Mountain Treks and Lembongan

Hey everyone. After a few days of surfing and ding repair lets take it from where we left off shall we. Breakfast atop of Mount Batur.

After a wonderful breakfast, overlooking the sunrise the more adventurous and less weary of our group decided that instead of just hiking back down that we should continue our trek upward. We grabbed our bags and began the short hike from the cater to the uppermost portion of the rim of the volcano. With daylight the hike proved much easier and while the terrain remained challenging at least we could see where we were stepping now.

Twenty minutes later we found ourselves atop the volcano at a small temple overlooking the most impressive views of the surrounding landscape. Everywhere we looked our eyes were met we unparalleled natural beauty from the grassy craters below to the mountain tops afar. Taking a break at the top everyone in our group silently enjoyed the scenery and couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of wonder and gratitude at the experience we were sharing together.

Leaving the relative safety of the plateau atop Mount Batur we began navigating our way around the thin rim. Entering the misty clouds hovering over the volcano we balanced along the narrow path hugging a steep decline into the mouth of the crater on our left and a jagged downward slope on our right. Hiking the rim was without a doubt one of the highlights of the entire adventure. Every so often the cloud cover would part and we could not help, but to stop dead in our tracks at the awe of our surroundings. Once another half hour had passed the path along the rim began to slope downward and our group was faced with what some would call a decision, but which we viewed more as an opportunity.  We could take the easy way down and be back before lunch or pay our guide another 100,000 rp ($10) to take us back down along the less trekked side of the mountain covered with trails through volcanic ash and passing numerous steam vents. Without hesitation we took the second of our two options.

For the next hour we had the most incredible decent back to Lake Batur. We were able to run, practically ski, down the gradual slopes of volcanic ash. As you ran down the ash, volcanic rocks would dislodge themselves and rolling downward it sounded as if a thousand raindrops were hitting the mountainside. At every turn we were greeted with more amazing sights. There were the most impressive steam vents which created colorful mineral deposits on the rough, hardened volcanic rock. There were so many craters and nooks that we took our sweet time making out way to the bottom exploring each and everyone. By the time we made it back to the base at around 12:00 pm our group was exhausted and not looking forward to the long journey back to the coast. After a brief dip in lake Batur, Sasha and I said our goodbyes and headed back to Sanur in preparation for an early boat ride to Lembongan the next morning.

Taking the local public boat to Nusa Lembongan.

Our guide lead us to this beautiful beach on the small island Chennigan.

We had the beach all to ourselves

Beautiful cove called the blue Lagoon

Another side of the blue Lagoon

The local that was taking us around kept asking us to kiss when taking out picture, but it made for some very romantic memories (minus the pervy local)

The Channel between the two islands Chennigan and Pennida

Our pervy local guide in full effect. It was a little creepy, but on the upside he seemed to REALLY like me. Just look at his face (then look at mine)!

A man spent 15 years making this underground cave. He was a very religious man who thought that because he gambled he needed to hide underground from the Hindu Gods.

This man's Father built the underground house.

He showed us the dark underground house and kept yelling at me when I would almost fall in one of the deep holes in the ground.

I was a perfect fit for the tight spaces in the underground house, Matt was not so lucky.

Nerd Alert!

The view from the pool at our first hotel in Lembongan

The early morning sun shinning brightly on Matt as we went trolling, unfortunately for us our fishing luck was not shinning so brightly

Heading out early in the morning to go trolling Sasha is loving all the boat rides

My first time snorkeling! It was absolutely stunning.

Matt blowing a sexy kiss in his snorkeling mask

We cruised around the islands for hours just relaxing on the boat

After our volcano adventure we had little time to relax because I was intent on arriving in Lembongan in time for the next swell to hit. We grabbed a room in Sanur, ate dinner and went to bed, waking early the next morning to take public boat to Lembongan. Upon arriving we found that my favorite spot on the island, Agus Shipwreck Resaurant, was all full so we had to settle for another amazing beachfront hotel. When we arrived Lacerations, Playgrounds and Shippys were all firing so after getting settled I went for a surf while Sasha relaxed.

The next week consisted of great surf and relaxation. Lembongan is a fairly small island which is connected to another island named Chennigan by a small and rickety bridge only wide enough to fit one motorbike at a time. We spent the next four days roaming around the two islands checking out the sparse tourist attractions in a day and spending the rest of the time surfing, watching the world cup and relaxing.

The two highlights of our first days in Lembongan, aside from the surf, were without a doubt when we went trolling and snorkeling. Trolling was uneventful as we didn’t catch anything, but the look on Sasha’s face the whole time was priceless. She had never really been on a boat in the ocean like this before and she loved every second of it. Even though we didn’t catch any fish watching the sunrise over Lembongan and the expression on her face made the trip more than worth while.

Snorkeling was a bit more fun, nerve racking, hilarious and amazing than our trolling experience. It was definitely a high point of the trip for both of us. Initially Sasha’s anxiety was palpable as we took the boat from Lembongan to another island nearby where the snorkeling and scuba diving is spectacular. In the past, Sasha had a traumatizing experience snorkeling and not being the strongest swimmer she was more than a bit tense on the ride over. I think she might have uttered three words during the 20 minute trip. The look of excitement at skimming along the ocean in a boat was replaced with a look of extreme discomfort as we approached a pristine snorkeling area called, The Wall.

Once we arrived, we got Sasha all set up in her life vest and snorkel as her fear and discomfort grew. I tried to be as comforting as possible, but when it was time to enter the water I feared that she may not be able to take the plunge. After I was already in the water and reassured her that everything would be fine she slowly entered after me. As I swam over to here I could see the fear in eyes, which were significantly magnified by the mask that she was wearing. She hyperventilated, “I don’t think I can do this,” and was on the verge of tears. Knowing that nothing I could do would help her anxiety, I grabbed Sasha’s hand and told her, “You don’t even need to put the snorkel in yet, just keep your eyes open, stick your face in the water and look down.” Sasha reluctantly agreed and put her face in the water.  As her head reemerged from the water all signs of anxiety we replaced by utter amazement and joy. She gasped, “Its amazing. I never knew there was so much down there!” and without another word stuck the snorkel in her mouth and was off and running.

The Wall, is an amazing shelf along an island called Pennida which is home to a spectacular array of coral and fish life.  The shelf is located in a channel between the two islands of Pennida and Chennigan and as such there is a current that slowly drags you along as you soak in the amazing sea life. Seeing the change and wonder in Sasha’s eyes was one of the most wonderful things I have experienced this trip.  I never would have thunk it, but right before my eyes I think a long time snorkeler was born.

We spent the next two hours snorkeling along The Wall and then  another site called Crystal Bay. At Crystal Bay I brought a bag of chips into the water and dove down about 12 feet before releasing the contents above me. Immediately we were surrounded by hundreds of beautiful reef fish glad to have a free snack. It was an incredible day.

After that we went back to Lembongan and switched rooms over to Agus. Agus just rebuilt his entire Warung and it is now one of the nicest on the beach. Agus and the boys all remembered me, as Poker King from my last visit and we were lucky enough to be the first guests to stay in the nicest room in the place. Our room had a TV with Satellite, air conditioning and the most amazing view of Shipwrecks right out front. We spent seven days soaking it all in, completely content with doing nothing, but sunning and surfing before embarking on our next adventure.

One of Kadek's brothers tending the fire for our fish feast

Mmm, my first time eating fish without their heads cut off, it didn't really bother me.

Preparing a feast in paradise

What did bother me was the ten massive boars right next to where we were eating

After tasting the fish, just looking at this picture makes my mouth water

Our good friend Kadek and gracious host enjoying the meal with Matt

We could not have been happier with our meal of fresh fish washed down will coconut juice

These boys had never seen tourists before and were incredibly curious. They kept peeking out from behind the wall to steal glipses of the new faces at their home

Kadek putting on a cock fight for us with his father and cousin. Sasha was scared and dont worry, the chickens were not harmed.

As we left Kadek's fathers house, these shy and curious little boys followed us all the way out. They were a definite highlight and so cute!

Matt, Kadek and Ketut hanging out under the trees after a great meal with even better people

After much persuading we were able to convince our curious little crew to come take a picture with us. When we showed it to them, they we so enthralled with the camera they forgot about us!

Another pristine view from an even more pristine island

Sasha loving being the only one on the beach. After two days we still had not seen any other tourists on this island.

The beauty of this bay was amazing. If only there was surf.

With white sand, crystal clear water and no people of the beach, what more could you ask for?

Ketut getting Matt all ready to hit the temples!

Matt all sarong-ed up in the local finery

Kadeks family thought Sasha looked beautiful in her local garb!

Sasha might have had a different opinion

One of the many shines in the massive cave temple

This unbelievable view of untouched mangroves and rolling green hills, greeted us as we passed through the cave temple.

At this shrine we were given bracelets that were supposed to keep us safe in our travels.

It was impossible to capture how expansive this cave was but hopefully this shot can give some sort of an idea

Just saying, Kadek might be one of my favorite people ever!

There were literally dozens of sites within the cave complex that we designated sacred and where temples had been built

The entrance to the cave was so small we could barely fit, but upon coming out of the darkness we were greeted with this view at the entrance,

At the end of the temple tour

The views just got better and better as we held on for our lives

Descending these stairs build on a sheer 1000 ft cliff face you could look down hundreds of feet to the surf crashing on the rocks below. Here we are almost at the bottom. Note the fear in Sasha's stance.

The stairs were literally built into the cliff face. I have no idea how they managed it. This section is actually as mild as they got.

Finally at the bottom of the cliff face we were presented with more unparalleled beauty

As we stood at the bottom of the cliffs on the south side of the island we were greeted with nothing, but the raw power of the indian ocean

Walking up the stairs where a small creek rushed down from a waterfall that came shooting out the bottom of the cliffs

Matt cut his toe deeply on a rock at the bottom and Kadek was quick to treat him with a local plant wrapped in wet vines.

At the bottom of the cliffs are pools of fresh water that have been created by the waterfall. The water is considered holy and we all took a refreshing dip.

Matt, Kadek and Ketut freshening up before heading back to the stairs of death

Going up and down these stairs was about the scariest thing we have done. One slip and you will fall hundreds of feet. Sasha keeping both hands on the rail like a good girl!

This shot gives a slight idea of the insanity of these stairs. Looking over the edge you could see straight down hundreds of feet, but the risk was worth its weight in gold as we took in the views.

The pictures above detail the best part of the trip. Everything seen above details a once in lifetime experience that we happened upon because of our good friend Kadek. I will continue next time with those amazing adventures.

All our love,

Matt and Sasha

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One Response to Mountain Treks and Lembongan

  1. Jon says:

    I am so impressed!
    Impressed with the photos, the views, your writing, how quickly Sasha has become a seasoned traveler, your adventuresome natures, and how well you are getting along!
    Mom and I will definitely have to go to Bali someday.

    I have also decided that before I die I must go down those stairs backwards, blind folded, hopping on one foot without holding on to the rail. Looks easy!
    Not!

    Love Dad- Jon

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