This morning, I was hating life. Actually, I was hating Nick for arranging an activity for us at such a god-awful hour of the morning. 5:45am was the wake-up time for our Discover Nusa Penida trip with our pick-up arranged for 6:30am at the hotel lobby. But, I counselled myself, it would all be worth it.
We ate a really unappealing breakfast of cup noodles and iced coffee (not the best combination, trust me) and then blearily made our way to the reception area to await our driver. He was basically on time but it speaks to my fatigue that at first, neither Nick nor I realised there was another couple already in the car (backseat) with us.
This couple turned out to be a very lovely duo from the Philippines who were celebrating their first anniversary. Hannah and Edmond. We also picked up two Asian friends along the way but they were far less talkative then Hannah and Edmond. Initially I thought this was because their English was basic, but I heard them speaking English later in the day so maybe they were just shy?
Regardless, when we arrived at Sanur Harbour (about an hour away) we chatted extensively with Hannah and Edmond while awaiting our boat which was to take us to Nusa Penida. This arrived sharp at 8am. We had to wade out to the boat (no jetty) and clamour aboard. My skirt got pretty splashed which was fine but it was slightly uncomfortable to sit in my damp skirt for the duration of this boat ride.
I fell asleep on this ride in, even though they were blasting pop/techno tunes over the radio in Indonesian. My soldier-sleep mode impresses me sometimes.
We arrived at Nusa Penida with no issues and found our tour group “Discover Nusa Penida” with little drama. Here we were split off and unfortunately said goodbye to our new Philippine friends and headed out with our tour leader Wayan and the two Asian girls.
Wayan and his associate, Alex fitted us all with flippers and eventually bundled us off in a small speed boat to take us to our first snorkelling destination. This was a popular spot to see Manta Rays but, like whale watching, there was no guarantee we would see anything at all. The water in this area was incredibly choppy and it made me REALLY scared that I would fall off the boat. The severe rock of the boat actually made me feel nauseous but I think this was compounded by my fear.
Dramatic I know, but as a water-phobic creature at heart, the idea of diving into this turbulent ocean filled me with dread. Luckily Wayan and the captain were both very soothing and helped me get into the water and once there, my wonderful husband didn’t let go of my hand once.
I am not going to lie. My initial reaction to being in the water was instant regret for letting Nick talk me into this. I felt like I was being buffeted around and I was feeling anxious that I would lose Nick, or the boat, or worse… both.
But then, I saw something that I will never, ever, forget. A Manta Ray was swimming around the bay and it was HUGE. Easily wider then Nick’s armspan and the length of my body at least. It came almost directly for us with its mouth open wide to catch plankton. Nick and I hastily got out of the way, remembering Wayan’s directive not to touch the Manta (or he would immediately cancel the trip). Honestly, it was never even in my mind to try to touch this guy, but seeing the immense size of him would certainly have dissuaded me instantly! There was an idiot tourist though who kept trying to touch the Manta which was really annoying. I think Wayan saw him and sorted him out as later when we were on the boat he mentioned that this guy’s guide hasn’t warned him not to touch the Manta. Seriously though, I thought it was just common sense.
Nick and Wayan both got some excellent pictures (TBA). However, very soon I started to get really cold and was shivering in the water so Nick helped me back to boat where I (incredibly ungracefully) climbed back in and tried to warm up.
Once everyone else made their way back to the boat, we hit our second streak of luck when we saw a dolphin pod on the way to the next location. They were so close to our boat and it was so amazing to watch them frolic in the water together. Lucky!
At our next location, we had a bit of of a swim around. It was much warmer then the previous stop and the corals were really lovely. Wayan and Alex gave me a clump of bread to feed to the fish and they all swarmed around me to be fed. It was quite cool! At this point, we dropped off the Asian girls to their resort spot which was on the Nusa Penida island, so the rest of the tour was a private one for Nick and I.
We moved on again to another location and on the way to this one, Nick told me that he was feeling seedy as he had swallowed a bit of seawater at our first stop. He also let me know that it wasn’t just me – that first area was really tough work. This did make me feel a little better!
This was to be our last stop before lunch and we hit upon our final piece of rare sightseeing. A sea turtle. There must be something in the waters here because it was also huge. Easily as large as my torso and so beautiful. Alex later told us that he had seen one bigger one (as large as he was!) but that this one was pretty big. Triply lucky with our sightseeing, I was rapt.
However, immediately after seeing the turtle, I had decided I had had enough of snorkelling and wanted to get back on the boat. Nick agreed and started to follow me. Once I climbed back on, I turned back to look for Nick and he was in the water, looking very pale and shaky. He had just emptied the minimal contents of his stomach into the sea. Poor Nick! After climbing back aboard, we made our way to a mangrove area where we had lunch.
Nick didn’t eat much of his BLT, just a slice of the toast that came with it, as he was feeling a bit miserable. I had a chicken sandwich as I was also feeling a bit queasy and didn’t think I would be able to stomach anything spicy or strange. Just this once, I was going to stick to the familiar and boring western diet. Luckily, it was pretty tasty and as I felt okay after getting back on dry land I finished my plate.
We had three more snorkelling stops after lunch though I was exhausted and sat them all out. Nick, who was amazingly game after being ill, said the one directly after lunch was probably the best unfortunately but I was seriously done for the day. This first post-lunch stop was in (relatively) shallow, crystal clear water and Nick said the corals were really nice. The next one was right against a cliff face and Nick said the drop was impressive. The very last stop, we pulled over near another boat and Wayan spoke to the men on board. They obligingly threw in some bait into the water and some MASSIVE fish came up to gobble it down.
Nick quite happily jumped into this situation and luckily, the fish didn’t mistake HIM for bait. Boys. They were throwing random chunks of chum into the water near Nick and Alex to excite the fish so I was glad I sat that one out! Some of them were leaping out of the water to get the bait and man, were they ugly.
After this, we returned to the island harbour where we waited about 30 minutes for our ferry back. The trip back was uneventful though the boat seemed to be going at light speed. At random intervals, seawater would splash in through the open windows so eventually I shut mine so I could get a little rest without seawater smashing my face.
We were greeted on the Sanur side by the Discover Nusa Penida team who escorted us to our car. The driver was a little dodgy in that we think he skipped taking the toll road so he could pocked the toll money and instead took us through this ultra congested area of Bali instead of the fastest (but more expensive) route back to our hotel. This potentially backfired on him though as he took a wrong turn and we had to let him know he was taking us in the wrong direction.
All in all, we were back to our hotel at 4:30pm and thus, already late for our next stop, the cocktail soiree. I had to have a shower and pretty up a bit before heading off (my hair was a veritable tangle of saltwater and craziness) so we were about 45mins late in total to the party.
No drama though as everyone was ultra relaxed and chilling. We just got to spend a little time meeting and greeting everyone who had just arrived and having a few drinks and some food with all the wedding guests. A little pre-wedding party essentially.
Nick and I ended up dipping out before most people though as he was still feeling a little ill. We skipped dinner entirely in favour of going straight to bed in the hopes that we would both be refreshed in the morning.
Next up: the big wedding day.