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Published: February 20th 2011
I don't know how people let themselves get so sunburned but the dirty streets and alleys of Kuta Beach are lined with throngs of bipedal lobsters. The funny part about popular destinations is all the presuppositions that surround them. Thanks to movies like eat pray love and others, before even stepping foot on the island people have many strong opinions about Bali. The unfortunate side of this is folks tend to spend most of their time trying to fulfill outlandish fantasies instead of interacting with their environment in a more meaningful way. Bali is truly wonderful.. don't get me wrong, but there is an unsavory air to the mentality and actions of most people who come here.
To escape this we hopped on a boat to the nearby-but-also-part-of-Bali Lembongan Island. It is touted as the Bali that you imagine but never get to see. I don't know what the bali i imagined looks like but Lembongan is the prefect beach getaway. All the accomadation, budget and anti-budget, lines the beachfront with the best surf breaks directly in front (albeit 500m of shore in some rough waters). The food is delicious everywhere, the locals are quite amiable and there is seaweed in piles in every nook and cranny. The island's main economy is actually seaweed and not tourism with 85% of folks employed in the gathering and drying process. We were told only 5% of folks work in tourism and that seems to be more than enough. It is hard not to be offered many things you don't need but with the laidback approach to the whole affair, common to small islands, nothing is much of a bother. It seems that women do a lot more work than men with most of the ladies carrying baskets of seaweed and carefully drying it on large tarps while the dudes seem to lay about in front of piles of stuff to rent. Most guys barely roll over from their constant nap to utter a quick "want something" or "rent bike" but as you politely decline and pass by they quickly are aslumber again.
Lembongan boasts excellent surfing, snorkeling and diving but just the swimming itself is quite wonderful. While hiking in a wooded part of the island we found a completely secluded beach with soft deep sand and only populated by 10 people. Once we set down our things most folks left and there were only 4 of us enjoying the perfect strip of sand. the water was deeper and cooler than most other places on the island and was shadier as the day waned. A light noon surf turned to rough swells at 5 pm, great for body surfing and really cooling off. The next day we returned to our little strip to find it completely empty which is how it remained until sunset... you really cannot ask for more especially with how busy it can be here. We met a cool group of Canadians from the Orillia area who are doing a similare route through Oz and asia as us but in reverse. It was nice to sit back and relax with some beers and chat ontario style, reminisce about snow and cold lakes, and see if we knew any of the same people.
Most people who come to indo spend a healthy portion of their visa in Bali and that is very understandable. It has been an extremely long and bumpy road from the northern tip of Sumatera to here and we just wanted to veg out on the beach for a while before having to leave this fine country and test our wits in the outback. We were not total bums and walked around the island a bunch but mostly ate swam and laid around. As this evening approaches the anticipation of seeing Iron Maiden grows to a rolling boil. Their website in inactive and we cannot find out where to exchange our voucher for our tickets. We don't know when the gates open or the show starts. In all likelihood there will be no problems and the show will go off without a hitch but this is all a bit strenuous as we have been ridculously excited about finally seeing Maiden. The venue is a hindu temple garden (that never was completed) and is filled with large stone statues. I cannot think of a better place for a heavy metal concert!
We are leaving asia very soon and the though of western prices is a scary one. I know its silly to get used to 3 dollar BBQ fish dinner and 8 dollar guest house rooms but its been a whole year. We have a couchsurfing.com account and have contacted someone who loves zombie movies and beer and lives near the airport we arrive at... it should be a good first stop. There are loads of farms to volunteer and work at but we need to work out which ones and where soon. Having gotten used to small countries we need to start thinking in larger terms and be mindful that you can't just get everywhere in a day. We have large plans for grocery store raids and giant baguette sandwiches as soon as possible. I suppose we have though much more about what food we want than what regions to visit but after a couple full meals we will get down to serious planning.
The day we fly out of Bali to darwin will mark a full year from the day we left Hamilton. Sometimes it feels like just days ago we were at the farm or kung fu or watching a movie with some of you and other times it feels like years since we've been home (it depends on the traffic that day). We've met some funny dopplegangers that have us vividly remembering home and i am sure will continue to meet more in Oz.
Cheers to friends old and new!
Best wishes to you all, and watch out for zombies!
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