Lovina Beach is more of a backpacker haunt than Pemuteran and the former can be reached from the latter by bemo, local mini van plying a set route, which you flag down on the side of the road. We were told at our guest house that we were looking at Rp50,000 each to get there which is clearly bule, white person, price. Whatever. That’s the price we ended up paying after a bit of a haggle. So anyway, we didn’t do much on arrival. We allowed ourselves to be lead to a hotel which I never like to do on account of disliking being lead anywhere ever but it seemed fine so we checked in because it was right by the beach, had wi-fi and a pool. We’ve not had a pool yet. Admitted, it wasn’t the cleanest looking pool but a vat of raw sewage would have seemed inviting right now as long as it was marginally cooler than lava. After we’d sorted our shit out we just headed to the seafront, fended off vendors hell bent on selling us coconuts, sarongs and Bintang singlets, and chilled in one of the overpriced restaurants (literally couldn’t find a proper cheap little warung) before perching on the jetty to watch the fiery sky ball sink.
Damnit, it’s gorgeous. A bloke struck up seemingly innocent conversation with us buuuuut like a lot of people in Bali, he only wanted to sell us stuff. Pendants made from shells in this case. They were shiny. So pretty and shiny. We ended up with one each because we’re both hopelessly attracted to shiny things. We’re like magpies. Big, pink, featherless, mutant magpies with opposable thumbs and the power of speech and bank accounts so we can afford to buy shiny things as opposed to nicking the foil top off milk bottles in the 90’s.
So yeah, this was a cracking sunset. There was a big tourist boat with more rigging than a general election which made for some stunning photos. Less good for spotting bio-luminescent plankton when it’s lit up like Blackpool bloody illuminations at night. We did head down to try and find some at 10pm but a bloke we met on the beach called Putu said with the boat there we wouldn’t have any luck but he’d be on the beach the following night making a fire to get warm by once we’d been for a swim. Not that I could imagine being any manner of cold ever again, but a fire sounded good.
On account of the fact we hadn’t walked up a hideous amount of steps interspersed with a few soul destroying inclines for a few days we decided to check out Sekumpul waterfall the next day, a mere 60 minute scooter ride from Lovina. Scooter ride. Fuck. When Tarrant came to visit me in Goa we rented a scooter but Tarrant doesn’t have a licence and with us being law abiding citzens she rode pillion. It was fucking awful. I couldn’t get used to the automatic controls on the bastard thing, I couldn’t find my balance with a passenger thus resulting in all manner of leg flailing as we wove all over the road, and at one point I nearly rode us into a shop. I’m not even shitting you. I think I gave the shop keeper a heart attack. I certainly gave myself a mild form of PTSD.
But it was the only way we’d get to see any of the island without forking out for a taxi or a tour so I’d invested in some Rescue Remedy because it’s meant to chill you out. I mean, it probably wouldn’t remove an anxiety knot in your chest the size of Gibraltar like a Valium would, but it’s meant to help you if you’ve had a shock, or got an exam or a driving test coming up. That sort of thing. So I leaked four drops onto my tongue and I don’t know what I thought it’d taste like but I certainly didn’t think it’d taste like cheap alcohol, we obtained a death trap from Kecak homestay around the corner from us, I took a few deep breaths and off we went.
So either I’m much less of a pussy than I used to be or Rescue Remedy is some manner of magical elixir and if it’s the latter I wonder how viable it’d be to have all of my blood replaced with it. It was such a fun ride. It wasn’t just a means to get somewhere, it was actually really enjoyable. Tarrant clung on and shouted out directions so we wouldn’t end up stranded somewhere in the Bali countryside but if I’m honest I’m not sure how much of a bad thing that’d be. Bali is utterly beautiful, I don’t think getting lost here would be too upsetting. This waterfall though, or waterfalls, plural. We parked up, politely declined a guide or any information (full disclosure: I pretended I couldn’t speak English to avoid the pressure tactics I’d read about), and headed down the steps.
Eventually you come to a ticket booth where you part with the princely sum of Rp5000 each and continue down. Seriously. Just keep on going. It’s an endless kind of down. You pass warungs which have civets in cages, the little animals which eat coffee cherries and shit out the beans which are collected and used to make kopi luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world. People have taken to keeping them in cages and force feeding them the cherries. It’s not a good practice for some glaringly obvious reasons and for these reasons we’d not tried the coffee yet as you can’t guarantee the source. I didn’t take any photos of them, the poor little buggers were in cages that were far too small for them and they looked terrified.
As you descend your legs will start getting nervous. Your entire respiratory system will start bracing itself for the inevitable climb back up. You start wondering if it’s going to be worth all the steps back up. Then you get your first glimpse of the falls and oh yep. It’s gonna be worth the pain. You get to a bridge at the bottom and Sekumpul is off to the left. We opted to go right first to see Fiji Waterfall, the triple falls. It’ll cost another Rp5000 but they’re stunning. But there was a Polish guy over the calf-deep river you have to cross looking very much the worse for wear. He’d slipped or tripped and fallen, hitting his head on the rocks. Fortunately Tarrant is a trained first aider, she got him over the river and lay him down until he turned a colour more fitting of a living human being.
I’m about as much use as a chocolate teapot in these situations so I left them to it and crossed over to get completely soaked in the spray of the falls. Once Tarrant had gotten Poland stabilised we walked him up to the second ticket office and left him with a bloke with a walkie talkie and carried on to Sekumpul itself. Again you have to paddle over a small stream and guys, there’s no staying dry here. The waterfall is so powerful it hits the plunge pool and the spray soaks everything. We stashed our stuff behind a rock, stripped to shorts and singlet and clambered over rocks to stand in front of it for the most epic power shower ever. It’s the kind of thing that makes you go “WOOOOO” whilst sober and not brandishing a bottle of Lambrini on one hand and waving your bra over your head with the other.
There are some twin falls to check out too but we weren’t sure where they were and didn’t want to end up walking up more steps than absolutely necessary because fuck steps, so we headed back to the car park via a warung that wasn’t holding civets hostage for a cup of tea and scooted back to Lovina. Sunsets never get dull here. We wrapped our eyeballs around another one on the jetty whilst managing not to purchase anything we didn’t know we desperately needed until we saw it, chilled for a bit and headed back down to the beach with two people staying at the hotel; an American woman called Candi and an Irishman called John.
We met Putu again and, true to his word, he had a bonfire going with two boys he called his brothers, except they weren’t actually his blood brothers. He said that they went to the same temple so they were basically family and he wanted them to learn English to better themselves. He sold us a couple of beers and offered us some corn grilled on the fire and then, at around 10pm, we headed into the sea. Still warm. Fuck yes, Bali. To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what we were looking for. We swam out to about chest height and splashed around, straining to catch some manner of glimpse, and then you see them.
Tiny pinpricks of green light flashing around in the water. You don’t even have to splash, you can just gently wave your hands in front of you and the bio-luminescent plankton light up like teeny tiny little fireflies. It’s incredible. You don’t ever get bored of it and you can’t photograph it, but some things just have to be for you, y’know? Just for the eyes and not for the lens. And it’s got to be dark to see them, no big tourist boats or moon to spoil your plankton party.
We hung out for ages in the water just chatting with our new mates before heading back to the beach and guys, the air was actually a bit chilly at this point. We waited for the boys to build the fire back up so I didn’t accidentally take out half of Lovina with my nipples, drank another beer and shuffled back to Hotel Pulestis for an early night.
Lovina, Bali, Indonesia
Stayed at: Hotel Pulestis