And so, we've bid 2009 farewell and to my surprise we are already half way through January 2010. The year of the Tiger!
We would like to wish all of our family and friends all the best. May 2010 be "Your Year"!
It was 'n busy year end. As you can imagine there is a lot going on in preparation for our baby's arrival in May this year. I realise that I'm a couple of posts behind but thought I'd start with the 2009 Finale and in the weeks to come I will post an update about the past couple of weeks.
We had a fantastic time in Lembongan and Bali in December. Some might think "yet another island holiday". But, really; sea and sand is not just sea and sand. It is amazing how every island, although the beach or the dive shots may look the same, are so different. Every island destination has left us with such difference experiences. Marc and I have decided that we could never get tiered of "beach holiday's" and for as long as we live in this part of the world we are lucky and should enjoy to have so many great "escapes" on our doorstep.
We flew to Bali on Saturday, 26 December. Like with the Sumatra trip, this trip to Lembongan and Bali was another opportunity for Marc to clock a few more dives as he is getting ready to do his dive master course sometime over the next couple of weeks.
Lembongan is an island approx. 35min by fast boat from the Sanur harbour. We had a nice time and Marc really enjoyed the diving. In fact, he said that diving with the Manta's ranked right up there as one of the best dives ever. (See the bottom of this post for details of our stay on Lembongan - Travelers Tips).
99 steps to our bungalow right at the top of the hill. Needless to say; I made sure I didn't forget anything in the room.
I spent most of my time under the umbrella, reading.
In and out of the pool; definitely the best place to be in 38 degree heat.
We enjoyed the view of Mount Agung and especially the refreshing Lime Juice at The Ware Ware restaurant.
We hire a motorbike to check out the southern end of the island, which is not very big at all but also not easy to get around.
We had lunch at one of the restaurants at Mushroom Bay. We watched people having fun in the sun, enjoying water sports like parasailing, kayaking etc.
We particularly enjoyed the company of this little puppy. We've seen drawings on Hindu's faces but never on dogs before.
Marc thoroughly enjoyed the diving Manta Point in Lembongan and would highly recommend it.
At 9am on Tuesday, 29 December we took the Scoot fast boat from Lembongan back to Sanur, where we continued the next leg of our trip...
A four and a half hour drive brought us to Pemuteran in North West Bali, which again was so different to any beach we've been too. The black sand and calm sea in this fishing village is a nice relaxing break from the hectic tourist hub of South Bali. And although it's quite a drive, it is well worth it. It was amazing to drive around Bali truly understanding why it's called the Island of the God's. With Ocean, volcano's, rice paddies, temples...you really have it all.
We stayed at the Adi Assri hotel at the far end of the beach.
The calm ocean almost looked like a big lake.
3 days of rest and relaxation around the pool with the ocean on the one side and the mountain on the other.
We walked to the other side of the bay where there are a few more hotels and it turns out that we again, ended up on the wrong side of the beach. (See Traveler's Tips).
Although not as good as the diving in Lemongan, Marc did enjoy two dives in Pemuteran.
We visited the Atlas South Sea Pearl Farm, which is about a 15 minute motor bike ride from our hotel. It was really fascinating to see how they cultivated and the process of harvesting the pearls.
We spent New Years Eve at Adi Assri. It was a quite but fun evening with good food, live entertainment and some fireworks to ring in 2010.
At 9am on Friday, 1 January we left Pemuteran and headed to Seminyak where where we spend the next two days on the back of the motor bike making our way through the busy Kuta traffic, shopping and meeting up with friends that happened to be in Bali during this time.
We stayed at the Casa Artista, which is a small boutique hotel/guest house, conveniently located near "Eat Street" and not to mention all the fantastic shops in Seminyak.
We arranged a driver for Sunday, 3 January to take us to the airport. We had some time to kill and decided to check our Nus Dua where I have to say we will probably book to stay the next time we visit Bali. Approx. 35min. from Seminyak.
We were very happy to have met Nyoman at Casa Artista when we checked in. He provides a great service and can arrange anything from car and driver, hotel and help you plan your next trip to Bali.
His rates are really competitive at Rp.350.000 for full day. Contact: http://www.santorinibalitours.com/ or Tel: +62 361 9194412
This was my 3rd trip to Bali and I am looking forward to the 4th in the near future.
We didn't really know what to expect of Lembongan. We booked accommodation at the Ware Ware Surf Bungalows on the Western side of the island. We were quite high up over looking a cove with a spectacular view of Mount Agung. However if it's beach you are after, you should rather stay on the Southern end at Mushroom Bay or Dream Beach. The island is very hilly, and unless you hire a motorbike (and even then it's quite a trek) you are far from the beach. We were definitely on the quite side of the island, which suited us, but unless you are happy to stay on your side of the island and lie by the pool, read a book, surf or dive you would be better off looking at other options.
Like with most hotels that you book on the Internet one can only hope that it really does look like the pictures and that the reviews are not by fictitious people. Like the saying goes: "you learn from experience" though. And as it turns out Lembogan and our stay at The Ware Ware, was not what we had in mind. Unknown to us, we ended up booking through a tour operator and our room cost us approx. $20 extra per night.
The room rates are usually around Rp.450,000 ($45) per night for an AC room, including a simple breakfast with coffee/tea, juice/pancake or toast and fruit. We ended up paying about R650,000 which in my opinion is way to much for what it is.
The hotel, though nice enough (for $45) definitely is in need of TLC and the rooms, especially the bathroom need a good clean. And to be honest, the service that you expect for $75 per night, well let's just say we've received better service at a $30 per night hotel. One plus point is that the restaurant at Ware Ware (thought the service is not great) had really good food ;-)!
WARNING: If you book this hotel, ensure that you book directly with the hotel and not through Bali Go Tours. Alternatively, if you, like us only manage to get hold of someone from Bali Go Tours, insist on a better rate.
Overall though, we enjoyed our stay and though probably just for the diving, we would consider another trip to Lembogang.
Adi Assri is a adequate hotel and if you are the kind of person that likes to just stay at your hotel around the pool then you'll be very happy with your choice. But, we ended up hiring a motorbike because you can't really walk along the beach because of the tide and the fishing village next to the hotel.
On the other side of the Fishing boats we were surprised to see all the nice hotels that are located on a better portion of the beach (away from the fishing boats). Our favourite was The Taman Sari, which is great. We ended up having a massage at their followed by a fantastic lunch under the trees, on the beach.
We also looked at the rooms and although a little more expensive than Adi Assri it would def be worth it as the resort just has more to offer and the rooms are more spacious and comfortable.
The best thing about this hotel is that you can walk along the beach and try some of the other restaurants around.