We planned to take a day in Medana marina to recover from the trek up Mount Rinjani and then continue, via the Gili Islands, to Bali however our largest cooking gas canister ran out unexpectedly. We now have a pretty good idea how much gas we use and there should have been enough left for at least another month: we can only assume it was not filled properly in Bundaberg. Medana marina is one of the few places in Indonesia where we can get our New Zealand canisters filled but they weren’t able to do it that day so the next day we left it with them and motored the 3 miles to Gili Air. Tom and Eliza, our companions from the trek, had a ferry booked to Gili Air but preferred to travel by private yacht, so we gave them a lift across.
The North Gili Islands sit at the top of the Lombok Passage between Lombok and Bali. They are small, low, sandy islands and popular holiday destinations. Gili Trewangan is known as a party Island, Gili Meno is the quiet one and Gili Air is supposed to be something in between. It was pretty with beautiful beaches, but the harbour where we were moored was noisy with ferries and tripper boats and the small town was very touristy, so having dropped Tom and Eliza off we stayed one night then early the next day returned to Medana Marina for our gas bottle.
It was 72 miles from Lombok to the next stop in the rally schedule: Lovina on Bali’s north coast. That’s too far for us to do in one day in daylight however there was a possible anchorage at Ahmed, about half way. People who had anchored there the night before had said it was very uncomfortable in the swell but we still hoped we might be able to stop. We had a lovely sail across the Lombok Passage then as we were approaching Ahmed we had a call from Filizi, who were ahead of us, saying it was horrible and they weren’t stopping. We accepted their judgement and continued, under motor now as the wind had died. As night fell hundreds of little spider boats, the local fishing boats, came out past us from the shore and after dark the horizon around us was like a string of stars with their bright lights. It was very pretty, as we wound through them all. We were about 2 miles offshore and the majority seemed to be to seaward of us so it was less stressful then we expected. We reached the anchorage at Lovina at 11pm, felt our way in through the rest of the rally fleet and anchored in about 4 meters of water between them and the beach.
A spider boat under sail; the majority have now been converted to motor. All the fishing boats since we arrived in Indonesia has been in local boats – the design changing from island to island
Indonesia is a mainly Muslim country, but Bali is primarily Hindu: when Muslims came to power on neighbouring Java the Hindu population moved to Bali and stayed there. As a result the island has a very different feel from the other places we have seen. The architecture is dominated by Hindu styles and there are magnificent temples to be seen, there are small offerings of flowers, rice and incense outside shops and cafes and the Islamic call to prayer was almost absent. On the downside, being such a tourist hub the people trying to sell you tours of the sights or sarongs were much more persistent than we had come across before. There were also many more westerners around: we went from being honoured guests to just a few more tourists, which was probably good for our egos!
Walking around town in Lovina the architecture showed the island’s Hindu culture
We took a day tour, with Yorgos and Karina from Filizi, to see some of the sights of North Bali, a tale best told in photos:
The Ulan Danu Bratan Hindu temple is beautifully situated beside a mountain lake, surrounded by gardens. In Bali Hindu temples are open air places of worship in walled compounds
Intricate stonework and woodwork on the temple building
Detail of the wooden doors
Banjar Hot Springs. We hadn’t bought our swim wear!
A long and muddy clamber bought us down to this beautifully landscaped waterfall and swimming pool
Indonesians eat a lot of rice. These paddy fields have been recently harvested and will now be replanted
There is a sizeable Buddhist minority on Bali. The Brahma Vihara Arama Monastery, just outside Lovina, was built in the 1970s. Before entering we were given matching Sarongs to cover our legs. This building is a miniature replica of Borobudur, a temple in Java.
Golden statues were much in evidence
These steps connected two levels of the monastery grounds. Gates like the one at the top seem to be a feature of Hindu and Buddhist buildings in Bali
Posing for the photographer. For a donation a man at the top of the steps would take a series of photos of you using your phone. He held a mirror just under the viewfinder to give the amazing reflection effect. Next pose please...
On our final night there was a gala dinner on the beach, with the meal prepared by a number of local chefs and served by students from hospitality colleges. The students were delightful but, as far the food was concerned, it seemed to be a case of too many cooks…. The music was loud and went on late and we were anchored right in front of the stage. It was time to move on.