Third Time Lucky, Twice Over: Day 25

 

After yesterday’s snorkeling success I decide that today is going to be the day that I find a turtle.

I spend the morning doing work just as I did yesterday, then I drop the bike back from where I rented it. I’m not going to bother with getting one again today as it was kind of a pain finding a place to park it and I didn’t get enough steps in.

I decide that if the waters of the east coast were so good, they must be just as good further towards the north, so I head up the middle road and head towards Legend’s. I will make my way to the north east corner from the island there.

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It’s hot again today, and on the north coast there is little shade. I can stay in the shade a little bit on the path through the middle of the island, but out here there’s barely any. I think about snorkeling and not getting burned. There are quite a few people out in the water or lying on the beach up here, but I don’t want to fry.

I pass a shop selling snorkeling equipment. I’m curious as to how much it would cost to buy a set outright, given that I am likely to have to pay 50,000 a day to rent a set. I discuss this with the Australian shop owner who comes over to talk to me. The cheapest set, however, comes to 750,000, so it’s definitely going to be better to rent. Since I’m not here long enough and it would be a pain to lug flippers back to Korea of course I’m just going to rent.

I’m looking for a place for lunch before I swim. After yesterday I am going to eat something light and wait for a while before I head into the water. Eventually I come to a place called Munchies. It has a day bed facing the water available that is under a long thatched roof and it is completely shaded. I decide this is the spot for me and I head in.

I get a drink and read a couple of pages of my book. Although I brought two books with me, I haven’t really been reading much. During my down time I have been spending time writing up this blog and carefully downloading and organising the photos from each day from both my phone and my Canon camera. However, I have time to kill and I’m comfortable and shaded and I enjoy getting back into a book.

When it is time I head to the nearest snorkeling gear rental place. It’s around 1 pm, so I pay the full price of 50,000 without quibbling. I think it’s going to be a small price to pay for spending time swimming with turtles. It’s not quite as nice as the set I had yesterday, however. The mask is a bit smaller and the flippers cheaper looking, but whatever – they all do the same job, right? I collect my underwater case and put my phone it. The case allows me to swipe and tap on the screen just as I would without it, so I should be able to use the phone as normal.

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I step down into the water. After yesterday, I’m not putting the flippers on before I get into the water. I get everything on and then launch myself into the water. It’s kind of weird to swim with a phone in my hand.

I’m disappointed, however, to find that here the water is kind of murky and it’s hard to see anything much. There is a lot of grass, but when I get past it there aren’t many fish at all. All I see are some of the small, brown-ish ones in the grass, and I don’t see much coral or any of the exotic fish from yesterday. There is a bit more empty sand here though, so I am able to put my feet down. When I emerge I find that the mask has fogged up a lot. Maybe that’s why it seems murky. I clear the fog and rinse the mask and head back into the water. It’s clearer but there still isn’t much to see. I try swimming further out and further to the left and back to the right, but not much is going on.

I go back to Mucnhies. I dry off with my towel. The sun has shifted and half of the day bed is in the blazing sunshine. I put my towel there to try and let it dry off. After a while I feel the sun encroach, and so I decide to find another place.

I keep walking along coast, back down towards the coffee shop I snorkeled from yesterday. I come to a small beach area. There are several people sitting out on the sand and lying on sun beds next to the road. There is a small hut there which is selling drinks. I don’t want cocktails – they’re pricey – and I don’t want a beer. Juices are cheap. I ask for apple juice, but he has no apples. Okay, I’ll have lime juice. No limes. Any juices? Nope, he has none of the fruits today. I get a soda water instead.

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I chose to get a drink here so I could ask for my bag to be looked after while I head out into the water. Because I need my towel and spare clothes and cameras and a cases I have brought the backpack I use for hand luggage and not my small satchel bag that I usually use. He pops it behind the bar and I decide to drink the soda water after snorkeling.

I get straight into the water, taking my phone in with the case on. This is even more disappointing that the first place. Nothing to see. It’s just banks and banks of sea grass. I see maybe one fish. I do see some people snorkeling a lot further out but I decide against staying her for long. I’ve been in the water for about ten minutes.

I drink the soda water quickly. It’s getting close to 3 pm. I want to find a turtle before I have to hand the gear back. I carry on down the path heading south along the east coast. After about five minutes I come back to Turtle Beach. The same waiter who was talking to the woman who had seen a turtle the other day is working, and I tell him I came back because if that. He tells me to head out in a slight diagonal direction and then when I get to the current turn left and follow it. That’s where the turtle usually is. I get a drink – a fresh lime juice – and I head straight into the water. I open the camera on my phone before I get into the water. I found that the touch screen wasn’t working well when I was in the water before – I would jab the shutter button on the screen but it wouldn’t take the photo. As I launch into the water, I accidentally touch a button on the screen and end up in my camera roll. I can’t swipe back to the camera, annoyingly.

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Finally there is something to see in the water. Just like yesterday I am surrounded by fish and coral and all manner of underwater life. I point the phone at the fish and try to get to the camera, but nothing is happening. Oh well. I carry on out towards the deeper part of the sea. I swim about ten strokes when suddenly I see it. There’s the turtle. It’s swimming up from the seabed towards the surface of the water. I’m the only person out here – no other snorkelers are around. I watch as it goes to the surface and I pop my head out to see if it emerges, but I see nothing. I put my head back into the water and watch as it swims back down to the coral.

Actually, I’m kind of worried that it’s going to turn around and bang into me or something so I turn around and swim away a little, then turn again. Now he’s down at the sea bed. He is rooting around for something. I am just amazed that I am not only so close to this creature but that it was just here when I swam out to it. I put my head up and look back to the restaurant – I kind of want to signal to the guy that I found the turtle, like giving a thumbs up, but it’s actually quite far. We are close to the point where the coral drops away and the water goes dark and deep blue.

I’m loving this. I so wish I could get the camera going. I don’t know what’s up with the case. It worked fine when I was at the waterfalls. I spend a good 20 minutes or so floating around just watching the turtle from a safe distance. It’s incredible how clearly I can see it – he’s a big one, and I can see a kind of moss on and around its shell, so he must be quite old. He’s still rooting around in the coral and some fish swim by and quickly flick away as he comes back up. I follow him as he goes up to the surface again. I bob my head out of the water and see his head emerge and watch him take a little gasp of air before diving down again.

I need to get the camera working now. I decide to head back to open the case and open the camera and come back. I swim back. As I take the first couple of strokes back to the shallow waters I notice how warm it is – the current, I realise, had actually been quite cold. It’s amazing how warm the water is. I get back to the beach and quickly kick off my flippers and rush up the steps to get to my day bed. The waiter is not around. An Italian sitting at the next one says “Hey, man – your fins.” I see that they have been taken by the waves and are bobbing in the water. “It’s okay – I’m going back in a second,” I say. I pop open the case. There is a small layer of water on the surface of the phone. This is probably what is stopping my fingers from making contact with the touch screen. I dry off the screen with a napkin and pop the case back on, making sure to close all the seals and plug in the bung that covers the charging port. I double check before I get back into the water.

I swim back out to where I remembered that I was. I look for the types of coral I made a mental note of. Nothing. No turtle. I find the current, noticing how the cooler waters suddenly appear and how cool they feel. I follow the current downstream. I suddenly come across another snorkeler, but he’s heading the other way – surely if there was a turtle he would be floating around watching it.

I turn back. Still no sign. I look around, look for things I tried to remember as I left – shapes of coral, plants, etc – but I don’t remember if these are the right ones. Oh well. At least I have seen it with my own eyes, even if I can’t get a photo of it.

Talking of photos, I try to get some pictures of the fish around me. I want to try and get close to the rainbow ones. The case is a bit foggy – I can get a few pictures by tapping on the screen, but not each time that I press the button. I can’t see the screen very well, but I hope I am getting some decent pictures. I even attempt a selfie of myself snorkeling in the water.

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It’s about 4.30 now, and I have to get the gear back. I decide to give up. At least I know I have seen it. I take a few more pictures as I head back. The waiter is waiting for me at the steps when I get off the beach – with flippers this time. Yes, I saw it, I tell him. He’s happy for me. I tell him I just swam out the way he told me and bam! There he was. Right there. I say I wanted to turn and give a thumbs up to let him know I’d found it. I’m happy.

I finish the drink and pack my things off. I pop off the case and there is water on my phone again. Stupid bloody case. I won’t bother using it again. I know that an iPhone 7 Plus is water resistant and that it should not be charged for at least five hours after being in water, so I make a note of the time – 4.45 pm.

I head back and shower and go to watch the sunset. I go back to the first bar I went to, at the end of Shady Lane. There are a lot more clouds tonight, but it’s just as beautiful a sunset as all the others. People are taking photos, walking out into the water, waiting for the swing. An Asian guy on his own asks someone to take his photo but he has trouble getting up onto it. Some chilled out dance music is playing somewhere. It’s nice. I decide at 7 pm as the stars come out that I will just eat in this bar, so on the way back from the toilet I choose beef rendang from the menu and order a second drink. The guy double checks and writes my order down.

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At the bar next door a band is now playing – all the usual stuff. The bar next door is full but this one is emptying. I check my watch – it’s been 20 minutes since I ordered. No one’s been around with cutlery. I keep looking around. I’ll give it ten minutes.

I keep watching the stars. It’s really peaceful. Then a Korean family walks by. Two kids and the mother. They sit on an empty bean bag in front of me. They sing loud songs. Typical.

No food. I keep looking around. The Asian who couldn’t get on the swing sits down and orders a drink. When it comes he spends five minutes taking photos of it on the table, himself holding it, himself drinking it through the straw. He orders food.

It’s been 45 minutes now. Nothing. I would ask but no one has come to me, and I can’t get their attention. The Asian guy’s food arrives. My second beer (a small Bintang this time) is almost finished. I finish it a couple of minutes later, 55 minutes after ordering food. Clearly it’s not coming. I ask for the bill. A young waiter tells me how much for the two beers. I leave through the bar – no one looks at me or says anything.

Never mind. I’m not one to complain or get upset. Mistakes happen, and I could have got off my arse and asked them. Now I’m not sure where to go or what I want to eat. I was looking forward to trying rendang. I head back to the boat station and then walk up the street towards my hotel. I stop at a busy restaurant across from Breadalicious. It serves martabak, which is what I had in Kampng Glam in Singapore. I wonder whether with Lombok being muslim it is because of this that I have seen martabak around before. It’s cheap here too – many meals I’ve had have been between 50,000 and 80,000, or $5 and $8. Here it’s only 25,000. A couple is browsing the menu outside but there is only one table inside so I dive in.

“Sorry, sir,” says the waiter. “We have finished for today. No more food.” Okay, I sigh and I head out. I guess I could just get a sandwich from Breadalicious. It’s 8.30 by now. I head inside and end up getting a curry pizza which is dry and not very curry-ish, but at least it will do.

I have a couple of coffees and read my book until about 10.30. I am keeping an eye on the time to know when it should be safe to charge the phone. It’s a book I tried to read a couple of years ago but only got through the first fifty or so pages of. Some of the story comes back to me, and it’s nice to do something other than just sit around in a bar.

Back to the hotel. I’m a little tired and feel like I might just lie in bed and read another chapter. I open the doors and fumble for the lights before heading to the bathroom for a shower. The doors slide open but they have quite large gaps at the bottom and in the frame, so they rattle a bit as they open. Something catches my eye. Ugh – there’s a roach on its back right next to the skirting where I’ve lain my backpack on the floor. I hate these things – they freak me out. The good sign is that it is on its back, so it is either expiring or has expired already. The bad news is that there are still some signs of life. On the odd occasions that I get a roach in my apartment in Seoul I have to get someone else to deal with it because I just can’t. This time I’m going to have to do it myself.

I look around for something. I find the laminated card on the bedside table that asks for the power and air conditioner to be turned off when you leave the room and attempt to get it up so I can flick it out of the door, but I wobble and it drops onto its legs. At least it doesn’t move. I flick it again and it ends up on its back but still in the room. Another flick and it’s on its legs again on the balcony. One more flick and it’s in the flower bed next to the terrace and hopefully will be gotten by the geckos that hand around on the terrace.

I get my Badger Company lemongrass and citronella big repellant out and spray all around the doorway, all over the terrace and along the flower bed. I do not want to have to do that again any time soon, and when I go to bed I pull the mosquito net a little tighter around the bed that night, just in case any mates of his come along during the night.

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