We have made our way to Amed, which isn’t really a town per se but a collection of seven different villages, mini-marts, dive shops, hotels, and restaurants stretching along several kilometers of coast line. Amed is drop-dead gorgeous.
There are beaches full of brightly colored fishing boats.
The restaurants serve fish pulled out of the ocean earlier the same day and can’t even tell you what they are serving until the fishermen return — Robert sure has been enjoying that. I’ve been enjoying homemade coconut ice cream. And coconut pancakes.
There are wonderful views from up high.
And the sunsets are out of this world.
Robert tells me the diving is amazing — you can even dive from shore. I can vouch for the snorkeling. Two feet from shore and you start to see fish. A few feet further and there is coral. The reefs are absolutely full of fish — while snorkeling we saw angel fish and trigger fish and clown fish and parrot fish and box fish and lion fish and cuttlefish and a whole bunch of other really cool fish. Hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands) of fish all within swimming distance to the bar! Some were even a little bit scary, like the translucent silver guys swimming around in big schools all with their mouths wide open. Others were just downright cool, like the shrimp-like creatures hanging out on the tops of rocks.
Because Amed is so spread out, the best way to get about is via motorbike. We walked to sunset point one night (which is less than a mile from our hotel) and locals repeatedly asked us if we needed a taxi — nobody walks here. When we explained we had a motorbike and just wanted some exercise, I’m pretty sure they thought we were crazy.
But, beware! Motorbike riding around here is some kind of art form. There are no rules. OK, that isn’t quite true, we’ve worked out one rule. Honk politely to let people know you are there. Not the rude honks we are used to in the U.S. — just a short little beep to say hi. Honk at dogs and chickens too. Other than that, anything goes. Riding on the wrong side? Just fine for short distances. Four across? No worries! Passing huge trucks on blind corners? Sure, if you are brave enough (we were not). Pulling out in front of traffic? Sure, why not, they can see you and slam on the brakes. Nine year olds driving their toddler siblings? No problem at all. It is the wild, wild west!
Once you have your motorbike and get comfortable riding it, you can also visit places like Tirta Gangga, which is a formal royal palace and now largely just a beautiful garden and swimming area.
Tirta Gangga was destroyed when Mount Agung erupted back in the 60’s. And, on our first attempt to visit it, as we drove by Mount Agung, we saw this (sorry about the photo quality but we were in a bit of a hurry….):
Yeah, that freaked us out just a teeny tiny bit. Ok, fine, it freaked us out quite a bit and we turned our scooter right around and headed back to the safety of our hotel. Robert’s dive shop got quite a kick out of that story. Turns out Mount Agung burps smoke/ash like this all the time. (One night it even threw up lava, starting several large forest fires on the mountain. We had go bags packed….but they were completely unnecessary.)
After being in Amed a couple of days and seeing these small eruptions over and over, we screwed up our courage and headed back to Tirta Gangga.
On the way, we passed some stunning rice fields.
When you arrive and negotiate your way past the people who want you to hire them as a guide (and the lady who may or may not have scammed us out of 2000 IDR — or 14 cents — for parking), the first thing you see is a water garden filled with stepping stones and cool statues.
It was pure dumb luck that I managed to get this photo, because the stepping stones are littered with tourists trying to get that perfect Instagram shot. I got stuck out there while some idiot posed on nearly every stone. Let’s just say Robert was not even remotely amused when he got stuck on the stones….
But the statues are really, really cool.
As are the numerous fountains.
The ponds are full of fish. For 5000 IDR (35 cents), you can get three little bags of fish food (buy these from one of the shops before entering the gardens). Some of the koi were huge!
The gardens also contain a multi-story tower.
There are beautiful flowers.
And massive lily pads.
And crazy looking dragonflies.
And, all the way in the back are some downright scary statues.
As you are leaving, keep an eye out for the shop with a sense of humor.
Amed and the surrounding areas are stunning. And hurting because of the volcano scaring away tourists, even though every bit of information we find says Amed is safe. We can’t wait to come back.