Nusa Lembongan 

Is that a mola mola?!
Nusapenida, Indonesia

After a lovely couple of days, we’re on the move again.

Picked up at 8.30am ready for the bus back to Southern Bali, to Sanur where we will catch the ferry to Nusa Lembongan.

The return journey was very much the same, bumping along in an old bus past pretty rice fields, temples and small shops. We had another stop off in Ubud for half an hour, before continuing to Sanur.

We got to Sanur just before 1pm. All the cheap boats that head out to Lembongan go out in the morning, so we’ve missed all of those. No choice but to get an expensive speedboat – with the list price being £17 per person, one way. That’s a lot.

We stopped at the first ferry shop we found – Rocky. And yes, we’re quoted the £17 rate. But then after a bit of chat, suddenly we’re paying just £10 per person. Awesome! Same price as the cheap, slow boat! They drove us (barely 2 minutes – we could have walked!) down to the beach where the ferry leaves from. But we have an hour to go.

So went for some lunch.

The ferry was quite busy – it only fits about 14 people! And took just over half an hour to speed across the choppy straights between Bali and Nusa Lembongan.

1.1365379200.lembongan-beach

We pulled up onto Jungut batu beach and had to wade through the water to reach the shore! Our hotel was barely a 2 minute walk down the beach, right on the beach! A lovely room with bamboo walls, looking right out onto the pool and the beach. Perfect!

Jungut batu beach was a bit disappointing, it’s not a swimming beach. The water is full of boats and also a bit dirty and lots of algae. Lucky we have a pool!

Along the water front is a long concrete promenade with hotels, small eating places and shops. Away from the beach is a main road that has lots of pretty local houses and is covered in bamboo street decorations!

We’ve got a friend working here, so went off to find his dive shop. Totally by accident we ended up on the right street! So we’ve organised a bit of diving!

Then later on in the evening, in the rain, met back up with him for some dinner at a cheap local restaurant.
Tuesday 9 April 2013

This is the life.

Swimming pool before breakfast.

Swimming pool after breakfast.

Swimming pool mid morning.

Swimming pool in the afternoon.

Swimming pool before it gets dark.

That’s all I did, all day.

And drink coconut tanduay (rum) that I bought in the Philippines for £1.30 for a big bottle!

1.1365379200.lembongan-sunset

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Diving time!

What is a day on an island without a day of diving?! And what do we want to see?! Mantas!!

We left early and by 8am were out in a small boat in the choppy water around to a nearby island – Nusa Penida.

The water was fierce, crashing up onto the weathered rocks. It was choppy and you could see the water lines of strong currents converging all over the place. We stopped in a large bay, known as manta point, where it was still rough, but marginally sheltered. This site is known for having 2 manta cleaning stations. But today the conditions were not ideal, even underwater there was a huge surge the whole dive – being swung back and forth 3-4m no matter where we were. As a result the visibility was not good and we saw no mantas 😦 disappointed.

By the time we got back to the boat I wasn’t feeling too good. I don’t do well with waves and surge, felt a bit sick and had a massive headache. We sailed around to a different bay, known as manta bay (dive sites have original names!) where the mantas are apparently usually visible from the surface. Some fishermen sat in the bay told us there had been 5 there early. But that they had already gone.

Oh 😦

So a bit further around the island and we reached Crystal Bay. This dive site is notorious for accidents. It should only be attempted when the conditions are right as the currents here can be dangerous. Luckily we’re diving with people who know what they are doing and we had already checked the tide tables!

Even still, in ‘good’ conditions, there was a weird current that was just up and down and back and forward. Totally confusing. The bay was pretty, a couple of beaches, covered in palms. Underwater the bay sloped away into the deep. Some patches of sand, other patches of coral fighting the fast moving water. We saw a couple of usuals – flatworm, a bright bright red orangutan crab and a broadclub cuttlefish. Just as I turned from the cuttlefish, I saw a thermocline and before I knew what was happening I was in it. And had a massive brain freeze. We had just gone from being in (fairly comfortable) 27/28 degrees, right down to 19 degrees. I was thankful for the 5mm wetsuit that I had earlier laughed at (Where I usually dive, it’s 28/29 degrees, I wear a couple of fancy rash vest tops and boardshorts). I was freezing.

Looking up from my shocked computer, I saw our guide suddenly swimming very quickly into the blue. Oh maybe he’s seen a manta ray. So I started chasing quickly after him. No. It was a MOLA MOLA! (Below is my pathetic attempt at a photo of a mola mola)

1.1365379200.mola-mola-or-just-a-shadow

It’s not the season for mola molas (another name being sunfish). They typically pass through here July – October time. They are incredibly rare and here is really the only place you can come to see them. Although other places (including Sipadan, Borneo) do get them passing through occasionally. I’ve never seen one before and totally never expected to! It moved quickly. I saw it side on – a large circle with a fin top and bottom. It was quite big, about an arm span wide – they do get a lot bigger than that. But it very quickly turned side on and swam away. They swim fast! By the time I got round to thinking about the camera in my hand, it was already far too late.

Aside from the guide, I was the only one in the group who saw it.

Barely 5 minutes later, all the excitement again. Another one! How cool. By the time we were back in the warmer water, looking at a leaf scorpionfish (who cares about those anymore when we’ve just seen a mola mola!)

I wasn’t feeling good. The combined seasickness and freezing cold water had given me a massive headache and I felt sick. Thankfully I at least made it to the surface before throwing up! Being sick through a regulator is not nice. The boat journey back felt long (well, it was 30 minutes) and I was very glad to get back onto sandy, solid surface again!

After a while, my seasickness passed and I realised it was 1pm and I was really hungry!

1.1365379200.lunch

Diving is hard work here – I’m not used to all these weird currents! So time for some more chicken sate! That is what I seem to be eating for every single meal. Why have anything else when it’s just so good?! After a cool off in the pool. Yes, more swimming! I was shattered! I had a bit of a shock at 6pm when I glanced outside and everything was orange. What?! We’re getting a sunset??

I ran outside with my camera and it was so pretty! The last couple of days have been far too cloudy it’s just got dark and I didn’t even realise we were staying in the perfect spot for a lovely sunset! Orange across the water, full of boats! Really nice! Yay Mola Mola.

Thursday 11 April 2013

We woke up to rain. Oh no! But going diving again! Thankfully the rain stopped by 8am and we were off on a boat, again in choppy water (but a bit less so today) around the northern end of Nusa Penida. I was fully prepared having taken seasickness tablets this time, so all was good!

It’s not possible to go to the manta ray area today as the waves are too high. So no mantas this time for me. That’s a shame.

We did 2 dives around the northern corner of Nusa Penida. The coral was lovely – so pretty, huge shapes, just going on forever. Totally different to Mabul and loads of fish around. Nothing too special (actually rather a lack of any kind of interesting sea creatures!) which is strange given how healthy the reefs are. The visibility was good so we just ended up taking photos of ourselves instead!

Again, some odd thermoclines, cold water mixing with hot. But not as ridiculous as yesterday, only a 4 degree difference! We got back to Lembongan around 1pm, time for some lunch (chicken sate again?!) and some swimming and sleeping! Sadly too cloudy for a final sunset.

For our last dinner on the island, along with our friend who works here, we went to a fancier restaurant! It was way more expensive than what we have been paying previously (being a whole £3 for a meal rather than £1.30!) but the food was amazing!! I had nasi campur which means mixed rice. You get rice with a little bit of loads of things – beef rending, chicken curry, gado gado, tofu, curried fish and crackers! Perfect for someone who can never make their mind up on what to have – as you get everything! And it was the best meal!

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