A short skip across the waters from Java on a very slow ferry brings you to the West side of Bali. Here you’ll get to practice your haggling skills and deal with the joy that is bus stations in Indonesia. After talking down the price of a local bus to Denpasar to 35k we headed off on a 3hour bus journey followed by a 45min Bemo ride to Sanur. I love local buses, not only because you get to meet the locals but they drive with the door open – lots of fresh air for those who lean towards motion sickness.
I was to only spend a night in Sanur but ended up staying for two extra days. Sanur is a beach side town – quieter, chilled and for a slightly older or family orientated crowd than Kuta. Despite my dreams of sleeping on the beach though, we rented bicycles to explore the boardwalk and so that the girls could get to and from their Ultimate Frisbee tournament over the weekend.
I had no idea that Ultimate Frisbee was such a worldwide and devoted community! They even had a wedding on the Saturday night! A couple from Australia (team name – The Wedding Party) said their vows on the field amidst mud puddles from what I was told. They even had mud sliding! Needless to say I found myself on the Friday night, party crashing an Ultimate Frisbee tournament party on the beaches of Sanur and at the best pizza parlour in SE Asia so I was told, Pizza Club Sanur and it was pretty delicious. I tried the Nottinghill which had feta cheese with sun dried tomatoes on it. Mmmmm
The main reason I had chosen to go to Sanur, despite two pizza dinners, was not for the pizza but to visit two islands – Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. They sounded quiet, not yet over visited and stunning. I was not disappointed. I found a boat that cost 220k return. A very old oversized wooden rowboat with a roof really but it got the job done and against massive waves we arrived safe and sound on a little island getaway. I stayed in Linda’s Bungalows, along the beachfront of the main harbour. A great view, friendly staff and home to one of the best fish curries I have ever had.
As biking seems to have become my new favourite mode of transport we decided to rent bicycles. They were mountain bikes – the first I have ever used, lacking in a bell, the most uncomfortable seats possible and generally just a little bit awkward. I have ridden one since and can assure you we just had strange bikes that day. It was also quickly noted we were the only people on the island who rode push bikes. Everyone else had scooters or they opted for the back of truck transport. In retrospect it might have been the better idea but I feel like we accomplished a small feet. Let’s put it this way. If I could be a philanthropist I would offer those two little islands money for their roads or lack there of.
Day one we explored Lembongan – Dream Beach, Mushroom Bay, Lembongan Village and the edges of the Mangrove forest. The current was too strong at Dream Beach for me but Mushroom Bay was perfect. I was like a child at Christmas when we stopped at Bali Hai for a quick snack of thick, crispy potato wedges in their bamboo bar which overlooked the beach and snuck in a quick dip before they arrived. After lunch, captivated by the crabs climbing vertically over the rocks (which kind of looks like spiders) and the coral covering the beach we left it too late to make it home before dark as we were without bells or lights on a dark, twisty, non-lit road. We got half way home in the rain when we decided it was not worth it so we turned around to see if we could bargain a lift. Knights in shining armour from Cafe Bali saved the day and got us back to Linda’s in the back of one of the large transport trucks.
I woke up on day two and decided that my cursing of the biking yesterday was an over reaction and it really wasn’t that bad so we should totally do it day 2 too. We found better bikes this time. I named mine Ruby so I could sing Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs as I sailed down hills or tried to get up hills. I didn’t kid myself that day on my fitness level and walked up a few of the lovely hills along our route. Ceningan was on our agenda for day two. Crossing the wooden suspension bridge causing a mini island traffic jam of course and entering onto an even smaller, less paved road filled island. The beaches and sea were dramatic and breath taking. The swell was so large that day (surfers were happy out) that beaches or jumping points were closed due to the size and strength of the waves. My favourite stop for the day, other than our ice cream break (strawberry cheesecake cornetto) was Secret Beach. We parked our bikes at the bottom of the hill and walked about 10 minutes to a tiny idyllic beach. The beach is untouched and is surrounded by high cliff walls with the waves barreling through smashing against the rocks and sending waves and spray meters into the air. It took all my will power not to jump into the water but we stood at the edge of the water and still managed to look like we had jumped into the ocean. The power of the ocean in front of me was mind boggling, and I could have stood there for hours letting the surf rush in around me listening and watching the waves crash against the shoreline, Villa Trevally, the small resort on the shore, were also kind to let us use their infinity pool that overlooked the beach. It was similar to what I think swimming or laying in a floatation tank would be like. Between that and the sound of the waves I was as relaxed as one can get. Then onto the bikes to get ourselves home before the witching hour – sunset.
We succeeded and despite the joys of the roads and the hills, biking the islands was a nice way to see them and it did make everyone respect you a little bit more for it. Except for perhaps the one guy I cut off by mistake, I do feel bad about that.