Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lembongan Island

Left Kuta early to try and catch the speedboat from Sanur to a little island off the east coast of Bali called Lembongan. There is some sick diving there and its super mellow and relaxing after the madness of Kuta. We arrived late (huge surprise) and were forced to make use of the "slow boat". Didn't think too much of it until I actually saw the glorified canoe w/ wooden pontoons on either side held together by zip ties or something with bench seating for 20 that I started to worry. Not so much about the sea-worthiness of this particular vessel but more about how sick I was going to get on the 1 1/2 hour journey. As we clamored aboard with some other passengers & their chickens, I took up a position nearer the front & along the side that would provide the best view of the horizon and hopefully facilitate any violent puking if necessary. For the next 90 mins, I didn't really talk, kept my eyes ahead, & replayed entire episodes of The Wire in my head as the streets of west Baltimore were about the furthest place I could think of...........for the record, Pat also considered puking & Shawn was fairly convinced the boat was going to come apart as the seas did get pretty rough for awhile. Never been happier to see the shores of Lembongan.

Small beach full of fishing & dive boats as well as sea weed farmers. They pull is out of the water, "riverdance" on it, & then dry it in the sun, fetches about $3/kilo which is legit money over here. Our divemaster, Goreng, who Josh had dove with a year ago, shuttled us to some sweet bungalows on a cliff overlooking the harbor for $14/night (hahahaha). Sweet views and an infiniti pool sealed the deal. Headed out for a pre-dinner snack in "town" which pretty much consists of one street with a couple tiny stores, few places serving food, & every single house on the island looks like a Hindu temple with offerings scattered everywhere. Fried noodles & beer were interrupted by a rain storm that progressed to torrential fairly quickly. This caused the electricity to go out of course & we quickly realized that there was no way it was letting up anytime soon. Cameras, shirts, even Pat's shorts (who doesn't wear boardshorts on a tropical island?) go into plastic bags from the restaurant and we make a dash through the flooded streets, slipping, losing sandals, & getting rain in my beer! As there's not much to do on Lembongan except dive & the electricity was out on the island anyway, we felt the most useful activity we could engage in was underwater lap contests in the pool (record is 9) with rain so hard you could barely see & lightning lighting up the clouds. After dinner & some bbq fish that the dive guys brought us, its lights out.

Early morning dive (gets light at 6am here) Goreng & his dive master-in-training, Black Monkey (literally the only name he gave us) picked us up and we did two warm up dives over some sweet coral interrupted only by one of the worst chicken sandwich lunches ever. Over the next 3 days we did another 6 dives including some "drift" dives which included a 3-4 knot underwater current in which you literally feel like you're flying. Both the Superman & the Heisman pose look sick 40ft down, fyi. Some highlights: 5 ft sea snake, Black Monkey drinking a bottle of water at 30ft, flying over amazing coral surrounded by fish who matched the coral looking up to see the sun streaming down from the surface (I was inverted), hanging on to a rock in really intense current (will literally rip your mask off) looking for the Mola Mola, and the general sensory overload of tropical diving. Just too much going on, you could spend 10 minutes looking at a 3 x 3 foot area and be completely satisfied. We also started trying to complete with Goreng and the Monkey regarding air usage, but couldn't even get close. We'd do a 50 min dive & come up with 20-30 bar left and these guys would still be at 120 bar. Ridiculous how relaxed they are under there, using about zero energy. You'd look over and the Monkey would be floating upside down about 2 inches off a coral garden like he was sleeping.

2 dives each day for 4 days & pretty mellow nights except for a impromtu pool party with some Aussie friends followed by some horrendous pool games in which I and the pride of Newcastle, came from the brink of defeat to seize a seemingly guaranteed victory from Jake and her friend. More impressive than the win was my partner's post game gloating...."Jake, turn around, is your lip quivering?!!"

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