More Bali

Post date: Sep 26, 2011 4:27:50 AM

We have been in Bali a week and we have probably seen more of this island than any of the others.

We are anchored at Lovina, a collection of villages west of Singaraja on the north coast. It is an open anchorage and, because of this it can get a bit rolly.

While here we did a dive tour to the wreck of the USS Liberty which was torpedoed during WW2 by the Japanese. It was run onto the beach at Tulamben where it stayed until the volcano Gunung Agung erupted in 1963 and the resulting earthquake moved it further out into the sea. It is now a major dive tourism attraction in this part of the world. It proximity to the beach enables divers of all abilities from snorkellers to experienced deep water divers to experience something special at their level. The wreck is only metres off shore and at its shallowest is just below the surface. The entire wreck is covered in coral and is a haven for schools of fish and other reef creatures. In some places it has collapsed and divers can swim through it.

The package we were offered was excellent value at € 40. This included the bus trip (2 hours each way), 2 dives, dive gear, air bottles, lunch and a dive master/guide through Malibu Dive Centre at Lovina.

We have been entertained every night with traditional dancing and music from cultural groups from the surrounding areas, which we have enjoyed and it is interesting to see the difference in the culture as we have moved from east to west through Indonesia. We visited therapeutic hot springs nearby and attended a bull racing event. The bulls are harnessed in pairs and raced – although the racing is more like a dressage event. The bulls are groomed and made to look beautiful and the “racing” is more about rhythm, posture and handling of the animals than about getting from point A to point B first. It was an unusual but thoroughly entertaining event.

We hired a car for a few days and took a trip through the high volcanic interior of Bali. Here we wound our way uphill through rainforest to cooler coniferous forest and then short grassland which had seen recent volcanic activity. Here we drove to Kintamani where we visited a Hindu temple and had lunch overlooking the crater lake, Lake Batur. From Kintamani, on the edge of the crater we could see Mt Batur and Mt Agung, the highest mountain in Bali and the holiest place on the island. This area is a very important market garden area for Bali. Lots of gardens here grow a multitude of fruit and vegetables. The volcanic rock is also quarried for use in concrete statuary so common in Bali.

From here we drove to Ubud, the cultural and arts centre of Bali, passing through a number of villages which specialise in just one type of craft, e.g. Silver work, wood carving, bone/horn carving etc . . . By the time we arrived at Ubud it was getting late so we found a cool hotel, the Puri Padi, with a pool and hung out at the pool until dinner time. The air was cooler here and very pleasant.

The next day we were out to shop and look at what Ubud had to offer. There were so many little shops selling all sorts of arts and crafts and clothing. We spent the day wandering along the streets entering little shops and looking at their wares, testing our bartering skills hoping to get a few bargains.

Early afternoon we left and began our journey home. It was a shame we could have not spent longer there – there is so much to see and experience. On our way home we stopped at Bali's Botanical Gardens at Bedugul where they have an amazing collection of orchids – unfortunately many of them were not in flower. And then our return home was between 2 more crater lakes, lake Bratan and Lake Buyan.

Then it was on down through the conifer forest and rainforest, past the waterfall at Gitgit and on into Singaraja, the closest city to Lovina and our ship.

Bali is not all tropical gardens, beach, surf, and terraced rice fields. There was a starkness in the high country which was surprising. Not everywhere is lush and green, particularly at the end of the dry season. We have enjoyed our stay here. We have not experienced as much the hard sell of the locals in other parts of the island.