We just finished our visit to Indonesia with a week on two beautiful beaches in Bali. The first beach was Lovina Beach on the north side of the island. It isn’t what typically comes to mind when you say Bali (no white sand, now waves, and few people) but it was the perfect place for Chris and I to get SCUBA certified and for Meredith to dive too. Chris and I took a 3 day course and are now open water certified. Day 1 was in the classroom and in the pool. Day 2 was spent on a reef that is a National Marine Park not far off the coast of Bali. We spent about 10 min reviewing and the remainder of the 2 dives exploring the wildlife. It was a new world to me. As a swimmer and a coastal resident I was shocked at how different this water experience was for me than any other I had had. We loved the reef but were in for a real treat on Day 3. We spent the third day of the class exploring the wreck of the USS Liberty. The Liberty was commissioned at the end of WWI but was primarily used in WWII as a cargo ship. A Japanese submarine sank the ship off the coast of Bali in 1942. Before it went down completely it was beached on the coast to salvage the railroad parts it was carrying. In the mid 60s a volcanic eruption on Bali pushed the wreck from the beach to where it now rests 50m off of the shore. The wreck was a wonderful combination of history and wildlife. Watching fish as they move through the gun turrets was incredible. Lovina, now passed its heyday, is pretty deserted at night. The evening after certification Chris and I went for a few drinks and, finding the places empty, decided to enjoy a beer on the beach. What did we find, the men’s late-night gambling location. On the beach, under an umbrella and with only a lantern was a group of 25-30 men playing a type of roulette. We watched for a while but could never figure out the exact rules. It was a flury of money being thrown on a numbered mat and a heavy ball being rolled on a numbered board. It was still quite entertaining to watch, regardless of the rules.
The next day we drove over the mountains (a very scenic drive) to south Bali and stayed at the well-known surf spot of Padang Padang, down the road from the even more famous spot of Uluwatu. We stayed a great place right on the cliffs of the beach. The hotel, if it could be called was essentially a porch with bamboo mats for walls. The roof straw roof acted as the ceiling which meant that the bamboo mat/wall hardly provided a feeling of privacy as it only extended to about head height. It was all we needed though as we spent the 3 days on the beach reading and doing a bit of surfing. One afternoon we went to Uluwatu to watch the experts surf the different breaks there. It was a scene. You had 50+ surfers in the water, waves crashing on the face of the cliffs, boards being snapped in half by the surf and an army of pro photographers to capture it all. It was a wonderful way to pass a few hours, a banana shake in hand and watching this surfing/mayhem from the safety of a cliff-side café. So concludes our time in Indonesia. We are now in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for nearly a week before a few days in Kuala Lumpur before returning to the States. I’ll try to keep you posted.
Oh, and I almost forgot. We parted ways with Meredith in Bali. She decided to continue on the explore some of the more remote islands of Indonesia and is going to meet us in Kuala Lumpur. When I depart for the States she will be taking over as the sole author---maybe I can get her to post something about the parts of Indonesia we aren’t traveling together…we’ll see.