Kuningan Day in Nusa Lembongan
It’s almost midnight and I am writing this from our room in the brand new, barely-opened beachfront hotel called Pemedal Beach Villas & Bungalows. We’ve been here for the last 5 nights. The sunsets we’ve seen while swimming in the ocean-front pool of this property has been some of the best I’ve seen in my life. A search on the internet says the hotel does not officially open until mid-June, so we feel extra lucky to be here, not to mention we’re getting a great deal. Right now I’m half tempted to walk out of our room (#104) to take photos of stars since it seems there are always plenty out, but I also know I want to write about our day…which brings up the question; why do I feel like I am chasing time when time is what we are supposed to have plenty of during this journey? Definitely something to work on 😉
Today, Lembongan (and all of Bali) observed Kuningan day. It is exactly 10 days after the Galungan day celebration which we witnessed in Ubud, and was the primary reason we applied for a visa extension. We are gluttons for wanting to be around for the Balinese festivities. They go all out, costumes, food and all.
We began our day with breakfast at the hotel next door; banana pancakes! Plus they had a coffee bar. (dun dun dun) We’ve both been deprived of caffeine for several days, so we overdid it by having several cups. We regretted it later because we both felt uncomfortable being so twitchy and wired in such a chill and paradise-like environment. We spent the early part of the morning trying to finish some design comps, then we got on the motorbike and rode towards Dream Beach. Abraham got me to drive the scooter on the wide field between Dream beach and Devil’s teardrop and despite my fears, I was pretty thrilled about actually making the thing move, but even more thrilled that I didn’t crash. We hiked around and watched the waves abuse the rocks, the scene was as amazing and humbling as it was on the first day that we saw it.
We walked around the cliff and looked down at Dream beach. The ocean was swollen this afternoon, so no surfable waves, but and I felt super happy when I spotted the surfer kid I was hoping to see. I knew it was him when I saw the broken board and he was wearing the same red shorts as in the photos I took of him the first time we came to this beach. He was so little and his board was wrecked, but he caught the most waves that day and he was definitely smiling and laughing the most. I think I will always think of Dream beach as his beach.
For lunch we stopped at a warung for some Sate Ayam. The food was good but we grunted when they charged us the tourist price of 30,000 IND, which is about 20,000 more than what they charged the guy behind us. It was still inexpensive, but it just sucks when you know you’re getting the hoodwinked. On the drive back to our bungalow, we stopped at the cemetery and looked at the umbrellas that shaded the gravestones. To me, the colorful display of umbrellas everywhere somehow turned what would be considered an eerie place into a whimsical and even a happy site. The Balinese have a very interesting way of looking at death, and this is clear through their ceremonies and rituals.
After taking some photos, we drove back to Pemedal and found Wayan, one of the staff women that I had befriended waiting for us in front of our bungalow. She told me to get in “the shower” so she could dress and prepare us for Kuningan. Wayan and the other Wayan not only lent us sarongs and sashes, but actually helped us put them on correctly. They gave Abraham the special hat that the men wear on special occasions and I thought he looked pretty fancy with it on. They both had to work and could not attend, so they sent us off towards the temple, and because we were properly dressed, we were allowed to enter and be part of the celebration.
I still can’t properly describe all the wonderful feelings I felt while we were there. Watching the Balinese Hindus pray, smile and laugh together was so beautiful to watch, and again, we felt welcomed. Even with our borrowed ‘outfits’, we knew we didn’t look quite right, yet not a single person made us feel like we did not belong. I hope someday to learn more about their culture and what makes them so unique, because for now, I am convinced that the Balinese are the nicest, most gentle group of people I have ever met.
We leave for Ubud in the morning, and to salute our last meal on this island, we heded to Gili’s Warung for dinner. Hands down, Gili’s Warung is our favorite place in Lembongan and we were glad to get there early because the place was full and people were already lining up. Despite being just a street-side eatery (read: no walls), the couple who runs the place makes the best fried chicken and nasi goreng we have ever had. We both got choked up when the woman gave us free peanuts after we paid the bill. She didn’t even know it was our last night in town, which makes the gesture even cooler. We usually have to pay for peanuts.
Sucks to have to leave such nice people.