Propositioned on Penida
Trip Start Sep 24, 2009
69Trip End Apr 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Made Homestay (Sampalan)
MM Dive (Toyapakeh)
Well, if I thought Nusa Lembongan was slightly disappointing on initial arrival, Nusa Penida, on first impression, was even worse! I am learning, however, that you have to ignore the first impression and just trust that all will be OK as you dig a bit deeper to discover what makes a place interesting.
I got up at around 4.30am to catch the early boat to Nusa Penida, the third island of this small group of islands off of Bali. Even though the largest, Penida is the least visited as it doesn't really provide much for tourists. It is the administration centre for this region of Bali.
The boat, a very basic wooden boat with seats running down the length of each side, took off as the sun was rising
I jumped off the boat in Toyapakeh, and had a quick look around the town, and couldn’t find anywhere to stay! I was also being stared at like I had 3 heads – they don’t get a lot of tourists in this area. There were no signs indicating where the homestays were, I didn’t even see a local restaurant where I could sit for a minute and gather my thoughts.
Meanwhile, I was being 'stalked' by the local tourist guide, Roddie. I really do need to learn to enlist the help of these guys rather than avoid them! Being stubborn and determined to find my own way, I jump into a bemo (taxi van) to ride over to Sampalan, another area that someone had suggested I stay. Asking the driver how much for the bemo ride, he asked if I wanted a public bemo or special charter. I was happy with 'public’ as it should have been cheaper
On arrival in Sampalan, I gave in and let Roddie lead me to a homestay – one which belonged to his ‘uncle’. It looked OK except for the 2 large dead cockroaches on the floor. He also gave me his motor cycle (scooter) to hire for the two days that I was there - no paperwork, and I just paid at the end. Very trusting!
I was glad for the bike as there really wasn’t anything on offer in Sampalan – and it turns out I would have been better to have stayed in Toyapakeh, where I arrived. Oh well – Sampalan gave me a great starting point to explore the island.
By 8am, I had jumped on the bike and was off on my little adventure! I followed the coastline for awhile, and then travelled inland, up and over the large hills. Everywhere I went, people would wave and call out to me
I came across a large village, Tanglad, in the middle of the island, which is known for their special form of weaving. They grow the cotton here, hand dye it and make a type of fabric that is unique to this area. The fabric is used to make formal sarongs used in ceremonies such as funerals. I had stopped in the middle of the village as I was an intersection and needed to check which way to go. A guy saw me, came over to help – and kindly invited me for a tour through the village and to see the weaving. I was taken into the homes of a couple of the weavers to have a look. They offered to sell some to me of course, but it was nice that there was absolutely no pressure to buy. Afterwards he took me to his family shop to have a drink – and he wouldn’t accept any money. I was amazed!
I continued on, and several hours later made my way to Toyapakeh. I jumped off the bike and had another wander through the town and was thrilled to see two ‘white faces’
Tenille and Chris, from Australia, were hanging out in Bali for 2 months and had made a trip over to Penida for a few days. They also pointed out where their homestay was - and I found the homestay I had originally wanted (based on a recommendation) but couldn't find right next door. From the road, you wouldn't have know that it was there. It’s only because they walked along the beach that they found them; I had walked along the road.
Later that evening, after a little afternoon snooze (I’m getting used to these nana naps!), I jumped on the bike to go for an evening ride. I came across a ceremony at a beachside temple and stopped to listen to the gamelan (Indonesian-style orchestra) music and watch from a distance. One of the guys saw me and invited me in. Fortunately I had a sarong with me in my pack, so wrapped that around me (a sarong is mandatory to go into temples in Indonesia). I thought I would be able to sneak in and watch from the back – but no! The gamelan stopped playing, and all gamelan guys are waving at me to come in and to take their photo! I was mortified that they had interrupted their practice
Afterwards, my new friend invited me back to his house to meet his wife. She was lovely, and brought out some water, apples and cake for me. He installs satellite dishes so I suspect they were reasonably well off compared to many others on the island.
What a very cool evening!
Moving back to Toyapakeh
The next day, I packed up and moved across to the homestay that I discovered back in Toyapakeh. On the way, a car had been following me, and then overtook me. A few minutes later, it came back towards me and the guy waved me down. He stops literally in the middle of the road (which is only 1 ½ car widths wide anyhow) and starts talking to me. As he was in uniform, I thought at first he might be a policeman, but I think he just worked at one of the administrative offices in Sampalan. He asked if I would be staying at Made’s Homestay again that night (how did he know?), but I explained that I checked out and would be staying in Toyapakeh
We continued talking for a few minutes (still blocking the street as other people were trying to get around us!), he mentioned the word ‘kasih’ which is ‘love’. I thought I had heard wrong and ignored it. Next thing he declares in English “I love you”. I was a bit taken aback and thought maybe I had still somehow misheard so ignored it, and explained that I needed to continue on my journey. He then said it again: “I love you” and kissed me on the shoulder!! Yikes!!!! I jumped on my bike and was out of there!! Good grief!
After checking in, I jumped on the bike and headed over the Crystal Bay to do some snorkeling. This is an area that attracts lots of day trippers from Bali for diving. It was a gorgeous little bay and I pretty much spent the day there, exploring, snorkeling and just lying on the beach. The snorkeling wasn’t too bad, but as the currents were incredibly strong here (even in the bay) I didn’t feel too comfortable going out very far. Unfortunately my little 'point and shoot' camera stopped working here when I got a bit of moisture in it when I snorkelling, so I didn't get any photos.. :-(
That night, it was a beautiful sunset, and there was finally a good view of Gunung Agung, the massive volcanic mountain on Bali, so I wandered down to the beach to take photos
I walked over to the little black puppy and he was lying there looking at me with the saddest eyes ever. He was a big mangy looking but it looked so helpless. I reached down to untie the string from around the waist. He wouldn’t move – I’m not sure if he was injured, too frightened, or has just given up. He just laid his head down on his paws and looked at me. I really didn’t know what to do. He had been tossed below the high tide water line, so if he didn’t move he would drown – obviously that was the intention of the man who tossed him there.
I walked away a bit and kept calling him to move, but he just wouldn’t
In the end, I walked away, and a bit further up, sat on the beach and cried as the sun set. Did I do the right thing, to not interfere and let ‘nature’ (as it may be) take its course? Probably not. But what else could I do? What would YOU do?
I had the worse sleep that night. I kept waking up thinking about that poor puppy. I hope he found the energy and motivation to move.
This is a fairly spiritual island with lots of spirits lurking around apparently, and I could only hope that some evil spirit dished out a bit of karma on to the guy that tossed the puppy on the beach like a piece of rubbish.
Onward to Gili Twanganan
The next morning I caught a boat back to Lembongan, from where I then caught a speedboat to Gili Twanganan, one of the small islands that makes up the Gili group off of Lombok
All in all, Penida was a nice, friendly island. Most people there were extremely friendly and inquisitive. But it’s a fairly basic island in terms of tourist facilities, and I only ran into the two Australian tourists, and a Czech couple who ran the second homestay that I stayed at.
Travelling on my own at this stage, I like having a few more tourists around me even if I’m not hanging out with them. I didn’t always feel comfortable on Penida- not that I felt threatened in any way, but just a bit isolated. The puppy episode obviously put a damper on things for me as well and I’m trying hard to keep things in perspective. It’s a different culture and for many, it’s a very basic existential way to live, just trying to earn enough to put food on the table.