Thursday 26 June 2008 – Lovina, Bali, Indonesia
The proximity of the local mosque was made unnecessarily apparent at 5am with the early morning call to prayer ringing out loud and strong. I had been awake and at that moment was just nodding off again. Breakfast at the resort was as theatrical yet as bland as dinner had been. One excretion was a dish of squid stuffed with mildly spiced tuna and then sliced like a sausage.
I did not have to wait long on the main road for a blue Bemo into Lovina. It is not really a town – the guide book calls it a string of villages that have merged and become a town by that name. As such, the centre is difficult to identify as such, the only feature different from kilometres either side of budget accommodation, warungs and money changes, being an automatic teller machine. Even that singular machine could not cope with my request to withdraw two million Rupiah (about AUD$200), so I limited my withdrawal to one million. I still had over one million of the amount I withdrew on Monday, but ATMs are scarce here and the resort does not offer good exchange rates.
I found the headquarters of Spice Dive, a recommended operator and discussed possible snorkelling and diving excursions with Li, putting a deposit ona snorkelling excursion to the local reef in the next few days, and considering a trip to Menjanin Island for scuba diving (a place I’d dived on my earlier visit to Bali).
I spent the afternoon lounging on one of the large covered daybeds along the shoreline and enjoying the Eastern Tales of Somerset Maugham. I watched the sun go down with a glass of 10 year old Balvenie whisky, my duty free extravagance for this trip. Very fine.
I ventured to a little restaurant outside the hotel entrance, Warung Bumbu Pemaron, which suggested that it served Balinese (as opposed to Indonesian) food. Owned by a German woman Bette and her Indonesian (Balinese) husband, Nyoman. I was greeted with complimentary peanuts and delicious glass of arak (rice wine) with lemon. The restaurant was a giant bamboo hut – very Swiss Family Robinson -. The menu was promising and indeed appeared more Balinese than most others I’d seen.
I ordered Lumpiah Ayam (deep fried chicken spring rolls – very good) and a special of grilled prawns served with rice, steamed green vegetables and sauces (OK, peel-your-own prawns), and Bubur Injin, black rice with palm sugar and coconut milk. Several other tables of Dutch and German hotel guests also dined here. A cat spied anxiously on a mouse that spent most of the evening racing round the rafters (and for which Bette apologies), and a vocal grog provided noisy entertainment from the garden. All of which made for a much more exciting evening than dining at the resort, even with its staff of thousands.