Bali, Indonesia. April, 2003.
After a week spent in cultural Ubud, witnessing the spirited Tawur Kesanga festival and the following day of silence and inactivity marking Nyepi, the Balinese new year's day, we arranged a long-term scooter rental and set off to see the eastern part of this fabled island.
My memory of these excursions is disjointed and unreliable, so for this report I'll confine my narrative to providing brief captions for the photos. They will refer to the photo(s) directly above.
Here's that map again. The routes marked in yellow above are an approximation of two outings. The loop along the southern coast circling the eastern headlands lasted three days; one night in Candidasa, near Padang Bai and one in Amed, on the northeast coast. The run going north to the great crater lake, I did alone in one day.
Close to Candidasa, is the village of Tenganan, a walled compound where only Bali Aga (original Balinese) may live. A craftsman displays an illustrated history of ancient Bali, meticulously drawn on thin slats of bamboo, joined with string.
As you can see from the map above, the headlands of far eastern Bali are formed by an extinct volcano. The coastal road is an incredibly twisted affair with roller-coaster dips and numerous small bridges in various states of repair. At times it was necessary to dismount and walk our underpowered scooter up treacherous inclines.
Just west of the Amed coastal area is relatively flat agricultural land. These pictures and the one of the cow below were taken from the road leading back to central Bali.
The eastern slope of Mount Agung, Bali's most sacred mountain. This was the site of violent explosions in 1963 that took the lives of up to 2,000 Balinese villagers. The classically shaped volcano can also be seen in the distance from Kuta's main beach.
I took a rest stop at this mountainside tropical forest during my long uphill ride to Gunung Batur, a massive defunct crater containing a large lake and a few scattered villages.
Once over the lip of the main crater, I was treated to this surreal vista; two smaller volcanos poking up from the sparcely-grown cinder floor.
There were a few villages and settlements inside the main crater. Although Bali seems in general a prosperous, happy place, this area was marked by brutal poverty, perhaps due to the collapse of Bali's tourist trade following the 2002 Kuta bombing.
Almost half the crater's area is submerged by a large scenic lake, also named Batur, which supports a local fishing industry. Swimming is offered at some resorts near Kintamani. On October 16, 2006, Bali-based world-record ocean swimmer Monte Monfore made the first-ever-recorded swim across the holy lake as part of a UN-sponsored anti-poverty initiative.
I'm drawing a serious blank over the location and significance of the monuments pictured above. Wish I could tell you more. Next and final Southeast Asia report: Kuta Beach; coming soon.