Monday, 28 October 2013

Black Magic Isle?


I don't know where to start. Ok, Nusa penida is an island between Bali and Lombok. It doesn't feature on tourists radars and it doesn't have any tourism infrastructure. In fact everyone in Bali that we have mentioned this to has shaken their heads, frowned and asked if we mean Lembangon, a smaller dive island. We had to hunt down a boat to get us here and amongst the 20 or so passengers we were the only white faces. In fact we had booked tickets which, for no explainable reason, we suddenly couldn't use and needed to find another boat. Now we figure that this negativity could be down to several factors.
A) they want to keep this little piece of Indonesia all to themselves and we should go to the other island that's designated tourist area.
2) it really is crap and why would you want to visit?
iii) rumour has it that this little island is steeped in black magic and has a long history of Animism  and so could be a little bit strange, slash, dangerous, slash, exciting!

So we left this morning on the fast boat, should have been half hour but actually took about an hour and fifteen minutes and this is where my mind goes into overdrive. We are about twenty minutes out to sea and the boat slows and then stops in the middle of the water. Everyone looks at the driver and then back to the engines. Chris and I look at each other, there are definitely forces at work, conspiring to stop us getting to Nusa Penida. After ten minutes of tinkering we start off again with two of the three engines running still feeling a little unsettled. As the island becomes clear through the haze we see a large ominous looking cloud hanging over the centre. It feels like one of those scenes from a psychological horror movie where you think something is about to happen, and it doesn't, then you think it's going to happen now, and it doesn't. And then it finally does when you're not expecting it. But all that happens is we land on the beach to be greeted by Agus, our guest house owners cousin, and his friend who take us and our backpacks on their bikes to our bed for the next few days.

The first morning we go to the 'Warung ' for breakfast and there's something in the air. A sense of excitement and anticipation to do with the big Balinese Hindu celebration tomorrow. In the space of the 30 metres to the beach bar we see an 8 year old child encircled by about ten males of various ages and he's holding three dice and running some sort of gambling ring. Then as the local ferry unloads a young man walks toward us wearing only a pair of shorts and a balaclava. And to top that there's some prize cockerels that have been kept in bamboo cages that are being prepped for a cock fight! Weird shit.

We spend the day riding around the island seeing the sights. There's a cave, that's left out of our guest house and a bay, that's right out of our guesthouse. There's basically one road that goes almost round the island. But guess what....we got a bit lost and ended up going up and down and into the centre of the island. It's pretty dry and desolate with not much growing but loads of friendly faces shouting 'hellos' and high fiving as we pass through the tiny hamlets. We do eventually get pointed in the direction of a beach that apparently Julia Roberts got married on. but the road is not actually a road, it's a track running along a ridge that's about three foot wide. We ride down it for about 15 mins but it's still a long way to the sea and we have no water and not much fuel so we reluctantly turn back and head to Crystal Bay. Which is quite lovely and almost deserted. After a day of stressful riding down lanes filled with potholes, chickens running out and gravel tracks we decide that there's not much more to Nusa Penida and that the possible option 2) was the real reason for the amazed faces when we first said we were coming here.

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