Under way for Singapore
25 September 2012 | Bali Sea
Well it's been a whole month since I've blogged, and there's just way too many things to describe in that amount of time, but here are some highlights...
We arrived in Bali on August 24th, after a very hairy experience of transiting Selat Lombok (channel) during the night. There was one very close call of a ferry that came straight at us crossed our bow that its wake sent us up and down like a saw horse. Allen stayed up with me in the cockpit after that, and when I gave up at 0600 to go back to sleep he said it got even worse as all the locals in their small craft started hauling in nets to go home and sell their fish, so he had to dodge them all the rest of the way. We finally spotted the hard to see channel marker cans for the harbor entrance and dropped the hook inside of Serangan's harbor. Immediately a boat came out to tell us to pick up a mooring because the "Harbormaster" says that the mud holding is too dangerous! (mud holding is the best!) So we figured they were insisting on a mooring to make $. We obliged them by moving to one of their mooring balls, and they left with a big bag of dirty laundry and trash.
The harbor is quite shallow and scooped way back to some tidal flats, which left our dinghy high and dry several times. There was a mouth of a river and a giant reef that people came out to fish at all hours of the day or night on the low tide. Unfortunately there was also a steady river of trash, sometimes entire bags of trash floating by. We saw a whole group of school kids in uniforms one morning out on the beach collecting trash with was encouraging if they could only do it daily. It's truly the most disgusting harbor we've ever seen, even the locals called it sewer water but that didn't stop them from standing in it to fish. The funny part again, like in Saumlaki with the motorboat guys wearing their helmets out on the water, the Balinese were wearing helmets while they stood fishing! Needless to say the dogs didn't swim in it, although I did take them to shore to run. Allen didn't think it wise to run the dogs there due to the rats and some dogs being rabid, but that's one thing they've been regularly vaccinated for! There's dozens of cows out there on this sandy island too and it reminded us of French Polynesia or Tonga where the dogs don't even look at the pigs, chickens, or cows as food, and I certainly didn't want Dulce to go off chasing the Holy Cows either. the saving grace of Serangan was that we rode our bikes all around on the cow trails, and it was great fun for everyone to ride again.
There were dozens of traditional Indonesian craft, from big charter boats to the little "spider boats" that have bowed legs off of a large canoe body that help stabilize them. These small craft typically had fun paint jobs on their bows, like faces, with big eyes. They still had plenty of putt putt boats too, the lawn mower engine sound which is really loud! Overall there must've been a couple hundred vessels in there, not counting those small fishing boats.
As soon as we arrived we took a taxi to Benoa harbor to do all of our paperwork ourselves. There were five offices to visit: Harbormaster, Immigration, Quarantine, Customs ,NAVY, and then you go back to Harbormaster again, and Presto were in! All we've ever heard of this process is that you'd better hire someone to do it for you, but it really was quite simple despite so many places to go, plus it saved us a lot of $ doing it ourselves instead of using an agent. We were given a 30 day visa and were on the countdown.
So imagine, after sailing for a couple of days and being sleep deprived, having to do all that running around to check in, we were looking forward to a good night's sleep but it was not to be! We took a nap for a couple hours and then our friends arrived at 0200 from their own exhausting trip with a 6 month old baby and 3 year old daughter! It was like Christmas morning in the cockpit when they opened their bags to give us boxes of chocolate, Peanut M&M's , hot chocolate mix, bags of almonds, and chocolate whey protein mix drink! Finally we got them settled in our cabin and everyone slept for a couple more hours.
The next day we shopped and loaded up for a trip over to Lembongan, an island in the middle of the channel. Lembongan was wonderful! There were several restaurants on the beachfront at Mushroom Bay, where we spent Allen's birthday a few nights later. On his day we rented scooters there and rode all over the island, Morgan sitting behind his dad, and Wyatt behind me on my scooter. There are few trucks or big vehicles, mostly scooters with other tourists. We were out there for a week with our friends, and when the surf got really big and uncomfortable, we headed back to Serangan. They had rented a house in Seminyak for another week, so we got to go wander through town with them and along the boardwalk. There are signs everywhere marking where to go in case of a tsunami, and when we went up one long hallway from the beach to the main street, we felt pretty claustrophobic and tried not to imagine it flooding behind us to blow us out the other end!
We were able to rent scooters for a day and drive to Ubud, about an hour inland. I had the realization that my motorcycle safety rider course that I took 20 years ago might very well have been the most important piece of education in my life! We weaved through traffic like pro's, and I don't think I ever stopped praying for our saftey the whole way! It was more problematic on the return when Wyatt started falling asleep on the back, and no matter how I insisted for him to stay awake he said he just couldn't! I couldn't really signal Allen to pull over either, so I tied his hands through my backpack straps and used my left elbow to push his head back when it flopped. NOT COOL! Thank God we survived! UBud was really beautiful, out in the rice paddy countryside, and in town there were so many artistic shops and galleries that you could stay for a month and go to a new street and stores every day and not repeat! We went to the Sacred Monkey Forrest, which was like an open zoo with thousands of monkeys clambering over you for a banana or anything shiny. We went to Teba Sari, which was a garden that's harvested to make their famous coffees and teas. Their specialty was the coffee beans that the mongoose (civet) eats and poops, and this digestive process causes the beans to germinate and imparts a special flavor! They take you on this tour and sit you down at a hut and bring out 11 different tea and coffee samples, but you must pay $5.00US for a cup of the special stuff! Allen tried it. They also served chocolate slivers! YUM!
After our guests left, we went back to Lembongan, and this time we rode our bikes all over the island, boys included. Morgan hammered up a long hill all by himself, and we were amazed! Then the kid boats that we met in Maumere, Flores, started showing up, so we had a super week playing with them there. Those were all the kids that celebrated Wyatt's 6th birthday when we arrived in Maumere.
We also spent a day in Sanur, a really nice town that we could dinghy to, complete with a several miles long bricklaid sidewalk. Unfortunately when we returned the dinghy was high and dry, but some people helped us drag it out and after walking quite a ways with it were finally able to launch. We couldn't make the trip inside the reef, so we had to go outside and come in the pass a mile down. If we had not just spent the morning surfing out there I would've balked and left the dinghy to come back for another time, but we made it uneventfully, thank God!