Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lombok to Bali

14 – 24 September 2011

There was not a breath of wind as we raised Nae Hassle’s anchor from the mud bottom of Medana Bay for our passage across to Bali so it looked like we were facing yet another day of motoring. We planned to day sail to an anchorage near the north eastern corner of the island to spend the night and then continue on the next day to the Rally’s official Bali stop at Lovina Beach on the north coast. The lack of wind frustrated us all but we unfurled a bit of main sail anyway just in case.

After winding our way around the reefs we headed past the three Gilis and were very happy to strike a gentle but strengthening breeze as we came out from behind Gili Tarwangan. Rob was at the helm and soon had the full genoa out and the boat sailing along nicely making a steady 7 knots. Other than keeping an eye on the constant stream of huge bulk ore carriers plying the sea lane between Bali and Lombok on their way from China to Western Australia, we had a very pleasant and uneventful sail to our planned anchorage in the shadow of G.Agung, Bali’s biggest volcano.

Peregrina with the volcano G. Agung in the background.
Anchoring is one of the dark arts of sailing and just about every cruiser we talk to and watch in action has different views on the best way to make sure their anchor is well set, secure in the sea bed and adequate room is allowed for the boat to swing in the wind and current staying well clear of others in the anchorage. On Nae Hassle Colin and Milin regularly have differing views on where the anchor should be dropped leading to what could diplomatically be described as “spirited discussions” in the cockpit whenever we enter an anchorage. Sometimes one view will prevail until the anchor is actually down and then the “discussion” reignites, the anchor comes up and we move elsewhere and re-anchor. Bali set a new record as we spent two hours dropping, lifting and moving five times before harmony broke out in the cockpit and we crew could relax and move back from our favoured positions on the bow away from the debate. We certainly enjoyed our sundowners that evening. Fortunately the incredibly beautiful surroundings were very calming with the sky and puffy clouds turning crimson red as the sun dipped behind the towering volcano looming over us. On shore naked children splashed happily in the small waves washing the beach lined with brightly painted fishing boats in front of the very pretty village of AmedLater we joined people from Aussie boats Frecinet and Our Odyssey aboard Peter and Margie’s Peregrina for a few more relaxing ales and good conversation.

Balinese fishing boats on horizon at dawn

Rob was up early next morning to get some photos of the dawn and the volcano as the light illuminated its dramatic slopes. Everybody else were awake soon after as we got an early start for our relatively short passage around the coast to Lovina Beach. We had visited Lovina on our first visit to Bali twelve years ago and found the place to be a very sleepy little spot with virtually no tourist facilities. We were actually surprised it had been selected as the stop for the Rally but were even more surprised when we arrived just after lunch to find Lovina Beach is now a vibrant tourist area totally transformed from our memories of the place.

After doing what boat chores needed to be done we quickly packed our backpacks and headed ashore to hire a motor scooter and head south to spend a few days with good friends Peter and Linda Cross who had flown from Australia to meet up with us at Sanur Beach. We didn’t get away from Lovina Beach until after 4.00pm and after working our way through the traffic in the city of Singaraja we commenced the climb over the high mountains into the interior.
Temple on the Lake Bratan
Now if we thought Lombok was the land of lunatical motorsickles we were soon to rediscover that Bali had it beaten hands down. There really is no problem riding here as long as you keep your wits about you and are very aware of the local ways. However when you’re struggling up a steep mountain and get passed closely and unexpectedly on a blind corner by a scooter with mum and three kids on board it can still give you a start.
It was a very slow climb up the range and as it got later and higher so too did the air get cooler then colder and we soon regretted our choice of riding apparel, shorts and t-shirts. By the time we crested the peak and started the steep descent to the valley floor we were starting to feel like ice cubes on wheels. It was an easy decision to stop for the night and we were really pleased to find a nice place to stay on the shores of Lake Bratan right beside its famous temple on the water. The scenery was only surpassed by the hot shower and great dinner.

The following morning we enjoyed a great fresh fruit salad breakfast and wander around the temple on the lake and then were privileged to witness a traditional Hindu ceremony on the lake’s edge. The attendees were all immaculately dressed in brightly coloured sarongs and head dresses and paraded past accompanied by musicians playing a range of traditional percussion instruments. It was a great start to our day.

The rest of our ride to Sanur took another two hours to cover the 65 kilometres up and over the next mountain and then down through the country side before hitting the next challenge of finding our way through the maze of roads and heavy traffic of Denpassar. We thought we were doing pretty well but in the end became unsure so stopped and asked a local which way to Sanur Beach. He looked at us like we were yet another pair of stupid tourists pointed to the ground and said “Here, Sanur here.” Oops. On the corner was a Mc Donalds so we went in, ordered cold drinks and then used the free WIFI to find directions to our villas. Gotta love Maccas even if you hate the food.
It was fantastic to spend a few days with Peter and Linda
Our budget accommodation proved to be very conveniently located a block from the main restaurant and retail area and close to the beach. We got settled in then headed for Barb’s Aussie Sports Bar, the meeting spot nominated by Peter and Linda. What a great choice for a TV sports deprived male like Rob. Cold beer and TV screens on every wall with AFL, NRL, World Cup Rugby and V8 Supercars all on at the same time. He really didn’t know where to look and almost twisted his head off his shoulders trying to keep up with every game and the motorsport. It was a good weekend for him to finally see TV again with both his favourite driver, Craig Lowndes, winning at Phillip Island and his beloved Brisbane Broncos defeating St George to move into the preliminary finals.

It was fantastic to catch up with such great friends as Pete and Linda and the start of really good five days with them. Sanur Beach is not quite as full on as the main tourist trap of Kuta and we really did enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere and, in particular, the beautiful beach. The four of us were lazing around on deck chairs on the beach one morning enjoying the sight of the surf breaking on the reef offshore when one lone surfer headed out on his board. It wasn’t until he dropped onto his first wave and we could judge the wave against his body that realised what we thought was about a four foot break was actually more like eight to ten foot. He had a great ride and we watched as he backed up for the next but was then absolutely smashed. End of session as he made his way back to shore bruised and battered.

 After three months Karen finally got de-fured at a nice salon near our villas and no longer has to worry about being confused for an orang-utan although when the salon manager looked at her legs she decided it was much too big a job for one person and put three of her staff on the job. Rob even got a haircut which was also none too soon. Such issues don’t concern you too much when you’re at sea but people do look at you sideways when you come ashore looking like some sort of castaway.
Doing in style as the staff ready the private BBQ
The Cross’s had decided to spoil themselves and had booked into a luxurious complex with each private walled villa having three bedrooms, a day pavilion and its own pool. We joined them one night for a sleep over and private bbq at their villa. Five staff came in, set everything up and then cooked and served us the five course candle lit dinner at a poolside table. Talk about doing it in style. It was absolutely superb. 
We backed up the next night with the four of us heading to Jimbaran Bay and the famous seafood restaurants on the beach. It’s a fantastic atmosphere with the tables set out on the actual wide sand beach overlooking a huge fleet of brightly coloured fishing boats that set sail as the sun sets in spectacular style over the water. While the food is probably the dearest in Indonesia, it’s still quite reasonable by Australian standards. We struggled to finish all the fresh Lobster, huge prawns, grilled whole fish, calamari, muscles, mud crabs and French fries served up yet with our drinks only worked out at about $65 per head.

The following day was our last together on Bali so we decided to have a pretty casual day with lunch at a restaurant at one end of the beach and then working our way along having a cool drink at different beachfront bars that struck our fancy. One we picked was just a tiny stand out on the sand that looked cute with its simple timber table and chairs. Cute it might have been but we were pretty shocked to be stung with the dearest price for a small beer we’ve ever encountered in Indo. As we sat drinking them Rob used a tube of superglue to stick the sole of his sandal back together. Being a bit miffed about the price of beer and with some glue left over he then proceeded to glue our empty bottles together on the table. We relaxed enjoying the view while the glue set then got up, said our “Terimkasihs” (thankyou) and headed off. The girls couldn’t resist the temptation to look back and were treated to the waitress falling off her stool in laughter at the bar boy’s shock as he tried to pick up one bottle and they all came up in his hand. Small things may amuse small minds but we enjoyed it.

 We really did have a great time with Pete and Linda, as always and it was sad saying goodbye to them that night as they headed for the airport and home. Thanks guys.

A couple more days of very enjoyable days R & R went quickly with a mix of lazing about and nice dinners before we loaded up our back packs again and pointed our little pink Honda north for our return to Lovina Beach and the boat for the next leg of our journey. The 95 kilometre trip back took just over three hours, a huge departure from how long the same distance normally takes us back in Australia on our Harley Davidson and we were a little saddle sore when we arrived in time for a late lunch before going back on board.
Here our Sail Indonesia Rally journey took a twist as we were met on shore by Colin and Milin from the boat with the news that our friends Will and Margaret on the ketch Atlantia had run into a problem. Margaret’s elderly mother had been hospitalised in Scotland and was seriously ill following two major operations so Margaret had flown home to be with her. This left Will on his own with the boat so he was looking for help to sail her. As there were five of us on Nae Hassle Will had asked if a person might be able to Atlantia. So here was Colin expressing the opinion to us that Marc didn’t have enough experience to go over to Will and was sounding Rob out about being the one to switch. He got the quick response that as husband and wife we were actually a package deal and if one went, both went.

We were both actually more than keen to get off Nae Hassle and away from all the owners arguments so the prospect of sailing with Will was very attractive and the deal was done very quickly. Next morning we packed what we needed for the four day passage ahead and transferred over to our new temporary home, Atlantia, and helped Will prepare the boat for sea. We were excited both to be on a new boat and about the next leg of our journey as we were sailing for Kumai on Kalimantan for our encounter with the orang-utans in the rain forests of Borneo.

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