Day 202: A Day Too Late

Sun. 3rd March 2013

Just one outrigger on the fishing boats down on the south coastWe avoided Kuta, the main tourist town on Bali, because it has a reputation of being even more frenetic than Seminyak. Whilst I would have liked to have seen the memorial to the Bali bombings, the tourist tat and nightclub scene is just not our thing. Kuta Lombok, on the other  hand, has a much better reputation – as a small surfer town on the picturesque south coast of Lombok. It also marks a new low point on our hotel expenditure at just $38 / night (including breakfast, air conditioning, hot water and WiFi).

Our room - not bad for £23/nightThe tour office that we booked our car and driver for the transfer down to Kuta is right by the hotel and when we get there, our driver is waiting for us and it is straight off. We expect the journey to take us about 2 hours as we have to go back to the airport and then pretty much as far again. I’m happy as it is a great opportunity to catch up on my podcast listening – I am now only on Mark Kermode’s top 10 (well 12) films of 2012 that was broadcast on Boxing Day. I am that far behind. (I’m not so far behind on Economist reading thanks to the app on the Surface).

Oriented around surfersAs it turns out, the drive was less than an hour, or it would have been if we’d found the hotel at the first attempt. Not nearly enough for my podcast needs! Even the hotel wasn’t ready for us and so we were forced to go for a wander in search of a coffee shop. Such hardship!

Well, how else would you carry your surfboard?There is one main road that runs right along and around the south coast of the island. It does, however, jag inland near where our hotel is and so we have a little walk to get back to the beach. The road is lined with restaurants interspersed with stalls for tour operators and street vendors. There is a constant stream of scooter traffic though fortunately not at the volume that we have seen in the cities. The other big differences is that as many scooters are being ridden by westerners as locals and many have a rack for a surfboard fitted.

Just a few hours too late for thisIt all seems very relaxed, sleepy almost, and over lunch the restaurant owner explains that this is literally true. Last night was the festival of Bau Nyale which celebrates the spawning of Nyale sea worms on the  local beaches. A good harvest of sea worms is said to portend a good rice harvest and the whole night is given over to traditional singing and dancing and then through until dawn people wade into the sea with nets and buckets to catch the Nyale.

We had read about this in the local guide book and then heard about it from the driver who took us to Mataram from the coast. If we hadn’t stayed the extra night in Gili Trawangan, we’d have been down here for this festival. On the other hand, I’d have missed seeing the Manta Ray and the Bumphead Parrotfish. Sadly, you can’t have everything.

Leave only footprints - they just don't need to be that deep!While we are in Kuta, it would be missing the point not to have a walk along the beach. Whilst it did all look very enticing with beautiful sand and clear warm water, it was not easy going. There was quite a steep slope to the beach down to the sea and the coarse sand sunk under our feet so it was very hard to get a decent walking stride and rhythm going. At the end of the beach, we cut across the headland to the next bay only to find…

Dramatic coastline…another crescent of golden sand with turquoise sea and dramatic, rocky headland at either end. There was not much surf, but we could see why these beaches are such an attraction. In the distance, we can see figures standing on the rocks at the other end of the bay. The view must be spectacular and we briefly consider walking round to them but it is too far and we are too hot and sweaty.

Who are you calling "not cute"?Heading back across the headland, we come across a group of monkeys. We perhaps give them too wide a berth and so miss out on the best photos – but then again, like seals, they are not that cute in real life and we have already taken lots of monkey photos. I’m sure that when we get to Borneo in a few weeks time and it is Orang-utans we’ll feel differently.

A room (and a beer) with a view!By the time we have slogged our way back along the beach and get to the first of the beachfront bars we are tired and sweaty – you could just about wring out our T-shirts – so we can’t resist the lure of a cold beer. As we sit in the treetop viewing platform, looking out over the palm thatched roof down at the empty beach and the rocky promontories we feel pretty mellow.

A day late here? Perhaps, but as our friend Richard says, its never too late!

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