Pemuteran. I don’t quite know why it took me so long to write this. Maybe it had something to do with the number of photos I had to work on now that I’m doing photography full-time, that in my spare time the least I wanted to do was working on other photos. Or maybe it was because how remarkable Pemuteran was, that I found myself struggle to write it. This place made me feel all sorts of emotions, and it gave me many memories.
On our fourth day in Bali, we woke up bright and early to brace the long journey to the north, up and down the hills through the terrain of Bali landscapes (more on that later). We got there with an hour to spare before the sunset, so after putting down our bags we rushed to the beach, following the directions the hostel owner told us.
And when we got there… I was disappointed. Lukas and Katka realized how I looked crestfallen, and couldn’t really understand why I gave it 2/10 points. The thing is, I grew up in a coastal town, with beaches only 15 minutes away from my doorstep. The beaches I grew up with had white sands, clear water, and the best of all, they were empty most of the times (like the beaches in my hometown Sumbawa and Pulau Bedil and Pulau Keramat). As such, I’ve had high standards for beaches. While the beach we went to that day, I wouldn’t call it beautiful. Black sands, floating trash in the water, and the pungent smell of rotten fish. It wasn’t how I pictured it at all. We’d come all the way from heavenly Ubud to this?
But then the sun started creeping toward the horizon, and all of a sudden, the sky turned magical. It changed rapidly from orange to violet hues, with grey streaks here and there. I was glued to my place, awestruck.
That night, we had dinner on the beach, watching the sky turn dark, until there was nothing to see.
The next day, after asking for ‘a nicer part of the beach’, we headed further west, and here was where I changed my mind about Pemuteran. Away from the fisherman’s village, the beach here was considerably cleaner (although, sadly, it wasn’t totally clean; there was trash here and there). But it was quiet, the sand was lighter and more powdery, and the water was crystal clear.
The days we spent here were immensely blissful. We woke up every day to clear blue skies and gorgeous landscapes before our eyes. To start the day, we would have simple but delicious breakfast served by Kadek, a humble and sincere guy who worked at the place we were staying in. Before we left for the beach, we’d drink fresh juice and the most delicious Bali coffee (not exaggerating here, I usually wouldn’t have black coffee but this I didn’t mind). Once there, we’d choose a spot and let the day pass slowly. With the smell of the salty sea and refreshing breeze to lull me, I’d be dozing off for a few minutes, waking up only to read a book, walkng along the shorelines while picking gorgeous sea shells, or dipping my toes in the water. I’d take a few shots whenever I felt like it, but most of the time I couldn’t be bothered to use my bulky camera, and preferred to use my phone to snap the beauty around me.
We set aside one day for snorkeling at Menjangan Island, and we had a blast. Honestly, that was one of the best traveling experiences I’ve had, and it would be hard to top that.
Everything in this place was so slow and relaxed. Pemuteran was a small village with only 1 main street, lined with local shops and restaurants. And this village, despite its simplicity and bare appearance, was absolutely stunning. On one side there was the beach, and on the other was a range of towering hills. The hostel owner told us people liked to go up the hill to see the sunset, and our last day, we did that.
We didn’t know the way, so Kadek offered to take us there (bless him).
I think none of us was prepared for the hike. It was much more exhausting than we thought. While Kadek and Wulan — the hostel owner’s daughter who came along with us — hiked with such ease and grace (seriously, you’d think they were just strolling around at the park), it wasn’t like that for me, Lukas and Katka. We were panting like crazy, and had to stop MANY times to catch our breaths.
Even halfway there, we were already stunned by view. But that wasn’t all.
A bit A lot higher, it was even more striking. Around us was this yellowish green hilly terrain, with blue sea in the far distance.
We paid a visit to a small, humble temple built on a massive rock. I don’t have any picture of the temple (this took me by surprise actually), but Katka took some and she wrote about it far more eloquently than I’d ever do (click here to read her piece about the temple and Pemuteran).
As the sun was setting, the place was bathed in golden sunlight. It was even more breathtaking.
Before long, the sun slipped away quietly, and we made our way back to the village.
Hungry, we decided to go straight for dinner instead of going back to change. We walked along the main street, trying to choose somewhere to eat. Finally, we settled for Joe’s Bar, a place that looked quite lively on that night. We were told that there would be live music, and as the evening wore on, more people came in. When the band started playing, the restaurant was quite full, and people turned their attention to these cheerful guys playing old tracks.
As the hours grew late, the band changed their classic oldies to cheerful Latin songs, and people swayed in their seats. There was this one woman, Amanda, who was dancing alone. She tirelessly came to every table to ask people to join her, much to the amusement of the other patrons. She did so until the whole bar danced, barefoot and sweaty and happy.
They stopped playing at midnight, and we walked down the main street for one last time to our hostel, grateful for such a remarkable night and perfect ending for our Pemuteran trip.
Katka’s post: The Day Bali Made Me Cry
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