1700 Steps in Amed
Days 249-251 (April 2-4, 2017):
Adam and I departed Ubud on our own and took a six-hour drive to the north coast of Bali. We were headed for the small town of Amed, known as a terrific spot for snorkeling. We checked into our hotel and spent the day relaxing and getting some local cuisine from a nearby restaurant. The next day, we got up bright and early ready to spend the day on the reef. After renting our equipment, we walked down to the beach and found our way into the surf. The reef itself was absolutely incredible. I have never seen so many fish in my life. We saw angelfish, unicorn fish, Moorish idols, pufferfish, and so many more. We were able to swim very close to them and the living mounds of coral shimmering in the light that filtered through the clear water.
There was a scary moment while snorkeling. At one point, the tides changed and a strong current swept in across the bay in which we were snorkeling. And with it came a wall of plastic rubbish. The garbage and plastic was so thick and prevalent in the water, Adam and I couldn’t get away from it. I tried swimming underneath it to see if I could get to the other side, but found myself having to surface right in the middle of it to get more air. It was disgusting. It was sticking to me as I came up to breathe. Adam and I both had to flee for shore to escape it. I felt so horrible, having seen this massive wall of plastic sweep through such a beautiful, pristine environment and watching the fish swim up to it curiously, taking nibbles out of the piles floating on the surface. Within ten minutes or so, the current swept back out, taking the trash with it, but I will forever remember that first-hand experience with how impactful and destructive human actions and waste can be to our planet.
We did reenter the water and enjoy some more time with the sea life, determined not to let the experience with trash ruin our time. We had a blast over the next couple hours seeing more of the coral, and swimming amongst the fish, including a tie-dyed one Adam was particularly keen on, before eventually returning to our bungalow. After about half an hour back we were faced with a very unpleasant revelation: the sunscreen we had been using that day was not waterproof. And, as a result, we were both burnt to an absolute crisp. So, we got some food and spent the rest of the evening laying on our bellies, watching movies and rubbing aloe on one another.
The next morning, we got on our scooter and went out into the country. We were headed to Pura Lempuyang, a series of seven temples that ascend up a mountain and serve as a pilgrimage spot for the Balinese people. We arrived, rented sarongs, and hired a guide to show us the way up the mountain. The pilgrimage itself, going up to the last temple is comprised of over 1700 steps. Most people only walk up to the first temple, which is home to a detailed, stone entrance nicknamed the “gateway to heaven”. We saw the gateway, got some pictures, and then pushed on, determined to hike the entire thing. Let me tell you now though, it was a challenge. I was huffing and puffing the whole time, having to stop fairly frequently to catch my breath. Adam was equally worn out by it, having to stop near the top to vomit (although honestly he think he drank some bad water). With our struggling, we were both shocked at how easily our older Balinese lady guide wearing flip flops seemed to find the ascent. At one point, she even carried speaker equipment on her head between a couple of the temples, never seeming tired or needing a break. Man, were we shown up! Eventually however, we summitted and found ourselves at the top temple, staring into the mist of the mountain. We spent some time admitting the highest temple, watching the pilgrims complete the journey and readying the alter for a celebration before beginning our descent. We took our time going down, stopping to admire the views and take some extra pictures. We both were pretty sweaty by the time we were through, but we found the experience to be worthwhile.
Also while in Amed, we took some time to just scooter around, enjoying the freedom of the open roads and taking in the views out over the water. We stopped and had beers at a few places with nice views and enjoyed some alone time. Overall, Amed was an awesome area I am glad we got to experience. It was a bit more off the beaten track than the places we had seen in Bali thus far and I really enjoyed the quiet and the slow pace of it. Despite the trash current, I thought the snorkeling was incredible; definitely the best I have ever done. Just make sure your sunscreen is water resistant and that you reapply regularly because the sun is insane here!