Amed Road Trip – what a lovely ring those words have! Adi came to pick us up at nine and we, along with Rich and Meriloy, were off down the road south towards the east Bali snorkeling meccas of Vienna Beach and the Japanese Wreck. As we pulled in to the driveway of the small Vienna Beach parking lot, Adi mentioned that the beach was lovely “white sand”, an interesting observation given that the sand was black – really black. As we changed on the beach, a Balinese Adonis strolled up, flexing his muscles while gifting us with a view of his tiny-speedo-clad body.
The tide was quite low and so swimming out to the coral required some care not to scrape one’s belly on the rocks. But once out to deeper water, we were treated to some beautiful flat-topped table coral and rich red fan coral, as well as beautiful small green fish (among lots of others) that we’d not seen before.
After an hour or so at Vienna Beach, we drove further south on the very narrow, quite rough coastal road, to the location of the Japanese Wreck, a small 65 foot Japanese patrol ship sunk during WWII in 6 to 12 meters of water just off shore at Banyuning Bay. The bay itself is packed with Balinese fishing canoes, the jukung boats, and this day was crowded with snorkelers and divers. After inching across the small rocky beach, we entered the water and, after swimming around for a bit, found the wreck just in front of a jukung anchored not too far offshore. I was very excited about this snorkelling venture because I’ve never seen a wreck before. As I floated along the surface I could see quite a few divers below me examining the wreck. The coral was fabulous, lots of bright red fan coral growing on the metal and what looked like very large anemones waving their tentacles gently. We also saw ghost pipe fish and a juvenile batfish. For the first time I actually dove down under water while snorkelling in order to get a closer look at the ship.
After a little snack at a beachside café, we were off again through the many small villages hugging the shore. The road becomes increasingly worse on this stretch of coast with large pot holes that in wet season must be almost impassable. As a result, the area sees few tourists and passing schoolchildren ran up to the car and had a chat with us as we stopped for photos.
Somewhere along the road we came to a traditional weaving and dyeing co-operative where several women were working on geometrical designs. Loy purchased a beautiful handmade table runner there.
Eventually we came to the outskirts of the local big town Amlapura and the Taman Soekasada Ujung Karangasem Water Palace. Yippee – one more water palace to check out before we leave Bali! This place was built by the king of Karangasem in 1919 and has several differnet structures in quite a few large areas of water. It was almost completely destroyed in the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 but is in the process of being restored; to me, the restoration looks almost complete.
This water palace is much larger than Tirta Gangga, having temples and various other architectural structures, as well as fountains and sculptures, arranged throughout the site. We walked through the Balai Gili, the main building standing in the middle of the largest pool with two bridges that connect it to either side; this was the resting place for the royal family.
Inside, two different couples dressed in white were having their wedding photos taken. In style the building seems to combine what look like Islamic features with European and Balinese ones. Outside, in the garden, another couple dressed in purple and gold Balinese dress posed against the beautiful backdrop of the Balai Kambang, the floating pavilion from whose tiled floor we could see the Round Building, the ruined gatehouse, and a long set of stairs leading up to another pavilion on the far hill.
It being a very hot day we rested on the cool tile floor of the pavilion for a while before venturing back into the heat.
Our final stop was the ATM in Amlapura, then lunch at the Tirta Gangga restaurant, and a roll over the mountain back to the ranch to complete a great day in eastern Bali.
See more pictures here.