A Travellerspoint blog

End of Bali: Kuta and the East


[For anyone joining us in between posts: you have landed yourself in a whirlwind of last-minute Bali blog posts! Sorry for all the confusion, but I am trying my hardest to finish these blogs before we set off on our next travels and I am on a roll!]

And so we were back in Kuta, the tourist capital of Bali. We booked ourselves back into Pop! Hotel for our last two nights and played everything by ear.

26th October 2012

Through the hotel we booked a car with a driver. There were several routes that you could choose from and we chose the “East” option. We got a leaflet with all the main stops that the driver would take us to, but we soon realised there was ample room for flexibility and so armed with our guidebook, we had him take us to different places.

First stop was in the village of Batubulan where we stopped at a painter's gallery. The works of art were stunning, but since neither of us were planning on purchasing anything, it was maybe not the cleverest of ideas to show so much interest in each painting and then try to explain to the lovely man that we weren't going to be buying anything. We used the “we can't buy anything because we only have hand luggage”, but clearly that was used before, because he then gave us all the delivery options. It was a little awkward.


Next, we stopped at the gorgeous market town of Sukawati It was not on the original route, but I had read up about it on the internet and so we asked our driver to take us there. We are happy we did, because the people were lovely, the prices were fair and the bartering was easy. It made for a lovely experience. It was there that Ben bought a lovely carved wooden statue of a barong dance performance. Here's a picture of it. Isn't it gorgeous?


Sukawati Market

Then, we drove all the way to Tenganan which was a Bali Aga, or a traditional Balinese village. It was a really unique experience and we were shown around by one of the villagers, who took us to his weaving studio, to the local temples, etc.

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On the way back to Kuta, we stopped at Goa Lawah Bat Cave, which was as the name suggests a temple near a cave that housed thousands of bats.

Bat Cave

This little road-trip took up the entire day and after a hearty dinner, we crashed down for our very last night in Bali!

27th October 2012

We started the day with a trip to Denpasar market, which was a huge disappointment. It was a massive market held within a multi-storey building and the vendors clearly did not have many white people wandering around, so we got harassed the entire time. It was a really stressful experience and one which we are unlikely to remember.

Denpasar Market

Back in Kuta, we did not want to rush our last day with endless sight-seeing, so we had a wander around and met up with Scott and Adrienn at their hotel in the afternoon. Their hotel had a lovely infinity pool overlooking the beach and we spent a while in the water whilst reminiscing about our little ventures around the island. When the evening crept in, we enjoyed the sunset together and then each went our own separate ways for a few hours before sharing a taxi ride to the airport.


Looking back, our last two days weren't really that spectacular, but we managed to fit so much into the first five days that it did not really matter. The week went by before we knew it and being back in Darwin was very hard on all of us. We missed the cheap food, the bright colours and the warm smiles of the Balinese. But as with all holidays: they must come to an end and you must face reality sooner or later.


I am deeply sorry for neglecting this blog and not getting around to telling you about Bali sooner. We have both been ridiculously busy and before we really stood still about it, our next holiday was around the corner! Luckily for you, that means that it won't be too long before you get more travel news from us! Yeay!

Much love, Ben and Emilie xxx

Posted by Fat Face 21:43 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali 5: Tanah Lot


[For anyone joining us in between posts: you have landed yourself in a whirlwind of last-minute Bali blog posts! Sorry for all the confusion, but I am trying my hardest to finish these blogs before we set off on our next travels and I am on a roll!]

25th October 2012 (afternoon)

From Munduk, we decided to head back to Kuta. We weren't looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the South, but reckoned it would make a good base from where to access all the other sights. It was a long drive down, but even so, we managed to get the driver to take a massive detour further West to see another famous temple. The temple of Tanah Lot. By now, we knew not to get our hopes up, but we should not have worried: we loved it! Yeay!

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Tanah Lot Temple

What makes Tanah Lot so special is that it rests on a small island off the beach. We had not taken into account that with the strong tides, there would be a chance that the access to the island would have been obstructed, but Mother Nature was on our side. We walked through the array of market stalls and made our way to the beach. The temple in itself wasn't very big, but due to its setting on the rocks, surrounded by the sea, it did not have to be big to make an impact. Priests at the entrance of the temple were welcoming the guests and blessing them with holy water. Only once you were blessed, could you go up to see the rest of the temple. And why wouldn't you join in – it's all good fun and a great cultural experience. You wash your face with holy water, then one priest presses some rice on your forehead, the other tucks a frangipani flower behind your ear and yet another priest sprinkles some more holy stuff on you whilst saying something cheerful. It was great!

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With it being customary to wear sarongs when entering places of worship, we had donned our western frock and were proudly wearing our colourful attire. It wasn't until we got to the temple that we realised we were the only Westerners who took this into account, but it definitely did not go unappreciated by the locals and the priests. It still bugs me that people can be so unobservant of local traditions, but am very happy that we made an effort. And we looked damn good in the sarongs, if I can say so myself! ;)


Feeling very special, we then walked around the rest of the grounds. There were some amazing platforms from where we could get even better views of the temple. We would have happily spent the day at Tanah Lot, but unfortunately our driver had to get back to Munduk that same evening and it seemed unfair to have him wait around for so long, so we took one last look at the place and imprinted it in our memories.


And so we made it back to Kuta...

[to be continued...]

The pictures of Tanah Lot can be viewed via this public link. Unfortunately, all the pictures got muddled up whilst uploading, so make sure you read the headings so you know what picture belongs to what part of the trip (sorry about that): Tanah Lot Photo Album

Posted by Fat Face 08:34 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali 4: Munduk and the Sister Lakes


[For anyone joining us in between posts: you have landed yourself in a whirlwind of last-minute Bali blog posts! Sorry for all the confusion, but I am trying my hardest to finish these blogs before we set off on our next travels and I am on a roll!]

23rd October 2012 (evening)

As you may remember, we arrived in the picturesque little mountain village called Munduk. Set amongst gorgeous rice-fields, it was every bit as beautiful as the reviews made it out to be. We chose to stay at Puri Lumbung Cottages Hotel. The accommodation was in private converted rice-field huts, with views overlooking 'active' rice-fields. If we could have transported this little home to Darwin, we would have, it was that cute!

View from our cottage

We were exhausted, but felt guilty heading to bed early without at least having a wander around the village and the hotel grounds. The hotel had its own temple, native botanic gardens, waterfall, meditation circle, sunset café, two massage parlours, restaurant, music room, artist café, … and breath taking views! Seriously, we could not fault a single thing!

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Puri Lumbung

There was so much to take in, that we spent a good hour wandering around the premises. We topped it off with a stroll around the local village and then mustered just about as much energy together to have a lovely dinner, before passing out in our bedroom. Talk about a romantic night! ;)

Sunset over Munduk Village

24th October 2012

We woke up feeling refreshed and happy, ready to take on the world again. As we opened up the doors to our balcony, we were greeted by gorgeous views of a local peacefully working on the rice-fields.


And the morning just seemed to get better and better: our breakfast – absolutely scrumptious! - was served overlooking the mountains. Ah, does it get any better than this?

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We had not thought through what to do with our day. Our time at Puri Lumbung had come to an end and we were checking into a more modest home-stay across the road. Before we left, we were each given a 'thank you' present. It was all very exciting! The presents were organic coffee produced in Munduk, which we only realised later on in our travels was a luxury commodity. As far as locally grown coffee in Bali goes, this is the best of the best. The crème de la crème. It all was lost on us, so we decided to send it to family members who would appreciate it more. And from what we can tell, they absolutely loved it, so thank you 'Puri Lumbung'!


Our new home-stay had views overlooking the other side of the mountains and so it was another magical location. All the reviews for this place mentioned the generosity and kindness of the owners and we were not disappointed. Since we did not have any transport lined up for the day, we thought it would be fun and exciting to rent a scooter for the day. Thank goodness no questions were asked and even when Ben casually inquired how to operate the thing, no one seemed to catch on that neither of us had a clue. At our first attempt we wobbled about dangerously from side to side. It even had the composed lady-owner worried! But then Ben got the hang of it and in no time he became the king of the road. It was awesome!

We first stopped at the look-out for the two sister lakes: Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan. It was a good place from where to see them both and we sat down and enjoyed the view for a while. As we stopped, we asked one of the locals where to buy fuel and he just told us to get a bottle from one of the warungs. That's right: petrol in Bali can be bought in 1 litre coke bottles! It sounds incredibly dodgy, but when in Rome.. and so we did! It was pure brilliant!

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Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan

From the sister lakes, we stopped by the market in Candi Kuning. We had read that this little town in the North was mostly habited by a seafaring Muslim population and without wanting to sound racist or judgemental, we could really tell that we were dealing with different people. No warm greetings, no welcoming smiles, no friendliness of any kind... It was as if we had entered a different country. The market had such a depressing feel that it put us in a right foul mood and as soon as we had something to eat, we left. Next, we scootered (new verb!) along to what was meant to be the highlight of our stay in Munduk: a visit to Ulun Danu Beratan temple. Pick up a brochure or guidebook about Bali and this temple is bound to be featured. It's one of their most prized landmarks. So imagine our disappointment when it turned out to be a tourist trap. The pictures made it look so grand and beautiful, when in reality it was nothing more than a small temple which was cluttered with construction going on at either side. Our already bad moods did not exactly improve...

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Ulun Danu Beratan

We had almost given up on having a good day, when we realised that we would be passing by Munduk Waterfall on the way back to our home-stay. After all the disappointments of the day, we reckoned nothing could put even more of a damper on our day, so we went for it. Funnily enough, this little waterfall ended up being the best thing about the whole day. The base of the waterfalls was surrounded by a concrete deck from where you had unobstructed views and access to the water. It was such a beautiful setting and so peaceful, that we took inspiration from it to create our own little photo-shoot with our new sarongs. We must have spent a good hour mucking about taking the silliest of photographs, but it did the trick and we were back to being happy bunnies in no time!

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The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent relaxing on our balcony, counting our lucky stars and looking forward to the days ahead.

Night time in Munduk

25th October 2012

Last day in Munduk and we woke up super early so that we could fit in one last outing on the scooter (these things are bloody addictive!). But not before having another scrumptious breakfast with a view to die for:


The owner of the hotel had recommended a small natural swimming hole tucked in between the rice-fields. No one else seemed to have heard of it, but it had caught our interest and we were eager to test it out. He gave us a hand-drawn map, which we forgot to take along, so the journey there wasn't without its challenges. No one along the road knew where we wanted to go and our very limited knowledge of the Balinese language (literally) did not get us very far. Eventually, we made it to the right rice-field, but then the second challenge unfolded when trying to discover the secret location of this water hole. We walked along the ridges of the rice-fields and none of the locals ever seemed to think that these two whiteys looked mightily out of place. They just smiled and waved. After a few minutes of being confused, we finally bumped into an old man to whom we could get across that we were locationally challenged and he led us onto the right path. And so, we enjoyed a lovely swim amidst rice-fields in a place no other tourist and only a few locals have ever heard of!


Back at the home-stay, we packed our bags and rented a car with driver to get us to the South again. We had absolutely no plans for the remainder of our time in Bali, but decided that Kuta would be a good base from where to see the other sights.

You can view all our pictures of Munduk and the Sister Lakes via this public Facebook link: Munduk and Sister Lakes Photo Album

[to be continued...]

Posted by Fat Face 08:05 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali 3: Sunrise Volcano Hike

- Mount Batur -


And so we arrived in Kintamani, home of Ulun Batur (Mount Batur). The temperature difference between Ubud and this volcanic mountain region was considerable. With the exception of Scott, all of us were grabbing our jumpers in an attempt to warm up. We did not expect to ever feel the cold in Bali! We were greeted by Wayan, who just happened to be a volcano tour guide. Coincidence? I doubt it, but we were too tired to think about organising a tour guide through anyone else and so we bought into his beautiful story and hired him for our sunrise hike the following morning. He suggested that we have a meal at one of the local warungs, which appeared to be the only restaurant open at this time of night, so we had no choice but to get our tucker there. From there, it was only a short drive to the hotel. Unfortunately we cannot comment much on the place as we arrived there late in the evening and promptly left at 3.30am in the morning to start our hike.

Tuesday, 23rd October

3.30am and a knock on the door from Wayan to ensure we knew how excited he was to take us on our little adventure. We weren't the most coherent of beings, but somehow managed to muster enough energy to make it through the day. We were driven to the entrance of the park and upon arrival were given a torch each. And off we went. There was nothing around but darkness and the torch was only enough to illuminate the 'path' ahead. Having been known around New Zealand as “topsy turvy Emilie”, I made sure to stay close behind our guide and mimic every single one of his footsteps. Having done the trek countless times, he did not need a torch and was able to show us the way following nothing more but his intuition. It was pretty impressive. And we knew we were going the right way as there were many more groups of hikers following the same route, creating a sea of little fireflies in the otherwise dark night.

As we walked on, the sun slowly pushed through. If we were to experience the sunrise on top of Mount Batur, we had to aim to reach it before 6.30am. And as with all walks, especially at this inhuman time of the day, the end is always the trickiest. After many a cheerful encouragement from Wayan, we finally made it and what a wonderful feeling it was! What followed next was a wonderful spectacle unfolding in front of our eyes and we enjoyed every bit of it...

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Sunrise, Sunrise...

We made it!

As we rested our sore legs and laughed at each other's weary faces, Wayan was busy cooking us a scrumptious breakfast. It was exactly what we needed. The smell of food caught the intention of some other locals of the mountains: the monkeys. These little creatures were wild, unlike their relatives at the sacred monkey forest, and therefore much calmer and more approachable. They say monkeys are very much like human beings and maybe it was the broodiness in me that took over, but they warmed my heart and it was like I was back at childcare! Sharing a moment with these animals, whilst they devoured the contents of my bag of dried plantain chips, was an experience I am unlikely to forget. They are so gentle and have the softest touch... and yes, I am entirely smitten by them. Wayan tried on numerous occasions to get us to continue our hike, but my incessant “just a few more minutes” meant we spent quite a while being one with nature.

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Feeding the monkeys

Before we left, we saw one of the locals making offerings to the gods and Ben managed to take a sneaky picture. The combination of the spiritual and the natural momentarily took our breath away...


As we chose to do the longest of all the volcano treks, we had a massive long trek ahead of us. Rather than going returning via the path that led us to the top, we took an alternative, much longer and trickier route back. The views were stunning, but we were fortunate that the blurriness, which was caused by the early wake up call, stopped us from standing still by the questionable state/ non-existence of the 'paths'.

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Group picture!


Add to this that Ben and I were the only two idiots who thought it would be perfectly acceptable to do the walk in our flip-flops and things became ever so challenging. Having the scorching hot volcanic sand hit your feet at every movement is only one of the many pleasantries we had to face. But all in all, we made it to the bottom in one piece.

Ben + Emilie = Idiots!

All in all the walk took us from 3.30am until midday, by which time the four of us were desperate for a shower and an afternoon of comatosing. Unfortunately, this was the end of our stay in Kintamani and we had planned to go our separate ways after that.

Ben and I had planned a two day stay in the mountain village of Munduk, a long drive away from Kintamani. There was no public transport, so with Wayan's help we managed to hire a car with driver for the day. We could not have been luckier as our driver took it upon us to act as our tour guide as well, showing off the local sights along the way and made us get out of the car on several occasions to take pictures. He was super keen to have us pose for pictures and took several amazing shots of us. He was such a gem!

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And so we arrived in Munduk, a quiet little mountain side village. Because it was the night of our anniversary, we went and booked ourselves a lovely little hotel, named Puri Lumbung Cottages Hotel, slightly more upmarket than the other places we would be staying at. With it being Bali, it wasn't much of a splash-out, but it still felt really special...

The pictures of our volcano hike can be found via this public Facebook link: Mt Batur Photo Album

[to be continued...]

Posted by Fat Face 05:13 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali 2: Ubud


[Apologies for the inexcusable delay in posting the remainder of our Bali posts. I promise I will eventually get there one day (and hopefully before the end of the year) and excuse myself in advance if it results in blog post overdosis.]

Sunday, 21st October

First full day in Bali and we had made plans to get out of busy and touristy Kuta and head North to the traditional town of Ubud. Ben forgot to get an international driving licence, so we had to make alternative plans to get there. But first things first: breakfast! Or as they call it at Pop! hotel: the "morning bite". On offer were two traditional Indonesian meals, wrapped in a banana leaf with a free flow of coffee, tea and water. It was pretty spicy, but filled us up enough to last us to lunch. And off we were. We walked along the streets, talking to anyone uttering the words "taxi, yes?" or "transport, yes?" to us. And believe me, we were asked those questions over and over again. Contrarily to what we read, these prodding questions were never uncomfortable and a polite "no thank you" was all it took to put an end to it. In our eyes it was more like a "hey, whitey, you look like you could use a lift! No? Well have a good day then!" And so we finally settled on a direct shuttle bus. It's a good thing we went to Ghana, as the other tourists did not seem all too accepting of how it was driven. Seatbelts were only available to the driver, who seemed more focused on the heated debate he was having with this co-driver than on the road. Beeping horns, scooters rushing past, trucks taking over, etc. Ah, how we missed this!

We arrived in Ubud, bought some things from the local supermarket and then went on a quest to find our home-stay. It was a longish walk, on a quiet street packed with gorgeous houses and temples. But at last we found it: Desa Putu Putra. We waved our online booking in the air and were greeted by a lovely woman who immediately took us to our gorgeous room. After making sure we liked it, she came back with our welcome drinks: two big cups of deliciously scented home-brewed cinnamon tea and freshly baked cakes. Seated on our little balcony overlooking the rooftops, we were the happiest bunnies around.

Our homestay in Ubud

It would have been easy to lose track of time on that little balcony, but after some serious motivating, we gathered a bag together and headed off to the town centre. We walked around, marvelled by the abundance of architecture, culture and colour. We stopped here and there, bought some food and water and managed to get tickets to see a local kecak dance from a friendly, slightly camp, man. And anyone who has seen the documentary Baraka (http://barakasamsara.com/baraka/about) will understand how delighted we were at seeing a live kecak performance!

With three and a half hours to kill before the show, we decided to do the Campuhan rice-field walk. After three false starts, we finally found the entrance to the walk and off we went. It took us on a path through stunning scenery and rice-fields.


Many locals were doing the walk too and we were greeted with warm smiles and lovely chatter. As we walked, we went past this art studio owned by a lovely older man (with the most gorgeous eyes!) who hand painted wooden eggs with the finest paint brush we had ever seen. It was fascinating seeing him at work and so we couldn't resist buying one as a souvenir.


We thought we had done most of the walk already, so we stopped for a drink at one of the cafés which had little stilt cabanas overlooking the rice-fields.

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Can you imagine a more idyllic setting for an afternoon drink?

It was an idyllic setting and we would have been able to stay there for hours upon end if it weren't for the fact that the owners were getting ready to head home. Refreshed, we walked on and realised we had only walked 3 out of the total 9 km! And with the sun slowly setting, we really had to rush! And so the second half of our walk was more of sprint, all the while we soaked up the peaceful atmosphere as we went past stunning villages, temples and witnessed the locals getting ready for their ceremonies.

Sunset over the rice-fields

We made it back to Ubud's town centre before darkness and were so hungry and thirsty that we stopped at a restaurant. Completely oblivious to the time, we ordered our meals and as we were happily munching away at our starters, we suddenly realised our much anticipated show was going to be starting in 15 minutes! We apologised to the owners, asked if they could postpone serving our main meal for a few hours and dashed out looking like a bunch of mad people! Imagine trying to get away with something like that anywhere else in the world! We are quite the idiots! ;)

Lady Fortune must have been on our side, because we made it to the show within plenty of time. As mentioned before, we had both been dying to see a kecak performance following a slight obsession over the documentary Baraka. It was everything we could have hoped for it to be and more. It is hard to describe what it is all about, so luckily for you, we filmed some of it! If you are interested, take a peek:

Entrance Video: Kecak Dance - Entrance
Snippet: Kecak Dance 2
Kecak Finale: Kecak Dance Finale

The last video is very long, but worth a look at. It shows the end of the kecak dance performance resulting in one of the performers dancing through a big fire completely in trance. It was magical and unlike anything we expected to see! Mesmerized by the amazing performance, we made it back to the restaurant where we finally were able to finish our meal. The owners remembered when we would be returning and everything was set out and ready for us. And that marked the end of our lovely first evening in Ubud. What a wonderful place!

The dinner was worth the wait!

Monday, 22nd October

Good morning, Ubud! We woke up in our cosy home-stay and sat on our balcony for a little while, feeling incredibly fortunate. As we made it downstairs, we were greeted with an extensive breakfast menu, from which we each took our pick. We were joined by a lovely South African couple, with whom we swapped many travel stories. They had travelled for over a day to get to Bali and it made us realise how fortunate we were that we were only a two hour flight away.

After breakfast, we grabbed our belongings and headed off into town. We left one of our bags at the tourist office – which was such a pain to find! - and made our way along Monkey Forest Road, which, unsurprisingly, led to the Sacred Monkey Forest. Such clever cloggs, these Balinese! We had heard so many things about this place and were well aware of the many rules and regulations when entering the place. Don't bring in any food or drinks other than water, don't wear any jewellery or anything shiny, don't make any sudden movements, and so on and so forth. Why? Well because these monkeys are vicious little kleptomaniacs and not afraid of harassing the many tourists. Set in a stunning park with several temples, a graveyard, a waterfall and an extensive walking route, the Sacred Monkey Forest is a lovely primate haven.

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Monkey Forest

Once we had enough, we stopped for a scrumptious waffle and milkshake (how very Balinese) and then walked back into town, where we eagerly awaited Scott and Adrienn's arrival. They had landed in Bali the previous night and were making their way into Ubud from where we would depart to our next destination together. They were travelling by car and would pick us up after they had their own browse through the monkey forest. Their experience was not as peaceful as ours and Adrienn got scratched in the face by one of the little buggers, who then proceeded to violently grabbing her trousers. No wonder she was a little shaken up when we saw her! Together we visited the local market, and bought the most gorgeous sarongs.

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Ubud Market

We then headed off Northwards to the town of Kintamani. Along the way we had a brief kodak-moment at some rice-fields, before arriving at the foot of Ulun Batur (Mount/ Volcano Batur) at nightfall.

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You can view all of our Ubud pictures via this public Facebook album link: Ubud Photo Album.

[To Be Continued...]

Posted by Fat Face 02:53 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

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