Today is Sunday August 11th and we are taking another auto trip, this time around the eastern part of Nusa Penida. Our driver Ardi speaks very good English, having attended university in Bali and working on cruise ships out of Miami for several years. He gives us a wealth of knowledge about the island, its people, customs and culture, as well as showing us some spectacular scenery.
Leaving our resort in Ped we take the main road east along the north shore, passing though a very busy market place used mainly by locals. Turning south we follow the coast line and see higher end resorts and home-stay villas, and one stretch that is predominantly Chinese tourists. There are huge floating structures anchored just offshore, used as aquatic playgrounds, with giant water slides, swimming areas and docking for speed boats & jet skis.
There are many places along the shallow water with hundreds of stakes sticking out of the water. These are seaweed farms, where seaweed was some how attached and grown on the poles and harvested by local fishermen. Most have been abandoned as the labor was hard and the pay was very low.
Now we have arrived at one of the most unusual temples in the area, called Goa Giri Putri Temple. Since we forgot to bring our sarongs we must rent them from a handy vendor, as everyone must wear proper dress to enter a temple. Next we climb a good amount of stairs - maybe 8 or 10 stories up, to enter an open reception area. Ardi asks if we notice the temple entrance, which we don't. He points to a small hole in the rocks on the side, with a drapery hanging over it. Susie is looking pretty skeptical, but she follows him in, squeezing through the small opening. We only have to shimmy on our rear for a short ways before the passage opens into a huge cavern.
Standing up we start walking towards the lights, passing several small altars and several long tables covered with packages, which are offerings from the faithful. Towards the rear their is a large group of people moving up a stairway, preparing for some type of ceremony.
Ardi tells us the cave used to be full of thousands of bats, but as more people came for the temple they burned more incense, which drove the bats elsewhere. There was one small side tunnel that X took us into and we saw a few bats hanging from the ceiling and flying around. Near the exit of the cave was an altar for the Chinese, but he did not know the specific religion.
Exiting the cave we were kind of on the other side of the mountain overlooking a small valley which contained quite a few monkeys. We hid our water bottle & newly purchased fermented cassava & skedaddled! The route back to the road took us past many local shacks, and another reminder of how much trash and litter is everywhere. One of the few really negative aspects of Bali we have seen so far.
Back on the road south and starting to get up in the mountains. Ardi is a much better driver than yesterday, driving a reasonable speed and letting faster vehicles go past. Some of these roads are pretty bad, but not quite as rough as yesterday.
Finally we arrive at a parking lot that serves Atuh Beach & Diamond Beach, and is quite busy. Walking out to a vantage point you can see Atuh Beach down to the left and Diamond Beach to the right. The tide is out right now so the swimmers at Atuh would have to walk out a long way to get to water deep enough to swim. Few are trying it.
Straight ahead is a rocky peninsula with a couple of small rocky islands. The cobalt blue current is really sweeping by from the east to west, creating mesmerizing eddies and upwellings in the water downstream from the rocks.
Off to the left is a winding path cut into the cliff, that ends up at Diamond Beach. A steady flow of stalwart young people make their way down (and up) the steps, with a shaky rope for a "guard rail". If this was in the USA, it would be closed off, or at least have a ranger there requiring release forms to be signed! We can see that many people have made it to the bottom and a few are actually in the water. There is also a large rope swing that runs out over some large boulders. Hmmmm.
A short drive west brings us to another overlook where we can see the Rumah Pohon Tree Houses far below on a rocky point. These are rustic bungalows that can be rented for an awesome view of the ocean while sleeping. Not sure how relaxing they would be as there is also a steady stream of tourists climbing up and down another steep set of steps to the tree houses. We settled for a view through the binocs.
And now it's time to turn towards home, noting that there is new construction going on everywhere - all the tiny villages in the hills as well as the coasts. More tourists, more bungalows, more warungs (eateries). A couple of stops at ATMs (the first didn't work) and back at the room to relax - then off to Penida Colada for some dinner.