Leaving behind the caterwauling of the mosques in Java for predominantly Hindu Bali, it was a very long day's travelling to catch the ferry across the water and then on to the small town of Lovina. Bali has more nightlife and bars in which wine and cocktails are sold (unlike Java, which only sells beer). It was also a relief not to have to cover my shoulders and knees the whole time, which was proving a challenge for my limited wardrobe as well as pretty impractical given the heat.
I had another early start to go out on a tiny boat and watch dolphins swimming at sunrise near Lovina's black sand beach. I was lucky enough to see loads of dolphins but not very closely, I think they swim off when they hear the boats coming.
I spent most of the day chilling out by the swimming pool at our hotel (sweltering in the extreme heat, it was hard to believe that the previous day we'd been wrapped up in jackets and scarves to climb a volcano in Java!). Later in the afternoon I took a trip out to the Air Panas Banjar hot springs for relaxing dip in the naturally hot murky water. There are three pools set among pretty trees and flowers - water flows from one to the other through dragon head shaped spouts, some fall only a short distance and others a few metres - when I stood underneath the falling water it felt like a massage. In the evening we had some delicious traditional Balinese food at the home of a local lady.
The following day a few of us went snorkelling at Pulau Menjangan, a nearby island. It was incredible - the water was dark blue (because of the black volcanic sand) and there was a sea shelf/sea wall where the coral juts out from the island for some distance and then drops straight down 25 metres. The water was so clean and transparent that I could see right down the sea wall to the floor from the surface. The coral was so brightly coloured and varied and teeming with a spectacular array of fish - it was absolutely stunning, it's hard to describe. I don't have much to compare it to but even the experienced snorkellers/divers in the group said they had never seen anything like it. Our guide, Kutuk, was great and would point out particularly unusual-looking creatures and things that were safe to touch - he dove down and brought up a spider coral to show us which sucked my fingers when I touched it; he also brought up a blue starfish which felt hard and didn't move - it didn't even seem like a living creature. We saw also quite a few Nemo (clown fish) which I was very excited about! That day was, without doubt, one of the highlights of my travels.
Kutuk was so-called because he was the fourth-born child in his family - interestingly, Balinese Hindus name their children according to the order in which they are born, regardless of gender - there are three possible names for the first born, a couple each for the second and third, all fourth borns are named Kutuk and they start over again for a fifth child.