This morning I set an alarm (!!) for 7am and peeked out the window of our second-floor guestroom to see if the sun was a-shining. It was. With mixed feelings, I woke Marc. A sunny day means we will get to go have some fun outdoors, but it also means waking up, leaving our cozy bed and going outside… so… half full?
The north east corner of the island is a giant mangrove forest, with canals (naturals and tourist-made) throughout, unmarked, creating a super-fun (and a little bit inconvenient) mangrove maze. We had been spoiled for sunshine the first week on Lembongan and, when we weren’t diving, we could be found alternately sitting down by the pool at our guesthouse (Linda Beach “Resort” – quotation marks are mine) chatting with our new friends or laying in our room watching old episodes of Elementary. Because of the outrageously beautiful beach literally at our doorstep and the cheap thai food around the corner (Warung Ketut what what) we didn’t need to venture far.
Turns out I love beach life… I’m even making tentative friendly overtures to the ocean. I have a more-than-healthy respect for it’s ability to kill me in a myriad of terrible and imaginative ways (lion-fish sting, shark bite, being dashed against coral by waves, freak tsunami, down-current, giant squid pulling me to the depths, new strain of fish-rabies leading to a swarm of otherwise timid damselfish stripping me of my flesh in seconds… I could go on!) and usually don’t trust my swimming abilities in any but the most placid of ponds, but I am getting better! Marc and I even swam here on Scooby Doo beach at high tide, when the current past the island pushed waves perpendicular to shore and we had to hold on to the mooring lines of the scuba boats to remain in front of our hotel.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the shallow, calm waters of the mangrove forest – and the beach that is sheltered by it – weren’t a part of the draw.
So on Day 175 we slathered on the sunblock and hopped on our scooter (this one is named “Rizky” – we didn’t name it, it just came with a big bumper sticker that says that, and a layer of Balinese offerings tucked in every crevice – it must be special to someone) to bump along up the coastal road to the mangrove forest. We paid a small 5,000 rupiah (50c) “donation” to get past a man hunkered down at the side of the road and another 100,000 rupiah ($10) for a little kayak for two.
The water was crystal clear and the sun shining as we pushed off the little beach and navigated the boat out into the open water and north along the coast before turning inwards on a randomly-chosen break in the trees. We spent the next hour paddling through the silent canals, seeing only a couple of other paddlers.
At one point we came across two Chinese tourists on SUP boards, sitting with legs out in front of them, relaxing on their boards as two Indonesian men (ankles tied to the tethers of the tourist’s boards) navigated their little conga line through the canals without comment. Oh, tourists.
It did cross our minds that we may never find a way out of the forest again – or at least not before nightfall – but eventually the blue sky got bigger and the trees thinned and we were on the edge of the ocean proper again. We moored our boat between the roots of a big old mangrove and laid back in the kayak, looking at the sky and listening to the lap of the water and the distant hum of boat motors.
Eventually (like all delicate Canadian flowers) we wilted in the sun and paddled back to cover, arriving back at our hotel barely before breakfast finished being served.