Eventually we left the charms and the crowds of Ubud, and headed for the southeast coast of Bali. Previously undeveloped, it is now home to many small hotels and guest houses with more on the way, especially near the water. The rocky beaches are not the best, but the diving and snorkeling is superb. To get there, we hired an aircon taxi from the hotel where we planned to stay. We shared the expenses with Cassie and Ryan, the young American couple who I mentioned had come off a two year stint teaching English in Korea. It was a relaxing ride that with stops, took the better part of a day. The vibrant green fields were such an intense color that they looked almost fake. What a contrast to the dry, dusty landscape of Burma.
In the afternoon, we stopped at some spring fed pools for a dip and to admire the gardens.
Instead of the original hotel, we decided to stay at Sunshine, just as nice and considerably cheaper. For $25 we got the best in the house, a large ocean-front room with ac, including our own private terrace. The manager at Double One wasn't particularly happy with our decision of course, but he stubbornly refused to bargain with the price even though his place was practically empty.
That's our room on the upper left. Okay, it wasn't perfect. After a day or so the bathroom began to smell a bit like a sewer. I guess they had issues with their septic. It was hot, hot, hot, even more so than in Ubud, and here, in the doldrums so close to the equator, they didn't have the trade winds that I associate with the tropics in the Carribbean. The pool was more like a hot-tub in the height of the day, but cooled off somewhat as the sun went down. As advertised, the dark sand beach right in front was indeed rocky and the water bathtub warm, but the coral gardens 20 feet or so offshore were incredible. I've never seen colors like that, and such variety. Fan and brain coral, red, purple and white, stag and elkhorn coral, lettuce, mushroom and star coral, green, brown and white. Unfortunately I didn't have an underwater camera so I don't have pictures, but it was mesmerizing. And the fish, with their indigo blue and yellow strips....
On the surface, even the boats looked like fish...... or waterbugs.
Other days we checked out more snorkeling spots, including one 5 miles up the road with an old wreck, also right offshore.
SNORKELING IN AMED
Here, I swim with thousands of small fishes,
Green or iridescent blue as the light strikes them.
I reach out my hand and they scatter,
Instantly moving forward in unison.
Bigger black fish appear with blue around the edges,
And those with orange stripes, speckled with gold.
They come near, and are very bold.
And the yellow fish with black bands,
Yellow-black, yellowblack, yellowblack.
On my side, a bottlenose fish,
Or is it a small barricuda?
Below are huge plate coral,
Yellow and black, purple and white.
Coral that looks like corrugated petals,
Fish nibbling on its tiny protuberances.
And darting in,
And darting out.
All of it swaying with the tide,
Slowly, gently, pulsating.
Opening and closing,
Opening and closing.
Effortlessly, I float above,
Wide eyed through toothpaste smeared lenses.
Five minutes, an hour, a lifetime passes.
Slowly, gently, pulsating,
All of it, teeming with life.
The vibe in Amed was, as you might guess, very relaxed, and there were blessedly few people. When we weren't snorkeling, we were mostly hanging by the pool, or rather in the soporific shade near the pool, trying to stay cool. There was a good restaurant right up the street, and we ran into another couple who we met at Raka's. A somewhat unlikely pair, he was a boisterous, slightly paunchy, beer drinking, Aussie scuba diver, and she, a slim, soft spoken, northern Italian, was a snorkeler like us. It was fun for the six of us to have dinner together.
Sunsets were spent drinking beer on our terrace, gazing at the sea. Clouds sometimes gathered force as they moved towards the high volcano on Lombok, and the occasional freighter moved slowly by on the curved edge of the world.