Departing Pemutaran with our driver/guide, Edy, we were able to take the coastal road to our next destination, Padangbai. Passing thru the resort city of Lovina and then Singaraja, the former capital of Bali, we were in the heart of a major agricultural area. This region is known for its produce and coffee plantations. Numerous small roadside markets gave us the opportunity to purchase a variety of unusual fruit for snacks later at our hotel; black grapes, custard apples, lychee nuts, rambutans, and mangosteens were snagged.
Tirta Gangaa (holy water of the Ganges) was our only tourist stop for the day. Built in the 1940’s and 50’s, the palace was rebuilt in 1963 following it’s destruction due to an eruption of the nearby Agung Volcano. Focal point of the water palace in an eleven-tiered lotus fountain surrounded by pools, water-spouting sculptures, and meticulously maintained gardens. Waters come from a natural spring and are said to have curative powers. Admission to the grounds is 30,000 rupiah (roughly $2.85) but for an additional 10,000 rupiah visitors can take a dip in the healing waters. The area provides gorgeous overviews of rice fields and terraces.
Arriving late afternoon in Padangbai, we were able to schedule a snorkeling trip for the following morning. Our accommodations were located up a narrow road on the outskirts of town. With a recommendation from our hotel’s owner, we walked down to the waterfront to a local warung offering fresh fish. Selecting red snapper and black grouper from the offerings our first evening, the fish was cleaned and butterflied, and slathered with garlic butter and sizzled over a wood-burning grill. It was served with rice, a salad and a fruit plate, the meal was heavenly and cheap. Confident we had found the best place in town, we returned nightly to repeat the feasting and were never disappointed.
As we headed out on the water the following morning in a traditional jukung, there were two destination on the schedule. The renowned Blue Lagoon offered little during our visit, but the second location was like jumping into a giant aquarium with excellent visibility and a huge variety of colorful tropical fish and corals. During our off-season visit we were the the only snorkelers at the site. Plans to travel out to nearby Nusa Penida were cancelled due to a bad weather report. But, luckily, the weather was beautiful in Padangbai and by staying in town we had time to explore the overlook for Blue Lagoon, White Sand Beach, Black Sand Beach and to hang out poolside during the heat of midday.
In wandering around town, we saw some men preparing for the upcoming New Year’s celebration, which we missed. Called Nyepi, a day of silence, the event differs radically from the rest of the world. The evening before New Year's Day, parades are held across Bali featuring Ogoh-ogoh. This large sculpture is carted through the streets, and represents evil spirits. At the end of the evening the character is burned to dispel those bad spirits. The following morning at 6 AM and for the next 24 hours everyone must stay inside. Restaurants, and all businesses are closed, no flights are allowed to come into or depart the only airport, and the only vehicles allowed on the streets are for emergencies. Special watchmen are assigned to monitor this restricted activity and anyone (including visitors) will be admonished to return indoors.
Arriving in Jimbaran, Edy mentioned that we could purchase seafood at the waterfront fish market and then have ourpurchases cooked at nearby warungs, which would also provide sides and beverages for a total charge far below the restaurants in the city. Once we were set at a the hotel, we walked to the market and selected our dinner, crab and lobster. With multiple warungs available, we selected one next to the market. Once again we were not disappointed. We are quickly getting spoiled with the excellent, inexpensive food here—good thing it’s time for us to return home now.
|In Padangbai, busy street following an evening ceremony at the Hindu temple|
|Overview of Padangbai on our walk into town|
|Roosters waiting for the evening's activity|
|Black Sand Beach|
|Dinner prep in Jimburan|
|Dinner in Padangbai|
|Overview of Blue Lagoon|
|View of the rice fields near the water palace|
|Brine drying in the tree trunks to create salt|