Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Asian Adventure 7 :: 28-30 Aug '09 :: Nusa Lembongan (Bali), Indonesia

What better excuse for yet another weekend escapade than three good friends from the UK passing through Bali. With another hop, skip and an early afternoon jump from work, we arrived in Sanur in time for a few beers before bedtime. Up with the larks in the morning, we took the boat to Nusa Lembongan where we would be stationed away from the hub-bub of the touring masses on the mainland.

After dropping luggage at our 'retreat', we wandered down the beach in search of a quick and easy brunch before renting scooters to explore the island. Given that none of us had a scooter licence (and all but one of the five had never ridden before), we each had to pass the basic test set by the owners: ride down the dusty lane 25 metres, turn, and ride back without falling off, crashing into the wall or injuring any of the chickens. We got three out of five and paid for two drivers to accompany the others (complete with running commentary of the local economy and sights in broken English). There is a seaweed micro-industry feeding the global cosmetics industry but the main money spinner is tourism from running hotels, bars, diving/snorkeling trips and of course, scooter rental (with a little bit of cock-fighting on the side). Total cost for five scooters and two informative drivers - just 450,000 Indonesian rupiah (US$45) for half a day. Bargain.

Jungut Batu Beach

Journeying along secluded tracks towards the suspension bridge connecting the sparsely inhabited Nusa Ceningan, our pot-hole avoidance skills were tested to the max. Made of yellow painted 'Scunthorpe' metal and weathered wooden planks, some of which could have easily swallowed my foot, the bridge easily rocked and swayed during my brief attempts to test its 'suspension'. Next stop was the legendary Gala Gala Underground House, a series of cosy rooms, which add a new dimension to claustrophobic living, fashioned by a man called Made Byasa using only a hammer and chisel. Our final stop was Dream Beach where we were left by our drivers to chill, jump the waves, and chew the fat about, you know, life. (What else is there to do on a semi-deserted beach?). After accidentally loading my bikini with enough sand to create a man-made beach back in Tiong Bahru, it was time to journey back. Our drivers re-appeared through the powers of mobile communication and we were safely deposited back at base in time to head out to dinner.

The Suspension Bridge

Kitchen at the Underground House

Slumber time was cancelled by the cockerels and chickens at 6 a.m., followed by people beating carpets and hammering their wooden huts, dogs and finally wood pigeons that joined the morning chorus. Nusa Lembongan should come with a government sleep warning: EAR PLUGS ESSENTIAL. Thankfully, after a hearty breakfast, we were feeling human enough to join the creatures down below so we headed off for a few hours of snorkeling. Our trip encompassed an area just off the mangroves and then Gamut Bay on Nusa Penida. With the visibility stretching over 30 metres, the experience resembled how one could imagine being miniaturised and dropped into an aquarium at the local pet shop - no turtles or sharks, but a plethora of bright colours darting all around to the soothing sound of the delicate corals being kissed by the ocean.

Watching the sun go down

Gastro highlights:
Linda's Bungalows and Restaurant (Jungut Batu beach, Nusa Lembongan) - sumptuous Asian fusion (sweet chilli, avocado and cheese toasts) items alongside well-prepared and delicious standard Western offerings. They advertise themselves with the slogan "Still the best food on Nusa Lembongan". If it's good quality and budget friendly you're looking for, 100% agree.

Living Room (Seminyak, Bali) - an exquisite Sunday dinner before heading back to Singapore, which cost (for four of us including drinks) approximately 2.5 million Indonesian rupiah - more than we had spent on the entire weekend's activities from Friday through Sunday. Oops. Saying goodbye to dear friends over a scrumptious splurge is clearly the way forward.

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