Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back From Amed

I'm posting excerpts from a long letter I just sent Krista. I've been sitting here almost an hour and my butt is getting sore...so "you" is actually Krista and not you. (Unless Krista is reading this). Hope that's okay.

I'm back!!! I'm so sorry you were worried. I fully expected there to be internet in Amed, and indeed it was advertised, but for some (untranslatable) reason it was always broken (so sorry, maybe work later...)

I've been having a jam packed time of it. I can't even begin to describe all the amazing sites, sights and experiences in the last four days. But yesterday afternoon and this morning I went SCUBA DIVING!!!. Scuba diving down into the US Liberty, an american ship sunk off the coast by the japanese in 1942! At least I think that's the date and situation. No google in Amed. It was an incredible experience, so beyond snorkling it just doesn't compare. There were fish just swimming right up to us, big BIG tropical fish, a giant clam with irridescent blue lips, two clown fish playing in their anenomie! Tell the kids I saw 'little nemo'. It just went on and on. An hour of absolute bliss yesterday and then again this morning. I've got a roll of film I took with their underwater camera. I hope it comes out so I can show you. The little Balinese dive master was such a cool fellow. He didn't really talk me into doing it, but was just so encouraging. And he was so careful teaching me what to do and making sure I was safe and ok the whole time. And he must know every square meter of that wreck, he led me on two different tours and they were both just stunning. words really fail me. It was 200,000 rp for the experience. About $20.

So far my ears seem okay. If they even start to get funky I've got my perscription eardrops from new zealand.

So backing up a bit...four days ago the owner of the gayatri invited me to go to kintamani and lake batur with him, to visit some hotsprings. I went for it and had a most unusual day! he speaks excellant english (for a balinese) so I was able to ask him a million questions. and since he's travelled and lived in europe he has a more western perspective on things and that made it much easier to have a conversation. aside from the hotsprings, which were really disgusting!, we stopped off at two different rural families, people who work,or have worked for him. He's sort of like an honorary grandfather-benefactor. Really a nice man. I got to hear much of his life story over the course of the day, and had experiences no guide would provide. he took me to a place he called the bamboo village, which was like a little suburban track neighborhood, about 500 years old! all the houses and compounds were the same (until recently). I got to see coffee growing there. I'll have to show you pictures. We also went to rural temples and such. Really cool. And lake batur was worth going to see. how ironic that that asshole guide took us up there last year and we never even saw it (at least didn't) I didn't even know it was there to see. (It was raining very hard).
So the next morning I took off with my new driver Nyoman Raka, who is about my age, I think. It was hard at first, not having such an easy time conversing, but he took me to great places. The temple at Besakih (sp?) which is the mother temple for all bali, and then the goa lawah, the bat cave. I didn't see batman or robin, but there were tens of thousands (of the millions) of fruit bats right there to see. Apparently there are also giant black pythons that live up in the cave walls and come out to eat bats! I didn't get to see that happen, but I'll tell you, my inner child was doing cartwheels.
We then went to a great resturaunt in Candi Dasa he'd once been to with a client. He was very surprised when I offered to buy him lunch! I guess he wouldn't be invited if it were a group tour. It was the best meal I've had so far on bali. And then he took me to a really nice hotel in Amen. My 100,000rp room was the same price, but SO much nicer than the giyatri, and included breakfast, and had a pool and a beach with really good snorkling. Mmmm, banana pancakes. And Bali Kopi with slices of ginger in the bottom. That was actually really good.
The room was like a polynesian affair, with very high thatched roof and coconut wood.
I rented some snorkling gear and got very sunburned in the little places I couldn't reach with sunscreen. It was better than in Moorea (but a joke compared to scuba). The resturaunt was a big open air place much like the la joya, beautiful, right on the ocean, with decent food.
So I got to see a lot of rural bali. Little pigs, farmers plowing with oxen in rice paddies, people living in very primitive conditions, gorgeous rice terraces. It was wonderful, though the drive back today kind of stressed me out. it was really sunny and hot and it seemed that the route was much more urban and trafficy. yuk. also, the only room available at the gayatri was not such a good one. probably the worst room in the place, but I finally decided to take it because my million pound bags are there and I was too tired to go looking.

I finally weighed a sarong at the post office and it was just about 1/3 kilogram, so all 150 of them should weigh 50 kilograms which is about 110 pounds. Roughly 55 pounds per suitcase, which is actually under the 70 pound limit! They really feel heavy!!

I haven't been very good about bargaining. Especially out in the boonies there just weren't very many of us tourists. No one was aggressive at all, which was one of my worries before coming. If anything, there are fewer touters than last year.

Tonight I think I'll go see the shadow puppet show down the street. Nyoman tells me it's in english. And tomorrow morning I can go see the ubud kids learning dance at the palace. it's free so they can attract an audience for the kids. My driver's 7 year old will be there.

I think I'm going to face my fear and rent a scooter tomorrow. Maybe go up to Tegallalang and maybe even Celuk.
gotta go. Butt sore.

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