We then set off towards the northwest corner of Bali, to Pemuteran. We passed by lots of cloves drying on the roadside and you could really smell them in the air. Along the way we stopped at some hot springs.
They were quite neat with 3 different pools, each with water cascading from spouts at different heights. Hot springs at 35 degrees weren’t terribly alluring so I joined the other shade seekers and got a bottle of iced tea. I kept an eye on belongings and took photos while the others went in.
We arrived at our hotel in Pemuteran and after checking in, had a quick lunch. Shortly after that, we were down at the beach, ready to go snorkeling. The offshore coral reefs had been destroyed by warm El Niņo waters and dynamite fishing. The reefs have now started re-growing, but you can still see lots of empty patches. Several of the local dive shops piloted a program where they run low current electric pulses through the coral.
This has helped it to re-grow 4-5 times faster than if left alone. We headed out and were soon spotting colourful fish and corals. I particularly liked the Picasso triggerfish, the Moorish idol, and any bright blue and yellow fish. There were so many different fish and we felt like we were swimming in an aquarium! We snorkeled for an hour and a half or so before the sun started to set and it got too dark.
We woke up and had an early breakfast with excellent fresh juice. By 8:15 we were down at the Reef Seen dive shop, ready to go out to Menjangan island for the day.
The snorkeling was supposed to be great and we were heading out for a day trip. The boat ride to the island took about one hour – we were able to sit out front for the first bit since it was quite calm, but once it got choppy we had to move inside or be soaked.
We arrived at our first spot and got into the water off the back of the boat. There were 7 of us plus our guide who was mostly there to make sure we all stayed together and got back on the right boat. We were only in a few metres of water so you could see right to the bottom without diving down. The corals were spectacular and much more impressive than in Pemuteran. There were lots of different types, sizes and colours with fish darting in and around them. The fish were also incredible with more variety. We swam for just under an hour, drifting, until our boat met back up with us.
We moved to a new spot and before heading back in we had nasi campur for lunch - white rice with an assortment of sides.
Unfortunately, it was too spicy for me to enjoy so I only ate a bit, plus some bananas to tide me over. We went back in the water, this time out a bit deeper. We were higher above the corals than we had been before, so it was good to be able to dive down to see them better. I was much too buoyant in the saltier water and could dive down and return to the surface feet first – right back the way I had dove in! I had borrowed a weight belt which had a 1 kg weight on it and that helped a lot. This time we were snorkeling along the reef where the reef top dropped off into a wall. This meant that we got to see some of the larger fish that like the deeper waters as well as the little ones. We even got to see brown clownfish playing in an anemone! Every once in a while we could see scuba divers or their bubbles coming up from the wall below.
The snorkeling was fantastic and we were so glad to have gone out for the day.
We were back in Pemuteran by 3 pm and Nalini and Shankar met us at the beach. They aren’t strong swimmers so wanted to go out with us and brought their lifejackets with them. They rented one snorkel set to share and Nalini went out with Anoop first. Anoop took her around to some of the shallower areas and she got to see quite a few fish and corals. Afterwards, Shankar decided to try it out so Anoop took him out for a bit as well.
For dinner we decided to try a different restaurant than the one where we were staying so we set off down the road to check out some menus.
We found one that looked good and settled in for some tasty fish. For dessert, we thought we would try the banana splits. It started out well – they went to a tree a few metres away and picked 4 bananas right off the tree. That was the best part because when they brought it out, they had cut the banana into 4 and put the slices on a plate. In the middle of the 4 slices, they had put ice cream that was like the stuff found in the cheap cups with the wooden stick back home. Definitely not delicious! The banana was tasty though and we had a good chuckle.
We set off to a nearby coffee plantation to try the famous local luwak coffee. Luwak coffee comes from the luwak animal which eats the pulp from the coffee bean, but doesn't chew the bean. The beans ferment in its stomach for 24 hours before being left as droppings. The droppings are collected, washed and cleaned, and then roasted. It is very expensive – 100g was going for $25! We got to see the animals, coffee trees and beans in their various stages. We enjoyed our walk through their garden and Anoop tried climbing their bamboo ladder. It was amazing to see how tall the ladders were. We sat on the terrace and they ordered 2 cups of coffee. Since I am not a fan of black coffee, I opted out, but Anoop tried it and said it was quite smooth.