We awoke to the soothing sounds of industrial activity and a chorus of cock crows from the neighbouring foul intermingled with the gentle hammering from the adjacent property. Not in keeping with idyllic imaginings of Bali that we had in our minds, but there you go. The day was upon us and was not waiting for us to surface – there were things to do.
After the rough treatment of Jimbaran waves we decided to head to the east side of the island to Sumar beach. Gently enveloped by an off-shore reef, the sea was said to be much calmer here so it would be an opportunity to use the snorkelling kits we had brought with us.
Our car and driver duly arrived, and so commenced a day of promise marred only by the appearance of a guide along with the car, and a driver who did not speak any English. Anit had organised it all and instructed us that we were to pay the driver 15,000 rupiah for lunch and the same for dinner, and 50,000 rupiah for petrol, but that he was ours for 12 hours. The cost of this luxury was 300,000 rupiah for the day – or in real money just under £30.
First stop Tourist Information and HSBC ATM. A simple enough mission you would think, but Tourist Information offices are numerous and yet information is itself somewhat sparse. The staff are more interested in selling you packages, than providing useful information for the backpacker on a budget. There are ATMs everywhere, with large signs designating their location, almost all of them in pristine glass cubes resembling air locks, but none of them with the desired HSBC logo that we were seeking.
Eventually arriving at Sumar beach at 11am we disembarked from our people carrier and after arranging to meet at 4pm we set off along the beach to find a shady place from which to plunge into the ocean and flipper our way back and forth examining in minute detail the water and sea bed below us. As you walk along the shore you must run the gauntlet of boat men trying to entice you to take a trip out to the reef where there were “thousands” of fish to be seen, and yours for only $30 each. They are friendly, but very persistent. They have designated areas that they patrol, and the one near to where we fetched up for the day even followed us and waited while we had lunch so that he could talk to us again once we had finished.
Minor niggles aside, the beach, sea, and view were all that we had hoped for. Gentle waves lapped the shore and the mild current was easy enough for Mateo to swim against, and even 20 metres from shore, it was still possible to stand up. In fact, it was possible to walk 200 metres out to where the reef ended. I watched a couple do it, and it gave the illusion that they were in fact walking on the water.
Oskar took to snorkelling like a duck to water and spent most of the day bottom up face down patrolling the sea bed looking for interesting artifacts and shipwrecks, and any signs of life. We did spy a small crab which swiftly buried itself, and a flat fish which was the same colour as the sand. It only gave itself away when startled, at which point it would squirt a few feet across the sea bed and hide again. The only giveaway was the glide path in the sand, and the two googly eyes that swivelled around to search for danger. We teased it for a few minutes just to see it squirt away before leaving it in peace to discover other treasures of the deep.
Luca and Mateo struggled a bit with the mask and snorkel, but had no problems with the fins. “I’m rubbish at snorkelling” stated Luca, “but I think it’s because I didn’t have my float”. We had bought some inflatable orange sausages for the boys to lie across to support them whilst snorkelling, and to give them some confidence that they weren’t going to drown. One blew away in the wind and I had to recover it later on from a small Indonesian girl who was happily playing with it at the time – I felt so guilty as the mother rapidly instructed her offspring to hand it over to the man, but she didn’t seem too sad about having to give it up.
We ate lunch in a little place near the main entrance to the beach which had been recommended by Anit as being good and very cheap. The restaurant basically cooked whatever fish had been caught that day and served it 2 ways – in a soup (which was piquant to say the least) and the other simply grilled – with a bowl of rice all for 23,000 rupiah (under £2). It was basic but tasty local cuisine and I was fairly proud to have half finished the soup before my taste buds and throat decided that they could take no more! The Indonesian couple next to us actually broke out in a sweat whilst eating, so I didn’t feel too much of a soft westerner after that. It was a struggle to get the boys to eat anything but the rice, but they did manage the grilled fish in the end, despite the distraction of some fairly new born kittens mewling from the garden next door.
Lunch over we once again ran the gauntlet of boat men to return to our morning spot on the beach. I should mention that there were very few people on the beach, perhaps a dozen where we were. The guide book stated that the crowd called Sanur “Snore” as it was perhaps more popular with the ageing community rather than the young and hip. In any event, it suited us perfectly as we had a spot under a tree and only a short hot-footed walk across the burning sand to the water. Oskar returned to aquatic pursuits surfacing now and again to wave hello, and Luca splashed about after him with flippers and float. Mateo dipped in and out occasionally, and Tania and I alternated our time in the water with guarding our belongings. I am not for one moment suggesting that Bali people are dishonest or criminal in any way, just that one should always be careful wherever one is in the world.
And so 4pm came and went and with a quick call to the driver we arranged for a 5pm pickup instead. Whisked home again for a quick wash and change, and a brief consultation with the guide we headed out to Seminyak to find Warung Sulawesi (impossible to find) so default to second choice Ibu Mangku for their famous chicken Satay. Unfortunately this gets sold out very quickly (normally lunch time when the place is heaving) so we had to settle for the chicken dish on offer which was tasty (but a bit spicy chorused the children) and a lengthy friendly chat with the owner who spoke surprisingly good English.
Back to the bungalow and we paid the driver the remaining 300,000 Rp and a tip of 20,000 for being so nice, and arranged with him to be picked up at 9am the following day so that we could take a trip to Ubud to see the Palace and Monkey sanctuary.
A great day enjoyed by all of the family, we went to bed happy.