Lorelei’s Sailing Adventures
Welcome to Episode 41
LOMBOK TO BALI
During Episode 40, we spent time in The Komodo National Park Diving & Exploring before heading to southern Sumbawa for 2 weeks of surfing, all with our Aussie friend Nathan Evans.
Our location for this Episode of the Blog.
Our route for this Episode of the Blog.
SAILING FROM SUMBAWA TO LOMBOK
The day our friend Nathan left, we were exhausted.
It had been an action packed 3+ weeks so we indulged in 36 hours of relaxing and watching movies.
Nathan’s room returned to becoming the camera & storage room once again.
We tidied up and prepped Lorelei for a 24 hour sail to our next destination – Lombok.
We had originally planned on stopping at western Sumbawa to surf some well known breaks there (Super Suck, Scar Reef, Yo-Yo’s, etc..), but the swell direction and size was not right for the upcoming week so we decided to head further west to south east Lombok to try Inside and Outside Ekas.
Inside Ekas is a beginner to intermediate surf break which would suit Lisa much better than the more advanced breaks at west Sumbawa.
The passage was 125nm so we left at 9am on Sunday 16th August.
The first half was your typical Indo passage – rough, wind up/wind down, motor on/motor off, currents, tides and generally crappy conditions.
We had a pretty cool sunset though.
That night it was super clear with no moon and we were able to watch the much talked about meteor showers which were all over the internet.
We saw some great ones and a huge one for Lisa that went right across the sky and was bright green.
EKA’S - LOMBOK
We arrived outside the Eka’s bay entrance to a very red sunrise and were greeted by amazing cliffs with the rising sun shining on them.
Once inside the bay we were shocked to see 100’s (probably more…) of the floating fishing platforms. They were only 20 meters apart, right across the bay and as far as the eye could see.
Weaving through them and their mooring lines in the low light conditions and heavy haze was a little nerve wracking.
By 8am we were safely anchored up under the cliffs and right next to the Inside Ekas surf break.
Up on the top of the cliffs is the Heaven on the Planet surf resort.
They own the surrounding beaches and outsiders are definitely not welcome and we were warned not to step foot on land for fear of the wrath from the New Zealand lady who is the owner.
Sadly they have made the surf break impossible to access from land to give their guests exclusivity.
That is unless you have a boat….
They cannot stop people using the waterways and that includes the surf break.
However they have set up powerful lights on the cliff faces to allow guests to surf Inside Ekas at night time and non resort guests are not welcome in the surf during that time.
The first night we went outside to find the bay looking like an airport runway at night with 1000’s of lights from the fishing platforms spaning 180 degrees right around the bay.
The resort also turned it on with a fireworks display at 8pm.
For 2 days the surf was flat and the strong wind blew directly offshore. Paul couldn’t even kite in the gusty conditions.
It wasn’t until 2 days after we arrived that the haze cleared from the north revealing a huge mountain towering over the bay.
We couldn’t believe we had not seen it until then.
It turned out to be Mount Rinjani which at 3726m high is the second highest volcano in Indonesia.
That morning we were finally able to go and have a look at the surf.
It was still really small so we took a kayak and SUP.
We went to Inside Ekas and caught some small but fun waves.
Party wave!!! Note Lorelei in the background…
We decided to paddle out to Outside Ekas but the wind was getting up so we hugged the cliff face for protection.
Outside Ekas was not very good.
The wave was shifty with the peak breaking all over the place and there was no face to the wave.
Hence we didn’t stay long.
We decided to leave the next day.
We are sure on its day Ekas would have a great wave but those days are few and far between. It requires a certain swell direction and a big one at that.
At least at places like Lakey and West Sumbawa you have the choice of many waves in the area. Ekas has just 2…..
The other issue we found was there are no other water sports to do if there is no surf aside from flat water kayaking or SUP along the shoreline.
Land tours are also limited as it is such an isolated location.
BELONGAS BAY - LOMBOK
We decided to head further west to Nusa Lembongan which is a small island about 10nm east of Bali.
It was 70nm away so we decided to break the trip up into 2 day passages.
The first was a small 30nm run from Ekas to Belongas Bay on the SW corner of Lombok.
The steep and rocky shoreline looked amazing from Lorelei so we stayed close to the coast.
Lisa renamed this island “Whale Rock”
As we were rounding the last headland, Lisa looked over the side to see a large Scalloped Hammerhead Shark swimming on the surface right next to Lorelei.
By the time Paul went downstairs and grabbed the camera, it had dived.
Belongas bay was so flat and still!
After having been in rolly anchorages for a long time it was a very nice change.
It also meant we could use the washing machine for the first time in over a month.
We had over 10 loads that needed to be done and Lorelei looked like a Chinese Laundry.
We were up before dawn and reluctantly took off for the 55nm passage to Nusa Lembongan.
Belongas Bay at daybreak
When leaving the bay, we had to go over a shallow reef between the mainland and a small rock island. We had less than 2m water under the keel down to the coral bottom.
THE IMFAMOUS LOMBOK STRAIGHT…
Nusa Lembongan is a small island that is located in the infamous Lombok Straight that separates Lombok from Bali.
It is a major shipping channel and the currents are some of the strongest in the world with speeds of up to 8 knots flooding north or south.
If the currents are going against the wind, swell and tide on a rough day, it can become a very nasty stretch of water.
We had read a bit about the straight but there were conflicting times about when to cross.
So we just took off and tried our luck.
Our Crazy route from Lombok to Bali
The first 20nm around the bottom of Lombok was fine and entering the straight all seemed well so we continued.
At ¼ of the way across we were heading straight into what looked like a surf zone but we were in 200m+ water depth.
As we neared the rough water the boat speed slowly increased until we were being sucked in at over 10 knots.
Then BANG - we hit this screaming south setting current and our speed went from 10 knots to -3 knots.
We were going backwards!!!
We were going NW and all of a sudden we are heading south into the Indian Ocean.
After 10 minutes of going in circles (literally), we managed to crab crawl NE back towards the rocky shoreline of Lombok and some respite from the impending current.
It took 1 hour to get 4nm and then another 2 hours to sit 100m off Lombok and crawl our way north and out of the main funnel section of the channel.
We rounded a headland and passed the famous Desert Point Surf Break.
We renamed it Deserted Point as the surf was flat and we could not see a single person at any of the accommodation places on the shore.
The deserted accommodation at Desert Point
It was mid afternoon, getting late and we were just about to head further up the coast to find a protected anchorage at Lombok when Lisa spied a small local sailing canoe hoisting sail and about to cross the straight.
We had read if you are unsure when to cross then watch and wait for the local sailing canoes and go when they do.
So we took a gamble and went west for the 20nm crossing.
The wind was up but we left the motor on and motor sailed as fast as we could go across the passage.
There were huge ships everywhere and Lorelei’s AIS screen was packed full of commercial vessels.
We played “dodge the super tankers” as we headed across.
The heavy haze (or maybe Volcanic Ash…)_across the channel didn’t help either.
As we neared the island of Nusa Penida, we could see scores of the local sailing canoes heading towards Lombok.
It looked great as they flew across the straight with their traditional shaped sails.
Finally at 4pm we had crossed the straight, over the top of Nusa Penida Island and had arrived at the hugely popular tourist destination of Nusa Lembongan.
Coming into the bay was a shock for us.
The bay was really busy with boat traffic and there are resorts and buildings all the way along the shoreline catering to the tourists.
What was amazing was the water clarity in the bay.
It was crystal clear with at least 30m underwater viz making it possible to see everything clearly on the bottom.
The next day it went from busy to chaotic at around 9:30am as the scores of day boats started to arrive bringing 1000’s of tourists.
It was go-go-go and soon there was every type of water sport underway in the bay.
There were loads of dive boats but we thought this one was awesome with a top deck for guests away from the dive gear.
We also had a giggle at the Banana Boats. They must be a complimentary thing as nearly every day trip boat and pontoon had them and they would go nonstop all day.
All the while with just one boat driver and no observer to make sure the passengers are ok and haven’t flipped over or fallen off.
From our point of view the Bay looks like a maritime disaster just waiting to happen.
There are no designated areas for anything, channel markers for boats or speed limits for vessels to adhere too.
There are tourists swimming, surfing, SUP, kayaking, snorkelling and banana boating whilst boats wiz through them at ridiculous speeds.
The biggest concern is the dozens of super high speed ferries that come and go at full speed right though bay.
Check out the outboards!!! 4 X 350Hp giving 1400HP…
The wash from the ferries is huge and creates all sorts of dramas for everyone else trying to enjoy the waterway.
The ironic thing was despite the heavy marine traffic, a large pod of dolphins happily swam around the bay all day much to the delight of some who stopped for a look and not to others who drove straight past them without seeing them…
By 4pm it was all over for the day and peace settled over the bay.
That was until 9am the next day when it started all over again…..
We stayed only for the weekend but elected not to go ashore or do any activities as we knew we would come back in a week or 2’s time.
Instead we got stuck into the chores onboard Lorelei.
We had been chasing our tail for about 2 months and been re-active instead of pro-active with Lorelei and her maintenance so it was time for catch up.
SERANGAN HARBOUR & SANUR - BALI
On the Monday morning we tackled the final 10nm crossing to Serangan Harbour on Bali.
We had the current with us and averaged over 11 knots boat speed!
Serangan Harbour was much busier than expected.
Rather than taking a mooring further in the bay, we decided to anchor further out with all the super yachts and Phinisis.
It meant being closer to the water sports but further from the dingy jetty and the hustle and bustle of the harbour.
The Harbour separates Serangan Island to the south and Sanur to the north.
By mid arvo it was kite central over at Sanur.
There were traditional kites as well as kite boarders both in the protected lagoon and out in the waves.
Traditional kites are hugely popular with the local people of Bali.
One of the kites was huge with a 40m+ tail and then 40 minutes later another that was massive with at least an 80m long tail.
The next morning we went ashore for our first time in Bali.
Unlike most other Australians, we had never been to Bali before so we were excited but also a little reserved about the high tourism aspect of the place.
Fortunately Serangan Harbour is out of the way of the popular tourist areas and we were able to wander freely around the old town.
The harbour from the shore did look very busy though.
The one thing that makes Bali uniquely different from the rest of Indonesia is its religion.
Whilst most of Indonesia is predominately Muslim, Bali has adopted an eclectic mix of Hinduism with Buddhism which gives the areas its unique culture.
Most houses have beautiful religious shines in their grounds and there are lots of temples.
We walked down a few quiet streets and came across some old temples.
We found an older lady sitting in the shade at one temple making plates (complete with dipping sauce inserts) out of palm fronds.
In the arvo the wind was up again so we took the RIB over to Sanur packed with Paul’s kite boarding gear and our Octopus kite.
Once ashore we noticed all the kite boarders were using massive kites.
Back at home and all through the pacific, normal kite sizes are around 8 square meters up to 12sq/m. Anything larger is rare.
At Sanur the winds are always lighter so the kite companies use 15, 17 and 19sq/m kites.
Paul has 8, 10 & 12sq/m kites which were way too small for Sanur.
He had only ever seen a 17sq/m once before and has never seen a 19sq/m kite.
We enquired at all 3 kite boarding schools about hiring a larger kite for Paul and also kite lessons for Lisa but the costs were quite expensive and a lot more than we were prepared to pay.
Whilst there, we went for a walk up and down Sanur Beach.
Like Nusa Lembongan it was a bit of a culture shock and very touristy.
Although the area seems to draw in the more family orientated or mature/older guests who prefer higher end accommodation and restaurant options as opposed to the younger surfers, backpackers and nightlife partiers that prefer the west coast.
The path along the beach had sand on one side with umbrellas, seats, lounges, bean bags and massage huts, whilst the other side had manicured grass with scores of different resorts, eateries, shops, yoga centres and spas.
We returned south to the area where we had seen dozens of the local kites flying the day before.
We set up our octopus kite and flew that amongst the local kites.
The Balinese people were very excited to see a couple of westerners flying a kite. Many came over to ask where we got it from and they all liked to feel the string for how hard the pull was from the kite.
Lisa surmised that the strength of the string pull was directly related to the perceived size of their masculinity.
Some of the local kites were massive!
We watched them rig the kites and launch them. The big ones would have up to 10 people assisting in the launch.
All of the kites have a bowed piece of timber top and bottom to which they attach a large rubber band.
The band vibrates whilst flying which creates a large noise.
This is a kite without the tail attached.
Attaching the long tail
It could take up to 10 people to launch them
The figureheads of the kites where incredible with very intricate mask designs and real horse hair
Note the crystal ball at the top of this figurehead which flashed in the sunlight
The boys have to work very hard to get them up into the sky
The photo below gives an indication of how big the kites are.
They are flying next to our octopus kite which we consider to be large as it is 9 meters long.
Paul flying our octopus with one of the large local kites in the background
A cool shot of the kites which looks like it was taken from very high up
One of the smaller kites with the red vibrating elastic bands top & bottom
Lisa having fun flying our octopus
KUTA & IMMIGRATION
Once again it was visa renewal time and after our terrible experience in Labuan Bajo, we were very reluctant to play the immigration game again.
We weren’t the only ones to have had visa woes.
We are in contact with only 4 other yachts who are also travelling along the Nusa Tenggara island chain.
Of those 4, 1 had to leave mid trip and sail to Malaysia as they had problems with an incorrectly processed visa, another had major woes in Bali and after spending 6.5 days of their 7 days in Bali sorting the visa issue out, they also cleared out and left very disappointed.
The final 2 were Aussie surf friends in Labuan Bajo who were at a standstill as the Immigration office would only accept original copies of their paperwork (which are processed and stored with agents in Bali or Jakarta and emailed to the yachts ) therefore making the request virtually impossible.
So with all that in mind we sought help to hopefully get ours through this time with minimal dramas.
Fortunately our agent Ruth from Isle Marine Services has her office in Serangan and we were able to go and see her staff and get them to assist with the process. It was going to take 7 -10 days and cost a little more but at least we didn’t have to go to the Immigration office as they were going to take care of it.
From there it was into Kuta – in a Cab.
We had been warned not to ride motorbikes in the built up city areas and now we knew why.
The traffic was absolutely chaotic!!
5 people are killed every day on Balinese roads and now we understood why.
We did stop to have a look at one huge monument in the centre of a large roundabout.
The supermarkets in Kuta for reprovisioning are awesome and the largest variety we have experienced since leaving Australia.
However it did come at a higher than normal cost as most of the imported products are at western prices.
For days we pigged out on French baguettes, vanilla slices, avocados, yogurt and lots of other yummy treats we had not seen for a long time.
Ahh the simple things in life – fruit salad with Strawberries and Yogurt
Sadly though, it is the only time that we have felt embarrassed to be Australians in all of our travels.
The way the Aussies looked, dressed, conducted themselves and spoke to the local Balinese people was in our view disgusting and we were very embarrassed more than once.
It doesn’t take much to stand up straight, dress decent (no Bintang Singlets and bikini tops in the banks or offices), learn please & thankyou in Bahasa, smile and not yell & talk down to the Balinese people because they don’t understand your ocka version of English.
Maybe we are just getting old and cynical…..
The next day we took it one step further and went to Kuta Beach.
The streets were grid locked with road works and it took 20 minutes in a cab to travel 3klm from Kuta central to Kuta Beach.
The beach is beautiful and long with some very nice white sand offset by 1000’s beach goers and lots of umbrellas and chairs for rent.
Kuta Beach looking north
Kuta Beach looking south
One street back from the beach is retail central with everything from luxury malls to small lane-ways filled with small trinkets and clothing shops.
The up-market retail section….
The rear laneways that offer the imitations…..
Surprisingly there are more Tattoo shops than Surf shops and we felt a little out of place without a Bintang singlet and numerous large tattoos.
However the main reason we were there was to visit the Oro’s Board Cover store that makes custom made board covers and anything else you can think of.
Paul had the owner Mu’in make 2 new surfboard covers, 2 protective covers for our underwater camera dome ports and a bag for our free diving fins.
They were well made using thick foam, took 2 days to complete and the cost came in at well under A$120 for the lot.
We also found some board shorts for cheap and a large DVD store selling all of the latest pirated movie releases.
(Most of which we had never heard of…)
SANUR VILLAGE FESTIVAL
The Sanur Village Festival is an annual event that runs for 4 days and this year was on from the 26th- 30th August.
The event started back in 2006 in an effort to help re-promote tourism after the Bali Bombings of 2002 & 2005.
It has gained in popularity & size each year and it is now one of the biggest events on Bali’s tourist calendar.
This year was extra special because it was the 10th annual festival and the organisers had gone all out with a huge program spaning the 4 days.
There were sporting events like a fun run, sailing races, surfing competitions, cycling and lots more.
Additionally there was a food festival, an international kite festival and a huge park set up with stages and stalls that had traditional dances, live music, performances, talent quests, body painting & ice sculpture contests and the lists goes on and on.
It turned into an awesome few days.
The HUGE list of events
International Kite Festival
The Kite Festival for Paul was going to be the highlight of the 4 days and it didn’t disappoint.
Fortunately it was in the park next to the kite boarding school and only 200m from where Lorelei was anchored.
It was supposed to be from 10am to 6pm but by 9:30am the sky was filled with kites and we could sit on Lorelei and see them filling the sky.
Whilst there were loads of different kites being flown, there was a competition for the 2 main types of traditional Balinese kites.
The unusual kites were left to fly off to one side all day but the 2 traditional kites were judged and there were set times for them to fly.
Officials would call the teams onto the field to set and they would all launch together. They were judged on launching, presentation, how they flew and the noise from the vibrating rubber bands.
After judging was finished they would land them and the other kites would have their turn.
Each style of kite flew at least 4 times during the day.
The larger of the kites is called a Janggun
These kites are huge with the long tails that can be up to 100m long
There were less of them due to the high purchase cost and the size of the team required to fly them.
What they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in wow factor as they flew.
Launching was wild with teams of people running backwards with the rope to give the kite lift.
The long tails would whip over the sand creating a sand storm in their wake.
Whilst these kites flew predictably and straight, there was still the occasional tangle and kite going astray.
The teams are very proud of the figure heads on the kites and they attached them just before launching and remove them just after landing.
The figure head cost is between 5 & 10 million Rp. (A$500-$1000) which is not cheap.
In between the judging we went to check out the other types of kites being flown.
The Bebean kites were a whole new level of chaotic!!
Because they are a lot cheaper to make, there are lots more of them.
However they are still really big and powerful.
Without a tail they wander all over the sky creating havoc for the people flying, all the while trying to dodge other kites and lines.
With their bamboo outer frames they are quite dangerous and being out on the field during launching and flying is fraught with danger.
A child was killed by a falling kite at the festival 3 years ago.
Because of the sheer numbers, they would bring them out onto the field and set up whilst the Janggun kites were still flying.
The teams take it very seriously and most have matching clothes, printed shirts and fly flags or banners with the teams name or logo.
The traditional kite colours are red, black and white and the uniforms generally reflected this colour combination.
Not sure what Harley Davidson would think of this team’s logo…..
At the end of the day they loaded the kites onto the trucks, piled into the back and off they went. Try getting away with that back at home….
Sanur Festival Arena
The main stage and festival arena was about 3 km north of Sanur beach and Lorelei’s anchorage.
We hadn’t seen the northern beach area yet so we decided to walk up to the arena along the beach and have a look.
There were lots of flash resorts but they were all very empty with only a few patrons.
We saw this sign at the Rip Curl area, Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga…??!!
A nice resort and not a single person in sight…..
We liked the bow sprit on this local canoe
There are many galleries in Sanur with some top quality local artists.
We were a little shocked to see the size of the main arena.
It was huge with 1000’s of people coming and going.
The body painting artists were awesome and did a great job on their live canvasses.
After they were finished painting, they went onto the main stage for judging.
As the sun set the main stage came alive with live music and local performances.
We found a drone aerial photo of the event on the net.
The main stage at night
People watching the performances
There were lots of food and stalls at night and the area was packed with people.
Lisa on the wrong side of the food counter with the friendly staff
The festival coincided with the full moon.
On the Saturday night of the week of the full moon, many communities perform a traditional Barong Dance and they performed one at the festival.
It was the first time we had seen a traditional Balinese performance.
During the day and night there were modelling & talent quests for all ages.
Later in the night when it was cooler they had an ice carving competition.
Surfing Nusa Lembongan
We were really tired but there was no relaxing as the swell was due to arrive the next day.
So we were up early after the last day of the festival to head back out to Nusa Lembongan for some surfing.
According to the forecast, the swell size & direction along with the tides, wind strength & direction were all looking perfect for the surf breaks in the Nusa Lembongan region.
If it all came together it had the potential to be our best waves of the surf season.
The day before the peak of the swell, Lisa took Paul around to an isolated left hand point break called Ceningans.
It is a remote break and usually uncrowded.
Paul did not surf the point break due to the large size and instead surfed an isolated bommie about 150m further out off the rocks.
It was huge and right on the limit of comfort for Paul on his own and on his back hand.
When the wind picked up, Lisa took Paul back around to the most well known break – Shipwrecks which was much more protected from the wind and swell.
It was less than half the size of Ceningans but much more fun.
The next morning it was a red sky in the morning.
The old sailors saying is – “Red Sky in the morning is a sailors warning”.
It was a surfers warning and the peak of the swell was due at midday.
Shipwrecks can only be surfed within a couple of hours either side of the high tide so Paul was out at 8am in preparation for the 10am high.
It was only small at 3-4ft and he was wondering what was going on.
There were at least 25 surfers out and lots of intermediates.
Lisa erred on the side of caution and took the RIB in behind the reef instead of staying in the channel like the day before.
Thank goodness she did because at 8:45am a huge group of 7ft set waves came through the line-up and wiped out every surfer.
Paul was the furthest person out the back and still got hammered by the 6 waves in the set.
Lisa said there were surfers with eyes the size of saucers being washed in over the reef and past the RIB.
5 minutes later the second lot of huge sets rolled through and cleaned up the line up again.
That left Paul and just 3 others to surf the giant waves.
So they banded together for safety and everyone knew Lisa was on standby for any emergencies, pick-ups or just if we got washed in and needed a rest.
Over the next 1hour the swell built until it was a solid 7-9ft with the occasional bigger set.
It was survival surfing at its best but we all got some great waves and came back unscathed.
For Paul it was the biggest waves for the surf season and Lisa took some great photos of him.
For Lisa though it was very difficult to stand in the RIB and balance holding the camera. She nearly got swamped 3 times by the rogue sets.
Even the inside section still had some punch as it doubled up onto the shallow reef.
There were other surfers wanting to come out but the local surf boats were having a very difficult time getting a flat period to get though the channel which by now had waves breaking right across it.
After the surf we went further into the bay to have a look a 2 other breaks, Lacerations and Playgrounds, both of which are between tourist pontoons.
By mid-afternoon it was low tide and the bay had huge lines of swell coming though.
On Lorelei it was very rolly but it was much worse in closer towards the tourist pontoons.
They were moving up and down a lot with the swell and the large boats had to detach from the pontoons and sit off until it was time to go.
In the end they had to ferry the day trip guests from the pontoons to the big boats via smaller boats.
Up & Down…..
2 minutes after these photos, the boat detached from the pontoon.
Looking back to a huge wave breaking over the reef near Shipwrecks.
Paul did a 4 shot sequence of this boat having a hard
time getting its passengers onto the beach
time getting its passengers onto the beach
Paul surfed for 2 more days after the peak until the swell dropped below 4ft.
MOLA MOLA SEASON
Above all else, the number one thing we wanted to do whilst in the Bali area was to scuba dive to try and see a Mola Mola or Giant Sunfish.
These amazing creatures live in very deep water but come up into shallow water to get cleaned.
The area around Nusa Lembongan is probably the best location in the world to see them.
However the season is only for 8 weeks and spans the months of August and September.
The issue was it is hugely popular with divers from all over the world and the prices per dive from the dive operators reflected this and were at peak season rates.
We had heard about large currents in the area but wanted to find out first hand ourselves as to whether we could dive by ourselves or were forced to pay and go with a dive operator.
So we headed out for a day trip to circumnavigate Nusa Lembongan Island and to have a look at all the Mola Mola dive locations.
We took Paul’s camera and our free diving gear.
On the way down we stopped at a series of large sea caves to have a look.
One was a large arch where we could take the RIB through and end up in a small shallow bay on the other side.
The first dive stop was supposed to be Crystal Bay on Nusa Penida Island.
When we were in the general area, we spied a lot of dive boats coming from around the corner further south so we headed that way.
We arrived to find 4 boats tucked in close to the high cliffs.
We asked a nice local man waiting for his divers if this was Crystal Bay.
He said it was Manta Ray Bay and Crystal Bay was around the corner.
He pointed towards the rocks at 3 Manta Rays swimming along the surface.
So we jumped in and quietly waited for the Mantas to come closer and closer.
After the other boats had left we stayed and continued swimming with them for over 1 hour which was a lot of fun.
We even saw a few Turtles…
We then went into the small Crystal Bay only to find about 20 dive boats and about 150 divers in the water or waiting to go in.
It was like a circus!!!
However we did see that all the boats were on moorings and for A$1.50 we could rent one.
So we went for a free dive on the point and saw the divers waiting for Mola Mola and also schools of the Banner Fish that clean them so we knew we were in the right place.
The next morning we up before daybreak and returned to Crystal Bay at 6am with scuba gear and to our delight we were the only divers in the bay.
Leaving Lorelei at daybreak
We dived on the point and had a fun dive but sadly no Mola Mola.
We knew we had the low light levels right and the location but possibly not the right tides so it was a case of returning at a later date with better tides and keep trying.
We did however see a large Puffer Fish being cleaned, lots of bait fish in the shallows and a couple of nice ladies snorkelling in the early morning rays of sunlight.
After a week of rolling at Nusa Lembongan we were a little over it and the chores which we were not able to do were piling up so we headed back to the flatter anchorage in Serangan Harbour at Bali for about a week before tackling the Mola Mola hunting again at a later date.
We really wanted to do some tours around Bali and were interested in things like the Temples, Rice Paddies and getting up into the mountains but we didn’t want to book onto a set tour with loads of other people.
So after a little research we found there are many Balinese that have small family run businesses where you hire a car and driver/tour guide and do your own thing or ask them to help you plan your customised trip.
The cost for a full day/10hour trip was around A$50 for the both of us.
We decided to use a smaller company called Dipa Bali Tour owned and operated by Wayan Kariasa.
We had 3 full day trips in mind, so we started with Ubud and did one every second day.
Ubud is a village in the mountains rich in traditions and culture that is a popular area with artists of all kinds ranging from painting, jewellery, glass designs all the way to kite making and wood carving.
Additionally there is beautiful scenery, great food and fantastic temples.
Our first stop on our tour was the Batuan Temple which was built around 1022AD.
Like most temples in the region, you are not permitted to enter unless you have the correct clothing – and that usually means a sarong with a sash.
Once inside we found many smaller temples and shrines, some with amazing statues and designs.
From there we ventured into the main area of Ubud.
We were staggered at the amount of retail stores selling art and jewellery items.
There were literally 100’s of them.
As a result the traffic in the area is way too much for the small roads and the place is gridlocked and bumper to bumper for most of the day.
We did stop at a few places for a look.
We stopped at a timber carving place first.
The items for sale were beautifully crafted but soooo expensive and in US dollars.
Paul noticed that 25m up the road was a series of kite shops that were making kites of all shapes and sizes.
We went into one shop that made and painted them and we brought a great one with a dragon figure head.
Silver Jewellery is also manufactured in huge quantities in the area.
We stopped at one of the scores of places for a look.
They manufacture on site and their showrooms are huge.
Whilst driving along, we kept seeing these massive open air stores with glass bowls melted onto timber drift wood.
We asked to stop at one for a look at these unique designs.
Even in the quieter areas the streets were lined with small art shops filled with every type of art you could think of.
The last stop before lunch was the Sacred Monkey Forest and Temple.
It’s only A$3 entrance fee and sarongs are not required.
There are 100’s of Long Tailed Macaques (Monkeys) that do not have any fear of interacting with the 1000’s of tourists that visit the place daily.
One of the cheeky males even stole Paul’s water bottle out of his camera backpack.
Aside from the Macaques, there are some great temples, water features, bridges and other stone structures.
We have had a few interactions with the Macaques over the past few months so Paul was more interested in photographing the smaller baby ones as this was the best opportunity we have had to see them so far.
We thought the photo below was the shot of the day.
We labelled it “Rack Off Paparazzi”
By the time we stopped for lunch in was 3pm so we ate at a small café that overlooked some rice terraces.
After lunch we walked up into the terraces with Wayan.
There were a lot of tourists walking all around the area.
With the afternoon sun shining onto the terraces, it must be a popular last stop for day tours.
Once we reached the top there were a few larger rice paddies.
Looking over the side we saw more interesting shaped terraces.
At the top Paul had said to Wayan that it was great but not the super special terraces and photos he had seen on the internet.
So Wayan said to follow him…..
We hiked around to the back of the hill.
There was no one there and we came around the side to see the most amazing valley that was lush green and filled with terraces on both sides.
It was spectacular and the lighting was perfect. Paul was in photo heaven.
We even met the owner of the terraces.
By the time we hiked back over to the main area the sun had all but gone so we took another track home.
From the terraces back to Serangan Harbour it was still an hour’s drive.
Half way home we stopped at a new statue that had only been built about 6 months ago.
It was right on dusk so Paul set up his camera and tripod on the side of the road and took some time exposures.
The following night something really special happened – IT RAINED!!!!!
It was the first time we had seen rain in over 4 months and it was very welcome.
Poor Lorelei was looking quite dirty outside (as is every other boat) so the rain went some ways towards giving her a bit of a wash off, particularly the rigging, sails and masts were we cannot wash with a hose.
Being surfers we really wanted to see the SW coastline which is the most popular area for surfing in Bali. It incorporates the famous areas of Padang Padang and Uluwatu.
We didn’t take boards and instead just wanted to see what the area was like and take some photos.
Wayan took us to Balangan Beach first which had some amazing cliff areas and 2 very picturesque headlands.
We found a small set of stairs off the side of one of the headlands that went down to a small temple hidden inside a cave that faced out to sea.
There was nobody there so Paul slipped in to take some photos.
We then went to the famous Padang Padang Beach which is the location for the Rip Curl Pro surfing contest that is held annually in August.
The beach is unusual because it is tucked away below a series of cliffs and is well protected.
To get to the beach you have to walk down a narrow path between the high rocks.
The beach is covered in unusual shaped rocks and at low tide there is a large rock platform extending out to the surf breaks.
From above the breaks around the Uluwatu area looked promising with lots of different peaks to surf.
What we didn’t like was the crowds and the parking lot was packed with motor bikes with board racks and hundreds of surfers running around with boards under their arms.
Late in the arvo we went to the Uluwatu Temple which is on a rocky headland and a very popular place to view the sunset.
We were required to wear sarongs inside the temple.
There were some stunning views over the cliffs from the walkways linking the headlands.
As the sun set, it cast a warm glow over the cliff faces which looked amazing.
The highlight of our visit was the traditional Kecak Dance which is held in an amphitheatre on the cliff edge looking towards the sunset.
The dance is unusual and the music is comprised of unusual sounds that the 40 men make to create a unique harmony.
The performance lasted for 1 hour. It started in the light and finished in the dark.
The view of the performance from the top of the amphitheatre gives a completely different perspective.
The character who stole the show was a white monkey who was very funny and got up to all sorts of antics, particularly with the audience.
About ¾ through the performance there was a scene where the monkey was captured and they lit a fire around him.
Just as the fibre was lit a wind gust blew into the amphitheatre and sent the burning fibres into the male singers and the audience in the front row (which was us). It created havoc for a few minutes as everyone tried to help and extinguish the fires.
After the performance the main actors stayed in the arena and people were able to have their photos taken with them.
By the time we got home it was after 9pm. It had made for a long but fun day.
It was nice to visit the famous Uluwatu Surfing area just to say we had seen it, but to be honest we have no real desire to surf there.
From a surfers holiday experience, we consider it a mission to surf there.
Most surfers have to hire a motor bike, wait for the right tides, then pay an entrance fee into the beach area, walk down the cliff, walk a long way across the exposed reef wearing booties and finally paddle out into a line up jam packed with other surfers eager to get their money’s worth.
What a mission just for a surf……
It makes other areas like T-Land at Rote and Lakeys at Sumbawa much less hassle, less crowded and cheaper.
It also made us realise just how spoilt we are both onboard Lorelei and back at our home on the NSW Central Coast where you can park at any number of car parks or small beach laneways, run down across the beautiful white sand and paddle straight out into the line up.
So that’s it for this Episode 41 of our blog.
We successfully renewed our visa so we have another 30 days here in Bali.
We plan to do one or two more tours with Wayan before going on the Mola Mola hunt again at Nusa Lembongan.
From there we are heading around the top of Bali to do some fantastic diving before crossing to Kalimantan/Borneo to visit the Orang-utans at Kumai.
We are also looking forward to seeing some Aussie friends that are holidaying in Bali over the next few weeks.
It all makes for another action packed month ahead….
Cheers for now!