Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia: Peaceful Island Life
Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
76Trip End Feb 06, 2014
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Declining the offer of free transport from the boat operator (and knowing best) we flung on our packs and took to the street under the baking sun. Walking in what appeared to be an inland direction we stopped to ask a taxi driver "no, it's not 300m. It's more like 7km!". Hmmm doubts started to materialise but after being lied to so many times we thought he was pulling a fast one just so we'd pay him to drive us. So on we walked until we reached another hotel and they told us pretty much the same thing. It was then we realised that yes indeed, we had been dropped at a different bay. Walking back to the boat operator we were pleased when they drove passed and stopped to pick us up. Turns out it would have been a very very long walk! Moral of the story? Never trust a Dutchman :-)
Arriving at Mandara Hotel we were shown some rooms at the back. When we asked about the two bungalows poolside with beach views we were told they were full. Agreeing to stay (on the proviso we could move when they became available) we fetched our bags and returned to news that we could now stay poolside as people were checking out. Result. Each bungalow was split into a lower room and upper room. When we asked if we could have one of the upper ones we were told they were booked out. In the three days we lay around the pool not once did we see anyone else staying there.
Marc and Maaike had warned us about the building works, which is why the accommodation was so affordable. They got it for IDR 150,000. We got it for IDR 200,000. When we told the hotel guy our friends had stayed in exactly the same room only a few weeks early and had only paid IDR 150,000 he simply said "That was the price then, this is the price now".
We enjoyed staying there at first - beautiful room, nice pool, great location. But after being woken two mornings running by a circular saw and hammering we decided to call it quits and move elsewhere. Especially as the people who ran it really didn't seem that enthusiastic and/or bothered about having us there anyway. No wifi, no breakfast, no discount for building works, no care.
The new place was about 50m up the beach and shared an equally nice pool with an adjoining hotel. Plus the hotel staff were nice and helpful so we checked in there for a further three nights.
Our first two days on the island were sun soaked and hot. We walked all the way up and around one end of the beach and found a tower of sorts behind some buildings so climbed that to get a better view over the island. Wow. Inland were palm trees galore and from the white sand bay was a shallow area of clear blue water stretching out to waves crashing on the protective reef. With seaweed farming being a well established industry on the island you could easily see the square patches dotted in the water around the coast. When pulled from the sea it's left on sheets to dry with a lot of it destined for the Asian cosmetics industry.
Walking the other end of the beach the sand gives way to a concrete walkway which waves crash up against, leaving you either wet or dry depending on your timing. At the other end of the bay is a series of posh hotels and restaurants looking out to sea so we found a nice restaurant for sunset and some garlic drowned snapper.
We hired a scooter and spent a day cruising around the island and the one next to which is connected by a bridge. In between the two islands is a narrow corridor of shallow water lined with seaweed patches. We stumbled across a place called Le Pirate Beach Club which had an infinity pool and little round bar looking out to sea so we sat there for a bit watching locals in peak hats tend their patch. Further on were more cool hotels built on cliffs with waves crashing below. In a few years time I think the hotel options will be endless. Perhaps they may even have fresh water by then too.
As is usually the case we booked on a snorkelling trip to Manta Point only to wake to the sound of rain and wind. What is it with us and snorkelling trips?! Being told the seas were too rough to go to Manta Point we declined their secondary option and asked for our money back, which was surprisingly forthcoming.
Big storms continued to come in during the nights so we would wake to grey skies which would eventually clear during the day. We followed a path passed all the posh villa's at the end of the bay through forest and onto a few more bays. It was on such a walk that we realised in the three weeks we had spent on Bali and Lembongan not once had we been in the ocean! Bali understandable as you're more likely to be knocked unconscious by debris than have a pleasant swim, but here the water is nice and clear so perhaps we'll dive in on our last day. Makes it hard when you have a perfectly good pool a few steps from the beach.
We've definitely enjoyed our time on Lembongan. It's a good sized island - big enough to have a few different areas but small enough to drive around or simply walk from bay to bay. Accommodation choices are good - from backpacker cheap to plush villas with private swimming pools and incredible views. The beach is clean and water clear, although it's packed with boats so it would be good if they roped off swimming areas or made boats stick to certain areas of the bay. There is a good selection of restaurants, from local Warungs to white table clothes. Late night bar action is minimal with most places closing by 10pm, a blessing in disguise and probably why we've survived our time here without one hangover. It didn't stop Sam from being beat at pool with seven balls left on the table. He refused to do the pants down run but it's a story to go down in the history books and one I'll be sure to tell for many years to come.
So for anyone considering a trip to Bali I would definitely think about coming here instead, or at least for a few days.
Transport: Speedboat Sanur to Nusa Lembongan IDR 300,000 (A$30)ea dep 1000 arr 1030.
Hotel 1: Mandara IDR 200,000 (A$20)
Hotel 2: Star Two Thousdand IDR 150,000 (A$15)