Indonesia 5: Bali trips & Nusa Lembongan

Our flight from Labuan Bajo back to Bali left without any problems, and when we landed, we went straight through to Ubud. Ubud is located in Bali’s inland, and in a more mountanous area, with beautiful ricefields and local villages surrounding it. We stayed in Ubud for only 2 days, as we decided that we also wanted to go to and island south of Bali, called Nus Lembongan. So our days in Ubud where quite packed. On our first day, we went to the Monkey forest, a, as the name already suggests, tropical forests of sorts in central Ubud with many makaques, and ancient temples. It was very fun to relax and walk around it. There were many tourists, and a lot of them were interested in the monkeys, which didn’t always end well for them;) They had their food or toys taken, or were jumped by them. We had seen enough monkeys to know that you should admire their playfulness form afar, and so we were okay. We did see a “newborn” monkey discovering its surroundings, and that was pretty cool. But for the rest, we enjoyed the temples more.

Monkey forest statue.

That night, we arranged a downhill mountain bike trip for tomorrow, and went on a nice dinner on the main road in the cheapest place we could find (Baali is pretty expensive compared to the other Indonesian islands). This turned out to be a great idea, as we had some amazing food, jum!

And so, that next morning we were picked up at 8.45 to drive to the volcano mount Batur, north of Ubud, form where we would start our trip. We stopped at a viewpoint over lake Batur and the surrounding volcano, and started our trip. We were in a group with Dutch people, and a few French. For us Dutch people, we couldn’t go fast enough. It was quite tiring squeezing your break every few seconds to wait for the French to catch up. So at some point, we just left them behind and stopped sometimes so they could catch up. I guess they probably didn’t like the ride as much as we did;) Anyway, we stopped at temples, and cycled through small villages over dreadful roads. The villages were utterly gorgeous! Because of the preparation for the Kuningan festival in a few days, there were Hindu offerings and decorations everywhere. But there were also many temples and statues just everywhere in each village, so I imagine that it is beautiful to be here year round. We stopped at a small farm, and had a tour. It was good to get a look into the everyday life of a local Balinese family. We ended our cycle tour by passing many stunning rice fields, and ending in one as well (see cover image of the post!). We took many pictures along the way:) We can definitely recommend during such a trip when you’re there!

Clothing drying on the side of the road.
A fruit stall near Lake Batur.
Chickens in cages at a local farm.
Rice fields! We made it:)
Almost two hours of bike riding through stunning landscapes.

The next morning, we left for Nusa Lembongan, one of three small islands south of Bali, where you can supposedly see sunfish (mola mola) and manta rays. Our accommodation choice there was probably one of the riskiest of all: a comparatively cheap place called ‘Swastika Inn’ without any reviews. It ended up being awesome though. After dropping our bags, we planned to go to the beach. We would casually look for a dive shop when we would cross one. After learning that the first 3 shops were fully booked for the coming week or so, we got out of this ‘casual mode’ and did our best to find a dive shop at all. The other challenge that day was that there was only one (often malfunctioning) ATM on the island. After maxing out our credit card (= not much), and finding the quite possibly only dive shop on the island with spots left, we finally treated ourselves to a lovely swim, and a even lovelier sunset.

The next morning, we rented a scooter and discovered both Nusa Lembongan and its neighboring island Nusa Ceningan. We found many beaches, and conquered dilapidated, steep roads, to find even more. We ended up having a great day.

We woke up early to go do our two dives that day, to Crystal Bay and to Manta Point. As we both still had the cold that we catched in Labuan Bajo, we were really crossing our fingers that we would be able to equalize our ears during the dives. At Crystal Bay, there was quite a current. We were with twi itehr divers, of which one a newby, who we soon found out used up his air like a maniac:( So even though our ears were fine to dive, we weren’t even able to go to the point in the bay where it’s sometimes possible to see the mola molas, because he was already out of air…Fortunately, we later heard that other people also didn’t see a mola there. But that bay is not so pretty otherwise, so it wasn’t our best dive ever, so to say;) We did see a mantis shrimp and some nudibraches, and a quirky blue-spotted boxfish though!

Our next dive was at manta point, and here it didn’t take long for us to see 5 (!!!) mantas!! We stayed with them for a really long time, while they were circeling around their cleaning stations to get their parasites picked off them by small fishes.

We found at that our unfortunate fellow diver had been out of his air already and for 10 minutes was sharing air with our dive guide. So that was funny, but at least it enables us to stay below until our air was also running out. We went uo a little before it was necessary, as the water was really cold. Joske was actually pretty under-cooled, and  it would have been dangerous to stay even longer. But it was a great dive, definitely one our best! It was amazing to be able to hang around so many mantas for so long!

The next day we did three drift dives, which means you let yourself be swept along with the currents until your air runs out and you surface somewhere else, where the boat picks you up.. We went to the north of Nusa Penida this time, and it had amazing coral. We didn’t see really new things, but it was nice to drift along. By now we already have 46 and 47 (JH) dives by the way! So it gets harder to impress us I think;) Crazy, how much we have dived in such a short amount of time really.

Anyway, in the afternoons after the dives we would enjoy the beach and relax, and at night get some great food woth million dollar views over the see (for far less than that:P). We even had some some fresh tuna bbqed for us, jum:)

On Tuesday we went back by fast ferry (30 min) to Sanur in Bali. This ferry ride was super wild in comparison to our first ferry, which was severely overloaded and hence rode normally. This boat was acting as if it was a speed boat, which it wasn’t, and I’m happy I took a part of a sea-sickeness pill just before;)

Back in Bali, we went back to our beloved Seminyak, to relax at a good hotel for our last days here. We heard that family friends were also in Bali, so we decided to meet up in Nusa Dua, a peninsula in the south of Bali. We rented a taxi, and went in the afternoon, firstly to Uluwatu, to see that famous cliff-temple and its sunset, and them onwards to Tanjung Benoa, a small village on the complete other side of Nusa Dua, to meet up and share a dinner. And it was amazing! First, the sunset at Uluwatu was cloudless and just stunning. Next, at dinner, we enjoyed the best atmosphere and “rijsttafel”, and even forgot about the time! We made our taxi driver really upset because we stayed almost 2 hours longer than when we said we would be ready to go back. Oops:)

The rest of the days in Seminyak we just relaxed and tried to get some tan (apparently, we are “pretty light” for people who have travelled Asia for nearly 6 months:P).

Tomorrow, we will leave this wonderful island for Singapore. Exciting!

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