Lembongan is accessed via a fast boat from Sanur, the trip takes only 30mins and loading on and off is on the beach both ends. The main drawcard for tourists to the island is the diving and surfing, the island is very mellow, more a ‘village lifesyle’ and lacks the commercialisation that is seen Bali. Transport is by scooter and small trucks with seating in the back for passengers. Roads are typically narrow, some are sealed others not and shared with pedestrians, scooters, cyclists, small trucks and chickens. Scooters of course are not just transport for one but often whole family’s and also used to cart an assortment of many things, most of which don’t look like they belong on a scooter!
Our stay on Lembongan was at Wendy and Alan’s beautiful Tropica Tranquility villas, which is a lovely sanctuary, built in traditional Balinese style. Their villa’s are located on the beach at the northern end of the island where a local seaweed industry is still operating, but it is dying out as younger generations have no interest and can earn more money in tourist driven industry.
We really enjoyed our time with Wendy and Alan, simply chatting and catching up and they took lots of time to show us around their lovely island which helped us learn more about their life here and meeting lots of their friends along the way. We spent our days meandering around the island, it is quite small and would only take an hour so to go around by scooter. Local eateries or ‘Warung’ were our favourite places to get a meal, the cost for this is around $20 for a local dish and a couple of Bintang’s each. The most expensive meal we had here was in a lovely resort and cost was $40 per head for starters, cocktails, main and dessert and the food was fabulous.
A local fishing boat with Mount Warung in the background An active volcanoe that last erupted in 1964,
We did a couple of snorkelling trips, the first on a big Catamaran, there were only 9 of us on board and 7 were in our group. We snorkelled over a reef at Crystal Bay, not something that either of us have done before and the colours of the coral and the beautiful fish blew us a way. The second trip was on a local boat, to 2 different spots, the first Wall Reef, which describes perfectly how the reef is formed, we were able to swim very close to the wall and see the coral up really close. Our second stop that day was in front of some Mangroves and here we floated around in the water and fed the fish bread which led to a feeding frenzy and we found ourselves in the middle of schools of the most brightly coloured beautiful fish – a really amazing experience.
In the village close to where we stayed there was a mass cremation, with many ceremonies held around this event. Our understanding of this is as part of the Hindu culture the deceased need to be cremated to be reincarnated. The cost of this for a local family is too great as the cremation needs to done with with so much ceremony which is of course very expensive. So…..bodies are buried in a local cemetery and then every few years the village will host a mass cremation. The family then remove the bodies from the grave and the bones are washed and cleaned. On the day of the cremation, the bones are wrapped and placed in an elaborately decorated cremation tower, this is then taken to the cremation site in a procession, which isn’t walked in a straight line, often spinning in circles along the way; this is done to confuse evil spirits and keep them away from the deceased. The bones are then placed inside a sarcophagus resembling an animal which has been placed on an elevated bamboo platform for the cremation.
The climax of the ceremony is the burning of the sarcophagus containing the bones, the fire is viewed as necessary to free the spirit from the body and enable reincarnation. The ceremony we attended had 53 ‘bodies’ that were from 9 families, each family was represented by a sarcophagus of a different animal. There is no grief associated with this as the belief is that the deceased is sleeping and are only temporarily absent until they are reincarnated, each newborn child is believed to be a reincarnated soul. We found the ceremony really fascinating and felt really privileged to have the opportunity to view first hand.
We have returned to Bali to wait out our flights to Singapore & Myanmar, (disrupted by the volcano). Our flight has been rescheduled to Friday 13th so we took the opportunity to head up to Ubud for the remainder of the week.