Amed – Enchanting East Coast
Being a little island surrounded by salt water, Bali offers enthralling coastal areas with various characteristics and uniqueness from north to south and east to west. Exploring Bali’s coastlines, from village to village, means encountering a vast diversity of culture, tradition, and activity. Amed, part of Karangasem Regency in the north-east of the island, is a stretch of coastal area which consists of seven villages. The area can be reached in 2 hours (give or take), driving from Ngurah Rai International Airport. It sounds far and takes time, but after passing
Text and Photos by Kartika D. Suardana
Being a little island surrounded by salt water, Bali offers enthralling coastal areas with various characteristics and uniqueness from north to south and east to west. Exploring Bali’s coastlines, from village to village, means encountering a vast diversity of culture, tradition, and activity.
Amed, part of Karangasem Regency in the north-east of the island, is a stretch of coastal area which consists of seven villages. The area can be reached in 2 hours (give or take), driving from Ngurah Rai International Airport. It sounds far and takes time, but after passing through the busy traffic in the south, a scenic drive showcases ocean views on the right and green hills on the left, modest villages along the way and winding roads with stunning views of paddy terraces and the gigantic Mount Agung.
Arriving in the area, a busy traditional market welcomes visitors. Continue on the tarmac road established between rice fields and stop to glance behind you; Mount Agung stands still like a whopping giant guarding the area. The green is particularly spectacular here as summer is longer in the area. The sea breeze blowing off the turquoise water cools the temperature.
People of Amed earn their living from salt farming, fishery and tourism which has been rapidly growing since early 2000. According to salt farmers, in one harvest they can produce more than 10 buckets of salt and sell it to the middleman for Rp 60.000 per bucket. The farmers usually keep some of the produce for their own needs and also to sell on to the tourists. The salt, which comes in small decorative packages, is usually sold for Rp 10.000, with large 1kg bags usually sold for Rp 20.000 (bargaining is possible). While salt farming is continuing at a slow pace, the tourism industry is accelerating. Nowadays there are dozens of hotels, resorts and restaurants along the long stretch of the Amed coast. The number of tourists visiting Amed is increasing significantly. Visitors are intrigued not solely because of Amed’s serenity, but also by its picturesque landscapes and exquisite seascapes.
Besides relaxing on the beach and sipping fresh young coconut, there are other activities that are fun to do in Amed.
Salt produced in Amed is another attractive lure used by Amed’s tourism industry. Now that much land in the area has been transformed into resorts, hotels and restaurants, the salt produced is decreasing. Only a few active salt farmers are left while the rest have turned to tourism for their main source of income. The traditional equipment for salt production is piled up on land by the beach. A salt farmer told me that they usually start the production in July and continue until October because during those months the weather is hot and dry so the maximum heat from sunlight and dry weather assists the evaporation process.
Watching the whole process of traditional salt farming is fascinating and it is also a beautiful photography subject. The farmers start the production process by cleaning up the land from sand and other debris. Then they put the hand-made bamboo cone (Kojong) on the top of the Palung, a long palm wood crafted into a long bowl. Then they fill the Kojong with soil and beach sand; afterwards they pour buckets of seawater into it. The soil and sand distill the seawater, then the filtered water is poured onto the top of long boards made from coconut wood. Once it is dry, (it usually takes about four days), the salt is harvested.
Experience Amed’s water! Snorkelling and Diving are two fun and exciting sports that you must do in Amed. The coast has several interesting spots offering captivating underwater beauty. The gentle slope in front of Garam Amed resort and restaurant is the place to encounter some unique critters such as pipe horses, skeleton shrimp, and many more. Further east to Jemeluk Bay is a submarine post box installed 6 metres deep as a product of the fisherman community’s marine conservation efforts. Waterproof postcards are sold at the community shop and visitors can send them via the undersea post box which can be reached by free diving or scuba diving.
Want to explore more? Travel up to Banyuning near Lipah Bay and explore the Japanese Wreck which can easily be reached from the shore. The small shipwreck, which is about 20 metres off shore, is believed to be a Japanese sea patrol vessel working during world war two. The shipwreck is surrounded by great coral formations where an abundance of reef fish and unique critters live.