Friday, 17 October 2014

Adventures in Bali: Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is a little island about 30 minutes boat ride from Bali's South-East coast. It's less spoilt by tourism compared to Bali and Lombok and its waters are well known for their surfing and diving potential. 

We stayed on Nusa Lembongan for four nights, arriving after the most frightening boat ride I've ever taken. We'd taken the final seats available, facing backwards on the front row of a small boat, about to sail on very rough waters from Gili T. It was never going to be dreamy. Water came in through the 'sealed' door frame overhead and sweat soaked through my camisole. My bum was lifted from the seat, then crashed back into it with force. My hands kept a sweaty grip on the seat in front of me and nervous laughter escaped each time to boat crashed down against the water. M wasn't faring much better than me. When we stepped of that boat onto Nusa Lembongan's sandy beach, the relief matched the exhaustion. We stayed at World Diving in a sunset seaview room, around ten minutes walk along the beach from the harbour. The room was clean and comfy, and only a low wall separated us from the beach. We'd arrived early evening so got everything planned for the next day's diving and then headed down the beachfront, eating at Bunga Bungalo and heading uphill for a drink on Jungut Batu Hill, watching the waves crash into the cliffs and feeling very glad to be off that boat!

All of our dives were early morning at World Diving, setting up around 7.30am. They have a brilliant outrigger dive boat with a toilet, hot and cold drinks, and a sun deck with bean bags to relax on between dives. My diving experience is still fairly limited but the corals around Lembongan were spectacular. They were the most vibrant rainbow of colours I've seen. Lembongan is known for having strong currents and all of our dives were drift dives. You could really feel the current pushing you at times, but we didn't have any issues. At the right time of year, you can see mola molas in these waters. We weren't so lucky - too early, but we did see another turtle, scorpion fish, cuttlefish, a banded sea snake, nudibranch, and lots of other beautiful marine life. World Diving were wonderful and they are by miles and miles the best dive school we've dived with. 

The dive schedule also meant that we had the afternoons to ourselves and we used them to explore this beautiful island. There are no cars on the island so we decided to hire a scooter. Ten year old girls in pigtails whizzed past as we juddered slowly forward, but twenty minutes into it, we were away! We headed north to the mangrove forests and visited Lembongan Village and the seaweed farms in the south of the island. Seaweed farming appeared to be the main industry here. We saw lots of islanders walking the stretch of the beach late at night collecting seaweed. As you move around the island, and particularly on the south east side, you can see men and women working on the farms and drying out their stock in the sun.

One of the central reasons we hired the scooter was so that we could visit Nusa Ceningan, a smaller island which neighbours Lembongan which can only be accessed across a pretty rickety wooden suspension bridge. We'd initially planned to stay on Ceningan at La Pirate, which offers small seahut accommodations on Ceningan. It looked charming and peaceful, but we'd have paid a lot more to dive from this island. We stopped to eat at La Pirate and, as expected, its isolated location created an atmosphere of absolute calm. I'm glad we stopped off for a visit. There wasn't too much else to see, as such, on Ceningan but the scooter allowed us to move through the thick vegetation to access its highest points and take in the views. We headed back over the bridge to Nusa Lembongan and watched the light change over Jungut Batu, with Bali's volcanoes peeping through the clouds in the distance.

Nusa Lembongan definitely felt like a more authentic Balinese experience. It can become fairly busy in the middle of the day as tour providers visit the island from Bali but at night, those tourists disappear. There's no shortage of places to eat. We ate at a lovely little restaurant attached to Tigerlilly's hotel. We also had a good breakfast at Bali Eco Deli, which works hard to promote eco tourism on Lembongan. One evening we took advantage of the free pick up and drop off service at The Beach Club at Sandy Bay. As long as you buy food or drink, they'll come and collect you from anywhere on the island and drop you back off when you're ready. The food was delicious and I'd happily make my way through their cocktail list. The cliffs in this bay are unreal so time your visit so that you can climb up and walk around the coast to Devils Tear for the perfect spot to watch the beautiful sunsets.

I really enjoyed Lembongan. World Diving's social media feed is filled with photographs of mola mola's at the moment and I've been so tempted to book flights to get back to this captivating island. From Nusa Lembongan we headed by boat to our final stop, Sanur.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Remember to Remember: Summer 2014

I love this photo taken of an overgrown van in a garden in Latvia
This Summer seemed to pass by quickly. I had quite a full diary and there were fewer chances than I'd hoped to just sit in the yard-en and admire the plant pots and beautiful honeysuckle, which flowered for the first time this year, four years after it was first potted.

Diary scribbles: Summer 2014
  • A trip to London with my mum: Miss Saigon and afternoon tea at Claridges
  • Crafting
  • Dinners and sharing holiday photos with friends
  • Betting on black at a casino to celebrate a good friend's 30th birthday
  • A three week adventure travelling around Bali and Gili Trawangan
  • Mid week wine dates with friends
  • A weekend of board games, cycling, spa fun, barbecues, crazy golf, boules and hot chocolates with friends at Centre Parcs, Sherwood Forest
  • Watching the rain fall, cosy with a mug of hot chocolate
  • A family spa visit to Ribby Hall for my mum's birthday
  • A week visiting M's family and exploring Latvia: beaver watching, saunas, castles, beaches, elderflower beer, turning trees
  • Treating myself to Clarins Beauty Flash
  • Investing in our own copy of Settlers of Catan
  • Long sunny walks
  • Baking homemade peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies
  • Impromptu pub dinners
  • Stripping (wallpaper) and prepping to redecorate our second bedroom/office
  • Little spending sprees, including my new favourite Autumn coat
  • Total relaxation on an overnight stay at the Quay Hotel and Spa and a day exploring Conwy
  • Graduation celebrations in honour of my little brother's PGCE
  • Lunch dates and Frappuccinos
  • Liverpool's Summer Art Market Craft market
  • A day as tourists in our own city
  • A beautiful Brighton wedding
  • Garden centres, making the yarden look pretty and wishing I had a garden of my own
  • Overeating at Liverpool's Food and Drink Festival
  • Chasing giants around Liverpool for Giant Spectacular's Memories of August 1914
  • Celebrating a leather anniversary and falling in love with my beautiful new leather satchel
  • A long overdue hair cut and pamper
  • Impromptu half price Indian head massages
  • Becoming an ebay whizz
It's already October and I'm only just publishing this post! This is mainly because of the ongoing redecorating project in our office which has meant that the computer has been in bits, and stored in the bedroom, living room, even the bathroom over the past month! I'm finally sat at my desk in my home office, sliding the chair across the new flooring. Still staring at a bare plaster wall, though. As I said, it's ongoing!
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