After three glorious days in Ubud, Bali, the next stop on our itinerary was a tiny island off the southern coast of Bali called Nusa Lembongan. When we were planning our trip to Bali both Brian and I wanted to try to avoid the touristy areas and instead find some much-needed peace and quiet – it was our honeymoon after all! In my mind, that consisted of finding a chic hotel off the beaten path, but for Brian that meant finding a tiny island off the southern coast of Bali with rundown beach bungalows as the only accommodation and one ATM machine – for the entire island – cash only my friends.
Different strokes for different folks, right?
Through our (Brian’s) research we stumbled upon Nusa Lembongan and we (Brian) instantly fell in love with what it had to offer…not a lot other than pristine beaches and great surf. In all seriousness, though, I had to agree with him, the island looked breathtaking. It’s what I imagine Bali looked like before it became a tourist haven.
So we booked five nights in the nicest bungalow we ( I ) could find on the tiny island of Nusa.
After a leisurely morning in Ubud that consisted of palm readings with Ketut (for moi) and a roasted pig lunch (for Brian) we had to race to the docks to catch the last boat to Nusa because our driver made a mistake on the departure schedule. Seriously, Brian and I were mid-bite when our driver rushed in with a look of sheer terror and announced that we had to leave IMMEDIATELY to have any chance of catching the last boat. I was more than happy to leave my roasted pig lunch behind but poor Brian looked a bit deflated.
After a harrowing drive down the twisting mountain roads from Ubud to the docks (I kept my head down and played solitaire on my phone to avoid looking at the oncoming traffic we were narrowly missing) we arrived with one minute to spare before our boat’s departure.
The minute our driver pulled up to the curb, I jumped out and started running towards the boat in an attempt to hold it while Brian bought us tickets. We both realized rather quickly that there was no boat to hold or to buy tickets for…well at least not for another few hours. Our driver had made yet another mistake and taken us to the wrong dock.
There was only one thing to do in such a situation…laugh and drink beers on the dock while we waited for the next boat.
After a few hours and a few too many beers we boarded a boat and took off for Nusa.
As we boarded the boat I realized that the boat was made for at least fifty passengers but that there was only ten of us- three hysterical couples from France, two girls in their early twenties and us.
Something seemed off about the whole situation? Why would we be on such a big boat? Upon arrival at Nusa I learned why when we had to transfer to a smaller boat to get to shore. The boat was doing the ten of us a favor by taking us to Nusa. It usually only traveled from Bali to the nearby island of Lombok. This was also when I learned Nusa does not have any boat docks. Say what?
After having to wade through knee-deep water with our luggage and finagling a ride with a local to where we were staying we finally made it to our bungalow and proceeded to do nothing for five days other than sit by the pool, sit on the beach, surf (bri), read, sleep, eat & drink cocktails. The order of that itinerary would change depending on the day but that was pretty much the extent of it.
The only time we ventured out of this routine was when we hired two local men to take us on a tour of the island on the back of their motorbikes (Brian holding on to one guy and me on the back of another…yes, the image you have in your head is correct). We would have taken ourselves on this tour but neither of us could master the art of driving a motorbike. Well, that’s not fair…I didn’t even try; while I am a go getter, I also know my limits. Brian on the other hand did try but almost drove into a wall while trying to learn, with one very worried wife and one very worried but slightly amused Balinese women watching on. It was then I informed him we would not be renting a motorbike and instead hired two locals.
The big stop on our island tour was the seaweed farms and mangrove forests, a stop in which I not only got to see how they farm seaweed but I also got to see Brian nearly miss getting mauled by a tiny monkey. Let me tell you the seaweed farms were awesome but seeing Brian aimlessly walk through a tiny monkey den, with a big sign that read “DO NOT WALK THROUGH MONKEY DEN” was pretty awesome as well…. of course only after I was sure he wasn’t going to lose an eye or anything. It was something I would have done myself and probably would never have lived down, so I relished every minute of it. The fact that there was also a group of drunk Balinese men nearby to witness it was not lost on me either.
After five days of pure relaxation it was time to head back to the mainland (Bali) and to our last stop on our honeymoon tour, Manggis, which was located in East Bali…and that, my friends, is where the shit hit the fan.
We woke up that morning to a dark grey sky and a turbulent ocean. Seriously, the waves were insane. Even the locals were out watching the angry sea pound into the shore. Remember what I mentioned in the beginning of this post…there are NO boat docks on Nusa. So on a normal day the small boats back into the shore as close as they possibly can and people wade through the water to board. This was not a normal day. I spent the morning watching boats try to manuever into shore while getting hit by huge waves. I swear a few almost capsized. When one would finally make it close enough to unload tourists, it looked like a scene straight out of a WWII D-day film. People would scream – go! go! go! – as they would frantically try to get off the boat before the next wave came (which was at most ten seconds). I saw lots of people fall and it wasn’t pretty.
I sat on the beach in horror popping xanax. The idea of having to board one of those boats was my worst nightmare…I am terrified of the ocean. When our boat finally made it close enough to the shore it was game time. Brian said he’s never seen me run so fast. The Balinese boat guy screamed “NOW!!!” and that’s exactly what I did. I got the fuck on the boat before the next wave came. But once I was on the boat I couldn’t help but think…why am I on this boat? Now we had to make it across the turbulent and treacherous Badung Straight in this boat? I’m not even trying to be funny when I say….I truly thought we were going to die during that boat trip. I spent the whole twenty-minute trip crying. Usually, I’d chalk this up to me being a tad dramatic but not this time. The situation was dramatic. When we made it across I told Brian I would NEVER be going to Nusa Lembongan again. I’m glad I have pictures.
Next up…East Bali and our stay at the otherworldly Alila Manggis