Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lovina, North Bali

An old post on Lovina town in Bali for The Baggins as you're too lazy to search for it. The original post was done sometime mid 2008.

It was beautiful. The glorious early morning sun peeked over the mountains in the East and bathed the ocean in gold. We had set out to see the dolphins at 6am and sure enough there they were, frolicking in the ocean, leaping out spectacularly to the delight of tourists and grizzled fishermen alike. We sighed, laughed and cheered at nature's children who reached out to us playfully and made us feel one with the ocean and the world.

One dolphin with a "I Heart Vader" tattoo swam up to me and passed me an ice cold Heineken. "I hope you are having a good time Mr. Chindy and please don't hesitate to call me if you may need other beer", it said, as it winked at me and swam back to it's brethren.

Yep, that's what happened. Really. Seriously. Cross my heart and ......


Brochures are misleading. That's why I don't believe anything I read. Instead of the mental image of happy dolphins swimming tamely around the boats what we had was a flotilla of outrigger dug out boats CHASING the poor buggers all across the ocean. After an hour of criss crossing the bay we finally saw dolphins in the distance and all the boats rushed over to them. It was like a hunting party and no one likes to be hunted. No observing from a respectful distance, the moonlighting fishermen would gun their engines and speed towards them every time a group was spotted. It was about an hour in the sea before we spotted them and the chasing went on for another 30 minutes. We actually ended up in the town of Singarajah after we decided to call it a day. After a while I just said to myself "Fuk it to hell and just enjoy the ride". I was sitting in front and the spray was all over me as the little boat bounced across the waves as our fisherman guide tried to give us paying dumb ass tourists the best photo op of the elusive mammals.

The only why to truly enjoy this "experience" is to get high on some weed, down a couple of cold Bintang beers, strap yourself in with like minded clowns and set forth into the ocean with a CD of The Best of Culture Club blaring over water proof speakers. Maybe then the dolphins might swim up for a morning chat...

We actually saw a whale. For about 5 seconds before it disappeared under the ocean. No time for a picture but it was huge and black ( factor in the sun in my eyes). Guess it counts for something...

The floating restaurants at Pantai Penimbangan in the town of Singahraja. It's about 15 minutes before Lovina. Great place for lunch. We stopped here for lunch before going on to Lovina.

We left the town of Amed in the early morning and drove along the northern coastal road till we reached Lovina Beach. The scenery along the way was like a spaghetti western with a dry and parched country side with valiant efforts of farmers trying to grow their crops in the dry season. Large rivers and canals were stone dry and dust was in the air. The drive from Amed to Lovina took about 3 hours as we stopped at some stalls along the road that had nice views of the Pacific Ocean.

One of 2 mermaids at Pantai Penimbangan. I thought she looked kind of sweet. Yeah, too long in the mountain and statues were starting to turn me on.....

Having a late tea/early dinner as the sun set.

The beaches at Lovina do not look particularly inviting as besides the black volcanic sand, it's dirty. Not so much from garbage but from the deposits from the ocean. As Lovina is closer to straits of Java it sees a lot more gunk from the ocean such as leaves, shrubs, broken corals, pieces of bark, etc. and it's all washed onto the beaches. It really isn't very inviting. Most of the folks like to snorkel but from what I saw snorkeling in Amed would be a lot better. There is nothing really much about Lovina and everything hinges on the dolphin viewing excursions. The town is larger than Amed so does not have that quaint small town feel to it and the beaches leave a lot to be desired.

My only clear shot of the dolphins.

Eating Hall in Bunyalit Cottages.

Chindy Gets A Man Massage.

I was in all sorts of pain from the Batur and caldera hikes when I reached Lovina. I asked Pak Nyoman, my driver, to recommend a good local massage therapist who would sort out my aching thighs, knees and back. We hit Lovina and he got a relative of his to call someone to come over to my room to sort me out.

The room was OK so I switched on the sports channel, had a ice cold Coke and sat back, expecting a kindly 'mak cik' to come in with some exotic oils and to massage my pains away. After a while i heard a knock on the door, opened it and in front of me stood a cross between an Orc and a Navy SEAL.

"Pak Kuhan?" asked the stocky chap in front of me.

"Oh fuck, this is gonna hurt..."

So the bottom line was he was a tukang urut urat, a tendon/ligament therapist. NOT a massage therapist. And it hurt. It hurt like a raw arse on fire. He grabbed and pulled and tweaked and kneaded every tendon and ligament with his strong stubby fingers. He pulled my body, contorted it and played my muscles like guitar strings. All the while trying to tell me about the next mountain I should hike somewhere in Java that was beautiful and gorgeous with boyish exuberance.

He grabbed my nose and pinched it HARD. He pincered my earlobes till I HEARD THEM SQUEAK and when he put me in what looked like The Iron Sheikh's Camel Clutch submission hold, I thought this is it, the dude's gonna snap my neck and I'll never fulfill my fantasy of having sex on a conference room table. What happened after that was my whole body went "click" and,


it. was. FANTASTIC. It was like all my cogs were realigned again. I slept like a baby after! The pain on my legs was 90% gone by the next day so it was cool.

I highly recommend being man massaged. Really.

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