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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

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9 May 2015

Slow boat back to Bali


8th-11th April 2015

     We left Kuta in convoy with Alberto. He was on the same scooter he had been renting from Bali and we caught a cab. The journey is pretty straightforward and the newly built bypass connecting the south coast and east coast to the islands international airport means that visitors are presented with the best maintained stretch of road we have seen in Indonesia so far. The views aren’t bad either with fertile rice fields laying under the shadow of the islands volcanic creator Mt Rinjani.
Lembar may be a dump but the surrounding bay is breath taking

     The main ferry terminal of Lembar is the gateway for all supplies in and out of the island. Most overseas backpackers and holidaymakers opt for the much quicker but overpriced fast boat connection from the Gili’s but if you’re on a limited budget or want to transport a scooter from Bali the slow boat is your best option. It takes around 4 hours to reach Padang Bai and for 40,000 – 60,000 (£2-£3) a ticket (a little more if you have the scooter) you can’t go wrong. As the name suggests the ferry seems painfully slow at times but if you’re like us and in no hurry it’s quite a pleasant trip during the day. The communal lounge area has an effective A/C and the not so soothing soundtrack of Indonesian pop tracks playing full blast on a loop. Feeling a little peckish then approach one of the many food vendor selling super noodles and fizzy pop.
Lembar bay is dotted with small atoll like islands

Word of Advice

When you reach the terminal in Lembar avoid the guys at the front gate offering to sell tickets. Many of these chaps are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and plenty of travelers have been conned into parting cash for a false ticket. Just politely ignore them and continue walking towards the toll gate (there is a booth for pedestrians on the far left).
Back to Bali

     For the second time on our travels we arrived at the now familiar ferry village of Padang Bai on Bali’s South East coast. After a quick bite to eat we parted ways and said our final fair wells to Alberto as he set off for Kuta before grabbing an early morning flight to Kuala Lumpur. We wish you all the best and your travels bud and hope you enjoy The Asian loop as much as us. We opted for a quick one night stop at Padangbai to take advantage of a good fill of freshly caught tuna steak at a locally run warung and grab a Bintang in the shack bar by the market square (they have a great, overly friendly but utterly useless guard dog that reminded us of our border collie “Zac”).
The not so stunning beach in Sanur


Miner birds are popular pets in Bali
Orvile as we called him was outside our room most days
    Thursday 9th April 2015 we arranged a cheap cab to the popular holiday resort of Sanur and our first impressions weren’t great. For months we have done our best to seek out destinations that would make our mates back home ask “why the f**k did you go there?” but Sanur seemed the sort of generic “holiday paradise” we detest. As Bali’s first holiday destination (now seen as a quiet alternative to Kuta) Sanur is dominated by large and often unsightly hotel complexes that act like a black hole swallowing up any remnants of culture, history and open space and turning it into a bleak, unidentifiable entity. In fact if you took a photo of the beachfront and asked a room of people back home to identify the location you would probably receive answers like the Costa Del Sol, Corfu, or even Bournemouth on hot day. It’s little wonder that the place is overrun by package holidaymakers wallowing like hippos around a watering hole, eating the same crap they enjoy back home and treating the locals like second class citizens. Rant over!

    


Jono working on the blog, I think?
Despite its flaws Sanur still retains a sense of tranquility if you have the time to find it. We booked into Yulia 1 Guesthouse at the northern end of the main strip and it was a real oasis. The owner is an avid collector of birds and the traditional Balinese home complex is awash is birdsong all day long (if this is the sort of thing that annoys you try somewhere else and relax to the sound of traffic from the main road). The free breakfast is disappointing but with so many cheap restaurants around its best to opt out and save a few quid a night. Our cheap fan twin room was more than suitable as we spent most of our time chilling by the pool anyway.
Locals taking advantage of the cooler temperature at sunset

     Our decision to visit Sanur wasn’t entirely due to recommendations from the Lonely Planet guide, we were here on important business. For a while now our plans to reach Australia has been dependent on our efforts in finding a boat and most of our research had been devoted to sites like findacrew.com and crewbay.com. Sadly the number of yachts heading from Indonesia to Australia seemed nonexistent. We therefore had to turn to more traditional forms of getting the word out. Twenty minutes south of Sanur is the main marina in an area known as Benoa. We had been advised to try around here by Tom Foster a fellow overland backpacker we met in Jakarta a month earlier. After a frustrating search asking local workers who seemed less familiar with the harbor layout than us we stumbled across the aptly named “Bali Marina” and placed a poster on the notice board. Bali Marina is the main anchorage point in southern Bali for private yachts and it was our hope someone looking for volunteer deckhands would stumble across our details. Luckily for us the posters weren’t required in the end as Tom (now in Sidney, Australia) was contacted by a yacht owner who had noticed his poster on the same noticeboard a few days earlier. Tom was kind enough to send the skipper our way and after a brief email we arranged to meet up at “Linga Longa Bar” for a few beers. The skipper introduced himself as Storm at which point I couldn’t help but shout “pull the other one mate. I know were a couple of land loving poms but even we’re not that gullible”. It turned out that Storm Henderson had recently purchased the yacht “Strickly Bizness” in Benoa and was looking to return to Bali in one weeks’ time with the intention of heading to Brome with a few experienced sailing mates and they required two deckhands. It was fair to say that Jono and I were hit by disbelief. Never in a million years did we think an opportunity like this would come along, but here was a guy crazy enough to want to complete amateurs as part of a five man crew. We had little option but to jump up and grab the opportunity with both hands.
 


Sanur hosts a famous kite festival every year and most locals
had their favourites in storage
     After a night of celebrations we left Storm with the guarantee that he would call us in a week on his return to Bali to sort out the relevant arrangements. With seven days to kill we headed west to the notorious holidays destination of Kuta, Bali.