Bali: Just keeps getting Better

On Thursday I left Ubud. Wayan and I drove through the volcano valley and went to the east coast of the island. I was sad to say goodbye to the innkeepers in Ubud, particularly Made, and to Wayan, because he is a nice young man, a good driver, and patient about photography.
Now I am in Amed (“Ah-med”), in a hotel nestled up to the Bali Sea on black sand. The first day, I rested. Then I did some scuba diving on the wreck U. S. Liberty. And I did some diving again today. There is supposed to be a night dive which I am looking forward to, but it’s been pouring down rain since about 1:00PM and I am doubtful that we’ll go. More on the diving in a bit. The hotel room is definitely an upgrade from the last spot. It is new construction, has beautiful stone floors and an outdoor shower separate from the toilet. Some experience in this room has shown that an early morning shower, however, would be an exercise in stupidity. Mosquitos love twilight time, and two hours after sunrise they are still in the shower. One must use bug spray or go diving and wait until later to shower. There is a huge verandah both with my room and then along outside my room, with a towel rack, benches and a day-bed with a lacy, tassled mosquito net. There are carved wooden posts and beams, and carved pieces adorning the ceiling. It’s quite pleasant, and a great deal at $50/night.
On the way to Amed, we stopped at Goa Lawah and its bat cave. Yeah, I really said bat cave. Goa Lawah temple has been here for about 1000 years, and it is an important temple because of its directionality (it is dedicated to the southeast). There are nine directional temples on Bali. It is set at the base of cliff, in which there is a large cave that is fairly twitching with fruit and also smaller bats, all of which are sacred animals. I am told this cave actually stretches back 20 miles and is reputed to be the home of the cosmic naga (serpent dragon) Basuki. Since it was the day after Galungan Day, many local people came in the morning to the temple to make offerings and pray. One woman sitting at the front of the group, who I assume came pretty early to get her seat, was screaming and sobbing with grief and pain, raw and unmistakeable. The ladies around her patted her back and rubbed her and everyone else kindly pretended not to notice. This time of year, Galungan time, is about the ancestors returning to the earth and then re-ascending to heaven. I imagine it must be a sometimes-painful reminder of loved ones lost.

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