Day 221: All About The Benjamin

It was finally here, my birthday! And with it came the arrival of my Nintendo 3DS XL, although, I didn’t play on it as much as expected. Today was the first time I’d ever celebrated the feat of gaining another year older, abroad. And it was the first time alcohol wasn’t involved. The perks of getting older and more mature eh! To celebrate the wonderful life of Ben Norris, we did nothing, just the way I liked it. Instead we spent the day beside the pool, visiting our very own private beach, then going out for a lovely evening meal. It really was a great day, and now you lucky people get to read all about it.

Unfortunately, even though today was my birthday, I didn’t get the luxury of a lie in. Nor did in get the immediate attention of my girlfriend. The second she woke up she asked for my phone instead of wishing me a happy birthday. I didn’t mind, as I’d actually forgotten what day it was myself. It took her 10 seconds to realise her mistake, then I got a big cuddle and a kiss. Today saw us leaving Ubud to move on to greener pastures. We were scheduled to catch the first fast boat of the day to Lembongan, a stunning island where we’d all relax and chill out for the duration of our stay. First things first we needed breakfast, so at 6:30am we got up and went about getting ready. Sarah and I packed our final things away, then went to knock for her parents. SHOCKER, we were ready before Ann and Simon, but not by much. We all then went for breakfast. After that we moved our bags to the reception area and waited on our driver. To pass the time we made small talk with the hotel manager.

The driver was running half an hour behind schedule. It was around 8:15am before he showed up, the boat left at 9:30, and the port was a good one hour drive away. Ann, more so than the rest, was paranoid we weren’t going to make it in time. Even more so when Simon asked the driver to stop so he could make a withdraw. The driver spoke extremely good English, and he was asking about what sort of cars we drove back home, he then explained how his son is studying to become an accountant, he was a very friendly and chatty man. I enjoyed listening to him talk because of the way he rolled his R’s. Every so often he’d say the name of a place like Sempur, but when he said it, it came out as “Sempurrrrrrrr”. At 9:20am we had arrived, but narrowly missing the boat was the least of our worries when we saw what waited for us up ahead.

The fast boat we’d be taking across the sea to Lembogan, floated atop the passing waves in an uncontrollable manner. Each wave was around 5 foot high, and forced the boat all over the place. Ann was really worried by this. There were porters whose job it was to carry everyone’s large holdalls aboard the boat, but they expected a tip upon their return. The way people got aboard resembled the two pence machines at an arcade. The ones where the shelve moves back and forth casually pushing any hangers on off the edge. As the tide went out, it was do or die for everyone. I found it slightly amusing as I saw Ann run on behind Sarah, I don’t know why, maybe it was the swaying boat that made everyone look uncoordinated that did it. I climbed aboard after them, but because the wave was going out as I climbed on, there was no issue. The hardest part was walking down the aisle to my seat. When Simon sat down beside me I looked out the window, that’s when I saw it. There was an upturned boat, which had clearly been there a while. Not the best sight to see given the circumstances. Just when we thought we were safe, it got worse. I didn’t learn of this until later on when Sarah told me, as the last few passengers climbed aboard, the anchor rope snapped. The anchor at the back of the boat, which was holding it to the beach, now served no purpose. The only one keeping us from washing up on the shore was the front anchor. As I looked around the boat I could see these worries and scared expressions on the passenger’s faces. At first I wondered what the big deal was, until I noticed the back end of the boat tipping over on itself. Fortunately the wave passed, and the boat levelled, but there was one particular passenger who feared for her child’s safety. She asked a man if he’d mind swapping with her, but you could tell he was also scared. He shouted back at her saying “yes, just give me a minute”. Wimps, the lot of them. There was nothing to worry about, even if the Lonely Planet had printed horror stories of the crossing on its pages. After a nauseous half an hour voyage, the boat parked safely alongside the shore of Lembongan.

When all the bags had been offloaded by the friendly Balinesian staff, we were escorted to a small truck for a free lift to our accommodation. We shared the truck with a cool looking surfer dude, who had with him a really lightweight board. For all I knew he was a world famous surfer, he certainly had the build for it. God I wish I could surf… Sorry, I went a little off track there. Our new resort was just as pretty as the last (which you’ll see in the pics) but for different reasons. Inata had more of a modern meets traditional vibe, whereas Nanuk was comprised of wooden huts, giving off the more authentic island experience. Surprisingly each hut had a/c inside. Up until now, all the huts we’d stayed in were fan only. There was a small pool to cool down in, a restaurant which sold food throughout the day, and lovely grounds to explore. It was definitely worth the price we were paying. We were given a welcome drink each by the staff, and when Sarah told them it was my birthday, they said “we’ll party later” – we never did 😦

After our drinks, the guys told us our rooms were ready and walked us to them. It took a while for everyone to get sorted, but around midday I was finally given my presents. I was like a kid at Christmas. All those items I’d ordered on eBay had gone from digital images to real life tangible objects. For my birthday I received the Nintendo system from Sarah (much to her concern, she feared I’d give it more attention than her… she thought right). I got a few cards from my mum, nan, and Sarah’s parents. My mum also got me a new Starbucks card to replace the one Sarah and I had rinsed. After I’d unwrapped everything and read all my cards, I spent a while playing on my new toy as the others sat by the pool. Eventually I left the Nintendo to charge in the room, then joined Sarah and her parents. After a short time swimming around, we moved over to the restaurant for some dinner.

Before we ordered we spoke with Jacob, he was one of the staff members who spoke excellent English. Jacob told us of the many day trips to do on Lembogan, and reinforced my decision to snorkel with the others rather than do a dive. He told me it worked out cheaper to do it as a group, and because I was the only one with a diving license it meant I’d have to pay double the price for the privilege of going under. When we learned all there was to do we had dinner, followed by a walk. It was a hot day, but a nice kind of hot, either that or Sarah and I had well and truly acclimatised. Poor Ann and Simon hated it, the pair of them nearly melted into blobs on the floor every few feet. The first beach we located at the end of our resort was kind of dirty. This was because all the boats were docked there, the fuel and oils stained the water. Instead of going there, we located a hidden gem off the beaten track. It was stunning. The beach was guarded by two colossal mountains at either end, the sand was white, and the sea was crystal. The best thing was, because it was hidden, we had the whole thing to ourselves for the length of time we were there. After a while Ann found the heat too much, and had to sit it out in the shade. Sarah and I took a final stroll up and down the shore, then we all left together. On the way back I spotted the most adorable calf I’d ever seen, its eyes were so big and shiny that I just wanted to give it a cuddle, but I didn’t think mummy cow would have been too pleased with that, so I settled for a picture instead. Back at the resort, Sarah and I got back in the pool to spend some time floating about, before getting out to dry off in the sun. Every year on the 24th of May it’s always sunny, and today was no exception. Until around 4pm that was. Out of nowhere the skies filled with grey clouds, making Sarah and I come to the conclusion that staying on the sun loungers was probably a redundant idea. That’s when Sarah came up with a brilliant idea, to get some beers and return to the room.

Just as we were about to climb the steps of our hut, we saw Sarah’s parents in the chill out area below, so we did the same. The huts were divided between an upstairs and a downstairs. Upstairs housed the bedrooms, downstairs had two chill out beds to relax on during the day. This is when I began playing on my new toy. The 3d effects were great, if not a little disorientating. It came with warnings to take breaks every 15 minutes when using the 3d, but what do they know… Just kidding, eye care is a very serious matter. After an hour or so, Sarah and I returned to our outdoor bathroom, tucked away behind our hut, to shower. We had plans that evening, which had been arranged in advance during dinner. Sarah really wanted it to be perfect for me, so she went online to reserve us a table at a fancy restaurant which had 5 star reviews. When I was dried and dressed, I told sarah she’d have to hurry up if she wanted to see the sunset. In the end she told me to go on ahead and she’d catch up – she didn’t. Instead I went with Ann and Simon. There was nothing to see though, the sun was now masked behind the large dark clouds, and one ginormous thunderhead. That made for spectacular photos whenever I caught a lightning bolt tearing through its dark colour. After that we returned to the resort, where only 15 minutes later our reserved restaurant’s shuttle had arrived to pick us up.

The restaurant was amazing, everything was top notch, from the look of the place to the quality of the food. The only downside was the time we had to wait for it to arrive. Although there were storm clouds overhead, it still wasn’t raining, instead there was a nice cool breeze. Our drinks arrived in reasonably good time, but when you get through a milkshake and a jug of water before your food arrives, you get a little irritated. After a while the rain just couldn’t hold off any longer and began falling all around us. It wasn’t fast, or heavy enough to warrant moving tables like we did, but after seeing others beginning to evacuate the outdoor area, we did the same. It took over an hour for our meals to arrive, and all I ordered were the ribs. It was a good job the salad was an all you can eat sort of deal, otherwise we’d have started eating the decorative table arrangements. The food was lovely when it finally arrived, but because of how long it took, it made Sarah feel bad. She kept apologising on the restaurants behalf, but there was no need, I wasn’t bothered at all. I was just frustrated by how long they took to serve us. At just gone 9pm we were able to get the free shuttle back to our resort, where I then spent the next hour and a half skyping my mum and nan. Because it was so dark out, it was difficult for them to see me. Disturbingly, the only place they got a good view of the birthday boy was in our bathroom. The lighting was slightly better beside the toilet, so at least I got to sit while we spoke. Whilst I was there, I figured I’d introduce them to the greatest bathroom gadget of all time.. the bum hose. This device cracked them up to no end, mostly because of how powerful it was. If you weren’t careful you could do yourself some real damage, I’m pretty sure it was capable of cracking the porcelain, it was that powerful. I thanked my mum and nan for my birthday gifts, then said my goodbyes. I was so tired by the end, yet I still managed to write the days blog. Even on my birthday I didn’t give myself a day off. To conclude my evening, I went on Facebook to see if anyone had wished me a happy birthday – they had. Even as I checked it, the wishes kept coming. At last count I had over 35. I truly am loved, for all those who sent your kind words, I love and miss you all.
Happy Birthday to me.
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