The morning I left the downpours of Phuket I still hadn’t decided on my destination in Bali: getting out of Phuket was enough for me. It was only upon the plane’s descent that I knew: the turquoise water & sunny blue skies over Lembongan sealed the deal. Unfortunately that meant I still had several modes of transport ahead of me. I was lucky & caught a boat fairly soon after arriving in Sanur, the departure point for Lembongan. But most importantly, I was able to get to an ATM prior to leaving the mainland as there are NO ATMs on the island.
Lembongan has a few travelers, but it is not overrun with us. The locals go on about their village life as if we are a mildly amusing part of the landscape but we certainly don’t shape it. Women & men still wear traditional clothing, religious rituals are still played out in public & there are few amenities catering to westerners. (I needed ibuprofen & had to go to the hospital to get it. The purchase came with a free consultation on the side effects & dosages) The first day here I met Wayan when he gave me a moto taxi ride from the boat launch. That poor man ferried me all over the island like goldilocks in search of the “just right” accommodation. Although he was really helpful I was a bit leery as the touts in Thailand & Cambodia can be quite cunning. Turns out he is just a nice man making a small living off moto taxis ( and kickbacks to be sure) but his prices were fair and so he became my fixer for the remainder of my stay. He arranged a snorkel boat, transport off the island, took care of my laundry, found a bungalow for a good price, and even taught me how to ride a motorscooter. When I first arrived I was one of a handful of westerners on mushroom bay, and the only guest at the bungalows (until jen the Canadian arrived & became my partner in crime) Soon all the locals knew about me and I was known as the American woman traveling ALL BY HERSELF. ALONE. The waitstaff in the few restaurants I frequented knew where I was staying, greeted me by name & even the lady who sat by the side of the road seemed to know me, or at least I think so because she would yell “Obama” as I passed by.
Seaweed harvesting is what supports this little island. Seaweed is the main component in Carrageenan, a food emulsifier. If you have had ice cream, you have most likely eaten seaweed from Lembongan.
After a week of exploring the island by scooter, just generally laying around & playing hearts into the wee hours, I moved from Mushroom bay to Jungabatu, the main village on the island to be closer to Big Fish Diving. I wanted to complete my advanced open water as the diving is quite good here ( so is the snorkeling: took a one day trip out & it was phenomenal). First day out diving we spotted a rare & huge mola mola aka ocean sunfish. I’d never heard of of it, but it was quite amazing to see a fish the size of a car swim by.