Sanur, Amed and Mount Batur

26 Jan

Our Uber got us from the Bukit Peninsula to Sanur pretty rapidly and cheaply. We chose to go to Sanur, a quiet beach town on the east coast, simply because it would be a good stop over prior to going to Amed, which is further up the coast. And staying true to the quiet and relaxed vibes of the town, we didn’t do much of anything. The hostel we stayed at, Big Pineapple, was pretty great, with clean dorm rooms, comfy beds, air con, clean bathrooms, free breakfast and a glorious pool. We arrived in the afternoon and after so much sun exposure on the peninsula decided to simply go for a walk down the beachside “boardwalk” (basically a sidewalk) that is the longest in Bali apparently. We ended up walking for nearly six miles, down the beach and back through the sleepy town filled with small restaurants and boutiques, picked up some beers, and headed back to the pool for the evening. The following day we did nearly the same thing, deciding against the beach for the sake of our skin and instead went on a nice workout walk and grabbed coffees. After the pool for a few hours we went to a happy hour at a pizza place and got amazing personal pizzas for under five dollars each to split amongst us, including a prosciutto, arugula, Gorgonzola pie, a potato sausage and thyme pie and a salami and chile pie. The next day we were moving on to Amed, and had to trek to the liquor store in the rain to get some vodka after realizing there probably wouldn’t be liquor stores in Amed and we certainly wouldn’t want to overpay for booze in the Gili islands (where we were to go after Amed). The trip from Sanur to Amed was about two hours, and we were a little nervous an Uber wouldn’t show up for us. A guy accepted immediately but when he arrived he asked us where we were going and when we said Amed he quickly denied us. On our second attempt the driver told us he would do it if we added 150,000 cash at the end of the ride so that he could drive back. It seemed fair to us because he certainly would not have any rides going the other way. Either way, it still worked out cheaper than a shuttle. 

The car ride to Amed was absolutely gorgeous and further confirmed my favorite color as rice paddy green. During the final turns into Amed I was literally speechless at the beauty of the tremendous mountain backdrops and endless green terraces. We arrived in Amed at the Stop Inn and were put into our rooms, which were incredibly moist and not particulary clean, but you get what you pay for. The bungalows seem to be the style for the whole town and are certainly more open to the elements than any place we’ve stayed in a while, with mosquitos and geckos making their way through the room at all hours. I even woke up one morning with pellets of poop next to me, afraid that it was mouse poop. I quickly realized that it was gecko poop that had probably come from a gecko scurrying across the ceiling, and was instantly relieved. That is the level of dirtiness I have achieved, gecko poop feels clean to Asia Ciara. 

The owners, however, were incredibly sweet and we got a free banana pancake for breakfast in the morning. On that first afternoon in Amed we went walking around and it instantly felt like being back in true Asia. We had been away from it for so long in the south of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, but being in Amed felt like being back in Vietnam again, except surrounded by even more gorgeous scenery. We ate dinner at a plastic stool roadside spot, where a toothless old lady who spoke no English attempted to decipher our orders. Dollar orders of noodles and rice were accompanied by large Bintangs and a few rounds of cards. It honestly, in a very weird way, felt like home. 

Amed is definitely a place that feels the wet season and we got rained on every day at least once. On our only full day in the town we decided to go snorkeling, but were rained out pretty quickly. Angela and I made it into the water and it was the first time I had gotten a snorkeling experience since Cambodia, since I was held back from my toe affliction while in Thailand. Amed is known for its snorkeling and diving and it became clear why very quickly. Immediately when you get into the water of these black sand beaches you can see fish and within a few feet you’re floating over ruins of an old temple and coral with multiple exotic fish feeding off of them. We saw fish of all shapes and sizes, crazy colors and fins coming out from every which way. It was truly amazing, but one of our snorkels was busted up which made the experience kind of annoying. We went back onto shore about a half hour after starting to be greeted by thunder and lightning. We escaped as quickly as we could and ended up in a restaurant to eat, have some beers and let the rain pass. Naturally, the only time the rain stopped was while we were eating so we just decided to take it in. Never ones to pay for cabs, we booked it in the rain and made it back to the guesthouse, a mile away, soaking wet from head to toe. After much deliberation given the rain, we decided that we would do the Mount Batur climb for the sunrise the following morning. After our two failed attempts at Angkor Wat and Mount Bromo for sunrise, we were very wary to book this one, and with such a clear pattern of terrible weather. But, you gotta risk it for the biscuit, so we decided this would be our final attempt at a sunrise in Asia.  

We woke up at 12:30 to be picked up at 1:00 AM by “Uncle” who drove us all he way to the Mount Batur base, which took about two hours. Throughout the drive the rain came and went but we tried to remain positive. We got to the base and met our trekking guide who gave us little flashlights to see in the darkness. The trek up was actually pretty difficult and rocky and involved a lot of climbing. We did pretty well though and made it to the top in an hour and forty minutes, while most people take two hours (or so our tour guide said). He set us up for the sunset in the most prime location and went to boil our eggs for breakfast and make us banana sandwiches. The rain had subsided luckily, but we were very cold up there and even held our boiled eggs for warmth instead of eating them right away. Just before 6:00 AM, we finally got our first sunrise. It didn’t fully rise above the mountain, and instead just created a line on the horizon, but it was still worth it. After getting our fill of pictures and the amazing view, our guide took us a bit lower to see the black lava and a temple cave, and showed us pockets in the earth where the hot steam spews out. We made it down the mountain by 8:00 am, completely exhausted, and fell asleep in the car on the way back. We spent the day doing very little but sleeping and eating and the rainy day gave us the perfect excuse to do so. Later that evening we booked our ferry for Gili T, the first of a string of three islands off Lombok Island.

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