Out for a quick peak at Mt. Agung:
It has been a short stay in Amed, a few more days would have been fun as it has a good vibe.....another copious breakfast, settle up and after a little bit of a wait our shuttle to the harbor arrives. Lots of seeming confusion as today three boats or roughly 120 passengers are going to the Gilis, but in the end everyone is sorted out, porters grab the bags and hump them to the boats and we embark on our fastboat ....The Pacha Express.
This time we get a welcome speech and safety lesson by our "suave" dreadlocked 1st mate who is quick to charm the more attractive ladies, suggesting they join him in the honeymoon suite topside......only one taker an attractive Poilsh woman....
The 4 engines rev up as does the music and we settle into our captains chairs which even have cups of fresh water in cupholders, you would think we were flying.....
......well we sort of are. As we enter open water the boat surges, and the water flies over the windows...now it is clear why they told us to close the windows when the water starts coming in, haha. Good ride, a little thumpy but not too rough and our first port of call is reached after about 45 minutes: Gili Travingnan known as the party island, where about 80% of the passengers are offloaded:
.......we gain some who are returning to the mainland or joining us to go to Gili Air. Another 10-15 minutes and we land smoothly on a white sand beach and offload, this mens walking gingerly on the side of the boat while clinging to the handrail and then descending a swim ladder. Grabbing our bags we opt to drag our wheelies along the shore for about 10 minutes before finding the laneway to Senang Villa (Senang in Sasak means happy) where we will stay for 4 nights.
Our poolside room is ready, sign-in and pay (first time this has happened) and get a cold, freshly prepared welcome fruit drink ....... cold and delicious!!
The island has a neat feel about it > 3rd world meets flashpacker meets funky resort feeling....a road parrallels the beach, some concrete but mostly packed, or not so packed, sand with traffic limited to bicycles, pedestrians, the odd scooter and horse carts (everything imaginable is offloaded by hand from boats and then humped in by porters or horsecarts) .......
Dive centers, beachside bars and restos are everywhere and the building boom is going strong on this island as well..........
....back to the Senang Villa and some pooltime, before dressing for the requisite sunset viewing:
....and dinner at Mowie's.....pretty indolent if we may say so!! Beanbags seem to have returned in all their glory !!
Pretty decent first day !!!
The villa is nice ...it is inland (about 150 meters) ....no view but quite pleasant ....super clean, good bed, medium wifi , pool and nice staff > incidentally all the staff are from the island of Lombok (technically the Gillis are part of Lombok > which is predominantly Muslim and are all young men.....the owner told us it is tough to find girls on Lombok Island (where most of the staff originate) who are outgoing and relatively well educated.
Breakfast is served on our patio...fresh juice, Balinese coffee, fruit plate with sweet yoghurt (enough for 2 people) and choice of eggs, pancakes or jaffers > then they come around and ask if you want more......even yours truly said thanks but no thanks.
Suitably nourished we embark on a circumnavigation of the island......less impressive than it sounds, as it only takes about 1.5 hours ......some pics but battery died and the back up camera was of course safe and sound at the Villa:
Annie with a large chunk of coral....wish we could bring back some specimens for an aquarium.....anyways I'm not sure if all this coral being around is ok or simply a function of the coral reefs being abused ????
.......a rehydration break, you can buy a drink and sit/lie there for as long as you want:
...then came across some ladies cleaning sea urchins....the tools of the trade are: a sharp knife to split the urchin, a practised thumb to extricate the critter and an empty water bottle to store them for subsequent sale......my smile had no effect on them ...the grumpiest persons we have seen to date:
This is a young persons preserve and single guys should make a beeline here, lots of opportunity:
.......yes the tan lines look ok:
The water is remarkably clear with a beautifull cerulean color......saw small fish by the shoreline and a sea snake (species unkown) :
Lunch was on the beach but rather mediocre and as the thunderheads were approaching:
......we felt a siesta was in order so retreated to the Happy Villa....good move as shortly thereafter all hell broke loose, knocking out power, but within an hour all was good again, the sun out......btw no need to test the water at the pool here it is a natural hot tub !!
Doing laundry is pretty simple....and inexpensive > 2.50 Cad per kilo
Dinner at a local warung ......Annie is on a lumpia kick > spring rolls, these were good but nothing to get excited about, and another day is done with time for seniors to be in bed. By the way, as per the various waiters, hawkers etc. we have new knicknames ....."papa" + "mama"...obviously elder tourists deserve a special name .... haha !
There is an exhibition of yoga at a nearby bar which we glance at before calling it a night........
We wake up feeling good (although Annie still has a cold) ...... a beautiful sunny morning as we get ready for a snorkelling trip, With fins and goggles our party of 9 (in high season the boat would have 30 onboard) is escorted to the boat about a 7 minute walk and the crew of 3 sort out the boat and we are on our way,
As usual there is a minimum of instruction about the boat, the equipment or for that matter anything other than, " stay together, follow me" once we are in the water. We haven't snorkelled for a long time so the intro was simple put gear on, jump in the water, good luck......we ended up at four sites, I did three and Annie two...at the last one the water was a bit creepy so we decided to give it a pass. Lots of fish, very colourfull, nothing large and some very nice coral in the Coral Garden and about five turtles of various sizes, two quite large (no pics as we don't have a Go Pro, although several people had them) as well as a large turtle on the surface, with beautiful coloration (apparently a turtle restoration program has given some good resuts).....
.........we also stopped at a nearby island Gili Meno for lunch. The guide told us we could see some baby turtles > Judy take note:
.........but it was also a come-on to go to this particular warung....... with a decided Jamaican theme:
.......the nicer part of the island being in the opposite direction. Oh well, the food was ok, the turtles cute and the trip a success >200m Rp = Cad 20 for 5 hours + equipment + 2 botles of water:
After the trip it was high time for a siesta.....although we did muster some enegry to head down to the harbor towards nightfall...
..... to sup on chicken burgers at Shark Bites...
....not much left in the gas tank so time for some sweet dreams!!
Our last day dawns sunny and hot !!! Today there is no major plan ...we want to check out the eastern side of the island which seems to have the nicest beaches, in the event we elect to return here in future years. We follow the main track which passes through some less developed parts of the island where there also some nice "resorts":
......a local crepe salesman:
.........and then divert to the beach....this is where the problem resides. In principle these islands possess charm and beauty.....the infrastructure is largely in place and the price is right. The hooker is the garbage, too often, the beaches are littered with refuse....in front of the bars/restos etc. it is cleaned up but if you want to walk along the beach, where it is less developed there is a lot of crap. Therein lies the dilemna and we remain undecided as to whether we would return..... at least to the beach areas,
Some of the sights enroute:
.........Local fishers on the northern point of the island....this guy has a seriously long pole ...
..........some Muslim tourists from Lombok were having a good laugh after posing for a group selfie photo:
......others were busy grilling some satays..
The day is beautifull with a wonderfull onshore breeze....on the spur of the moment we decide to make this a very relaxing Bintang type of day, letting the sights come to us ........
...a mini Komodo dragon:
By mid-afternoon, we are back for some pooltime before venturing out for our final sunset.......our ticket for tomorrow's voyage is purchased, this time we are to travel on a larger vessel to the port of Padang Bai from where transport is allegedly in place to take us to Candidasa. Having had a very late lunch we pass on supper but take in the sunset: