It was a little odd being back on my own, and it was slower season here in Bali, but I still managed to find some good people. My first night I found a band at Babylon Bar. As the only patron, I met the band and they had me up there playing percussion. People started filing in, and it turned into a fun night. The lead singer, Esta, was a great guy who invited me to his house in a nearby village the next day for a cookout/jam session. I agreed, and we exchanged numbers. The next day after a visit to the gorgeous White Sand Beach, I drove out to Klungkung on my motorbike with an English lass on the back. It was a fantastic party and we stayed until after dark. Esta's band played for hours – he has a great voice and when I first heard him I really thought he was lip synching to Johnny Cash! Nope – he's just an amazing singer! Live music jams, barracuda and tuna on the grill, family, friends, fish satay, Bintang – it was a beautiful and special Sunday for sure.
Padangbai was wonderful, but I wanted to see more of the coast. The next day I headed towards Amed via the coastal road. I visited both water palaces on the way and enjoyed great views, but it was a pretty intense ride. The coastal road turns an hour drive into about 4 hours, and takes you up, down, and around the mountains. Luckily I found more petrol on the side of the road, and the woman threw in some hard candy as well to keep me going! Amed was a bigger town than I imagined, but the development is low density (no higher than 2 stories) so it still has a great feel to it. I drove the entire stretch of town and there were many options. I chose Three Brothers at 150,000IDR for a double with hot water and breakfast. Great location on the beach, with many restaurants nearby, and there are rooms steps from the ocean.
I was there to dive, so I set out the next day with Adventure Dive to check out the USS Liberty shipwreck. It was my first shipwreck, and I am still getting the hang of scuba, so I was very nervous. I am a bit claustrophobic, but up for a challenge! It was my first beach dive, and I really enjoyed it. We approached the boat and it was behemoth! 120 meters long... talk about intimidating! We spent the first dive making our way around the boat, which took about an hour. The sea life was incredible and the visibility was at least 20 meters. The garden eels at the end of the dive were amazing, and we also saw some nudibranches, a flounder, and barracuda my size (water enlarges things ;). After our break, the 2nd dive took us through the boat. It was scary at first, but my buoyancy had improved considerably and I was soon lost in the magic of the wreck. We saw the captains seat, the wheel, different rooms, and tons of fish. Absolutely amazing and the dive master was so peaceful it really helped :) I was exhausted afterwards, but went out for a snorkel just off the beach and was reward with a turtle sighting. I had dinner at a local warung – it was an amazing meal complimented by a beautiful moon over the ocean. The next morning I went out early for a snorkel off the beach in front of my guest house. The sea life there is incredible, and you don't have to swim far or fast to see it. I couldn't find the pygmy sea horses, so I guess I will have to go back! I would highly recommend Amed, although I have no idea what it'd be like in high season. Next stop? Off to Ubud!