Tues 20th - Fri 23rd May (Week 35)
Tues 20th - Spent the morning using the wifi, packing, and popped out for a mid-morning porridge as have really missed that - although found it a little hot and humid to be eating such hot food ! Caught the 11am shuttle bus to Amed, and enjoyed the 2 hour trip looking at all the intricately decorated bamboo poles outside everyones houses for Galungan tomorrow. Each village/town seemed to have the same themes of decoration, some being every 50m or so, and some every 10m so the street was just full of them. Usual story with the driver - dropped us off at the very beginning of Amed, and then said he could take us to our accommodation if we paid more ! Negotiated down to a 1/3 of what he asked and split it between 3 of us. Our homestay has a lovely four-poster bed, with a balcony overlooking frangipanis, banana, papaya, palm trees etc, as well as a view out to sea. Could be worse ! Had a wander around the area and came to a building with hundreds of motorbikes outside and lots of shouting inside, so stuck our heads in and saw it was a c*** fight ! Never seen one before, so started watching all the betting going on, then saw them preparing the c*** - by tying sharp knives/blades onto their legs for the fight. Only then did I noticed pools of blood in the ring, and decided I did not want to see any more. Sat on the balcony in the evening with a large Bintang beer, watching sunset and listening to the waves.
Wed 21st - Had a lie in until 8:45 - unheard of for us recently ! Hired a motorbike and went off to hire some mask and flippers and find some snorkelling places around Amed. After much searching (places were either closed for Galungan, or didnt have my size), we finally found a little Warung to hire our equipment from. They were also right on the beach with loungers we could use, and a coral garden right there with some pretty good coral, and visibility, so spent a couple of hours snorkelling there. Saw a little temple/shrine with quite a few fish around - including some strange schools of hundreds of 12" long silver fish that swam around with their mouths completely open, almost unhinged and separate from their body, to suck in all the food. Quite unnerving when you see them all heading towards you with huge open mouths ! After a late lunch at 3pm, we biked down to the far bay where the Japanese shipwreck is and spent another hour there. Wasn't quite as good as we expected, with poor vis. and quite a bit smaller than we thought. But some good coral, and fish, including the little garden eels that come up out of the sand and wave around - really cute. Watched a beautiful pink/orange sunset over the bays with Mt Agung volcano in the background.
Thurs 22nd - Got picked up for our dive at 7:45am, got kitted up and headed off for the 20min drive to Tulamben. The Liberty wreck was a WWII US ship, torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942, and is only 40m off the shore, so you can dive or snorkel directly from the beach. As it was our first wreck dive, it was incredible and we really enjoyed it. The first dive was just around the outside of the 100m ship, taking in the size, shape, corals and fish. The 2nd dive was a "penetration" dive where we got to swim in and through 2-3 times. It wasn't as scary as I'd imagined as it was really open and light so you could easily see everything and where you were going. There were some big cavernous spaces that had coral on all the walls and ceiling so there was so much to look at. Lots of different fish and coral, but the highlight was a huge turtle, just quietly eating some coral, ignoring all the divers around him ! That was my 53rd dive, and probably the best I have ever done !
Fri 23rd - Hired the motorbike again today and headed off at 9:30 for more snorkelling. Spent the morning around Jemluluk Bay seeing some pretty good coral and fish and some man-made structures to encourage coral growth. Booked our boat over to Lombok for tomorrow morning, then went back to the Japanese Shipwreck in the afternoon. The vis. was even worse today, but we swam a bit further around and found some lovely coral gardens to explore. Spent ages watching a fascinating sight of thousands of little yellow fish in a long line above the coral, sway back and forth with the current, occasionally swarming away when a predator came. Never seen so many fish all hover over the coral as far as the eye can see - really impressive.
We've really enjoyed our 2 weeks in Bali and have found each place really different - diving and snorkelling in Pemuteran and Amed, rice terraces in Munduk, and temples, shops and health stores in Ubud ! We may decide to have a few more days back on Bali before we fly out on the 21st - we'll see what the 4 weeks brings !