We were picked up from the Tandjung Sari at 8.30am and transported to the reasonably new, and very busy jetty to catch our fast boat from Sanur to Lembongan Island. Prior to the jetty’s completion, boarding the boats for the Islands required accessing the vessels by wading through the waves. All manner of boat tours leave from the jetty now, so it was a crowded place. Hawkers, walked around offering their wares to the myriads of tourists awaiting their boats. The days of ‘hard sell’ by the hawkers that we remembered from 25 years ago, now seems to be a thing of the past in Bali thankfully, so each approach to prospective customers was polite and un-demanding.
An old lady wandered from bin to bin collecting empty plastic bottles, I guess there must be a rebate available for returned plastics. A gentle, friendly dog, riddled with fleas tried to find a cool place on which to lie the patches of skin that he’d scratched bare. We watched the fleas running across the bare skin patches and saw his agonised face as he tried unsuccessfully to scratch away the source of his discomfit. As I remember that little dog scene and write about him, I feel my eyes well up with tears. I so desperately wanted to help the poor creature – I felt so helpless. This is Bali!
We boarded the fast boat with our carry on luggage feeling pleased with ourselves for ‘being sensible’ enough to have luggage that didn’t need checking in. As it turned out, we weren’t that sensible after all, and it was by sheer good luck rather than good management that our belongings didn’t end up getting soaked at the Lembongan end. As the boat pulled in to the beach we realised there was no jetty to alight from the boat, rather we had to climb over the end of the boat and wade into shore – not easy with a 7 kgs of hand luggage. Paul went first with his pack, and said a couple of times he nearly lost his feet and it was only by the boat staff quickly putting out a supporting hand that kept him upright and his pack dry. He deposited the pack on the shore and returned for my pack. I had rolled up my shorts and waded, luggage free, into shore. I had only just managed to keep on my feet, but the sea water had wet me almost to waist height. Needless to say, our luggage will be checked in for our return boat trip, and I’ll be wearing bathers and board shorts for the trip.
We were met by a driver and taken to our accommodation at Palm Grove Huts on Mushroom Bay. We had arrived a bit early so left our packs at reception and went to the on site restaurant for coffee. It was just after 11, so breakfast had finished, and lunch not yet started. Clearly this establishment was a giant step down from our Sanur accommodation with its all day dining, but at approximately 1/4 of the price I’m reminded that you get what you pay for. As there was no all day dining, we managed to get ourselves only a cup of coffee, there were no snacks to accompany it. We drank our coffee, went for a short orientation walk around the immediate neighbourhood, made an appointment for a massage, and went back to check out our accommodation.
Our hut is pleasantly located close to the clear, blue swimming pool. Whilst lacking in the little touches like soft tissues and anything over and above the absolute basic additions one has come to expect now in paid accommodation, it is certainly adequate. Body and hand wash, shampoo, loo paper, and two small bottles of water are supplied in the outdoor ensuite. Some of the boards are loose and in need of repair, so I remind myself to turn on the light at night so as to be able to watch my footing.
The hut has a beachy, white washed decor and is tucked away into a secluded little corner overlooking the pool. The structure isn’t lined, so there are gaps between the boards – a few ants run around over the dressing table, and I think to myself, ‘I hope nothing really nasty finds its way inside from between those gaps.’ The covered verandah is comfortably furnished with an outdoor lounge suite and coffee table.
Inside, the air conditioned room is furnished with a mosquito net covered king sized bed made up with with clean white linen. We also have a day bed in the room, an open wardrobe, dressing table, a TV, and a few other bits, certainly enough to ensure we’ll be comfortable for the next few days and nights.
We spent our afternoon relaxing around the pool with our books. I’m pleased to say the pool looks to be very clean and well maintained, and the water features at either end are working (unlike many of the other gorgeous water features around the property). The Sun loungers proved to be very comfortable, but show signs of dirt and neglect. The wooden boardwalks surrounding the pool and leading the way around the property, in places are in need of some attention. In fact as we wander around the whole place is lacking attention to detail, but I remind myself this is an island slowly recovering from the pandemic and the absence of tourists that it so desperately relies upon. The staff around the premises aren’t yet plentiful, so perhaps it is going to take a full, good, tourist season to see funds return sufficiently to enable the attention to detail the premises are currently lacking – the repair of loose floor boards, the return to working order of the many beautiful water features around the property, the sparse tropical gardens to be made lush and glorious, a restaurant that offers all day dining, and last but not least, the cleaning of those sun loungers around the pool.
We showered and headed out to our booked massage – it was a fantastic massage. Then back to our home for the next four nights, another shower to remove the massage oil, and out in search of a spot to eat dinner. Pork ribs and cool Crystal Bintangs (Bali’s beer) in a casual bar overlooking the waters of Mushroom Bay hit the spot perfectly.
A pleasant nights sleep, then off to take advantage of the included breakfast in the premise’s tarriff. Yes definitely at around 1/4 the price of our last accommodation, we are clearly getting ‘what we have paid for’. It was okay – just. So that’s our arrival into Lembongan. We’ll look around the Island over the next few days and I’ll look forward to showing you around later……