Light and shade
Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
142Trip End Jun 18, 2011
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If only things were as simple as that though! A few days before we set sail for Lembongan our health really took a turn for the worse. I don't mean it lightly when I say I think we have both been suffering with culture shock since we arrived here; I think we have been dealing with the results of physical and mental shock since we arrived in Bali and our bodies just couldn't take it anymore. Anything which could hurt was hurting; between the two of us we had bad stomachs, sore throats, swollen glands, mouth ulcers, tooth-ache, bad skin, headaches, insomnia followed by nightmares, we were both covered in insect bites and.... I even started suffering with hives! So all in all we were both feeling awful and I was prone to bursting into tears at random points during the day. Looking back I see now that it was our bodies way of telling us it had had enough; we've been traveling for nearly 5 months now and we are starting to show the strain. So, not really sure whether or not it was a good idea, we packed ourselves off to Nusa Lembongan for a few days with the vow that we would take more vitamins to stop this happening again
We ended up being really late for the boat and we had to grab a taxi to make sure we didn't miss it. We decided that, rather than go on one of the tourist boats we would travel on the public boat which ferries all the locals back and to from the island as it was cheaper and we thought it would be more of an authentic experience. I'm really glad that we did that because it turned out to be really memorable; we had to wade out to the boat at the beach and clamber on with our bags, then we were sat on wooden planks with all the locals and we got chatting to the guy sitting in front of us who was born on Nusa Lembongan and told us all about his childhood there. After a bit of a bumpy ride over we arrived on Nusa Lembongan and were pointed in the direction of our guest-house... which was basically on the beach! We checked into our room and then both flaked out on the bed, it had taken all of our energy to get us across on the boat and we both felt really ill. I actually slept away the whole of our first day on Lembongan; I fell asleep at 10am when we arrived and I didn't wake up until 7pm! While I snored the day away Tom went for a little look around the township and was quite shocked to realise how un-developed Lembongan was; there are no real roads to speak of, there are no shops only little stores that people run out of the front of their house, there are no cars, only 2 warungs (a warung is like an open-air roadside cafe), no street-lights, there are hardly any people here (the resident population is only 3000) and there are no prices on anything meaning that Tom had to negotiate for a bottle of water from a little old lady. That night we headed out for some food from one of the warungs and I have to admit that I was also quite surprised to see how basic the lifestyle was; rather than having roads with houses on them, there is one road which runs parallel to the beach and then people live in big open-air family compounds which are connected by tracks through the rainforest
We ended up staying on Nusa Lembongan for 6 days, however we were both quite ill during the first 2 days. I don't think it would have made any difference where we were during those days because we both just felt so miserable and worn out, it was using up all our energy just pottering about and haggling for bottles of water off sweet old ladies. On the third day we both woke up feeling a little better so we ventured out for our first proper look around the island; we walked the length of the beach and followed one of the dirt tracks around the headland. It didn't take long before we were both exhausted but considering that we had been laid up in bed for almost a week beforehand we had a great day and it really picked our spirits up. From here our health improved dramatically and we were feeling better and better as the hours ticked by. On our final day we even went out snorkeling for two hours! An old man had approached us on the beach on our second day and offered to take us out snorkeling on his boat for a really cheap price so we took him up on his offer and we had a fantastic time. The water was crystal clear, even clearer than the water at the Great Barrier Reef, and we saw loads of new fish that we had never seen in Australia, like puffer fish and these long, silver stick-looking fish that darted upwards at their prey. It was a fantastic end to our time on Lembongan.
However, I think that Lembongan will always be special to us for a different reason... we had a real revelation while we were there. As our health improved we enjoyed each day more and more and one of the main reasons that we loved it so much was because we got chance to see a completely different side of Bali. In the evenings we would sit out on the beach and watch all the locals harvesting seaweed (which is the main crop over here), little kids would wave and say hello to us when we walked down the street, people would smile and say good morning to us, we got to see processions of beautiful Balinese ladies coming home from the evening temple ceremony balancing offerings on their heads, Balinese people would come and sit next to us while we ate our tea and teach us how to speak Balinese or tell us all about their Hindu beliefs. It was an incredible experience. One evening we were sitting at a warung eating our evening meal during a lightening storm when suddenly the whole island lost electrical power; we were sat in pitch darkness and silence, in the middle of the rainforest, with a mouth full of fried rice and all you could hear was the sound of the frogs in the trees. As the owner was riffling through the drawers looking for some candles, the whole rainforest would be instantly lit up by a strike of lightening and for that moment it was like sitting in the blazing sunshine... and then it would go back to blackness again and we would be sat waiting for a candle so we could finish eating our food