It was just after sunrise when we found Lovina Beach on Bali's northern shore. From the water it appears to be nothing more than an open roadstead but there is a protecting reef on it's eastern edge. Already eight boats were anchored there so we didn't have any trouble finding a spot to drop the hook and it was refreshing to feel it sink into the dark sand bottom. Although it's not the calmest anchorage we've stayed in, the motion isn't too bad and the prevailing winds are generally offshore.
However, once we got away from the beach front, we could feel the magic of Bali. This was a different Indonesia that we had seen. Being predominantly Hindu, every home and every store has a shrine or small temple. Every village has at least three temples and people place 'offerings' - small freshly-woven baskets that contain flowers, candy and incense - on the ground in front of their businesses, homes or on any one of the millions of statues that are found everywhere. The traffic is a little insane but there's still a certain serenity - maybe it's the way people put their hands together in front of their chests and bow slightly - I'm not sure what it is exactly but we're completely taken with it. The bright green rice fields are almost everywhere there's a scrap of flat land and the thick tropical forest grows right to the field's edge. Sadly, there's still wide-spread poverty with many families unable to come up with the US$250 for annual school tuition.
Would we be so in love with Bali if things were expensive? I like to think so but they're not and it makes the island even easier to love. The current exchange rate is 11,450 rupiah to US$1.00. A large 650ml Bintang beer in an upscale restaurant is about 35,000 rupiah or about US$3.00. A huge plate of mei goreng (fried noodles with fresh vegetables - one of my favorites) is about the same price. So, for about US$6.00, you can get a huge lunch with a very tall cold beer and that's if you want a full sit-down restaurant. If you're willing to settle for a street vendor, it's a fraction of the cost. There's a fairly large expat community here and we've spoken with some Americans who live here now. They tell us you can rent a very nice house here for about US$1,200 per year!
An enormous stage, complete with a sophisticated lighting and sound system was erected for the Sail Indonesia welcome. Banners lined the beach and within a couple of days of our arrival, more than 50 cruising boats filled the bay. There were speeches and parades, dancing and dinner. The festivities often go on late into the night. While we love a good party as much as anyone, the lure of Bali's inland was pulling on us strongly so we quickly made arrangements to leave the coast and explore other parts of this unique island.
At 9/25/2013 7:46 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 08°09.47'S 115°01.36'E
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