Day 206: So Laid Back…

Thur. 7th March 2013

Ganesh is looking over usSo far, we have found Indonesia to be a friendly, happy place that, other than the madness of the scooters, has a pretty relaxed approach to life. Reef Seen, up here in Pemuteran in North Bali just takes that to a whole new level. There isn’t a huge amount of stress in our lives at the minute but today we were, literally, horizontal for a large part of the day.

Lunch being loaded aboardWe had a choice of activity today – to go trekking up and around a mountain (and get very hot and sweaty and probably rained upon) or go off snorkelling over the reefs around a nearby island. Guess which one won out? Staying at a dive shop, it is tempting to get another dive in but I resist. Going snorkelling is something that Janet and I can do together, though Amanda (the owner here) did try to convince Janet that she would enjoy diving if only she gave it another chance.

Looking back at Bali's north coastOur trip out to Pulau Menjangan, an uninhabited island right off the north-western tip of Bali, takes about an hour in the little boat used by the dive shop. The trip out gives us a chance to talk to two of the other couples staying at the hotel. It turns out that one of the couples has just come from Java where we are heading next. Essentially they are doing the reverse of the route that we want to do and have been using public transport where possible, again, like we want to do (but haven’t been very successful with so far). It is great to pick their brains and gather a couple of tips – as well as getting a general confirmation that our plan is feasible.

The biggest Ganesh temple in the world?As we get close to Menjangan, we can see the Pura Gili Kencana temple with the big, white, stone statue of Ganesh looking out to sea. Amanda told us that it is the largest Ganesh temple in the world. Lonely Planet says that it is the oldest temple in Bali (and there are a lot) dating back to the 14th Century. Either way, it is quite impressive. In the background is Java, our destination for tomorrow (and where we will be spending the remainder of our time in Indonesia) and we can see Mount Ijen (which we hope to climb) shrouded in clouds. That is for a few days time. For now we can just concentrate on relaxing and enjoying the snorkelling underneath Ganesh’s watchful gaze.

Parrot fish flying through the waterAs we got away promptly at 8:30 that left time for a couple of snorkelling sessions before lunch. The water was warm enough that we could stay in for an hour without getting cold – not quite the same as in the UK. I think also that the diving must be spoiling me for whilst there were plenty of Angelfish, Butterfly fish (they look similar yellow, black and white stripes and I can never remember which is which) and Parrot fish there were no turtles or sharks or cuttlefish as I saw in GiliT.

To pass the Fish Identification course, you need to do more than say 'yes, that's a fish'There was plenty to see though. The coral was more varied and more colourful than off Gili – the Blue Starfish made an interesting contrast against the pink coral. Occasionally, large shoals of fish would sweep by and for a time you would be swimming over or amid a motorway of fish just zooming past or around you – the striking, almost fluorescent blue or with yellow and white stripes or, most impressively of all, Glass Fish who seem to be transparent but are just reflective. These latter were so dramatic and they came and went so quickly that I was too mesmerised in watching them and forgot that I had a camera in my hands. D’oh!

Janet goes for a reenactment of the Nirvana album coverOver lunch and our little, Indonesian-style picnic boxes we were able to swap notes as to what we had seen and what we should look out for in our post-lunch swim. The third couple on the boat are Robyn and Mark from Oregon who have just been to Hawaii, where we went on honeymoon. We swap stories on Hawaii (though my memories are rusty) and of other places we visited as well as about our homes. Now we are going to have to find an excuse to go to Oregon!

Shoals of fish would just swoop pastAfter our post-lunch snorkel, the boat heads back and we use our time to put together a plan (actually, that is probably overselling it but you get the idea) for our remaining time in Indonesia. The first decision we made was that we would fly to Kuala Lumpur on the 17th to allow us to visit Malacca (Melaka?) prior to our Grand Prix watching. That gives us about 10 days in Java which is enough to do East Java and so we’ll fly out of Yogyakarta rather than going all the way up to Jakarta. Then, we put together a list of places that we want to visit in Java. These include:

  • Mount Ijen – Active volcano, crater lake, sulphur collecting and stunning views;
  • Mount Bromo – Ditto – especially the stunning views and supposedly best at sunrise;
  • Borobudur – Ancient temples. Apparently up with Chichen Itza and Angkor Wat in the list of top ancient sites to see;
  • Yogyakarta itself

Its not a hat it's a cover for the food!We’re not sure what to expect in Java. We think it will be less touristy than Bali but apparently it is easy enough to get around. We now have our first night’s hotel booked in the city of Jember. Our challenge for tomorrow is to get there by public transport.

Amazing presentation of our foodBy the time we have done all of this, not only are we ravenously hungry, but the heavens have opened and it is sluicing down with rain. Fortunately, there is a restaurant just 20 yards from the entrance to our accommodation and so we dash round there under cover of a borrowed umbrella. The presentation of the food is just out of this world with the rice served in a palm-frond basket with Lotus flowers and hand carved decorations. The food is really tasty and the total bill (including our beers) is less than £15 – it is all just stunning value here. Java has a lot to live up to!

This entry was posted in Asia, RTW Trip and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Day 206: So Laid Back…

  1. Hey Janet and Dave! So great to read about your trip, and to know you are LIVING YOUR DREAM!!! You are always welcome to come visit us in Oregon, so do keep our email in your contact list… we are headed home to US tomorrow on March 18, after seeing so many wonderful places and meeting so many amazing people. Ryan, Salke, and little Alysa came and spent Nyepi in Mas with us… incredible ogoh-ogoh… and Silent Day. Great experiences! Take care and Happy Trails! Keep in touch…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *