A Travellerspoint blog

August 2010

We Can Only Wish

View Burma, Indonesia and Laos on jonshapiro's travel map.


The carcass lies barely two meters below

And very close to shore, rusty since the war

Six swaying yellow angels guard the bridge

While the trumpet fish sounds its silent call

There are no bones left around here

Gone is the sweat and stench of fear

The dead have long since gone away,

To haunt their killers another day

Left is the bluegreen water, coral and fish

Let us not destroy them, we can only wish

From Amed we took an hour long speedboat ride, bumpy and expensive to Gilliair. Unfortunately most of the coral there had apparently been dynamited in years past, in a facile attempt to catch fish. Although much ballyhooed in The Lonely Planet and by many travelers, it did not live up to billing.

We stayed at Bernard's place, run by a gay expat Frenchmen, also recommended, and deservedly so. Unfortunately with the pool construction and located well off the beach, there was no breeze. Air and fans went off in the middle of the night, supposedly because one of Bernard's men got stoned, and forgot to put on the generator when the power failed, seemingly a daily occurrence. To his credit, Bernard did not charge us for that evening and the 2nd night things were okay. However there were many guest houses and restaurants scattered along the beach, and the place was crowded with tourists and touts.

Main Street in Gilliair

Except for one small stretch, the beach was rocky and not good for swimming. I will say that the open air restaurants were nice, with small bamboo sun shelters and comfortable pillows. A good place to lounge, which we did for most of the time.

Cassie and Nanette

The view towards Lombok and the mountains was impressive, especially at sunset, but after a couple of days we had enough and headed on.


Posted by jonshapiro 11:23 Archived in Indonesia Tagged postcards Comments (6)


View Burma, Indonesia and Laos on jonshapiro's travel map.

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.


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.



Posted by jonshapiro 10:20 Archived in Indonesia Tagged postcards Comments (4)

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