Posts tagged ‘Snorkeling’

Lovina, Bali -part 1

Sunrise at Lovina -Photo by: Aurelie

Lovina was my next place to visit, an 8km stretch of sandy beach which includes six beaches; Pemaron, Tukad Mungga, Anturan, Kalibukbuk, Kalisem and Temukus.  It is one of the larger beach resorts on the island and caters for a varied budget range.   I set off from Amed around noon taking me around two to three hours to make it to Lovina following the coastal route east to the north-westerly quarter of the island.  It was some trek and quite uncomfortable with the thin seat of the off-road bike.  I wanted to make good time so only stopped once for a break at a warung perched at the edge of a cliff overlooking a cove, trees lining the edge for some well needed respite from the blazing sun.

Eventually I was following signs for Lovina, I was almost there.  On the edge of town I stopped one more time for a smoke.  A local Rasta

Sunrise at Lovina -Photo by Aurelie

approached on his moped.  I was expecting this, and I knew exactly what he was going to say.  As expected he knew of a cheap hotel close to the night life.  The price was good but I really don’t like feeling as though I’m being coerced to a place, I like to find place’s myself.  This in turn though can also become annoying as everyone can see you are looking for somewhere and so then everyone you pass want’s to show you to a hotel or guest house and it can sometimes become too much hassle.  I complied with his offer and followed him to what would now be the most basic hotel I have had the pleasure to stay in on this island.  It had everything I needed though and by now I was used to cold showers.  A friend of my helpful guide had inquired as to whether I wanted to go dolphin watching and snorkeling the next morning bright and early.  Normally I would just impulsively say no but I thought it time to do something touristy so agreed and after some haggling signed up for an early start before sunrise.  I payed for the first night at the hotel and as per usual bought a large bottle of Bintang beer, dumped my belongings on the bed and sat outside my room having a drink.

After having a look around the area finding out where the nightlife would be and checking the beach, I had something to eat and then returned to the hotel feeling drained from the long ride and in knowing I would have to be up early the next day.  I was not going to be partying that night and so bought a few more beers and sat again outside the room in the night air.  An hour had passed when a young french girl arrived, my next door neighbor.  She joined me outside my room and we talked all through the night to an early hour.  She too would be joining me for dolphins and snorkeling what was now only four hours away.  It was nice to have someone to share it with.

-Photo by Aurelie

The next morning I woke to the dreaded sound of my alarm at 4.30 am, I had to drag myself into the cold shower to finally wake up.  I was tired, I needed more sleep but at least I was not the only one.  Aurelie and I met our guide promptly outside and followed him on my bike to the beach and to a flock of tourists with boats all waiting to go dolphin watching.  It was a complete tourist trap with far too many boats all following each other once someone had pointed out and cried,  ‘Over there dolphins!’  By the time you had looked back to see where he was pointing you missed sight of the dolphin.  We carried on like this for about another hour chasing the poor buggers around until setting off away from the crowd for some snorkeling.  We had with us a quiet Chinese couple who weren’t up for snorkeling, so once we were in the water our guide took them back to the beach and we were left alone for a while.  The water was cooling and perfectly clear just above the reef.  There were many varieties of fish to see, or at least that’s what Aurelie was saying, I was a bit distracted.   Or guide found us and we were free to stay and snorkel for as long as we wanted before heading back.  We were both somewhat exhausted from the mornings excursion and so after pancakes for breakfast at a nearby warung both decided we needed to head back to the hotel to rest.  I put up my hammock I had been carrying with me the whole trip for the first time outside the room and both got in quite snugly and tried to sleep over the noise of the passing traffic.  We lay swinging in the hammock for ages trying to sleep but the noise was keeping us awake, so we retired to my room, I gave her a massage, it had a happy ending, we fell asleep.  An hour or so later around noon we left the hotel to find a place to have lunch.  Aurelie had a dozen or so places written down to visit around the island, I had not been this resourceful so she was to be the guide and I the driver.

Religion in Bali is predominantly Hindu unlike the majority Muslim Indonesia, but there is a small minority of Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.

Brahma Arama Vihara -Photo by Aurelie

Buddhist temples are not easy to find in Bali but since I had been following closely to Buddhism for the whole of my trip I wanted to visit a temple in Bali.  About 5 km west of Lovina is Brahma Arama Vihara the Buddhist Monastery in Banjar Tegeha village, and is the biggest Buddhist temple on the isalnd.  It was founded by Bhiku Giri Rakketo Maha Thera and built by Yayasan Giri Rakketo Maha Tera originally located at the top of the Banjar Hot Springs 2km away.  In 1970 it was relocated to its present location and has expanded since then.  The monastery is painted very colorfully and has many statues depicting the story of the Buddha.  Amongst the decorations are typical Balinese carvings which shows the solidarity of the Balinese community with the Buddhism in Bali.

Feeling more rested we headed out for the day.  First stop was the temple, and I could not wait to be disappointed.  We parked up, donned our sarong’s and walked around, just like all the other tourists.  This was not what I was wanting, there was no one selling flowers and incense to make an offering and I could see no monks in sight.  After having seen all there was to see I happened to notice one monk hanging around.  I approached and respectfully asked if he could bless some bands for my arm to replace the current ones.  Aurelie and I followed him into his living area at the back of the monastery and he returned with four bands and blessed them for us.  Something the other tourists seemed quite oblivious too, as they walked around with there camera’s strapped around their necks.  I made an offering, a decent donation and prayed for my luck to change.  You never know.

Banjar Hot Springs

The next stop was the Banjar Hot Springs, the Air Panas 2km down the road.  The sulfurous hot spring water was channeled into a public bathing area consisting of three pools in 1985 and is surrounded by jungle.  By now it was getting later in the afternoon and we only had a few hours of sunlight left, but it was the perfect place to relax for a while.  The place was busy at the time with locals bathing and playing in the pools we only noticed a few other tourists.  We stayed here until closing as the water was far too relaxing to leave beforehand.  By now night was drawing in so we headed straight back to the hotel to shower and change before heading out into the town.  We found a quiet warung by the beach for an evening meal and then headed along the front following the sounds of people cheering and shouting.   That night there was a volleyball competition on and the whole place was heaving with people watching the game just off the beach.  Taking a table at a bar adjacent to the court we could drink and watch some of the game.  It had been one hell of a long day and after only an hour the lack of sleep caught us up and it was time to call it a night there were more sites to see the next day.

Amed, Bali

Amed is a spectacular sleepy fishing town on the east coast north of Tirtagangga with numerous coves and headlands, colourful fishing boats and a verdant mountainous backdrop.  The area is very popular for diving and snorkeling, the reef is only 10 meters from the shore with good coral and with many colourful fish to see.

I arrived here instantly happy and smiling wide at the stunning scenery around me.  The sun was brightly beaming in a perfectly blue sky broken up only by tiny scattered wisps of cloud.  I knew straight away I was going to spend more than just a couple of days here.  Upon recommendation I was looking for the Good Kama Bungalows where Nick had often stayed.  To get to them I had to drive the full length of the town which stretches for quite a way along the coastline.  Upon arriving I was amazed at the shear tranquility of the place which is hidden amongst palm trees in its own private cove.  The Bungalows are set back only 20 or so meters from the water’s edge and fishing boats line the dark sandy beach.

A member of staff showed me to a vacant bungalow and along with the price it was pretty much near perfect.  The room was basic but comfortable with a ceiling fan.  The bathroom was amazing, walled off but with just the sky above you, water flowed from a small gully at the top of the wall like no shower I had ever seen before.  In all it was the perfect place to relax and do nothing much for a few days, swim snorkel and lounge in the hammock which hung at the front of the bungalow.   By this time the light was fading and night was drawing in, so I did nothing but eat a meal and then have some beers before calling it a day.

The next day I had to get some money and having found out Amed does not have any cash machines it was to be another long bike ride to the nearest large town of Amlapura.  I followed the directions a member of staff had given me, but got it wrong.  I was meant to ride all the way back to the main road and turn left, instead I turned left in the town onto a back road that at the time I had no idea was going to put me close to tears.  The road at first was like so many others, simply breathtaking.  I was heading into the lush verdant mountains.  Along the way I was passing by farms and rice fields and to some stunned looking villagers.  They knew what the road was like as I didn’t and were probably wondering why on earth I was taking this route.

I was heading straight towards the mountains and at this point I was hoping the road was not going to become too steep.  It did!  The road twisted its way up and up, and just kept on getting steeper and more twisty as I pushed on.  At some points It got so bad if I had of stalled the bike I knew I would have been in trouble.  Practically lying down on the bike hoping to stick to the broken up road beneath me I passed a house and saw a tourist with a local walking along the drive.  I must have looked terrified and near crying as I passed then.  A little further along the road came to a flat high up the mountain and overlooking the valley below.  It was time to have a rest and with hands uncontrollably shaking, a cigarette.  Soon the tourist I had seen joined me.  ‘Nice road aye’ he said as he approached.  I could only exclaim my terror at how the road to this point had been.  He explained he had to leave his car further back as it could not make it up such an incline and would just slide back.  He was impressed with my bike though and so too  was the local who was admiring it and giving me the thumbs up.  We exchanged our stories and before I set off again we asked the local if the road ahead was going to be the same.  As I could tell I was only half way up the mountain and so imagined it would be, and of course the answer was yes, what I really didn’t want to hear.   Further on it was the same slog on the bike but only with the added fjord breaking up the road even more.

At a forked junction at the top of the mountain I came to a stop where a man carrying a large cage on the back of his 50 cc moped stopped to ask me directions.  I told him he needed to take the road I had just come up but warned him is was a really steep and rough road.  He grinned and nodded and off he went without a care in the slightest.  I would rather take the long way back than take that road again, going up was bad enough but I could only imagine how hard it would be to negotiate on the way down.  I must say I am impressed at how the local people ride along these roads on their laden down mopeds, vans and buses.

Eventually I was back onto the main road and heading towards Amlapura.  Another stretch of perfect riding, winding through the mountains and passing rice fields in valleys stretching right out in the furthest distance.  On all the whole journey there and back took me around an hour and half, no doubt much quicker if you don’t take ridiculous roads over a mountain.  On my return to Good Kama I had something to eat and rested with a cold beer staring out across the calm blue Bali sea.

Later that night was time to see what Amed had to offer as a night life.  I headed out to find a pool table and bar.  I was eagerly wanting to drink and play pool and meet some people.  I found there were not many pool tables on offer and all of them were occupied by the locals playing a betting game using playing cards.  All I wanted was to shoot some pool over a few beers.  In the end I decided upon a hotel with a table in the back and played this Bali betting game with 4 other young local lads.  It turned out I was actually pretty shit at this game and so lost more money than I had won.  Well in fact I didn’t actually win at all, but it was a good laugh, I along with my money felt very welcome and they had reggae tunes blasting out in the background.  One of the lads ironically called Reggae, mentioned that night there was a reggae party on the beach and that they only have this once or twice a month.  Apart from that everything else was closed around nine.  Since it was almost nine by then I agreed to follow him there and I was glad I did.  There must have been just about every tourist in the town there mixed in with many of the young locals.  It was a buzzing atmosphere and I even bumped into the German couple I had met in Ubud.  It was a perfect end to the night and just to top it all off the ride back was somewhat exciting and worrying as my front light decided to become dim at some point along the narrow winding road all the way back to my bungalow.