I left Canggu last Sunday and boarded a fast boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan for the start of a few weeks of island hopping. Nusa Lembongan is an island heralded as a quieter paradise than Bali and the Gilis, so I was excited for some time away from the beaten path.
The boat across was fairly hassle free (this can’t be said for other boat trips I’ve since taken), but I was thankful I’d paid the extra 50,000IDR (£3) for the comfort of lifts to and from the ports at each end.
I was feeling pretty shitty generally when I left Canggu. To my distress, I woke up on Saturday morning to bed bug bites. I knew I was bound to get them at some point on my travels but in week one?! Come ON. Despite my glowing review of Serenity in my previous blog they didn’t deal with the situation properly sadly by moving me into a new bed – I hoped for the best but when I left on Sunday I had slept for zero hours and was now bestowed with over 70 bed bug bites. You could literally play a very elaborate dot to dot on my legs. Reeeeeeallly sexy.
To add to that, some items of low monetary but high personal value, that I simply hadn’t thought to lock in a safe because it didn’t occur to me that anyone would ever want to take them, disappeared from my room on Saturday night. I turned the dorm upside down looking for them and asked at reception but they had well and truly gone. To this day it will puzzle me as to why anyone thought of taking those things, to the point I sort of hope that they were just accidentally thrown away as it’s easier to understand.
So rather than soaking in the tropical paradise that is Nusa Lembongan, I spent my first day there feeling sleep deprived and upset while searching for somewhere to deep clean every single one of my belongings. This came at a surprisingly hefty fee! A few insect bites and things going missing are absolutely part and parcel of travelling, so I knew I needed to suck it up – and now have – but at the time these small things can seem pretty horrible when travelling alone and it takes a lot of grit not to let them ruin your day. I decided to stick close to my inn and have a gentle day on the beach rather than go all out exploring, which is just what I needed. I’m learning to listen to my brain and body a lot more than I ever have, which is a plus!
Basic as anything, but for 200,000ODR (£12) a night for my own room with running water and a fridge stocked with beer in the hallway I didn’t really care that the Pacific Inn was completely no frills. The selling point for this place was actually the beautiful views from the rooftop seating area where breakfast and dinner were served – the sunsets were absolutely breathtaking. It is situated right on the waterfront so all you hear at night is the crashing waves. Simple pleasures.
It is owned by a lovely older Balinese couple who are always on hand to answer questions and cook meals for the guests together. I tended to eat here mostly for breakfast and dinner. I found that, unlike Canggu where I had company, I didn’t have much confidence to venture far for evening food or activity as it gets dark so early (around 6) and street lights are non existent. I did, however, make friends with a lovely retired couple from Tasmania – hi Penny and Ron! – staying at the Inn who I enjoyed chatting to over dinners of barbecued fish, and who gave me a wealth of tips and information on SE Asia which they’ve travelled extensively. I’m still in awe of the different people I’ve met and stories I’ve heard – and it’s only two weeks in!
My vegan healthy living policy from a Serenity was swiftly abandoned in Nusa Lembongan, where there is a notable lack of trendy Aussie veggie cafes. I switched vegan coconut porridge for banana pancakes for breakfast and Tempe salads for fried butter chicken and noodles. I also found myself drinking Bintang every night while watching the sunset – I accept that this is now a thing but that at some point it’s probably going to catch up with me and my waistline.
In short, I fell head over heels for this sleepy island and it’s undiscovered nooks and crannies. It was a welcome break from the busy streets of Bali even after ten days. I lost a day to laundry gate so sadly wasn’t able to make it to Nusa Penida on this trip but plan to do a day trip from Bali instead, as I hear it’s absolutely pristine and completely untouched by tourist developments.
I spent my first full day on Lembongan exploring Jungut Batu, which I was staying on. The beach is absolutely postcard perfect, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen sea quite so clear and blue, so I spent a fair amount of time gazing out to sea, drinking iced coffee, reading books and dipping in and out the water.
I booked onto a morning snorkelling trip which was fantastic as I got to snorkel with mantas – we snorkelled in four different spots including the coveted Crystal Bay and Mangrove Bay, and as well as the mantas saw a huge variety of tropical fish. After an iced coffee and lunch stop at a cafe on the seafront I hopped on a moped taxi for an afternoon tour of the island. There really are so many beautiful nooks and crannies of this island to explore, it’s essential to either hire your own moped or get someone else to drive you to see Lembongan properly in all its crystal blue water glory. I visited picturesque Dream Beach, the neighbouring water blow, the Blue Lagoon (the colour of which I quite literally couldn’t get my head around) and crossed the infamous yellow bridge to Nusa Ceningan where there are even more secluded beaches and coves. There is something so liberating about being the only person on a beach that is quite literally paradise imagined.
I left Lembongan feeling decidedly calmer than when I’d arrived, although also quite lonely. If I was to visit again I’d probably stay at a hostel, although I understand there aren’t many, where I could meet other travellers my own age. While the private room was definitely a bit of a luxury, I found myself feeling quite homesick in the evenings in the absence of much to do so perhaps it wasn’t the best choice so early on in my trip. I’m learning so much about myself and what’s good for me, so this is just another learning for me to consider when planning future aspects of my trip – and all in all I loved visiting the island.
After Nusa Lembongan, I made an 8 hour (!) trip to Lombok where I spent an utterly magical 4 days staying with a wonderful host called Edy and his family in the jungle. I decided this really warrants a separate blog post, so watch this space 🙂