Great Start in Lovely Bali
Trip Start Oct 18, 2010
9Trip End Dec 15, 2010
Show trip route
Where I stayed
We arrived in Bali and made our way to immigration. We had obtained 60-day tourist visas in advance, but the process had been such a hassle that we feared some deficiency would be identified upon arrival. We were stamped in without incident. Next up, we needed cash. Although there were countless charming, waving money changers in booths leaving customs, we opted for the ATM. Indonesian prices run in the 10s and 100s of thousands of Rupiah. Sleep deprivation made the decision of whether to take out 4 million or 5 million Rupiah sort of hilarious.
We left the airport and were relieved to find our pre-arranged driver, who was to take us to our first destination, the small town of Tulamben on the northeast coast of Bali. We were quickly impressed by what we saw. Bali is such a well-known, frequently traveled international tourist destination that we feared it might have gotten too popular - maybe built up or sterile. But what we saw along the way included beautiful, wild tropical plants framing the road, bright green rice paddies, sculptures on roadside temples and the ends of bridges, and lots of people whizzing around on motorbikes.
We chose Tulamben as our first destination because of its reputation for good and cheap scuba divingLiberty Dive Resort. The room had many more comforts than we normally are willing to pay for (AC, hot water, daily cleaning, minibar, coffee/tea, pool, good breakfast). But, still, it was our first stop, so it was easy for us to say, wow, only $38 per night! While we were there, Jeff took an advanced scuba diving course that Allison had already done, which will give us better diving options in the future. Jeff's instructor was a really great French woman who splits her time between making jewelry in the Bayou of Louisiana and teaching scuba diving in the tropics. She arranged Jeff's dives so that Allison could come, too, and the three of us had three fun days of diving together, seeing lots of amazing things (see the photos for more). The major dive attraction at Tulamben (and the most popular dive site in Bali) is a torpedoed WWII U.S. cargo ship (the Liberty), which was grounded on shore for a number of years before being swept into the ocean following a volcanic eruption in the early 60s. Now, it is covered in coral, has tons of life living on and around it, and is great fun to swim around because it is so huge - about 300 feet long, and as deep as 100 feet.
After Tulamben, we headed south to the little "town" (really one tourist attraction with a couple of related services) of Tirta Gangga
The number one attraction of Tirta Gangga is a water palace filled with sculptures, flowers, and pools that a Balinese king built back in the 30s or 40s. Although much of the palace was destroyed in the same volcanic eruption that washed the Liberty into the sea, the site has been rebuilt and is really beautiful. We went during a late afternoon that threatened rain, so there weren't many people there, except for lots of local kids who'd come to flirt and swim in the public bathing pools. We stayed at Rijasa Homestay, which was recommended by our guidebook, but divier than we expected - we weren't sorry to leave that one. The nice people there, however, hooked us up with a local guide who took us on a nice walk through the surrounding rice paddies and his village (see the photos for more).
From Tirta Gangga, we continued our mastery of the bemo and headed further south to the seaside town of Candidasa. We weren't huge fans of the town, although we had a generally good time
We are in the town of Ubud at the moment. We'll bring you more from Bali when we can!