Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bali and Lembongan Island

Bad things out of the way first: we visited Bali off-season. That meant no people (we visited the supposedly 'it' club and found noone except a bartender reading a book in the corner), rubbish (apparently it's kept much tidier when there are more tourists about) and dodgy weather (it rained so much most of the roads flooded). Bali is also priced for tourists, and seems to have suffered an amazing amount of inflation in the last year. A tour that cost $25 in January 2008 now costs $39. The aggression with which locals harried tourists for cash was a bit discomfiting too. This wasn't helped by my general ineptitude. At one stage I tried to bargain and ended up handing over $5 MORE than the initial price quoted.

Still, you can't complain too much about island paradises, and there were some amazing things to see. Top of the list was the snorkeling around Lembongan Island, which offered the most beautiful assortment of brightly coloured fish and coral I've come across. After a failed attempt at riding a scooter - I hit a wall and a fence, then narrowly missed a small child - we moved on to a natural wonder, a Mangrove forest. Mangroves are trees that grow in the sea, and are instrumental in protecting sea shores from the impact of a Tsunami. We hopped aboard a boat punted by a shirtless Indonesian, who wound us round the eerie maze of waterways that cut through the densely intertwined trees. It all started to feel a bit 'Vietnam war movie' when we nearly hit a black lump floating next to us, a dead dog which had been thrown into the water. Before we left there was also the underground house to see, a hunched living space cut out of rock underground, complete with kitchen, living space and bedrooms. There seemed no obvious need for it on a small, peaceful island where everyone knows everyone else, but it was impressive to see.

Back on the mainland, we found ourselves in the rain in a monkey temple near Buda. The flat light, the torrential downpour and the shade of the trees made the place feel self contained, giving the monkeys sitting on thick stone representations of themselves a mystical feel. It all felt a bit like a Lara Croft game.

On the last day we gave ourselves up to surfing. I will try to recreate my surfing experience here. I carried a heavy plank of wood into the sea. This took quite a long time, and after one attempt I was pretty much ready to go back to bed. As a wave came I lay down on the board, let it get washed in to shore and realised that I had no idea how to stand up. In trying, I fell off. I then stood up, picked up the board and trudged back out to try again. Every so often an instructor would give me contradictory advice. The lesson was 90 minutes, and I progressed no further than this. Alex stood up on his fourth go.


karishma said...

josh,that was so funny!you write well.your attempt at surfing was hilarious!:)

Anonymous said...

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