Sunday, 12 August 2012

Pulau Mejangan

Sitting here on a cold, windy and wet Sunday afternoon in Mandurah, I open iPhoto and find this photo of Robbie, Michele and myself and the anonymous boatman, (surely Ketut?) on the boat heading over to Pulau Mejangan. This small island is part of a National Park and is actually in Java.

We headed out from Lovina fairly early as Robbie and Michele were hoping to snorkel once we reached the island. In the event, we got there a bit late and the wind was coming up. The drive along the north-west coast took over an hour and then Michele had to negotiate with Wayan (our guide and official National Parks Ranger) for the ferry ride from Bali over to Mejangan. Wayan was an excellent guide, very talkative and full of tall tales to tell us. The boatman merely drove the boat.

The mountains of Java were so clear I felt I could touch them. This part of Bali has white sandy beaches - not the darker volcanic sand found elsewhere.

The water is deep here, I asked Wayan how deep, "57 metres" he told me, and added that the drop-off from Mejangan was sheer. As we approached the island we could see how the colour of the water changed from the dark, deep inky blue to a light turquoise colour. There were other boats already moored and many people snorkelling. You can see quite clearly in the photo below, which I took from the path above the cove.

Nobody lives on Mejangan but there are a number of temples dedicated to various deities - including a large one dedicated to Ganesha. The temples look old and weather-beaten but Wayan assured us they had been built fairly recently! The paths and various access points are fairly risky and there isn't much in the way of barriers even near steep cliffs. Nevertheless, we tramped around and looked at the flowers, birds and insects. When there was an easier option to climbing around a temple, we took it.

Ganesha Temple from the ocean

There were a few other people walking on the island including a couple who were keen bird watchers. Wayan assured them that they would be able to see many birds if they got there early enough! Mainly, though, the tourists visit Mejangan for the snorkelling. Local people come here to make offerings at the temples.

After walking around for a while we boarded our ferry on the other side of the island. The boat access here was unstable and Wayan told us that a German man had fallen there, only the day before and had to be transported to Denpasar to the hospital. The logistics are frightening as there would be the ferry ride back to Bali which takes a nearly an hour and then road transport across Bali back to Denpasar. Needless to say we watched where we put our feet and took any helping hand that was offered!

As we left the island, we went past the bat caves and could see blankets of bats clinging to the sides of the caves. Then the ferry turned back toward the Bali coast where we met Gede (our driver) waiting patiently to take us back to Lovina. Of course we stopped for a meal on the way.

There is so much more to Bali than the average tourist gets to see and experience.
Next entry will be about Ubud and the strange and exotic hotel in which we stayed ... Michi Retreat.

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