Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amed

LAST VISITED EARLY JUNE 2013



When visitors refer to Amed they are talking of a region of about 8 small coastal villages, each in its own bay, which stretches for 10km or so along the eastern most section of Bali's north coast starting at the small town of Amed in the west.
When I first visited about 10 years ago the area had a limited selection of accommodation, restaurants and visitor services. In June 2013 these had grown markedly in number and variety. Nevertheless it is still one of the more laid back areas of Bali to stay, still more a collection of fishing villages than a tourist destination.



Mount Nampu would have been a pretty impressive volcanic cone before an explosion blew the top off to leave the caldera in shot. Drainage must be good because unlike many calderas there is no big crater lake. Nevertheless the remains form a nice mountainous backdrop to the Amed coast.

SOME OF THE VILLAGE BEACHES






BEDULU RESORT
We chose Bedulu Resort, on the hillside between the villages of Jemeluk and Bunutan on the Amed coast. That's the sea view restaurant overlooking the main coastal road front left, with 4 Standard sea view rooms just behind. The Superior rooms, a family room and the superb horizon pool can be seen higher on the slope. The outlook is even better up there. Bedulu was a pretty nice place - rooms were good value, food quality and prices fine and the service excellent. There were another half dozen places to eat within 5 minutes walk along the main road.

The pool was a great place to spend time.
Outlook to the east - that beach is at Bunatan, about 15 minutes walk along the coast road past a discontinuous strip of resorts, restaurants and other businesses.


Any time of day/night saw a collection of fishing craft working offshore - may be clearer if you click image to expand.




Cool schooner was anchored in Jemeluk bay just to the west as we came in - here moving east seemingly on a bee-line for Lombok's Gili Trawangan which appeared surprisingly close.


That's Lombok in the background - Trawangan lost in the mist.


We booked a Standard room but things were slow and reception offered an upgrade to this Superior room for only 50000 rupia ($us5) - considerably less than the $20+ difference on the booking sites. This was a fine room with aircon and other features you would associate with lower-midrange - bigger and better finished than the Standard fan rooms and promising to be quieter (the Standards were fairly close to the road which although not a busy  highway with heavy vehicles had a reasonable amount of passing motorcycles) so I jumped at it. A German traveller told me she bargained a Standard room down to 230k, about half the online rate - one of the advantages of travel in late shoulder season. 
The climb up the hill from the restaurant to the Superiors and the pool took about 2 minutes and would only worry the seriously unfit.
Thing is, the Amed coast seems to have dozens of similar places. no shortage of bottom budget rooms and more than a few more upmarket joints - except for the last mentioned I would not be too hesitant of arriving unbooked even in high season, although I doubt discounts would be easy.


Each room is in a self contained chalet - a feature of the Superiors was that even though situated directly above the pool they each had an enclosing courtyard which gave a nice sense of privacy. Views from extensive patio and bed not shabby.


Two minutes walk down from the restaurant on a private path (key to gate from reception) is this section of beach. Note black sand in the Amed district. Beach nothing to get excited about but the water was amazingly clear - I took a face mask and coral started about 15m offshore and extended for the next 70m. Quality will not excite hardcore snorkellers but will keep others entertained. A few good bigger fish in this area.


ACTIVITIES
Diving - the clear water, several good near shore reefs and drop-offs plus a couple of wrecks has made Amed a popular location with divers. There is a good pick of dive-outfits to choose from - all can offer certificate instruction. Tulamben, site of a Liberty boat wreck and one of the best dives in Bali is only 10km west of the Amed strip.
Divers working close to shore off Jemeluk's eastern headland.

Snorkelling - there are plenty of spots in Amed where non-hardcore snorkellers can find interesting stuff right off the beach. And there is no shortage of outfits offering snorkelling boat trips. I'm told parts of the Liberty wreck are not too deep and okay for snorkelling
Snorkelling trip customers explore just east of Lipah.

Motorcycle touring - the coast road continues around the north-east corner of Bali all the way to Amlapura. 2013 rental cost was 50k ($us5) per day.
It's about 35km from Aas to Amlapura. Except for a chopped up few km about halfway the road is in good condition. However it is very twisty and at times climbs high into the foothills of Mt Nampu. Several creeks cross the road which might make progress more difficult at the height of wet season.

This is typical of the road still within the Amed strip - here approaching the village of Bunutan.

Once past the Amed strip the road climbs and passes through a mixture of untouched countryside and small villages. But way down to the side are still many small beaches packed with fishing boats.

This is the road at its poorest in that 2km chopped up section (under repair at the time). Not many 4 wheeled vehicles but a surprising number of motorcycles - 80% of them schoolkids. I know the Indo school system works on a shift basis and it seems that at any given time there is a bunch of kids moving to and from school on foot or by moto. It's not rare to be passed by two 12 year olds on a bike - all the kids I saw were careful riders although they were making better time than novice-me.

The general direction of the road is north-south in the final third. That's the coast east of Amlapura middle center - the hills behind Candidasa a little to the right and offshore Nusa Penida (big) and Nusa Lembongan far background left/center.

About 8km short of Amlapura the road is near sea level where it passes the Amlapura Water Palace (Taman Ujung water palace - built as the home of a former rajah). Open to the public - rp10000 ($1)

I turned around at Taman Ujung but if you have continued on to Amlapura  (nearest ATM to Amed although there are several money changers in the villages) you will save some distance and considerable time back to the western half of the Amed strip if you continue on via the main road and make a full circumnavigation of the Nampu caldera. The bustling compact regional capital of Amlapura is not a tourist attraction although it does have some good markets and historical buildings, but the main road past there has some pretty picturesque sections.....
....including several nice rice terrace areas. Mt Nampu in background.....


.....and the famous Tirtagangga Water Palace. Admission rp10000 - another $1 gets you entrance to the swimming section; the second-nearest pool to camera. Village area on main road outside gates has several modestly priced restaurants.

Cycling - areas covered by motorcycle can be checked by cycling - with bicycles available for 35000 rp a day in mid 2013. However even if you confine yourself to the Amed strip, some of the slopes on the divides between the beaches are seriously steep and long, as I found out on my first visit. I cycle everyday for fitness in my hilly home town but had no hesitation in opting for a motorcyle this latest trip. Had Bedulu bicycles for hire I might have grabbed one for a quick short distance workout, but no way would I opt for a long distance explore.

Trekking - the toughest of them all, the climb up Mt Agung, starts not too far away (both Amlapura and Tirtagangga water palaces were badly damaged by Agung eruptions last century) and several places along the strip can arrange transport and a guide. I didn't see any offering treks into the less challenging but still fairly impressive Mt Nampu region but no doubt someone can arrange this.
You can do your own trekking - an hour or so walk along the coastal road is picturesque and entertaining and if you are near the village of Bunutan, the walk inland into the Bangal Valley (see map top of page) is a nice one.

The road follows this stream climbing gently for about 6km up valley, finally reaching the village of Bangal where you find you have gained considerable height above sea level. For cyclists/motorcyclists, the road is good for all but the last km where it becomes seriously rough and difficult.




There are some scenic paddy areas along the way. I thought these were equally as impressive as the more renowned Tirtagangga rice terraces.

Nightlife - Amed is no Kuta. However all is not lost - I saw many restaurants offering live music. This may only be an acoustic guitar but our 20s something fellow German guest told us she had met up with similar travellers and they were having a great time following a local band around to different venues each night.



GETTING THERE
A car and driver from Kuta or the airport would be around 450k in mid 2013. This is about the same as the all-day rate but by the time the driver took you there (3.5 to 4 hours one way) and got back, most of his day would be blown. Hard heads could probably bargain this down to 400k.
We made the shorter trip from Candidasa (about 90 minutes) for 200k and going out went fewer kms to Tirtagangga (less than 40 minutes) for 100k.

Perama run a shuttle bus from Candidasa (minimum 2 paying customers) - they have connections from Candidasa to/from all over Bali. I noticed Amed Cafe also runs shuttles to a number of locations in Bali.

Bottom budget travellers can access on a few daily public bemos from Amlapura - there are regular public buses to Amlapura from Denpasser's public bus station. Public buses to Amlapura also run across the north coast from the Java ferry via the popular tourist destination of Lovina.

Good news is that there is now a direct speedboat to/from Lombok's Gilis run by Sea Express. Gili Trawangan seemed suprisingly close when viewed from Bedulu's pool - this trip would save quite a lot of time for people going to/from all over Bali's north coast compared to the many services out of Padangbai further south. Check www.BalitoGili.com

Nice end of day shot for end of the page..

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2 comments:

Ramesh chauhan said...
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bandeng presto said...

nice post, share another Indonesian beach

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