The name of this island, tucked between the Bali Sea and Indian Ocean, brings visions of exotic adventures. Parties, temples, white sand beaches, beautiful coral, golden tan bodies and all-inclusive resorts.
We were passing through on our way east and were told to avoid the southern side of the island. Because of the numbers of tourists, foreigners was at risk of being hassled by the Indonesian police. So we opted to ride north. My knee needed a bit of rest and Lovina Beach seemed to be the perfect place. Laid back and peaceful, facing west into the setting sun.
The ferry ride over to Bali was the most disorganized ferry I’ve even been on. After paying, US$5 for this crossing, you group your motorbikes inches apart from one another. Then they let a few vehicles on the ferry, then a few scooters to pack in the spaces. This continues until not another vehicle can fit, then they open the gates. The scooters race across the dock to the shifting wet ramps and rope buffers to find a space, any space. Then, after putting your scooter on its stand, you go to an upper deck to find any space to stand, or sit. After you leave, the deck attendants move all the motorbikes so that each one is pressed into the next. Every seat on deck is a coveted space. There is seating for maybe 25% of the actual people that get on board. The rest sit on the floor, usually on mats that they bring along.
After the crossing we passed hundreds of monkeys on the side of the road. Stopping for a picture, I pointed at one with a baby wrapped around her neck. She actually understood my pointing, gave me a dirty look, and turned to shelter her baby from our view.
Continuing on we found a small inn up coast, the Villa Agung Beach Inn, for US$38/night. It had a beautiful pool and restaurant right on the the south Bali Sea. We managed a second story room with direct views of the Sea. We stayed for three nights just enjoying being in Bali and resting my knee.
The second morning we went out on a small boat looking for the dolphins that stay in the bay. The day before was the Sunday after Ramadan and very busy, so we opted to wait a day. There were quite a few boats out with us. The sunrise over the Sea was great and soon after large schools of dolphin were all around us, chasing the wakes and jumping and spinning. They were smaller than what we see in the US. They seemed to be like the smaller Heckter Dolphin that we swam with in New Zealand. Quite the acrobats.
The black sand beach and sunsets were brilliant, but the great snorkeling and diving happen on the northeast coast, around Amed. So, after three nights, we packed up and headed east. There are some really cool things to see and do a little inland but we will wait and see if my knee gets better for some hiking. We passed so many temples on the way to Amed. This is a random one we stopped at. The bicycle in Dutch influence from the 1800’s, when this temple was built.
The main road follows the coast with the active volcano, Mount Agung, at over 3000 meters, looming over everything just inland.
A small road turns off to the left going to the tourist areas. We are probably lucky to have averaged 15 kmph over the next 30 kilometers. The many people and vehicles and a just shit tar road. No one goes anywhere fast, except maybe the Kamikaze boys. Those are the young boys on open piped scooters that ride fearlessly into oncoming traffic and between cars.
We had found another place, the Wawa Wewe Rock Villas. This place faces Gili Trawangan, Lombok, and into the rising sun. This WASN’T a smart idea, even though the place was incredible. Steps go straight up, as it’s built up the side of a cliff. We ended up with the bungalow at the very top, offering incredible views. Between the bungalow at the top and the road is an infinity pool and restaurant looking to the west AND east. What a view!! And for only US$23/night, including A/C, an outdoor shower / toilet and a good restaurant. Disney gets $25 just to park. Two or three full days at Disney or a month in Bali. Three more nights in Indonesia, please.
The second day there we took a snorkeling tour. We hopped on the motorbike and rode 1 km down the beach and met the guy with the boat. We were the only ones going and were going to dive at three spots. The first spot was to see the green turtles. The second spot was on a coral reef with an underground temple. And the third spot was to see a sunken Japanese ship right off the coast in the crescent bay in front of our hotel. We were out about 4 hours and got a little sunburned, even with sunscreen on. The cost of this excursion for the both of us, including a GoPro rental, was about US$50.
Staying at the hotel with us was an Italian woman that does fire dancing, Marta Ruffino. She works 3 to 4 months a year and then goes off on holiday for the rest of the time. She was headed back to Italy to do her fire dancing gig at a high end hotel in Rome. She wanted to get in a final practice before getting on the plane and leaving. So as the sun was setting to the west, she lit up her torches and gave us a private show. She was a super nice person and talented performer. We wish her all the luck in the world in her upcoming season.
The following morning we were up at sunrise and headed south to the ferry port that would take us to Lombok. This was going to be a long 4 to 6 hour ferry ride, crossing the line of Wallace and possibly in a storm. Wish us luck.
More on that and the ferry ride in my next posting. So for now…