We spent three full days in the north of Bali in a sleepy little town called Pemuteran. It’s the only dive destination in the north, so there’s a ton of dive shops, a few hotels and restaurants, and a whole lot of nothing else.
For the last 16 years they’ve been running a project called Bio Rock and rebuilding the local reef with electricity. There’s a solar panel raft floating about 25 meters off shore that sends electricity down to the metal frames underwater that helps stimulate corral life on them. One looked like a UFO, one looked like a star, one was in the shape of a dudes name. It was the best snorkeling I’ve ever done! The three of us actually snorkeled there yesterday on Nicks birthday as soon as we got into town at sunset. It began pouring rain and made for such a beautiful experience together.
The next morning we went scuba diving at nearby uninhabited Menjangen Island. From the boat we could see deer on the island, fitting since menjangen means deer in Indonesian.
Ketut was our dive guide and he took us along two very beautiful walls. The variety of color, size, and texture of the corral life was stunning. Throughout both 50 minute dives I kept repeating to myself, “Oh my god Lindsay, you’re diving in Indonesia!” We’ve been in Asia for so long now that everything just feels normal, and so I really needed to remind myself that we are on the other side of the planet, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit, doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been dreaming of this for years and it’s finally happening. After everything Fener and I have been through in the last two and a half years, we have somehow found ourselves scuba diving in Bali. Right now. Wow.
Unfortunately, Nick had sinus congestion and his ears didn’t appreciate the two dives. He needs to let them chill out for a bit before diving again. Terrible timing, again, for an issue to arise on this trip.
The next day Brandon went diving without us and we set out to find Nick some antibiotics to get the ear situation handled as soon as possible. We don’t normally jump into antibiotics as a “cure-all” but time is of the essence here and it’s clear he will need them at some point anyway.
The north side of Bali is fairly remote. We had to drive over an hour on the scooters to get to the closest pharmacy. On our drive we saw dozens of mechanics. Dozens of people selling durians on the side of the road (more on that later). But no pharmacies. There’s a pharmacy on every corner in Thailand, and in Kuta. Westerners love their prescription drugs. Basically, in Thailand and Indonesia, if you know the name of it, you can buy it.
We were on the road so long that day, we both got totally sun burned. First sunburn of the trip, and it wasn’t from lazing on the beach, it was from driving around looking for drugs. Classic.
We stopped at a fruit vendor and bought a kilo of mangosteen (my favorite!) and a kilo of lychee (my second favorite!) and a durian. Durians are notorious around the world for their rank smell. Some hotels in Asia have signs posted telling tourists that durians are not allowed on their property. The smell is so strong you can smell them from inside a car when you’re driving by a freshly cut fruit. We’ve been told the taste is good but the smell is bad. Well, we’re here to confirm that they do indeed smell bad, but not as terrible as we anticipated when you’re up close. The taste and texture though, is quite awful. It’s like a creamy, slimy, mucus-y, puke-colored green, blob of shit with a pit in it (those are Nicks words).
The taste is gross. We had to “chase” it with a lychee to get the putrid taste out of our mouths. How on earth are these “fruits” so popular? They grow everywhere, and are currently in season here on Bali, but that doesn’t automatically mean people should EAT them. It’s totally crazy to us.
That evening we were invited to the dive shop for dinner with the guys. Ketut’s twin brother Ketut caught three Groupers and then barbecued them for us. We sat around the picnic table for hours just laughing and talking.
They all spoke a little English, some better than others. As the night went on, the English got worse and the talking became more like yelling. They were all taking shots from a water bottle filled with a home made, clear alcohol called arak. They loooove their arak! It’s illegal, like moonshine is in the states. They made me take a shot (I normally don’t do shots, but…) and it was strong and nasty and I will never do that again.
Ketut mentioned to Fener that there was a local dude in the village missing both his legs. Nick said he wanted to meet him so Ketut took off down the road. Ten minutes later the kid walks up on two prosthetic legs. He was missing his right hand and had a claw-looking hand for the left. He was obviously defected at birth, which must be a very hard life for him here in Bali. His friends treated him well though, and he seemed to fit in just fine. At 17, it was a little shocking to see him smoking and drinking too, but that’s just how it goes. Kids drive motorbikes on the streets at ages 6 and 7 so I guess they grow up fast here. This kid walked extremely well for the set-up he had. He literally had nothing holding his legs on. His stumps just slid inside the sockets and that’s it. Nick would never get away with that; his legs would go flying off! It was such a pleasure to meet this kid and show him that he’s not actually so different after all. It also gave us a little more to be grateful for as well.
At some point we lit off some fireworks and exchanged Facebook info.
These dudes were cool, and we all really enjoyed each others company. What a relief to befriend locals and not feel like they wanted to swindle us for cash. In fact, Ketut and Putu offered to show us around their town the next day.
We met with Putu and Ketut in the morning and went riding down the main road toward a beach side temple. As an aside, I want to say a little bit about the names here. Basically, Balinese babies receive their names based upon the birth order. So, you will meet tons of Wayans, because that’s the name given to the first born. Ketut is second born I believe, and Putu is fourth born. So, our taxi drivers name is Putu, and so is our diving friend. Easy enough to remember I suppose.
We went to a beautiful temple on the ocean where monkeys were the main inhabitants.
And then they took us down a tiny, rocky dirt road to a different stretch of the beach we would never have found otherwise. We passed fields of corn and cows, and of course rice and fruit trees. Ketut lives nearby, and we were hanging out on the beach outside of his friends house. We didn’t realize it at first but they brought us to this place to have lunch. As soon as we got off the bikes Putu began gathering wood for a fire. A few moments later Ketut surfaced with five ears of corn, a few bananas, and some lychee fruit, before disappearing again. This particular type of corn is eaten raw. It tasted good, but not great. Raw corn is not something I’d make a habit of eating.
Putu got a good fire going and Ketut came back with an arm full of corn and coconuts. They sat and roasted the corn cobs for us, and cut the coconuts for us to drink, complete with straws!
The corn was awesome. The charred bits tasted like popcorn. I know I’ve never eaten fresh picked corn like that. They even split the coconuts for us to eat when the water was gone. We ate on the shady sand and watched Ketut’s little brothers play in the water, riding the mini waves on giant chunks of styrofoam. They said they do this often, and I believe it. Living off the land, eating free food, and just enjoying all the gifts of the earth in a beautiful place like Bali. I get it.
We set off for the hotel so the boys could play on Brandon’s slack line. By this point it was so hot, and the air was so still and humid, I couldn’t stand it and got in the pool instead. But not before capturing this awesomeness.
Nick went for two rounds on the slack line. He surprised me when he said it didn’t bother his stumps. He flirted with letting go, but always kept a hand close to the guys. I know how hard slack line is after trying it in Tonsai. I couldn’t let go at all either, and I have ankles and calf muscles to help me balance.
This was Brandon’s last day with us before flying back to Guam. We said bye to him and lounged in the pool until sunset.