Swimming in a tepid tropical fish tank

Trip Start Jun 22, 2012
Trip End Jul 17, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, July 12, 2012

A welcomed sleep in after yesterday’s 3 am get up. As it was so hot yesterday afternoon when we got to Lovina, I got out before 7 am and went for a walk west along the washed out grey and black volcanic sand beach before it got too hot.

The sun had just risen behind the hills, it was high tide, the water lapping on the beach was warm and as expected I saw the usual amount of flotsam on the beach shore. Even with I being virtually the only person on the beach at this early hour, the souvenir sellers were already out! I suppose they need to make an earning and were waiting for the returning dolphin watchers.

The empty prahu or traditional outriggers were lined up with their individual paint schemes.

To my surprise those that were out on the dolphin watching trips were already returning (early) with their tourists who went out earlier to see the dolphins. I thought it was a 2 hour trip. Perhaps they left really early? That’s for us tomorrow morning.

Lovina is a low rise, laid back relaxed place that I suppose how I would have expected Kuta etc was several decades ago. The buildings are certainly not new. The few night clubs, enough to cater for the tourists who come here and the beach side restaurants along the main part of this section of the beach.

A real basic breakfast toast / jam and just egg (cooked any way) or fruit plus tea and coffee was on offer plus really slow service. If you wanted another cup of coffee or tea then you would need to pay for it.

At 9 am we left for the 90 minute drive to Labuan Lalang which was where the outrigger boats left for our day’s of snorkelling on a Menjangan Island reef.

It was only a short 30 minute boat ride with a following choppy sea state wise from the coast. This pristine island and its coral reefs are part of the Bali Barat National Park and is the best that Bali can offer.

Our first stop was still in the on shore chop but once we were in the water it was fine. While it was certainly not like for me snorkelling in the Galapagos in December and January just gone with the penguins, sea turtles, sea lions and white tip sharks, the under water fishes and coral here was fine.

Yes, you can have texture and colour underwater as hopefully my underwater photos show. Trying to capture fish swimming underwater is not my strong point yet. Need more practice!

Lunch on the beach and then all aboard and a short motor around the coast of the island where the water was near flat. The small Pura Gili Kencana thought to be Bali’s oldest temple stood on the cliff in the glorious sun.  Why didn’t we come here earlier? Not to worry.

The water visibility was deeper and clearer. Blue star fishes dotted the ocean floor. We swam along to where the bats were hanging about in the sea caves. The water at both places were so tepid that it felt like swimming in a warm bath with the occasional burst of cooler water. I was the last one out.  Yes, it certainly felt like swimming in tepid fish tropical tank.

We all opted out of the trip inclusive visit to what we understood is a milky water public hot pool where apparently any white or light coloured clothing comes out a different colour and headed straight back instead to Lovina for a hot shower and for some a massage.

Sunset again and to the accompaniment of the 6 pm call to prayer in the distance, this time the sun decided to play ball drop like a red round soccer / football into the ocean. There were 3 full tour buses by the dolphin statue and I am glad the many passengers stayed there to watch the sunset. I headed a short distance to the east as I spotted a solitary outrigger off shore that features in my sunset photos. Yes, I broke the rule of 1/3's and took most of my photos with the sun in the centre. I knew that I should have taken my tripod down to the beach so hopefully the hand held photos are not that blurry as the light got dimmer and dimmer.



Dinner was a highlight. A walk along the now darkened beach to find that the table for 8 was set up under the trees with no one else around. Just a single tilly lamp for light and the sound of the waves lapping the shore line. Bliss.

For over 20 years Ibu Wayan has been preparing for Intrepid groups amazing Balinese buffets. There was so much food left over that we could have fed another group of the same size.

In fact this experience should be part the inclusive group cost and not the optional 65,000 Rp (NZ $ 8 or US $ 6) extra. It would have been made even better if the group went here to see the sun set first, assuming that the sun would co-operate, then have dinner as the colours in the distant sky change from various hues of blues, reds, oranges to the now jet black with the twinkling stars appearing.
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