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  • Writer's pictureBil

Bali Northwest

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

The road from Lovina to Pemuteran winds westward along the northern coast of Bali, through the typical roadside shops, warungs, mini-marts and tiny stalls selling clothes or groceries. There seemed to be an increase of larger trucks as we neared the western village of Pemuteran – maybe they are taking a ferry over to Java, or continuing around to the south back towards Denpasar.

Pulling in to Adi Assri Beach Resort we see a large open-air reception area, with the main desk, and many comfy chairs and settees placed around the tile and marble floors. After checking in a young man wheels our backpacks on a cart down a paved path between many rooms and bungalows, with beautiful lush landscaping everywhere.

We roll up in front of a bungalow with the traditional wooden Balinese wooden door and shuttered windows and Susie says “Whoa there big fella – that’s not what I requested!”. She had done extensive research (as always – Suksma Susie!) to find a place with full glass across the front to let in lots of light.

Back to the front desk and it was quickly resolved so we move into a lovely large room, full glass front with terrace facing the pool and beach, and a huge four poster bed with mosquito canopy. TV and small fridge. And best of all, an outdoor bath with shower & toilet, enclosed by a stone wall. All this for about $38 per night! But the Wi-Fi is sloooooowwww…….

Like everywhere we have been in Bali so far, everyone we meet is friendly and helpful. Many speak English, especially younger folks, but not all. We had fun buying dragon fruit, incense & matches in a small shop where no one spoke English.

Bali is predominantly Hindu, but there are apparently more Muslims in this area as there are a couple of Mosques nearby. When the wind is quieter in the evening we can hear “stereo” calls to prayer while sitting on the beach. And sometimes early morning if I am awake.

Adi Assri is a very large resort, with two pools, a restaurant and a bar, and many lounge chairs on the beach. They have a variety of rooms and villas for guests, and a large staff of people to maintain it all. One of the young guys said he makes about 1,000,000 IDR a month, plus any tips. That is about $70. He was wearing a bootleg pair of Converse that cost him $7 - a tenth of his monthly wages.

While walking the beach we noticed a sign at one bar called Reef Tunes that said “Live Music Sunday – Guest Musicians Welcome”. So of course we had to get over there Sunday eve. They had a 5 piece band called the Kalimasada Band that sounded great – guitar, bass, drums and male & female singers. Every one of them was quite talented. I chatted them up on break and singer Wayan Sam invited me up for their 2nd set.

Chris, the owner of Reef Tunes also plays, and he was kind enough to let me play his gorgeous ’71 Sunburst Les Paul Custom. It looked brand new & played beautifully. The band was great and we ripped through Black Magic Woman, Funky Music and Smoke on the Water. Thanks so much guys!

Since I have been SCUBA diving more I started reading about Nitrox, which mixes more oxygen and less nitrogen in the SCUBA tank. The benefit is longer dives at medium depths (50’ to 90’) due to having less dissolved N in the blood to be removed. It can also be a larger safety margin if used with standard air tables and can be beneficial for older divers in general. Sign me up!

So I did! Took a course at Ocean Dreams Pemuteran with Renaud, the Swiss gentleman that co-owns the shop with his Balinese wife. He explained the theory of Nitrox, the dangers of oxygen toxicity, and how to use it safely. Preparation and knowledge is key – the actual diving is no different.

The following day (Monday 02/09/19) we went on a dive trip with Ocean Dreams to Menjandan Island, a premier dive destination in the Bali Barat National Park. Our group consisted of a young couple from Germany and another from France, who were all going to snorkel with Susie and a guide. Made was my instructor, and he drove us in a little beat up van (Daihatsu?) down the road to a little harbor just outside the park.

Everyone boarded an open boat about 8 metes long with twin 40hp outboards and off we went. Took about 20 minutes through a light chop to an area close to the island where 3 or 4 other boats were already milling around. I concentrated on my gear and forgot about the rest of them.

Our first dive was at Underwater Cave, drifting along a steep coral wall that dropped to about 30 meters, though we never descended past 19 meters. Visibility was Ok but not great – a lot of particulate suspended – I guess from wave action. I saw a large variety of beautiful coral and lots of tropical fish, including several huge angelfish and the first really large barracuda I’ve seen over here. We swam into an underwater cave and Made pointed out an Electric Fileclam. It looked like it had neon white and blue stripes racing across the front – it was so cool! Look it up!

The highlight of Susie’s dive was seeing a couple groups of clownfish in their anemone homes. Most everyone calls them Nemo Fish – hahaha. After the first dive we motored to a dock with several other boats rafted up, and had lunch on the boat. Menjandadn is Balinese for deer, and there were a few hanging around the dock, probably looking for handouts. They looked a lot like reindeer. There are several temples on the island, but we stayed near the boat.

After I ate Made gave me a 25 item quiz on Nitrox – yay – I passed! Our captain cruised around to the north side for our second dive at Coral Garden, which was another drift dive for Made & me, requiring little effort to move along. The coral was more varied and striking here with some very large, lacy fans with a smaller black & white coral in the middle. We saw some very cool banded shrimp & hairy crabs, and some large triggerfish and snapper.

When my tank was down to 50 Bar it was time to surface. We had already moved to shallow water for a safety stop and now surfaced and inflated our BCs. No boats anywhere close by! I could see several off in the distance one way, and another passing by about 500 meters offshore. Made tried to whistle for the boat, but he’s not so good at whistling, and boats were too far any way! I think the passing boat alerted our driver & they finally collected us about 10 minutes later!

I was wearing two dive computers from the shop – one on each wrist. The left was calibrated for air and the right one for Nitrox. When my tank was about empty the air computer said I had about 10 minutes left while the Nitrox said 37 minutes. But the air supply was the limiting factor anyway.

The rest of the days we have just kinda taken it easy. Coffee on the porch in the morning, then walk down the road & choose a warung for late breakfast. Back to the resort to hang by the pool or beach & read, and wait for sunset. Another walk on the road or beach for another place to eat and back to the room.

Most dinners come in around $8 to $15, depending on whether we have drinks, dessert, etc. And most have been very good, with a variety of typical Indonesian rice, noodles & veggies, local fish, and the occasional pizza! Last night we went all out with a small chocolate lava cake and an apple crumble! Tonight – a piece of Toblerone chocolate in the room.

Sweet dreams!

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