CYCLING BALI DAY 7: HOLY DISCOVERIES! Bali’s Surprising Southwest Corner
I was staying in Negara, a small dull city in SW Bali, mainly to explore the surrounding countryside between Negara and the coast, which had enticed me a week earlier with its sprawling rice fields and wild empty beaches. Wow, am I glad I did. What I discovered out there was way beyond what I could have imagined.
The large area between Negara and Bali’s south coast is split in two by a river flowing out to the sea. Why they’ve never built a bridge across that river out near the coast is beyond me. Instead, to access one section of coast from the other, you actually have to drive back inland almost to Negara city before you can cross the river. It seems awfully impractical.
But that being the case, I first set out to explore the area west of the river. I headed out to the coast toward the preposterously named ‘Pengambengan’ village. I was surprised to discover that the area is actually rather hilly than flat, full of cow pastures not rice fields, and is populated mainly by Muslims rather than Balinese Hindus, as evidenced by the house styles, clothing of locals and the many mosques and goats. My biggest surprises, though, were awaiting me at the beach.
First of all, the beach was strewn with huge chunks of coral, sponges and dead tropical fish. I knew what that meant: there’s a reef out there. As a diving instructor that certainly aroused my curiosity. I wondered if it’d be possible to go ‘discover’ it some day?
Secondly, I was surprised to see Java clearly from there. I’d thought that from Bali one could only see Java from Gilimanuk, Bali’s westernmost point. Later on, a map check revealed that Java’s shores actually stretch quite a long ways along Bali’s southern coast.
Then, walking along the beach I noticed a most peculiar, mysterious large wooden tall-masted ship just off shore. I’d never seen anything like it. Somehow it felt kind of dangerous… hmm… Then it hit me: that ship looked like a pirate ship! Wondered if it was? Oh! If so, I suddenly realized, I should probably get off the beach pronto. I’d be a prime target. Woman. Alone. Western (= rich. delicious white skin) However, I never felt any threat from the men on board, so it was probably just my imagination run wild. But I moved off the beach all the same.
Next I ventured East of the river. I was treated to miles and miles of lush vibrant green rice fields all backed by the Bali Barat Mountain Range situated inland, north of Negara city. Beautiful.
It took an hour on flat windy roads to finally reach the coast, just 5 km away as the crow flies. En route I passed many local men out working their rice fields by hand.
I also came upon a SE Asian water buffalo, which is extremely unusual in Bali (the Balinese have cows) but which is common in Java, and Thailand, for that matter. When I finally arrived at the coast, I discovered I was, once again, at the mouth of the river, this time on the Eastern shores.
Negara city itself also held a few delightful surprises. Pony taxis, for one, and more delicious Balinese ‘kue’ sweets. I took some photos with the pony taxis and bought lots of tasty sweets each day I was there. Otherwise, Negara was rather dull and nondescript, though it did offer most excellent internet services which allowed me to ‘catch up ‘ on blogs of my bicycling adventure. I was grateful for that. Tomorrow I’d press on to Medewi surfers’ beach.
Reporting from the road, Lash
If you’re inspired to cycle around Bali, check out my guidebook-
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