Not the best start in Bali - will it be the same like 9 years ago?

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December 28th 2019
Published: March 1st 2020
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By ferry we arrived in Bali and set foot on the island in Gilimanuk, the very northwest of Bali. To be honest, I (Nina) was sceptical about coming back to Bali. I had visited the island 9 years ago and stayed in Ahmed, Lovina, Ubud, Padangbai and Seminyak. I remember it to be full of tourists, to be faced to constant hassle about taxi prices (and horendous prices for everything in general) and well, what to say - I did not get the Bali groove at that time. But as Bali is a Hindu Island, we wanted to give it a second try.

Our first impression was really bad. I wrote about the taxi-bus-situation in Gilimanuk in the last blog. But finally we arrived in Pemuteran safely by taxi in the end. We had chosen this former fishing village as our first stop, as it was really a cute little fishing village 9 years ago with only few tourists. It still is not a tourist hub, but tourism has put its hands on the village. It is full of dive ressorts and schools and much more lively. We had booked a bungalow at Biorock Homestay. Our room itself was ok, very big, clean and had an open air bathroom which we lovely. But it was not a bungalow as booked but just a room - no terrasse for us. OK, maybe we booked a bit late and all was full - but it was not! The bungalow right next to our room was empty for the full time we were there with a nice terrasse looking over the peaceful garden. That was strange - so we decided just to use the terrasse of this room and no-one complained. In general, being in Bali after Java, we missed the friendliness of Java. People all over Pemuteran were polite - but they clearly treat you as walking money. Over were the lovely times in Java. We were really depressed.

To cheer us up, we first organised a trip for the next day. Because basically we came here for snorkelling at Menjangan Island. That was such an amazing thing I did 9 years ago. Tour was easily found, it was expensive but still ok and we were even promised vegan food for lunch on the tour. Great. So we went down to Pemuteran Beach for a lovely dinner with the feet in the sand overlooking the bay. Although it was rainy season, no raindrops in sight one more time.

So the tour the following day was well organised, the boat was in good condition but I was shocked. The are soooooo many boats with sooooooo many tourists now around for diving and snorkelling. I could not count them all. The secret snorkelling spot has turned into one of the main tourist attractions in North Bali. And then it happend. I had put my camera into my waterproof bag, suitable for taking pics while diving even. I just wanted to be sure that nothing happens to the camera - just in case. I had no plans of diving or doing cool underwater pics. I immediately realised that something was wrong when the camera fell into the water. It turned out the bag had a hole (although being brand new). So the camera got a quick bath in sea water - and died. I was in tears. I had safed all pics before, so did not loose any. But this was the best camera I have ever had. Of course, I dried it brought it to a specialist to check later at home (did not try to use it during the travels any more) - but it is really dead. What a bad start on Bali. Somehow I must have a certain karma when it comes to Bali and cameras: last time, my camera was stolen in Ubud, now it took a bath.

And still it became worse. I tried to enjoy the snorkelling afterwards anyway. Some mobile phone pictures had to do it from now on, so I started with them while snorkelling. But the longer we were in the water the more it became obvious how much the riff is distroyed by all the tourist boats. The wonderful corals with the superintense colours 9 years ago have disappeared. It is still a nice riff, but the main coulour is grey, most off the soft corals have died. The amount of fishes is less. And you can observe so many tourists just standing with the fins on the corals or breaking something to take as a souvenir. That is insane! What do they think nature is here for? We cannot just go there and take what we think is nice. We should appreciate its beauty and treasure it and behave respectful towards nature. And to make it clear: these were not indonesian tourists doing it but western tourists (I just claim this because many tourists always say "oh, that's the asians, they do not know how to behave"..... - but this is not true!). Our mood was below zero.

At least our group was ok and "behaving well". For lunch we spent some time on Menjangang Island. There are wild deers roaming around the National Park there. So they came to us while we had lunch. They tried to steal our food and later went for a swim. Too cute. There was a second snorkelling stop included before we went back to Pemuteran after 5 hours. The tour itself was ok and the guide was nice. But coming here for snorkelling, I cannot suggest anymore. There are many nicer spots. In the afternoon we had a nice coffee and some fruit juice before we went for a decent foot massage. That is the advantage of the tourist ressort: you find many good massage places. For lunch we went back to the beach. Food there was nice, it was vegan and the atmosphere was really cozy. This night it was raining
this guy tried to steal our lunchthis guy tried to steal our lunchthis guy tried to steal our lunch

he knows that vegan food is the better option :-)
heavily. It was already our last night in Pemuteran. We were both happy to leave.

The next morning we left quite early. We had tried to find out how to get to Lovina by public transport. That was tricky. Locals do not give you much information. But we could jump into a Bemo. We paid a tourist price, but it was still cheaper than a taxi and there were no grabs available. So it took us 1 hour to get to Lovina. There we jumped out of the bemo at the main strip. Our goal was to rent a scooter with which we wanted to drive into the mountains to our next accomodation. But again bad luck for us: no scooters at all available. So we sat down in a restaurant and discussed the options by having a wonderful avocado juice with chocolate. We needed a nice treat after so many frustrations.

Finally we decided to take a grab car to Sudaji, our next destination. And, although this village is really remote in the mountains, we were lucky and a driver picked us up. It was a 30 min. drive for a fair price up into the mountains to our next destination: Sudaji, where we stayed over New Years Eve for 4 nights in total. Hopefully, Bali will be more kind and welcoming to us. Or will it be like 9 years ago when I was finally happy to leave the island? We had such wonderful 10 days on Java. We were even thinking of going back. More about this in our next blog.

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Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


too funny to observe the deers having a bathtoo funny to observe the deers having a bath
too funny to observe the deers having a bath

but also too many tourists on the boats

2nd March 2020

Bali -v- Java
What an interesting blog. As an Australian I am interested in European perspectives on Bali as it is the go-to destination for Aussies which is why we avoid it like the plague. Pristine diving spots saturated by tourists...coral possibly dying as a result...getting more pleasure from the bizarre combination of avocado juice with chocolate. And your camera having a sea water dip which is instant death. Has happened to me too. What a holiday! Yet your frequent reference to the joys of Java. Gotta agree with you there. Java maybe be population saturation...but hey...what a fabulous friendly and diverse island it is...sensational.
3rd March 2020

Oh yes, Bali probably is for you what Mallorca/Spain is for the Europeans. We try to avoid it. Still, there are surprisingly many Europeans who consider Bali to be the perfect tropical paradies. Which it is not any more. Markus was curious what Bali is like and we went to 4 different regions which are kind of remote. Still, you come across mass tourism and on every corner you feel the consequences of mass tourism. But more about this in the next blogs :-). Cheers!
8th March 2020

Oh no, I'm so sorry to read how disappointing it must have been to see such a change in Bali since your last visit. I believe mass tourism is not a pretty thing, and to also have dropped your camera in the water must have been doubly frustrating. I do hope things improved for you in Sudaji.
8th March 2020

Yes, things turned to the better. Still, I cannot really recommend visiting Bali. We will only return to visit our friends (in Sudaji and another corner of Bali). But not to visit the island. By the way - for the camera, it definitely was the final death :-(.
23rd March 2020
too funny to observe the deers having a bath

Priceless photo
I've never seen that before. We travel for new experiences. Stay safe.
24th March 2020
too funny to observe the deers having a bath

True - and I have never before seen deers eating papaya - was a funny experience :-)

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