Katja and Arne's travel stories

It’s a shame about Ray

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Snorkeling vs diving. What is best for viewing Manta ray’s?

Honestly I have no idea. Since I’ve only snorkeled to see one. Or two. Or three. Or four. Yeah, you see where this is going.
But I guess my dive intensive friends will say diving is best, and I do think I must agree. The complete freedom with the buoyancy and to be deeper in the water and thereby to see them from more angles got to tip the scale in favor of diving. But today’s snorkeling trip gave great views of mantas from all angels and up close and personal.

We left with the captain and his mate together with an Australian family of five. A nice sized group for the trip. We went straight to Manta Bay and jumped in under the guidance of the captain who joined us in the water. There are clear rules for engaging the Mantas and we got a good speech from the captain before going in the water. Don’t touch! Is probably the most important where we were. We managed to avoid touching, but I think we put more emphasis on that than the mantas.
Being in the water is not confusing but unfamiliar. This makes for a lot of head twisting to get an overview. As there is no sound from the object you want to see you are dependent on your eyes only. At one point did Katja tug me in the side. We were snorkeling side by side and looking in opposite directions. When I turned to look at her, her big eyes told me where to look. Straight toward us came a manta ray about 50 cm under us. It floated lazily towards us and looked to be heading straight into us. The Manta rays are not dangerous so there is nothing to worry about other than scaring it by touching it. So we lay perfectly still with no pedaling of the fins and just looked into the mouth of it as it floated underneath us. It was just mesmerizing. If I hadn’t bitten in the snorkel I think my smile would make me drown.

After two rounds in the water with mantas in close view both time, we moved in to other sites. Naturally they’re not that spectacular, but the the second to last site gave us view of some big fish. A man in another boat fed something to them and the feeding frenzy was really cool. The speed which some of these fish moves are just amazing. It was a lot of current today, so on the last site we just entered the water and drifted along. The boat followed us and we could get up from the water at any time. Katja got real cold and used hours to get the w armth back in her bones. Not before two cups of coffee and lunch did she loose the blue lips.
We were very pleased with the snorkeling trip, and are grateful for the tip about using D&B as an operator. The captain was calm and informative, and the boat good and solid.
After lunch we went back to the mangroves and did a boat tour. Mangroves are trees that have evolved so they can live in salt water. It was quiet and calm in the mangroves until the Americans arrived. The mangroves are basically the end of the road when you go in the northeastern direction.

We had read that there is salt production i Lembongan, and had seen pictures of the third generation salt production site. We took a back road back from the mangroves in search of this salt production and Voila! there it was.
The salt maker did not speak English at all. A lot of the people around here will say that they don’t speak any English, but will make themselves understood. This guy had no words in English but talked a whole lot. We asked to see the production area and got the grand tour. He showed with a lot of movement and theatricals as he tried to show us the process. We got the most of it, but when we went in the back and looked at his projects with sand in boats we fell a bit short. But it was a really good and heartwarming experience to meet and greet this gentleman. We probably paid ten times the supermarket price, but getting the salt from the room where it is made makes up for it.

There where also a lot of holes in the ground at this place. It turns out there are crabs living under there. I have no idea how the water runs under the ground, but it may have something to do with the Mangrove trees. He wanted to show us the crabs he has taken up and went across the road to get a bucket with crabs. “To eat?”, I asked and gestured like eating. Indeed they are and he makes them with coconut, no less. This may be the story behind he word “land crab”.

IMG_1097 IMG_1102
We took a ride back to the hotel and dipped in the pool for an hour and a half. Then we drove back to Lembongan and had dinner at the Thai place we ate pancake the other day. The did was delicious, but we had to rush for Lillian was to give another lecture today:”The secret life of the Manta”. We came in as it was about to begin. We found Lars and Mari there (as we knew we would after running into them on the way to the Thai
Place) and enjoyed another great presentation from Lillian. We learned a lot about the Mantas and the need for preservation. Did you know it has the largest brain to body weight ratio of the fish known to man? Or that the “new” traditional Chinese medicine prescribe the gill filters to cleanse the blood? It is proven that it doesn’t work, but a quarter of the worlds population think it might. That makes for a big market unfortunately.
We bought the t-shirts to support the local actions.

We had a nice talk with Lars and Mari afterwards. They’re heading back to Singapore in two days. If we’re there before their time there is up we will definitely make contact. It’s so nice to meet people living different places and connect like this. We just love it.
On the way back in the darkness we passed a temple with an insanely loud music. There were almost a traffic chaos because of all the motorbikes there. We stopped and asked what was going on. “Live entertainment”, was the closest we got to an answer. We asked if we could enter the temple and that was OK. We parked the bike and went into the crowd. And what a crowd! Old lady’s were sitting in chairs seeing nothing other than the back in front of them. Small kids on their parents shoulders, young ones lifting each other up to see. A man was trying to explain it to us, but I think we got a bit lost in translation. There were pictures of babies around, and we think the ceremony had something to do with good luck to all babies. There was an orchestra there and it started playing the local traditional music. And then came the dancers. 24 or 25 of them entered the stage and sang and danced. The whole thing was filmed by what looked like semi professional equipment, and there were two mic’s hanging down from the ceiling. This was amplified and played with a volume that would make Metallica proud. The dancers looked to our untrained eyes to be really good. Better than the ones we’ve seen so far.

The male dancers

The male dancers

The "band"

The “band”

With ears ringing of the song and dance act we moved along towards the bike. That was when we noticed this crowd in a circle. Maybe it was a cock fight? But no, as every poor man needs his cigaret and booze he also needs his gamble. This was a game I have never seen before, but can be most easily linked to roulette. I stood at the back of the crowd and took the picture. So forgive the poor quality. The board was spread on the ground and there were colors and shapes that you could bet on. On the side of this “blanket board” was a plate with the same markings and colors on it where they released a ball the size of a tennis ball. This rolled around and ended on a “dent” I guess on a given shape and color. Thereby producing the winners and losers.

Gambling local style

Gambling local style

In a lot of places gambling is done in dark back alleys, but here it was right next to the temple and with good spirit. We were more than welcome to watch and probably to gamble as well, but I have other ways to use my money.

We are now back at the beach box fighting with the Internet connection. It is worse out here on the smaller island than on Bali. And I who thought that it was hard to get any worse. As we try to upload both text and pictures it’s good I don’t have any hair to pull out.

And we’ll call it an early night. Tomorrow will bring a real early jog to the top of the island.

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

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