Day 3: Diving at Nusa Penida
In the early morning, we hop on a boat with Klaus’s old diving colleague Peter, who is working for Tauch Terminal, which I can warmly recommend to anyone who wants to dive in Bali. After just 20 minutes of high speed pursuit off we reach a really good dive site off the coast outside the small island of Nusa Penida. This island used to be like a penal colony, where the old Balinese kingdom put many of their troublemakers and criminals, kind of like the Balinese version of Australia.
The first dive is completely brilliant, following quite a strong drift over almost a kilometre of a continuous colourful coral reef. The second one has much less current and I have time to have a look at some anemone fish and crazily coloured nudibranches. After the dives we spend the afternoon snorkelling on the Blue Lagoon again and then we head for Tulamben for the night. However, we only get as far as Candidasa which is a small and quite beautiful tourist resort some 15 minutes away. However, the beach is destroyed by concrete wave breakers since the previous natural wave breakers in the shape of coral reefs all have been destroyed by dynamite fishing. In the evening we eat a luxury dinner and watch a solitary Balinese folk dancer. She seems very bored and asks basically everybody to join her on stage in order to stand and look ridiculous next to her, which almost seems like an insult to the fine art of Balinese dancing to me. After a lot of insisting I join her for 10 minutes though. Nobody else dares to..
Day 4: Gunung Batur and Beduguhl
After the first sleep-in of the trip we head to the small but touristy village on the outer crater rim of Gunung Batur; Bali’s second-most holy mountain. The volcano looks really impressive from there and we can see the fresh black lava from the latest eruption in 2006 that destroyed several homes and all the roads leading up to the inner volcano itself. After lunch we bravely chose to take a road that is dashed in the map we are using, from the 1998 edition of Lonely Planet. At first the road is great and we think that a lot has happened with the infrastructure in the last ten years, which is true, but after an hour or so it is obvious why the road was dashed. Several hours on pot-holy dirt tracks later we reach Beduguhl; a popular lakeside weekend resort for Balinese people.
Day 5: The Conquering of Gunung Catur
After an early breakfast we head up the 2,200 m tall volcano Gunung Catur together with Anna from Atlanta, that we met on the hostel (no relation to Hannah Montana, or so she claims). We almost get lost but some school kids send us off in the right direction. Later it turns out they are just three of probably a hundred kids from a Denpasar school on a class trip, climbing the mountain together with us. We finally make it to the top and are rewarded by a feeling of grand achievement, but not, however, a view. One has to be up there at sunrise to see anything but white clouds over the lake below.
In the afternoon we slowly head back to Kuta through some incredibly dense traffic jams. We have dinner in a fantastic yet really cheap Chinese restaurant in Denpasar together with Peter and his family and then spend the evening in Kuta sampling different bartenders’ imaginative interpretations of advanced cocktails and dancing at the Bounty nightclub with the normal clientele of drunken Aussies.