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Today we leave early in the morning for Padangbai, to catch the ferry to Nusa Lembongan. Once we passed Ubud, the way to Padangbai is easy, just straight all the way. It’s not really far, but we noticed here on Bali that the average speed is around 30 kilometres/hour, because of traffic and narrow roads. We have about 50 kilometres to go, so this should take around 2 hours.
We’ve been warned by Mayo, a guy we met from Java, that they will try to sell us tickets for a fast boat. We’re better off going straight to the ferry’s ticket counter. When we arrive in Padangbai we know exactly what he meant. When passing by, people try to tell you all their sell in one big breath. Some almost jump in front of our motorbike to make us listen. Luckily, we already know we don’t need anything from them, so we can go straight to the harbour.
We buy our tickets, not for Lembongan but for Nusa Penida. Apparantly there’s no ferry to Lembongan. Then we go stand in line for the ferry. It has already arrived, but it’s not unloaded yet, so we’ll have to wait. Luckily we’re in the shade, where it’s not too hot. After 15 minutes we can get on the ferry. We park our motorbike, walk up the stairs and park our buts on an uncomfortable plastic chair. Luckily it’s only one hour to Nusa Penida.
Kelingking beach, Nusa Penida
Because we really wanted to start on Nusa Lembongan, the most northern of the three islands, we start with looking for another boat. This seems to be a problem, because we want to bring our motorbike. In between the three islands there’s only small boats operating, for passengers. Eventually we make a deal to bring the motorbike on an 8 passenger boat, today at 5 pm. Until then we have some time to explore this island.
We heard that Kelingking Beach is very nice, so that’s where we’ll go first. After one, one and a half hours on a terrible road we finally arrive on top of the cliff, with a view on this incredible beach. It’s indeed a picture perfect place, a white sandy beach with clear, blue water, in a bay surrounded by high rock formations. Unfortunately we don’t have any more time to do the long climb down to the beach. We try, but after 15 minutes we are only at ¼ of the way, and the way up is going to be even slower. Slightly disappointed we climb back up. Better luck next time. Now off to our taxi boat.
Together with the captain, Riny lifts our motorbike and puts it in the boat. It’s a funny sight, this improvised waterscooter. But it’s quite the experience. There must be a big boat going from Nusa Lembongan back to Bali, so we don’t have to do this again. We arrive on the south coast of the island and ask around for the best place to see the sunset. It’s on the west coast, only 3 minutes from here. This place is super crowded and unfortunately the sun disappears rather quickly behind the clouds. Oh well, we’ll just try again tomorrow. Let’s find our homestay and have a shower. At night we find a pretty nice restaurant where you can dine in a bean bag, while enjoying a big screen movie.
The next day we’re off to exlore Nusa Lembongan. Our homestay is on the north coast, so we drive east, because we haven’t seen anything there yet. Luckily the roads are a little bit better here than on Nusa Penida, but unfortunately there’s not really much to do on the island. You can do a mangrove tour, and that’s basically it. Here, tourists mainly lay on the beach or in the infinity pool of their overpriced resorts.
Twenty minutes later we’re already at the bridge to Nusa Ceningan, on the north coast of the island. That’s the smallest of these three islands. No activities here either, but the views are amazing. The ocean is on all three islands very blue and clear. When you see this from a high cliff, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The many swings and infinity pools make for instagram-worthy shots.
Unfortunately, the islands are not entirely beautiful, but at least they tried to hide the problems from the tourists. The biggest problem is definitely garbage. In the middle of Nusa Ceningan, where almost no tourist goes, there’s a giant dump. At night they try to burn a large part of the garbage, but it’s just too much. The only fun part about visiting these parts of the island are the enthusiastic children, who don’t see many tourists.
The animals are not very well taken care of either. Half of the (many!) roosters and chickens are trapped in an upside down reed basket where they can barely turn around in. Cows are tied up with a very short rope, away from fresh grass and standing in their own shit. The only positive thing is that all young are not separated from their parents.
In one day we’ve seen both Lembongan and Ceningan. Luckily we see a nice sunset on our second night, and the next day we go find a boat back to Bali. On the whole island there’s only one boat fit to transport our motorbike. This will be the public boat and would cost us around 700.000 Rupia, the same amount of money we paid for renting the motorbike for the entire month. We choose to go back to Nusa Penida the same way we got here, and then take the ferry back to Bali. Close to the bridge we find a boat willing to take us, and we’re on our way.
Back on Nusa Penida, we take the shortest route to the ferry, because we have no idea what time it leaves. With a little bit of luck we can still make it. When we enter the harbour we see them closing up the ferry. We run to the ticket office, but there they tell us that there’s no boat today because of a holiday. Because there’s so many people waiting at the harbour, we also ask the boat crew. They confirm that the next boat is tomorrow morning at 9. Too bad, this means we have to find a place to stay here.
Nusa Penida; sleeping in a tree house
Luckily, that’s easier than you would think, because every local is watching you every second, so they can jump in at the first moment they think they can sell you something. And this is just what happened next. We are talking to each other about what to do when a man approaches us. He has a place to stay, in a tree house! That sounds rather interesting, so we follow him to his homestay. After negotiating a price, we drop our bags in the tree house and go out for some lunch.
Angel’s Billabong & Broken Beach
Two nearby places we haven’t seen yet on Nusa Penida. Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. They are next to each other and highly recommended by everyone you ask. We forgot how bad the roads are here, but we quickly get reminded of that… After an hour of bouncing on loose rocks and gravel roads, we finally arrive. Broken Beach is a large crater in the land. You can walk all the way around it to admire the wild sea below from every angle. Angel’s Billabong is a large pool on top of some rocks, which every now and then gets filled up with new ocean water by a huge wave. When the waves can’t reach it, the pool is very still and clear, it’s almost like there’s no water in it at all. Quite a challenge to get here, but definitely worth it.
The night in our tree house is one to remember. The little shed is about 6 metres from the ground and moves with the wind, which can be a little bit scary sometimes. It’s like sleeping on a boat, but with more noise from the wind and the wood. Sometimes we really thought we we’re going to hit the floor, but luckily that didn’t happen. A very unusual experience. In the morning we get a cup of coffee and some deep fried banana from the nice owner, and then it’s time to get to the ferry.
Releasing baby turtles in Bali
Three hours later we arrive at Made’s house, where some new couchsurfers have settled in. Made loves to have travellers around to go on little day trips. The weather is not great, so we decide to work on our blog today. After an hour we receive a WhatsApp from Made, telling us that we need to come to the beach as soon as possible because they will be releasing baby turtles into the ocean! Awesome! We jump on our scooter and arrive at the Bali Sea Turtle Conservation.
They tell us that sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach and once that’s done they’re on their own. Instinctively they will crawl in the direction of the moon after they’re born. This is where the ocean is, because mum instinctively layed her eggs on a beach where the moon is right above the ocean. Once the baby turtles reach the ocean, the waves take them back and forward for a few times, but eventually the waves will take them far into the ocean. Then the adventure begins. The turtles swim for 60 hours straight, before they start looking for food. Turtles eat anything they can find, and they love jellyfish, which is why plastic is so dangerous for them. It looks like a jellyfish, but when they eat plastic they can easily choke on it. Something to think about next time you litter on the beach.
After all this information has been given to us we receive a small ticket. We have no idea what it is for but we just accept it anyway. Some time later it appears to be that everyone who got a ticket will be given a small container containing a baby turtle, which you may then release on the beach. How cool! We collect our container and the employees then fill it with water and a baby turtle in a single scoop.
The employees warn us that the turtles are very powerful and like to crawl out. Therefore we have to seal the container with our hand. If the turtle was to climb out and falls on the floor it would mean an instant death. After that all the people who get to release one (they are releasing 400 at once today) are lined up on the beach, about 5 meters from the shoreline. They will be released all at once because this would improve their survival rate. Apparently just 1 in a thousand baby turtles makes it to become an adult. The rest will be eaten, drowns, gets entangled in a fishing net or eats plastic or something similar and dies.
We receive one final warning. When the swell picks up the turtles, nobody moves. Otherwise chances are that you would step on a turtle who wasn’t there before the swell hit them. After the swell clears we are free to move again after we checked there is no baby turtle there where we would like to place our feet.
By now everybody squats down and sits down on the sand to start counting. Then we gently flip the container a bit so the turtle can crawl onto the sand . So now the beach is packed with 400 baby turtles who are not sure about what just happened. After a few seconds their instincts start to work and the start moving towards the ocean en mass. One faster than the other of course. Then there is a big wave coming and you can see the turtles being washed away. It is a bit sad to see but probably they don’t suffer from it. Of course there are some tourists who are afraid to get there feet wet and run off screaming as soon as they see the wave come in. For some people it is just really hard to listen I guess and to, for a few seconds, not think about themselves. When the wave washes out
almost the entire beach has been cleared from turtles but the ocean on the other hand is filled with little sea turtle heads coming out of the water gasping for breath. After a few minutes there are no more heads to be spotted and so they have all started their life’s journey. Hopefully some of them will survive the trip. We’ve sent some courage and strength to ours so maybe that will help.