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Enchanting Bali

March 29, 2013

We’re planning on spending a total of three months in different parts of Indonesia, and our first stop was the island of Nusa Lembongan, just east of Bali. It’s a smaller, quieter, less developed place than south Bali. It’s so beautiful there! I fell in love with the place.

lembongan road

Empty main street in Lembongan

jalan lembongan

The water is crystal clear and turquoise, and on clear days, there’s a great view of Bali’s Gunung Agung, the highest point on that island.

gunung agung

There aren’t many cars on Lembongan; people mainly use scooters to get around. Kids learn to be comfortable riding two, three or even four to a scooter from a young age.

bike with kid bike family

The local ladies were astonishingly good at balancing things on their heads. This lady below didn’t have anything holding that basket on her head!

bike with box

Bali is predominantly Hindu, but it’s a specific Balinese style of Hinduism that incorporates some Buddhist and animist beliefs. Religion and spirituality are a big part of daily community life here. Temples abound, with elaborate details.

lembongan templestatue

Several times a day, the Balinese Hindus prepare and put out little banana-leaf basket offerings in thanks to the gods. These canang sari contain items such as rice, flowers, crackers, candy and cigarettes.

flowers for offerings

Flowers being sold at the market to prepare offerings

The offerings are everywhere you go, in the street and in front of household shrines. The banana-leaf baskets are cute and range from larger box shapes to tiny cones.

offerings  offerings 2

We happened to be in Lembongan for Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. The day before Nyepi is filled with temple festivities. Women, men and kids are all decked out in beautiful, traditional Balinese dress. The kids were all just too adorable.

nyepi kids nyepi boy

We happened upon a barong dance performance going on in one of the temples closest to our guesthouse.

barong 2 barong 1

Click here for a short video of the barong dance:

From Bali

Later that Nyepi’s eve, the whole town is out on the street after dark for the ogoh ogoh parade, in which bigger-than-life statues of evil spirits are paraded around and made to mock-fight each other, in time to live percussion music. It was like a Balinese Kaiju Big Battel, in the street. The people in each village spend their free time collectively building the giant demons in the weeks leading up to Nyepi.

demon1demon 4

demon 3demons 2

ogoh ogoh kids

Click here for a video of the ogoh ogoh parade:

From Bali

The actual day of Nyepi is a day of silence, in which no one is allowed to leave their house or hotel, or use electricity. Noise is discouraged. The gods must have been on our side, because that day was completely flat. We could see all three of Lembongan’s surf breaks from our guesthouse balcony, and would have gone out of our minds if the waves had been good!

The tides are extreme around Nusa Lembongan, and when the tide goes out, the many seaweed farms that surround the island are exposed. The seaweed farmers sell their crops to cosmetic and food companies.

seaweed mountainsseaweed sunset

We surfed almost every day we were on Nusa Lembongan. The waves were very fun, and you could sometimes see the coral reef and colorful tropical fish swimming underneath you in the lineup.

We also went snorkelling a few times, including a place called Manta Point, which is full of giant manta rays that swim right beside and under you. It was a truly incredible experience.

When our time was up in Nusa Lembongan, we took a boat back to Bali and decided to stay on the east coast, in the area of Sanur.

sanur beach

We found a great little homebase called the Bali Mille Homestay, where they gave us a good deal for two weeks in a giant room with air conditioning. What a luxury — air conditioning! We’ve had A/C the whole time we’ve been in Indonesia so far, and we know we’re going to regret the upgrade once we go back to slumming it with fan-only rooms. It’s usually around 32 Celsius everyday with high humidity.

bali mille 2

Champagne living on a beer budget

bali mille

Our comfortable digs for the last two weeks

One of the great things about the Bali Mille is that we have a fridge, so we stocked up on yogurt and granola, and buy whatever whacky local fruits are in season. Below, clockwise from the pink fruit: dragonfruit, snakefruit, duku and mangosteen. All very interesting and very tasty.

tropical fruit

The waves have been great most days.

serangan 2 serangan 1

I had a close encounter with the reef a little while ago. Don’t surf the Sanur reef breaks at low tide!

reef burn

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Uncle T permalink
    March 29, 2013 11:41 am

    Ouch!. That’s for the last photo.
    Thank you for the effort you put into these journals. I feal that Im there. I love the phrase; a champagne home on a beer budget or something close to that.
    Its Easter Friday here at a remarkable 9 Deg C. Snow almost gone in the front garden with microscopic Tulips trying to emerge.Back yard still in the land of The Selfish Giant.
    Be well and keep these remarkable stories coming
    Love
    Uncle T and Aunt Elizabeth

  2. Flanns permalink
    April 1, 2013 5:54 pm

    Awesome. You should look up Nembralla on the Island of Roti by boat from Timor. This is my buddy’s surf resort who lives here in San Diego. I might be able to get some good discounts ….he owes me.Look it up and let me know. Cowabunga dude and dudess, Mark (Flannigan)

  3. May 27, 2013 7:59 pm

    Great to see that you guys are still living the dream! I met you at Lobitos last August and just came across your website randomly. I was traveling with two friends (Chad and JP), also from California. JP is in Bali right now. Don’t know if you ran into him there. It’s a small world when you’re on the surfing path! Safe travels.

  4. April 22, 2015 11:31 pm

    looks full on hectic shakkas man

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