The train journey from Probolinggo to Banuwango takes about four and a half hours through verdant green fields of rice, then it's a few hundred meters to the ferry port and about a dollar to make the crossing to Bali.
The island sits there in the blue of the sea with volcanic peaks covered in green vegetation reaching high into the sky. It's a very short crossing, and in no time we were there and being picked up at the exit. It's a short drive to the hotel but we were fascinated by the small villages we past through. Unlike Java, which is mostly Muslim, Bali is predominantly Hindu and right away we could see subtle differences in the architecture. We could feel ourselves starting to unwind and the stress of the busy last 5 days leaving our bodies, which had been the plan when we'd organized this part of the trip months earlier. There was nothing in particular I wanted to photograph in Pemuteran, it was just 4 days in a beautiful place where we could snorkel and recharge our batteries.
The hotel we'd arranged to stay in was fantastic, and our bungalow came complete with a lovely outside bathroom and shower. The restaurant was great and we after a day without a proper meal, we ate so well and slept like babies. The next day we decided to do nothing but swim, snorkel and relax, which, after a breakfast right next to the sea, is exactly what we did.
You can snorkel right off the beach in Pemuteran as there's a bio rock project to rejuvenate the coral by running small currents of electricity through it. I spent some time splashing about and playing with the GoPro, seeing if I could get any interesting underwater shots for a video that I'll make of the trip. The sea here is the perfect temperature, not at all cold, but not so warm that it's not refreshing. It's actually quite hard to get out once you're in.
In fact most of our time in Pemuteran was spent just having fun in the water, and while my Fuji cameras didn't get much use in this part of the trip, the GoPro was working overtime as I played around trying to see if I could get an decent underwater images and video.
On the third evening there though I noticed as the afternoon rolled on that there was plenty of cloud in the sky and it looked like there could be a good sunset. On one of the previous day's we'd gone for a walk along the beach and I'd noticed this lone Mangrove standing just offshore. I'd made a mental note then that it would work well for sunset, and so as the sun got lower in the sky I hurried there and was happy to see the tide was in and the plant was surrounded by water. I spent a happy 45 minutes photographing it looking straight out to sea and looking right into the sun with a bit of the land behind.
I preferred the composition without any land in it, so after the sun had gone behind the hill I switched back to shooting straight out to sea, using a long exposure to blur and clouds and water and capture the post sunset colour in the sky.
It's always nice to capture an unplanned shot of a location you discovered for yourself, and working with the tripod in the shallow, calm waters was a real pleasure.
The next day we were up early and headed out on a boat trip to the nearby island of Pulau Menjangan, one of the best places for diving and snorkeling in Bali. Jumping into the water and looking below the surface with goggles was amazing. The water is so clear, the coral around a meter below the surface, and then drop-offs that led much deeper. It was another world down there, thousands of irridescent fish everywhere, and they were so comfortable with us swimming around them. We spent over an over in the warm water in two different spots, diving and shooting lots of video with the GoPro, and at one point I even so a beautiful clown fish swimming in and out of a plant.
We climbed back aboard the boat for lunch, before moving to another location where the drop offs weren't quite so steep and the corals were like an underwater garden. There weren't quite so many fish here, but the amazing variety of coral and plant life made up for it. It was utterly beautiful and an amazing experience. I finished off by trying to get some good photos of the boat and the coral using the burst mode on the GoPro.
After another lazy afternoon swimming and an early night (all this sun and sea was tiring us out) we got up, had a final swim in the sea and checked out feeling thoroughly recharged.
Next stop was Munduk, high in the hills of Bali.