots of rice paddies.

Rice Paddies

It becomes apparent that some of the main agricultural crops of this mountainous area are mandarin oranges and hydrangea flowers, they are being sold from roadside stands all the way along the road.

Orange Trees

A roadside shrine catches my eye, the colours of the umbrellas brilliant and crisp against the (briefly) blue sky.

Roadside Temple

Offerings

It’s cold up here, really cold, and I am unprepared, shivering in the wind and fog on my moto bike. I make a brief stop near one of the highest points overlooking Lake Tamblingan. I buy a cup of horribly strong and sweet tea from the roadside stall and have a rest, trying to warm up, teenagers playing Balinese pop music on one side of me and serious motorbikers dressed in leather drinking the same tea and smoking copious clove cigarettes on the other.

Lake Tamblingan

I drive down the other side of the mountain and down a dirt road beside Lake Buyan to find a small temple complex and some fisherman doing their thing in dugout canoes.

Lake Buyan Temple.

Fisherman at Lake Buyan

On another day I make it to Lake Bratan, it’s misty/foggy when I go to take the mandatory photos of the temple sitting on a small spit of land jutting out into the lake, I like the results. There are some musicians playing traditional Balinese music in the large complex, the colours of their clothes is fantastic. Also a large pond with many water lilies, a subject I can never seem to resist snapping a photo of.

Lake Bratan Temple in the mist

Lake Bratan musicians

Lilies at Lake Bratan

Another random stop is the magnificent Meduwe Karang Temple, however the mandatory suggested donation is $10.00, I’m feeling cheap this day so I skip going all the way inside and content myself with photos in the free areas.

Meduwe Karang Temple

Meduwe Karang Temple

As I discover this area of Bali I watch as more and more Panjors are built and erected in honour of the upcoming festival. Panjors are tall bamboo poles with simple decorations are placed outside the entrance to every house creating a festive atmosphere. They are made by weaving coconut leaves into the bamboo and they are then decorated with fruit, cakes and flowers.

Panjors lining the streets

Panjor

I really enjoy the explorations of this area of Bali. It’s still busy with tourists but doesn’t have the same sort of crazy feel that it did down south. I’ve adored having the motorbike with me, it’s an indescribable feeling of freedom that I really enjoy, being able to go anywhere at any time, I love it.

When I was driving towards Lovina I noticed this place beside the road called the Art Zoo. This certainly peaked my curiosity so I made this place the destination of a day trip while I waited for my visa. It’s a fantastical complex of buildings where an artist named Simon is at play. Nobody was home when I showed up for a looky-loo but there was a sign welcoming visitors so I went in for a wander. Paintings, sculptures and various unnameable artworks litter the property. I explore tha many buildings with strange levels and nook and crannies and rattle a few locked doors which I assume are the private areas of this home. An open warehouse space of a studio that I coveted greatly as well as one of the coolest chaise lounges I have ever seen. There wasn’t much about this place that I didn’t like and in this case pictures will definitely speak better than words, so here you go.

Driving further up north on Bali I arrive in Lovina, land of black sand beaches (which are apparently what all the beaches in Bali would look like if they didn’t import the pretty white stuff from elsewhere). I find a place to stay and, after some conflicting internet advice, figure this is where I will get my visa extension done.

It’s an unnecessarily complicated procedure, requiring 3 visits to the Immigration office. On your first visit you apply, on the second you come back and pay your fees and on the third you get to pick up your passport again. In a good week this will take 3 consecutive days, unfortunately there are an awful lot of holidays in Bali and I’m told when I apply that it’ll be 7-10 whole days until I can get my passport again. I’m not down for that and sweetly ask the man who is helping me if there is any way that money will make the process faster. Turns out it will and $50.00 later I’m told I can pick up my passport on Friday. As it’s Monday when I apply and the next three days are holidays this is considered next day service. Thankfully when I show up on Friday it’s all ready to go, yay for Balinese bribery, bureaucracy!

In the meantime I spend my days exploring some of the surrounding areas, more on that to come.

From Nusa Lembongan I head back to Bali and then get myself up to Padang Bai. I’m planning on heading to Lombok from here in a week or 10 days so it’s a good place to rent a motorbike and head out to explore the north of Bali. I’m a little worried about not having that International Drivers License but after some research online and a short, friendly discussion with the local police here I decide to risk it, even if I do get stopped it’ll likely not cost me more than 50,000 rupiah (about 5 dollars). So with my big pack between my knees and my little pack on my back I aim for Tulamben. I’ve read that there is a wreck from WWII just a few meters offshore and I want to snorkel this as I haven’t seen a wreck before.

It’s a beautiful drive up the coastline, I pass through villages, drive up and down curvy mountain roads and see plenty of rice paddies. I relish in the freedom of driving myself around by moto. Upon arriving in Tulamben I find a nice little spot to lay my head and meet 2 brothers from Hawaii and one of their girlfriends. They’re on a surf/dive trip around Bali and together with the guys who work at our guesthouse we make a big bbq fish dinner and sample Dua (not sure about the spelling). It’s a local alcohol that smells strongly of old fish, and tastes suspiciously like it as well. The taste lingers in your mouth long after you drink it. It comes beautifully packaged in a 3 gallon plastic jug, and at only about 5% alcohol content you need to drink a lot of this foul substance to feel any affects. I decline my second glass and opt for beer, being a girl I can get away with this, but the guys are not so lucky and one glass is constantly refilled and passed around the table in swift succession. The language barrier becomes less obvious the more we all drink and it turns into a fun evening.

The next morning I head out to rent some snorkel gear and go see this wreck. As the wreck is only about 10 meters away from shore and in approximately 4 meters of water I can just walk into the water from the shore. Easier said than done, it’s a windy day and the waves are crashing in. To make matters more difficult the beach is made up of baseball sized rocks. Valiantly I manage to get my fins on while being pummeled in the surf and almost losing my bikini top. Barring a bit of bruising on my shins I’m fine and make my way into the deeper water. There are a lot of divers around the wreck, obscuring my view with the bubbles from their tanks, plus with the water so choppy the visibility is not great, really I can’t see much of the wreck, if I didn’t know it was there I would probably have missed it. Figuring that this is not so awesome I head away towards where I have been told there are some really good coral formations. I swim and swim, battling current and waves, for over 20 minutes and find…nothing, just rocks. Exhausted, I am not a strong swimmer, I throw in the towel and drag myself out of the water. I spend 10 minutes hopping along the really hot, black rocks back to return my gear, soles of feet bruised and burnt. Oh well, mission attempted anyways.

Batur Volcano, seen from the eastern coastal road near Tulamben, Bali.

I leave Padang Padang too early in the morning for a bus so it’s an expensive taxi ride to Sanur, where I will catch a locals boat to Nusa Lembongan, finally. This large creaky wooden outrigger delivers me safely and I hop a moto taxi to take me to my hotel. Tamarind Beach Hotel, my first time making a reservation using Agoda, actually planning in advance where I will stay is not something I do usually, but I am thankful for it this time. While I am not able to haggle about the price (having already paid in full online), I’m very happy about this lovely accommodation. A pool overlooking the ocean and a gorgeous room with an outdoor bathroom, luxury…hot water too!

My beautiful room.

View from the pool at Tamarind Beach.

This is my relaxation time. I do yoga every day and eat good, healthy meals. My energy is still so low, I’m not planning on any adventures here. I do rent a motorbike for 4 days though, just to give myself some freedom, it’s a good call as I discover some truly beautiful beaches where I waste away my days, and also a perfect bay and bar to watch the sunset go down accompanied by a cold beer.

Another perfect sunset.

For one day I do a circuit of the whole island and also take the bridge to the neighboring island  of Nusa Ceningan where I drive a little track up over the hump of the island. It’s barely more than a hiking path, and a rocky one at that, yet I do it easily on my scooter, I’m getting better and better at driving these things.

Temple gates

One of the main industries on Nusa Lembongan is the cultivation and processing of various types of seaweed. So all over the island there is a smell that is not unpleasant but a bit weird, kind of salty and musty at the same time. The smell comes from the seaweed laid out on tarps to dry in the sun, it’s gathered daily from the farms set up in the low water between the two islands.

Blue Lagoon

After a week here I feel only a little bit better, I’m still tired constantly. I’m actually starting to become a bit worried about my health, have I picked up something besides the ear infection? Mono, a parasite, or worse? I get in touch with the doctor I visited in Singapore and he suggests yet another course of antibiotics with the addition of a steroidal nasal spray. I swear I have never taken so many drugs in my life, but I am sick of being sick and will buy these things as soon as I possibly can once back on the mainland.

Mangrove Beach

I leave Nusa Lembongan with some regret, I liked it here, a good blend of local flavour with enough tourism to make finding some pretty delicious food easy. A virtual smorgasbord of beaches to choose from daily, friendly locals and a very chill vibe, I almost wish I could stay longer. But the rest of Bali beckons and I’ll need to spend some time renewing my visa soon as well. Onwards.

Collecting shells

Discovering that an International Drivers License is required in Bali or you run the risk of being “interfered” with by the local police, I felt quite trapped, I don’t have one of those so, no motorcycle for me then. I opted instead for a lazy taxi south, seeking a quiet haven, a beach, a pool, a nice, comfortable bed. I found the bed and pool in Padang Padang, a small surfers town with a crowed beach. It was pretty, and much less touristed then Kuta. I felt it safer to rent a moto here for a day and drove around, enjoying the freedom of going, and stopping, whenever and wherever you want.

My meanderings took me to Uluwatu Temple. You’re not allowed into the actual temple itself but it perches majestically on a beautiful stretch of cliffs at the southernmost point of Bali.

The place is absolutely crawling with monkeys who are apparently quite the accomplished pick-pockets. I got lucky and nothing went missing though one did come after my flip flops at one point, while they were still firmly attached to my feet! I’m beginning to grow not so fond of monkeys, especially after my experience on Pualu Weh, at least the ones that are used to being fed by humans that is, they’re cheeky. Looking back I realize I never shared this little story with you, suffice to say I got chased by a very pissed off, very muscular monkey, I won the pissing match by raising my arms above my head and screaming at him. I was the bigger monkey that day.

I enjoyed the surrounding areas of the temple, wandering along the cliffs edge, away from the well trodden path, I ran across grazing cows, birds and some dramatic views.

Well said.

I showed up sick to Bali (as mentioned in my last post), fortunately it didn’t last too long and within a day I was feeling back to “normal”. But normal still wasn’t very good. Still tired, ear infected and feeling downright out of it and done with it all.

I was in Kuta of all places, and it’s a nightmare of a place at the best of times, filled with the worst of all travelers excesses, day-glo mushroom bars, drunken teens, t-shirts and bumper stickers loudly proclaiming that so and so is a fag, or sucks dick, or worse. The local people constantly yelling at you to come into their shops to buy this crap (what must they think of us?) or clamoring to provide transport, transport, transport.  To be dealing with this in my state of mind was appalling, yet it took me 4 days to muster up enough energy to get myself the hell out of Dodge.

I spent my time there either reading a book on the beach, trying to ignore the frenetic posturings of hyperactive/drunk kids or walking around looking for photos opportunities and graffiti. Also finally, planning ahead for a change and making reservations on Nusa Lembongan, for what I hope will be an entire week of relaxation and restoration of my body and soul. But first, I need to get out of Kuta.

Construction heads.

Afternoon blues.

Bali Demon.