Amed – Bali’s Secret

Five years ago, we said we’d never return to Bali. We said at the time, that the Bali we knew and loved; the Bali we’d visited regularly for nearly 30 years was dead. Thirty years earlier, the streets of Seminyak were surrounded by rice fields; the tinkle of the water in the irrigation systems contrasting with the rustle of the breeze in the ripening rice husks. But then the rice farmer found he could sell his field for 100 times his annual income. And so the paddies became hotels and villas, all with pools and extensive gardens.  As Joni Mitchell sang, They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

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Amed’s coast. Very little of anything.

So that’s where we were five years ago. Bali had just got too crowded; there was too much development, too many people and too much traffic. And the high-end fashion stores, which were sprouting like mushrooms after a shower along the Seminyak strip wouldn’t have been out of place in Toorak or Double Bay. It was no longer the Bali we knew and loved. So never again. Ever!

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Aquaterrace

But then someone told us about Amed, the small fishing village three hours and 120kms north-west of Denpasar International airport. And so we decided to give Bali another chance – and we’re delighted we did.

Amed is a simple, slow-paced strip of low-rise accommodation, warungs and empty black sand beaches. Coral reefs dot the coast and although the water quality is not as good as the Maldives or Fiji, there are fish of every variety, size and colour that can be enjoyed from the beach with just a pair of flippers and a mask.

We’re staying at Aquaterrace and I’m still struggling for a descriptor. It’s not a hotel, it’s too small for that; It describes itself as B&B, but that’s not doing it justice either. It’s too small to be a resort, with just three rooms above the road and four below on the beachside. But it has everything we could want. The hillside was built 9 years ago and includes the restaurant, spa and a nice pool, and below the roadway, the newer component includes another spa and pool, together with a breakfast facility. If you’re below the road, you can just walk up for lunch or dinner. It’s simple and a little rustic but it certainly isn’t where you’d want to stay to recover from a hip or knee operation.

Early morning, with the sun rising over Lombok in the east, I walk four or five kms through the local villages. Cocks crow, children wait for the school bus and exquisitely dressed woman place their morning offerings on the small temples around their houses. There is woodsmoke in the air. The road winds along the coast and at about 7.00am, the fishermen start returning with their catch of mackerel, running their outrigger canoes up the beach. Day hire labourers crouch by the roadside, smoking roll-ups and awaiting collection for their work while small piglets squeal and run into the leaf-litter in the surrounding forest. We’re a long way from Kansas now.

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Early Morning School Bus

We’re traveling with our dear New Zealand friends, Linda and Gottfried, recently released from the travails of their orcharding business. Less than a month since finally concluding their sale, they have had the yoke removed from their necks and are behaving accordingly. We have slipped easily into a rhythm here; a cooked breakfast, a ride on the back of a motorbike to a reef to snorkel, back in time for a Vietnamese salad for lunch, a snooze by the pool or a massage until the complimentary afternoon tea arrives before a sneaky couple of G&Ts and it’s time to slip on a pair of shorts for dinner. The food is excellent, and Aquaterrace owner Made has sourced some decent wine which he sells at about $15 a bottle. It’s a far cry from the days in Bali when the wine cost over $40 and was practically undrinkable.

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Yes Linda, you’re on holiday. It is OK to have a Brownie for lunch

So we leave Amed, delighted to have found it and the Aquaterrace. We’re relaxed and restored for the rush toward Christmas and you’ll hear from me next when we leave Chennai in January for our trip south. Temples, laughter and sunshine.

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A fond farewell from Amed

And there’s one or two more photos here.

5 thoughts on “Amed – Bali’s Secret

  1. Hi Derek Hi Maggie

    Loved your views and description of Amed, which I’ve never heard about before.’’

    How do you find these places? ’.Great pics…I’m envious of all that beauty ten times over…….

    Beautifully presented …I hope you copyright these masterly profiles you give so many places such a delicious description…even the funeral pyre(s) on the Ganges

    How do I sing happy birthday over such a long distance but I’ll try…… albeit Leighton stayed overnight and destroyed my night’s sleep completely
    So I’m nearly without voice….

    Here goes” HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU”…exhausted

    Friday afternoon in Auckland, cool wet and a bad forecast for the weekend so we’ll go the pics and I’ll read a book, “style of weekend”

    But we will raise a glass later in the day to your health and happiness forever

    Ray

    Got your curtains so forget about that…

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  2. Derek, amazing writing and photos and I could almost feel the warmth.

    Happy Birthday from us and heaps of love. Hope you have a wonderful birthday and we look forward to talking to you when you return home.

    Madeleine xxxx

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  3. Hi Derek, your new found Bali looks and sounds just gorgeous and brings back memories of the lovely villa you found for us last time, with Linda and Gottfried and Juliet. Sigh! Love to be there again! What a happy, Happy Birthday place to be. Big hugs to you and Maggie, Linda and Gottfried. Hope you all had lots of fun, laughter,relaxation and a toast to absent friends. Lots of love, Mary and Ross xox

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