Wednesday, 22 October 2014

nusa lembongan

The tropical air hit us as soon as we left the secure area of Ngurah-Rai Airport and we turned to each other giggling, "It smells like Bali!" The scent of lighted incense and heat and humidity. The hint of ocean water for the sea is never far in an island as tiny as this. Bella and I had arrived late at night and even our excitement could not delay our exhaustion for long. We were asleep the moment we slid into our taxi. We spent an interesting night in Sanur where we had our first of many cockroach encounters and I rediscovered my love of papaya at breakfast. Mornings start early in Bali and it wasn't long before we were dragging our suitcases down the dusty street to catch a boat to Nusa Lembongan.

I don't know if I have ever seen water quite that blue. It glimmered like jewels and was transparent in the shallows. The sand that stretched along the beach was pale and soft on our bare feet. The low jungle hills with pointed red-roofed dwellings hugged the seaside and again, we were confronted with the Asian heat. The Balinese were there to help us step down from the boat and into the pulse of the waves where we could then wade towards shore. I was too stubborn to let anyone help me.

We walked across scorching pavement, leaped into the back of a truck that was to take us to our villa, and clutched the rails as we sped along bumpy roads and wound up steep hillsides. Our home for the next three nights was to be Villa Nusa and we truly felt like Queens. There was a crystal-hued infinity pool, a gazebo on the cliff edge laden with pillows, stone showers that were open to the sunlight, two large fluffy beds, a magnificent loft that overlooked the jungle and coastline, and more windows than walls. The space was illuminated by daylight from the instant the sun appeared. We were always touched by that light.

Bella bravely took the reigns of our scooter even though it had been a year since she had driven one. I naively relaxed on the back and tried to keep her dress from flying up as we explored our side of the little island and found delicious spots to fill our bellies. After Scotland, I wanted to welcome the heat with open arms but found myself faltering in the temperatures. We had little choice but to hide for portions of the afternoons in our air conditioned rooms.

The most remarkable thing that happened in Lembongan was that I went snorkeling for the first time. I am not a swimmer (I can't swim) and I am not comfortable in the water. But snorkeling is something that I have always wanted to do and when the opportunity came to swim with Manta Rays, I couldn't say no. Now as I said, I can't swim and don't really like being in the water, so when it came time to disembark from the boat, I absolutely refused to jump into the ocean. I do this a lot. When it comes to anything that make me nervous, I become very particular and stubborn and NEED TO BE IN CONTROL. There was no way that I was going to leap from the safety of the boat into some strange man's arms. No way. I lowered myself into the waves while clinging to the rails. And then I clung to the strange man who was our guide because I can't swim and that life vest was not making me feel any safer.

I didn't expect the Manta Rays to be that big, that graceful, or have mouths that large. They were the width of our boat and would glide toward us with gaping smiles. One of the other women would rise to the surface screaming and clutching at me (why me? I can't save you! I can't swim!) every time one would come too close. Our guide laughed, told us that the giant creatures were just curious.

I didn't let go of our guide's hand... even when a jellyfish stung me on my butt and I started cursing profusely at the pain.

We went to two more locations after the Manta Rays and in both spots, I swam (or bobbed in the water with my life vest) on my own. The ocean was perfectly clear and fish were abundant, darting in the open water and hiding in their coral castles. I had wanted desperately to see an eel and finally spotted one in the final location. She was large and incredible and hiding under one of the outcroppings of coral.


  1. Oh I love them!! These take me back! Let's go away again ;) xxx

    1. You wouldn't have to ask me twice!! xx