Bali Hi (8)

Terima Homestay – Labuan Lalang

It was a long way along the north coast by bemo from Lovina. The ride was one of those laden with wild life, tame local people, ducks and 10 gallon containers of home brew (I’m not sure whether I was referring to the number or size of the containers.) Sam was busting for a pee, but didn’t want to go where he could be seen. Fat chance: along every apparently deserted stretch of road, someone appeared. Although the driver and I found it amusing, we did eventually pull over and our vehicle provided a shield from prying eyes.

We came here yesterday for the snorkeling at Pulau Menjangan*, reputedly some of the best in Indonesia, and we thought it worthwhile to check it out before leaving Bali for our overland journey across Java. And so that is why the bemo dropped us off here, the gateway to the island and the West Bali National Park. This area of north-west Bali appears to have been depopulated because when we a stroll through the dusty and somewhat barren land we found several small medicine bottles.

Labuan Lalang may be a good base for Pulau Menjangan we read, but apart from boats to the island it’s far from equipped to cater for visitors, who are few in number. Actually, today there are more than the average of two a night because there’s a group of divers and two Canadian teacher-travellers, Ginny and Bronwen who agreed to share the costs of our boat trip to the island.

We all have gripes here, like no food, no decent flippers my size and no light. Sam broke that while jumping up to look at our roof tokay (gecko), an ugly blue-grey speckled with red spots fat lizard. We found food, passable rice with tempe and tahu, a kilometre down the road where monkeys cavorted across the road. We later passed on the sickly biscuits and sweet bread we stocked up on for supper.

The snorkelling, however, was really superb in terms of fish life, quite on a par with Fiji.  Sam saw a large eel, or was it a snake? We both saw a large, sharp fanged brown fish with protruding white eyes pick up a small clam several times and then swim off with it. This was not a fish to tussle with.

For the rest, it was like being in an aquarium. The shoals ignored our presence. Though flipperless, I was able to glide among them enjoying the colours: some striped black ad yellow, multi-coloured parrot fish, iridescent blues and reds, all feeding off the coral.

There was a deep and steep drop off which the divers enjoyed with caves to explore. Diving is an expensive pastime: we heard a quote of $50. The Japanese we saw had all the gear, including made to measure wet suits. Our outing, shared with Ginny, Bronwen and two late arriving Germans, cost £5 (then c.Rp.20,000) including snorkel hire and the boat hire.

This ride was interesting too because it afforded us a view of the now dormant volcanic origins of the area. Two peaks made an interesting foreground for last night’s classic sunset.

This is my idea of Nirvana (albeit a recreation)

(*Footnote: Sam and I returned to Menjangan in 2012 on one of his hotel inspection tours. Some resorts are decidedly upmarket, and we particularly recommend The Menjangan. The snorkeling was just as good as before except for the plastic drifting among the corals.)


About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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