East Bali – The East Coast

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East of Klungkung the road descends to the shore at Kusumba

Where sea-salt is mined in large fields. Palms dip their branches over the waves of the strait separating Bali from distant Nusa Penida island, and fishing boats line the shore.

Several kilometres after Kusumba, at the foot of a rocky escarpment, gapes the entrance to Gowa Lawah, one of the nin great temple of Bali. Gowa Lawah is said to be the terminus of an underground passageway leading to distant Besakih temple up on Mt. Agung. Many Balinese temples have resident beasts, the so-called duwe (possession) of the temple, and apart from the thousands of small, black bats that inhabit Gowa Lawah and give it its name, the cave is also believed to be the abode of Naga basuki, the legendary sacred dragon of Mt. Agung.

One of many fascinating tales surrounding Naga Basuki tells of a group of visiting Dutch soldiers who sighted and shot him in the cave. They were rushed away before the horrified locals got a chance to stone them to death, but that night a bright white light crossed the courtyard of the Denpasar Hotel and the soldiers vanished without a trace.

About 15 kms (nine miles) past Goa Lawah, a side-road to the right leads to the picturesque harbour town of  Padang Bai. This is where the Lombok ferry departs, and where cruise ships anchor – a perfectly shaped bay, cradled by white sand coves and grassy hills.

Continue east through the pretty coastal villages of manggis, where wooden puppets and gargoyles gaze down at you from atop white-washed walls. Then just after the Tenganan road T-intersection, stop and have a swim and a meal at  Candi Dasa (10 temples), a romantic lagoon and bay that is just beginning to be developed into a resort. The roomy beach-side cabanas here are simple, cheap and quiet – the favourite retreat of the island’s cognoscenti.

–> Read Also : East Bali – Tenganan Village Was For Some Reason

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