After a night on the tiles (or sand in this case) at Medana Bay where we boogied to a great local blues band, we weighed anchor at 0200 and set sail for Bali, some 70 nm away. A start this early was a first for us, and yes, we were totally sober! The underlying reasons for the decision were to take advantage of what we were sure would be favourable west flowing current and to arrive at the Lovina Bay anchorage in good light. Added bonuses were the full moon and good overnight breeze, so good it saw us with two reefs in main for 3 hours after which it died totally.
Lovina lies on the north of Bali, a large and well sheltered bay with accompanying village, small hotels and a variety of restaurants.
Compared to other islands, Bali appears prosperous and is even more westernised than Lombok. It attracts thousands of tourists each year to take in the countryside’s unique atmosphere and bask in the sunshine of the beaches to the south. From admiring rural paddy fields to wending our way through the outskirts of the spiritual centre of Ubud, past temples and private dwellings with shrines in the front garden, from buying batik and gifts from vendors in Lovina village to exploring towns specialising in ancient crafts, we packed much in to so little time!
Here it was lovely to catch up with Jackie and Adrian from Oceans Dream who we had not seen since May 2012 and over supper one evening on board Pipistrelle exchanged mariners’ tales and other news. Jabula was also at anchor, minus her owners as Jeannie had unfortunately broken her ankle while on Komodo Island. She and Bruce had adjourned to a small and pretty courtyard hotel nearby but were keen to share a car and driver one day to head south towards the Balinese silver work town of Celuk.
There we found not a few quaint little artisans working on small pieces of silver, but a whole town of wholesalers, retailers and designers and silversmiths creating wonderful filigree, jewellery and other products from ore imported from Borneo.
Our route there took us through a couple of towns specialising purely in woodcarving, and another where each side of the road was lined with stone masonry of all shapes and sizes.
The highlight of our short stay has to be admiring Balinese dance performed by beautiful, graceful young women in stunningly colourful costume to an accompaniment of a traditional gamelan orchestra. Dancers are trained from a young age to naturally bend their fingers backwards, each wrist and hand movement a study in itself, and facial expressions with movement of eyes and neck in a particular jerky manner augment the performance. Costumes and headdress are elaborate and colourful. The gamelan consists of musicians playing gongs, drums, a sort of xylophone and cymbals. On a lighter note, the Balinese love slapstick which though we understood none of it, one such story was acted out on stage in ornate costume. That this stage was on the beach at Lovina and the shows performed for us yachties was a privilege. The Regent and local dignitaries made us most welcome.
Having booked tours to the temples in Java and to see the orang-utans in Borneo, we left Bali after a mere 5 days, and feel there is much left unexplored!