During our KL trip we went away for a mini holiday for a few days, to Bali. We stayed in a quiet area, Amed, in East Bali. It was about 2-3 hours drive from the airport, and the main touristy bit is along a hilly strip by the coast, lined with small hotels, hostels, guest houses, and dive centres.
Gunung Agung / Agung Mountain, which is the imposing backdrop to pretty much everywhere on this part of the island. It’s volcanic, and last erupted in 1963.
We stayed at Santai, one of the slightly bigger hotels, which had a nice rustic feel but was well kept enough for my city slicker standards. The bugs were unavoidable, but I’m getting better at not squealing too much…
View out our room window.
The back of the hotel was right on the beach, which was nice for a wee walk, but not great for sitting about on as it’s pretty stony, and at high tide the tide comes right up to the hotel steps.
The first activity on the list was snorkeling. We got one of the wee fishing boats out to a snorkeling area that was pretty calm – good for beginners. I’m not a good swimmer, so I had a life vest on, but I wasn’t really getting the hang of breathing through the snorkel either, so I just hung on to the stabiliser pole at the side of the boat and looked down from there.
Near me there were starfish, and mostly shoals of cute little electric blue fish, and some bigger yellow fish. Sorry I can’t be more technical than that…
Meanwhile Gareth went off all round the spot we were at, and took photos with our new little underwater camera. The photos really don’t do the real thing justice, but for a lower-range camera it did the job and gave us some exciting reminders.
This ‘friend’ of Gareth’s kept following him around.
The next day we went to visit the Besakih temple, which is the largest and most important Hindu temple in Bali. It is a temple complex, built upon the slopes of Mount Agung, and one of the shrines is dedicated to the mountain itself. We were required to wear sarongs to be allowed into some of the temple areas, so we bought some from the one of the zillion sarong vendors outside.
It’s pretty huge, high, and impressive.
Another one of the amazing things about Bali is their rice fields and terraces. Lots and lots of them – big ones, little ones, by the mountains, roadsides, next to homes; every bit of space is utilised. Large fields of crops always tend to look breathtaking to me, but there’s also something very beautiful about the little green paddy fields we saw up close as well.
The following day we visited the Tirtagangga Water Palace, which was really unique and beautiful. It was built in the 1940s by the Karangasem Royal family, and is a lush garden with lovely pools and beautifully carved stonework – fountains, bridges, and statues. Two of the pools are open to bathers, and there was a hoarde of school kids on a field trip splashing about and having a jolly old time.
There were many interesting statues, like this charming gent.
Not your typical gargoyle.
Lovely flowers all round.
After that we visited the Tenganan Bali Aga village, one of the villages of the ‘original people’ of Bali. They are a closed community led by elders, and with strict customs; outsiders are not allowed in after dark. However they’re not entirely closed off – in this village they use electricity, mobile phones, motorbikes, and their children go to local schools. They’re known for their crafts, especially weaving, and they’ve also embraced tourism as a source of income. Local people offer guided tours for a fee that goes toward the village, and our guide was very friendly and spoke good English.
And that was our last day, which we ended with a wee ride on one of the fishing boats at sunset.
Our little Amed town was not a ‘happening’ place. There are bigger towns in East Bali, while Amed is basically still a backpacker area catering to snorkelers and divers, with a few slightly more upmarket hotels for those who just want a quiet vacation away from the city. And that is exactly what we had. A good mix of seeing new things, and also just relaxing, spending most evenings at our room balcony, listening to the waves and chatting or reading our books.
Goodbye Bali, we enjoyed you lots!
For more photos visit my Bali set on Flickr