Ghzeesh! I am not being quick about these Bali stories. Thank you for your patience.
We took a boat from Sanur to the island of Nusa Lembongan. In researching this trip I realized that Indonesia consists of (somewhere around) 1,700 islands. I felt like we couldn't go all the way there and only see one. Visiting other islands is terribly easy from Bali. Every coastal town runs boats to neighboring islands. There are four islands you can access from the boats that leave Sanur, but we knew we wanted to go to Nusa Lemgongan. It is quite popular for not only surfing, but snorkeling as well.
We purchased our seats the day before. Showing up last minute, and hoping we would get a ride, would stress me out. So I made Phil commit and buy advance tickets on the fast boat. We showed up for the boat ride a bit too early Thursday morning. Just the way I like it; early not late. In the back of my mind I was harvesting a secret plan to sneak a museum trip in before the boat ride. (I know that sounds crazy but it wasn't a very big museum.) This would be something I couldn't tell Phil ahead of time; it would get shot down. In my head I knew how far the museum was from the boat dock, the time it opened, and the cost of entry. So when we had 45 minutes before the boat left, I suggested (very nonchalantly) that our time would be better spent exploring rather than sitting and waiting. Phil agreed. Then I suggested the small museum. Immediately Phil did not look so pleased. It was the house of the late artist Adrien-Jean La Mayeur, a Belgian painter who married a Balinese woman and lived the remainder of his life in Bali. I told Phil that the guide book suggested there may be some erotic paintings. He agreed to give it a look-see. (bingo) Tell a man he may see boobs and he'll go almost anywhere.
We cruised down to the museum, paid our dues, used the restroom, and that was about it. It took us all of about 20 minutes. The house was nice, but nothing major. In fact, a good bit of it was under construction. There were some paintings (which were a far cry from erotic), and original furniture, but it was not anything to write about. When you come across attractions such as La Mayeur Museum, you can't help but think tourist trap. Why anyone would list it in a guide book was a bit quizzical to me.
The boat ride, on the other hand, was worth every penny. I love being on boats so I found it terribly fun. You have to hike out into the water a bit to get on the boat; there is no dock. There were passengers with luggage. The crew literally carried the luggage on their back to keep it from getting wet, and then they chucked it on the roof of the boat. The boat had three motors and each one of them had an offering strapped to it. Phil and I were glad to see that; the boat gods would be pleased and this ride would be successful.
You get absolutely bombarded with solicitation when you hit the island. You don't even finish walking ashore and people are shouting at you to buy their tours. It was really intimidating; I wanted to bury myself in the sand. I refrained and Phil and I settled on a half day snorkel trip. We didn't surf. The tide wasn't right, and there were no waves. When the waves are “on” at Nusa Lembongan they are really “on.” They have names like playgrounds, lacerations, and shipwrecks. No thanks; they sound like they'd hammer me. I like waves with names like butter and cream puff.
So we snorkeled. It wasn't the best day for a snorkel trip, but when you're traveling sometimes you just take what you get. We got another fun boat ride out of the deal. Our driver was not very talkative, but he was nice. He gave us water, and some tips, and we had him all to ourselves. We popped off into the water and went searching the reefs of Nusa Lembongan for interesting fish, or treasures, and (of course) snakes. I had heard there are tons of snakes in the water in Bali. In case you don't know me, I hate snakes. I didn't want to encounter my first one while surfing. So I thought if I could face the fear while snorkeling, when I could see it in its entirety, I'd be better off. A couple of times I thought I saw one, but I didn't. My imagination however, was enough to keep my heart beating pretty fast. The closest we got to seeing a snake was spotting an eel. It would have to do. I got pretty cold pretty quickly. Cool water and no sun don't mix well for me. We took the boat back to shore and got lunch. Our lunch spot was seated right on the edge of a cliff. It might have even been hanging over a bit. The sea and rocks were (about) 40 ft. below us. The food was good, so was the lemonade, and they played dance hall reggae the entire time. I had fun; until I needed to use he bathroom and discovered there was no toilet paper. This was my initiation into never expecting the expected in a public restroom situation. I'm lucky they had running water. The restroom wasn't even in the restaurant. You had to walk about 60 ft. up the mountain side and around some bungalows.
After lunch we decided to brave a moped rental. The island was midsized; you could walk around it if you had enough time, but mopeding would be more efficient. We talked our moped salesman down to a third of his initial rental price. We actually ended up feeling a bit guilty for how much money we thought we saved. (We would learn later in the trip that we still got ripped off.) Driving through Nusa Lembongan was an experience to last a lifetime. Phil drove and I rode on the back. We had no helmets. We were unfamiliar with the island, had no map, and it was his first time driving on the “wrong” side of the road. I'm sure we could have died numerous times. We rode over new roads, and old roads, huge potholes, and bridges not big enough for anymore than one moped, and bridges that were tied in some spots with rope and had missing boards. We saw forests, and temples, and seaweed collections in process. I was feeling like we were getting more of a glimpse into real life on Nusa Lembongan. The moped ride ended with us sunning at a bar in big, scooped lounge chairs made from old boats. It was absolutely darling. The entire bar, and all of its tables and chairs, were only half covered in paint anymore and the decor was accented with buoys, nets, and seashells.
The boat ride back was crazy! I mean it. We could have died, for like, the umpteenth time that day. We were charging for Bali in three to four foot seas. I've never ridden anything like it; what a rush. I would liken it to a rapids ride at an amusement park, but multiply it by 20, and then subtract the seat belts and safety operator. I nearly fell out of the boat twice. Phil had to help hold me down. In hindsight it was probably not the smartest thing, but I wanted to sit on the edge so we'd have a good view of the islands' coasts. And I am glad we did because the view was mystical. It was later in the day, so I'm guessing this can make the air more dense. As we rode further, and further, from Nusa Lembongan it just seemed to disappear. The weather wasn't misty or foggy or cloudy; it was just as if the air was hiding it. The island slowly proceeded to turn as blue as the sky until, eventually, it wasn't there anymore.
When we reached Sanur unscathed we breathed relief; and began to take in the familiar smells of clove cigarettes, incense, and fried food stands. Also at this time of the evening everyone is out on the beach with their kites, which is the most colorful welcome home I've ever received.
The dinner we had that night was one of my favorites. The food was good, but that wasn't it. It was the atmosphere and entertainment. It was called Alice's Restaurant; and I recommend it if you're ever in Sanur. As I mentioned it was in a gorgeous setting; very romantic. The restaurant is part of a hotel owned by a Belgian, and it is wonderfully hidden from the road. They menu was great; with options ranging from the common to the uncommon, and in various portions. You could eat family style if you like. Once seated, you are greeted by the owner himself. He makes small talk, tells you a few jokes, and puts a fresh flower behind your ear, even if you are male. Alice's Restaurant also gives each of its customers a free cocktail to start. It warms you up and gets you ready to order an awesome dinner. The staff was terribly friendly, and all the girls were beautifully dressed. Alice's had live music that night. It's one of the reasons we chose it. It was a guitar duo from Sumatra, which is a neighboring island. They were spectacular. Like most entertainment in restaurants in Bali, they took requests. Like a mariachi band, they'd walk to each table and play what you want to hear. They were good at classic rock tunes, so we stuck to that. They must have liked Phil and I because they stayed at our table for a while. (It may have been because Phil's a good tipper, but never mind that.) They played us the Sumatra Honeymoon Song. It was the most suggestive song I've ever heard played live in a restaurant. The singer did a lot of heavy breathing. I actually got a bit self conscious. My cheeks, definitely turned red and I had an awkward laugh. When the song was over the guys explained that, in addition to being called the honeymoon song, it is also called The Chili Pepper Song. Breathing heavily because your mouth is on fire from spicy peppers was much more befitting for my prudish tastes.
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