Best friends, Bintang ‘n’ Bali – part 2

Ohhhh yea people, its Nusa time!

Even though we’d all had an early, alcohol-free last night in Balangan, we were pretty pooped but eager to get going on our next adventure – to Nusa Lembongan, a little island off the east coast of Bali. Our friends Nicola and Ian were due to fly in from the UK around lunch time, so we decided to go and surprise them at the airport and escort them to Sanur, to get the fast boat together. We were all there at the arrivals gate when they walked through and it was the first time I’d seen Nic with her little baby bump since she’d announced being pregnant way back when Andy and I were in Laos. She looked absolutely radiant and my eyes welled up when I gave her a big welcome hug 🙂 I must admit those two make traveling look easy. It was as if they’d teleported to Bali from London, not flown for 20+ hours! We all crammed into two taxis along with all our luggage and Pete’s surf boards, and whizzed to Sanur. The boy’s taxi it turns out drove most of the way with two wheels up on the curb undertaking everyone. Classic driving for Balinese.

Nusa Lembongan

After boarding the speed boat and setting off, we sped over dark blue water and across one of the deepest channels in the world. The water was eerily swirling around in circles as if thermal currents ran in different directions beneath the surface. In 30 mins we had arrived in paradise. We floated over the clearest water I’d ever seen with strips of seaweed farms below and the odd blue or red star fish looking back up at us. We pulled up onto the shore and stepped off into the cool water. It was quiet and nothing like anywhere we’d been before. We were then put into a little boat and taken a few hundred metres up the beach to our hotel – Nusa Indah Bungalows, where we checked in quickly and sat down for lunch and a few Bintangs (iced ones, literally).

Over the next week our other friends Kelly and Danny arrived, making the total of the holiday party 10. It was so nice to catch up and Andy and I were super lucky they all flew out to be with us. We got up to tons of stuff each day. A couple of times we hired small boats to take us out to different snorkeling spots to see manta rays, of which we saw quite a few. There’s nothing like standing on the side of a rocking wooden boat in the shadow of menacing dark cliffs, with fins, snorkel and a mask on, with some Balinese dude yelling at you to jump in because he has spotted a humongous manta ray right under your feet. I was soooo scared, imagine how Nicola felt 6 months pregnant and about to leap in too! Nic, I take my hat off to you! I was nervous until I was in that water right next to the beautiful creature, gracefully flying through the deep blue. Nothing can prepare you for how much of a buzz you get from swimming with one. I’ll never forget it. So after seeing quite a few, along with sea turtles and a pod of small dolphins, I was in heaven. Nusa Lembongan is PERFECT for snorkeling  Go and see for yourself!

The rest of the time was spent sunning ourselves on the many beaches Lembongan has to offer, scooting around exploring the island on mopeds and making friends with the local children who sold little shells along the pathways, shouting out ‘you wanna buy my sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell?’. They truly are such lovely little kids, so happy and cute with their home made kites and big smiles. 🙂 We ate our weight in Balinese and Western food, and drank copious amounts of Bintang during happy hour at our hotel. A few people went scuba diving one morning and said it was one of the best they’d ever done, whilst others went on a boat trip through mangroves. On Andy’s birthday, the boys and Jemma (well done Jem) went fishing at 5am while the rest of us were tucked up in bed, and the plan was to eat their catch off the BBQ that night. However after a few hours of trying, they returned empty handed and sad faced. Apparently there’s no more fish left in the sea, ha ha! Sorry guys xxx

Unfortunately the time came when we had to say our goodbyes to the first couple to leave for home – Clare and Pete. T’was a sad day since it would be another 8 months till we would next see them and also they were the Bali and Lembongan experts having traveled the islands before, so we all felt slightly lost and vulnerable without them. Without our personal walking Lonely Planet guides, later that night, a few of us decided to find the Nusa full moon party we kept hearing about. Locals laughed at us, saying ‘oh too busy, many many people there’. Cool! A proper party on the beach then, so we gave it a go. About 500 metres from the bar, a passing truck stopped to pick us all up, full of people ready for a night out. Andy and I couldn’t fit in so held on for our lives on the back whilst pissing ourselves laughing. When we arrived at the full moon party I think I counted 50 people in total, all mainly Westerners with a few local boys dancing on the dance floor. Not quite the midnight rave we were expecting but still, we bought a beer and sat by the sea, looking at the stars and the shimmering lights from the mainland opposite. Suddenly Jemma spotted a sea snake coming out of a small wave, heading straight towards a drunk Irish girl who was hula hooping on the sand. We tried telling her but she didn’t seem bothered about it, so we thought sod her, let it bite her ass! We then took a walk away from the loud music, down the beach where it was dark and you could only hear the sound of the waves. That’s when we saw the glowing blue plankton dotted all over the shore line and floating in the water. It was like a scene from Avatar! It was beautiful. We started picking it up and smearing it on our skin. The one photo I have really doesn’t do it justice I’m afraid but I will never forget it, it was one of those magical moments. So the night turned out to be really fun, in a random full moon Avatar sort of way 🙂

The next day, we booked into a local spa to nurse the slight hangovers we had. We were all penciled in for a traditional Balinese head massage amongst other things. I was the first to go in, leaving the others sat in the tiny little reception area. Firstly I was shocked when my very masculine masseuse started to remove my bikini top for me. Hang on, this was a head massage right? After 5 mins of awkward maneuvers that even Mr Bean would have been proud of, my tits were safely put away and I’d sorted myself out so that my back and neck were exposed for him. I sat half naked on a wobbly wooden stool whilst he started to work on my spine. The back part was fine, the twanging and chopping movements on my neck was slightly uncomfortable but it was the skull crushing that really f**ked me up. Digging his massive fingers into my temples and gouging my eye sockets out with his thumbs, I yelped and held my breath. Aren’t spa treatments ment to be relaxing, not bloody torture?! To top it off, he did a James Bond baddie move that I swear could have killed you, by holding my head and literally lifting it off my neck.

30 mins of head crushing later, I was alive but now with a pretty bad headache. I flew into the silent reception and quickly warned the others who were laughing whilst I whispered and reenacted the whole thing (classic Emma style). I was worried about Nic having it done since she was pregnant! It wasn’t Nic who decided to escape though, it was Jim who made a hasty exit by literally running out the door much to our amusement. The girls cancelled their head massages but Ian and Andy still went ahead with it. Ian loved it, feeling really good afterwards, but Andy agreed it was on the rough side for a head massage. Maybe I’m just a whimp!

The time had come to say goodbye to Nusa Lembongan. Another super cool chapter of Bali closed, but a new one was just round the corner…


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