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Island Life
April 10, 2014

Island Life

After a few days of lounging around the beach (and getting massages) I decided that it was time to actually get out and see the island of Lembongan. While I was figuring out my plan of action, breakfast was delivered to my room by the night security guard named Katut. As I said it’s a family-run business so they all wear many hats…..sound familiar?

He asked me what my plans were for the day and I said that I was looking to see the island but not anything too “touristy”. Katut told me that he was actually just getting off and was free that day and immediately offered to show me around. I was a little skeptical and told him that I would pay him and that this WAS NOT A DATE! He said that it was not a problem and that if I wanted to pay him I could but I didn’t have to, he was happy to do it. I group texted my friends Carrie, Mike and Elizabeth and told them that I was going off with a local for the day on a moped around the island and if they didn’t hear from me in 24 hours to contact the embassy. Sorry mom I couldn’t tell you because I know you would freak!

Two hours later I was on the back of a moped with the wind in my hair holding on for dear life! We first went on a boat ride to a mangrove and then to an underground house where a hindu man lived for 10 years to meditate. I couldn’t even be down there for 10 minutes for fear of a heat stroke, not sure how someone did it for 10 years.

From there we drove over a rickety one lane bridge (with missing pieces) to an island right next store called Ceningan. He took me to Blue Lagoon where there was a cliff that you could jump off into the ocean…..for $5 bucks. $5 bucks I thought, “what the heck, shouldn’t, this be free” but of course I never turn down an adventure! It was a 13 meter jump and after 3 months of being in countries that use the metric system I was finally able to quickly calculate in my head that it was about a 40 foot jump. As I was getting ready to jump the people working there came over and told me to sign a waiver. Ok now I was getting nervous, was this dangerous? “No, no dangerous Miss”, they said “but you must sign”…..um ok? The $5 bucks got me 2 jumps and when I got to the ledge I was thinking that I’d be lucky if I went ahead with just one of them, it looked like a long way down. Based on past experience with bungy jumping, I knew that the longer I stayed there the harder it got so I threw myself over without further contemplation. My body slammed into the water and I think I might’ve lost my bathing suit top and acquired a few bruises but it was exhilarating. The waves were huge and it took me a while to actually grab onto the ladder to hoist myself back up. I climbed to the top and in the end I decided to go a second time, you know me with money, I always like to get my bang for my buck!

By that time I was quite tired and thought that he would maybe take me back but he had other things in store. He said that we were going to another island where I could see something that most tourists don’t get to experience. His english wasn’t the best so I really didn’t understand where exactly we were going. Something about a cave?

We got on a boat with 3 other locals and the cutest little boy and rode to my third island of the day, Nusa Penida. There was not a single tourist on this island. Nusa Penida gave the impression of what Bali was probably like before the world’s curiosity descended upon it, it is the true Bali. Here people can be found still living in century old huts, working as fisherman and seeweed farmers trying to make a living.

When we arrived he rented a moped for us and away we went. About 5 minutes into the drive he stopped and said, ok now you are going to drive. I told him that I drove in Ubud but I was still really new to this. He said that it was easy to drive on this island and not to worry. I got on and he hopped on behind me and we drove and drove and drove for almost 30 minutes! When 2 people are on a moped the back person has the option to hold the waist of the person in front of them or on to the handle behind the seat (your hands are basically behind your back as you hold on). When we were riding in the morning I started off by holding on to the back handles but he insisted that it was hard for him to keep his balance that way and that I had to hold on to his waist. I wasn’t sure if that was the complete truth or that he just wanted to pretend that he had an american girlfriend for the day but since he was doing me a favor I figured I could let him dream even for a day. When I began to drive he held on to my waist and at times (maybe it was in my head) I felt like his hands were getting a little too close for comfort so I would “accidently” slam on the breaks as if to signal, “hey buddy watch where your hands are going”. He definitely got the hint!

Katut was very nice in the end. He is 26 and from another island but moved to Lembongan 2 years ago to take care of his “auntie” after her husband passed away. He works as a night security guard at Sunset Coin and then works on a tourist boat during the day that takes people to and from islands. Apparently he had a small stroke about a year ago (or thats what the doctors said) that caused him great pain in his back and legs. He started meditating with the help of his spiritual guru and he is completely healed now.

About 5 minutes before we arrived at our final destination he stopped in front of a temple and told me that he had to go and get sarongs for us to wear. “Where in the heck was this guy taking me?” I finally figured out that he was taking me into a limestone cave on top of a hill that is a very holy temple for hindus called Giri Putri and our legs needed to be covered. “Giri” stand for hill or mountian and “Putri” means beautiful lady.

When we arrived he gave me my sarong and asked if I knew how to tie it? “Not a clue”, I responded. So he proceeded to wrap the sarong over my outfit. He was doing all sorts of folding and tucking and I have to admit, I was impressed that a 26 year old kid knew how to wrap a sarong. He too had to wear a sarong and once he was finished we began the climb up 110, 2-feet tall concrete steps. In case you are wondering it is very difficult to walk up extremely high steps in a tight sarong that goes down to your ankles. I was praying to god with each step up that I wouldn’t bite it. By the time we got to the top I was drenched!!! It was a long climb up and the sarong was a heavy canvas material and I could feel the sweat dripping down my legs. At the top there were many priests that were praying and singing overlooking the ocean as incensed blew through the air. Talk about a peaceful place to pray! Katut showed me a manhole and said that we were going in. I had no idea how I was going to fit in there let alone climb into it with a tight sarong but figured people must do it all the time. We went through the tiny hole and once we got in, it was this wide open space with many small temples. It was like a church in here! It was so quiet, all you could hear was water dripping from the walls from time to time and the fluttering of bats….yes bats! Local people used this cave to hide from the Japanese upon their arrival in WWII. We visited the different areas of the cave and then he gave me a ceremony bracelet that is given out in the temples. Katut says that up to 5,000 hindus can fit in here during big religious ceremonies and that he even comes here with his “auntie” to meditate for 3 hours at a time because it’s good for your health! He explained some other things about the hindu religion and how it’s a little different from the hindu religion in India. He said that in India Hindu is a religion but in Bali it’s a culture. I couldn’t understand what he meant by that so I did some research. The Balinese religion is a Siva-Buddha tradition intertwined with the beliefs, rituals, and deities of both Hinduism and Buddhism. Now it makes sense since Buddhism is more of a way of life than anything.

Anyways, that day was definitely off the beaten track and one for the books.

My guide, breakfast server and night security guard Katut!

PS. Katut wouldn’t let me pay him in the end, he said to save it for the rest of my trip!

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