I’m back! (or....another report is not yet coming my way....hehehe).
Bali. I think anyone who hears the name, will have the same thought: that exotic land where tradition, religion and culture live side by side beautifully.
And often people are familiar with Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua, and most of South Bali parts. I am sure most of us have ventured to many of those places. We have too.
So this time we went to North West Bali, for two reasons: looking for peace (we would be in Bali near New Year – so we could only imagine the crowd in all those popular places!); and exploring a new terrain in Bali.
We picked Pemuteran as a place to stay. There are plenty of places to stay. There are resorts within the National Park – under Menjangan Resort; but there are also other smaller ones including various home stays. We stayed in Aneka Bagus (got it from Agoda).
Aside from exploring some places in North West Bali, we spent some time traveling till Amlapura. I stopped to snorkel at Tulamben – they have a ship wreck only about 20m off shore, an easy swim since the sea is very calm. And on our way to Ngurah Rai to fly home, we took the middle route from Seririt passing through the twin lakes of Bunyan-Tambingan; and Bedugul, as it is shorter yet still offers the gorgeous view (and having gone through that route, we’ve just decided next time in Bali we’d stay in Munduk to enjoy the lovely scenery of the mountain areas).
An alternative route from North West to the South (or vice versa) is to go through from Singaraja, where you’d pass through Kintamani and Batur. I took this route a long time back from Denpasar to Lovina and back. But I found the route that we took this time was a lot ‘friendlier’. Both routes have lots of bends, but the route from Singaraja has a lot more sharp bends and I just felt it was tougher than the route Cip chose.
So if you’re interested to explore North West Bali from the usual South part (i.e. Kuta and surround), I’d suggest if you have plenty of time and confident of your driving skill (cause you’ll have to go through sharp bends as you climb up the mountain area), go through the longer route. I went from Denpasar - Ubud – Batur lake (you’d have to take a a bit of a turn if you want to stop by here) – Singaraja – Lovina.
If you’re short of time, it is best to do what Cip did.
But no matter which route you’ll choose – I don’t recommend you doing a day trip because this part of Bali is just too beautiful to ignore. Stay a night of two either at Lovina (where you can do dolphin watching early in the morning), or Pemuteran which is the ‘gate’ if you wish to explore the National Park and visit Menjangan island.
And don’t worry about the road condition. I always love traveling in Bali because the roads are soooo smooth!. So in many ways it’s always an easy drive. But you have to be very watchful cause the motorcycle riders are a lot less ‘attentive’(for a lack of better words) – they will appear from anywhere with no sign :)
|The PURPLE lines (which I hope you can see) - are the ones we took in this trip. The GREY one is the one I took long time back. Both routes are very, very, scenic|
Soonest we reached Gilimanuk and entered North West Bali, we were greeted by an empty road covered with lush vegetation. We were in the area of West Bali National Park – not in the middle of it of course, but you’ll pass through it if you are going towards the North West Bali tourist areas.
We knew this place would offer something different. But how different, was what we were about to find out... And we were delighted by what we experienced.
But I guess North West Bali is more for those looking to experience the wildlife of Bali (which you can do by exploring the National Park. We didn't do it this time but surely will be back next time!); or just to enjoy the great outdoors. There is no shopping here! - so don't expect to see rows of shops!.
And prepare your tummy for great seafood - a range of fresh fish, cooked in various ways, will await you.
On the ferry from Ketapang – excitedly waiting for the next things to see and enjoy
What a delight to see the lush vegetation
And NO TRAFFIC!! :) This is Bali – one of the top destinations during holidays. So to be able to see this long, empty stretch of road, was so relieving for us
The view from Aneka Bagus lobby – gorgeous, isn’t it?
The beach at the back of the hotel. I agree that the beaches in North West Bali are not as fun to play at, unlike those in the South, because the sand tends to be coarser. But, the sound of the waves everywhere is the same: soothing and calming. And you are always greeted by the clean water
Roaming around Pemuteran and its surrounding, we came across Pulaki Temple. Apparently a very important temple. Its history is described in a poster that they put right in front of it. This temple is a tribute to the monkeys believed as the saviours of a holy man. But unlike those in Sangeh temple, the monkeys here are more timid, less likely to come to you and grab things off (though I was still warned by a guy to not have any dangling things).
These monkeys were a lot more timid. They would not jump on you – unlike those in Sangeh
Praying before the day’s activity
There are other temples, of course, in the surrounding areas. Many need to be reached by climbing many stairs to the top. And of course one has to be properly attired to go into temples. Since we have 2 little ones, we only visited them from the outside. One of it is Kerta Kawat – which has a lovely backdrop of the mountain.
Do you know that Bali has a local wine called Hutton?. Well, we found local vineyards as we ventured in and out of the villages!. Don't imagine those like what we know vineyards in the western countries. They are very modest here. And when we were there, the grapes were in season. I tried it, but it was too sour for my liking. So I wondered actually if the wine is good or not. Not a wine drinker myself, so I wouldn't have known what a good wine or not anyway!.
The village road
The local vineyard
The grapes.. They are small and black blue when ripe
But apparently the locals really love them. We saw people flocking around this seller at Kerta Kawat Temple
And as you go around this part of Bali, you'll be entertained with the lovely views of the long stretch of mountains...
And of course you're not in Bali if you did not meet anyone doing any ceremony. The only traffic jam we experienced, was caused by a family who were about to have a cremation of their relative (Ngaben).
Enough mountains?, then hit the sea!. Menjangan island is a mere 20 minutes boat ride from the port. If you are a diver, I am sure you'll have this on your list. It has great coral walls. Even when snorkeling I could see its beauty. So I could only imagine if I could still dive, I would probably be too reluctant to go up... A pity though I did not have an underwater camera with me...
There are three snorkeling sites. There are 2 posts in this island. Normally, the boat will first take you to Post 2 - which is the more crowded one :) You can already see lovely corals here. And you can also see the walls. But, my favourite was the spot IN BETWEEN Post 1 and 2. The corals are a lot healthier because this spot is less crowded, plus farther away from the beach so people don't step on the corals so much.
Post 1 is more peaceful. And in this spot is where kids can play at the beach because it doesn't have too much of dead corals so their feet won't hurt so much. But make sure you get to the part where there are no sea urchins (bulu babi).
The small 'port' to cross to Menjangan. They usually put per boat price - so you'd better find friends to go with otherwise it's quite expensive, around IDR 700 - 800,000/boat, up to 3 hours. And they will add around IDR 50,000/half hour
On the way to Menjangan island. The sea is very calm
You can already see the fishes by the boat once you arrive in Menjangan
this is off the beach a bit at Post 1. If you have kids with you, they can swim also at Post 2, but it's more crowded by people who are about to snorkel or dive. Plus, there are dead corals underneath, unlike here where it's mostly sand so it's a lot more comfortable for their feet. But make sure you ask them to take you to the spot where there are no sea urchins
We went dolphin watching too from Lovina. It was something having to wake the kids up at 430am, took an hour drive from Pemuteran to Lovina. But it was worth the effort!
We saw the dolphins, but we had to do some chasing around :D According to our boat rider, we had to do it because there was a strong current so the dolphins were going everywhere. Still, we were happy to see them bouncing around.
We went off at 6am, sharp. It was IDR 60,000/person, for about 2 hours
See the dolphin on the right, that 'dot'?. No?. But we saw them alright....after some chasing around
I suspected the dolphins were playing with us. There were many of us chasing them, so I guess they bullied us by not making it easy for us to see them :)
Ventured out to the Eastern part of Bali - we went all the way to Amet. We stopped by at Tulamben, where I snorkeled at the ship wreck. Finally!. I have heard about it when I first learned diving. And my diving instructor told me to go there for an experience. Unfortunately now that I could finally visit, I could no longer dive! :D But it was an interesting experience, and one that I could document!.
They rent the snorkeling gears as well as underwater cameras. Make sure you bargain the fees with them!.
At first the guy told me the camera can be rented at IDR 300,000. I declined and just before I went away, he said I could rent the snorkeling gears + camera for IDR 200,000. Still expensive, but it was about to rain so I gave in. Altogether I paid IDR 300,000 for the gears, camera, and a buddy for 1 hour (you should never snorkel or dive alone. You should always have a snorkel or dive buddy). Not the best bargain I could have - but I only had limited time cause Cip would have to baby sit Lila who God knows when she would ask to be breastfed; so I just took it without too much thinking to save time.
(the stupidest thing was - I actually have snorkeling gears at home!)
It was raining so we could not have the sunshine to show the colours of the corals. It would probably look a lot better in a bright day.
While in the east, we visited two historical places: Taman Air Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung. These were the 'holiday' places of the old kingdoms. They served lovely views: of the mountains, and of the sea afar.
And you must experience the route from Amet to Amlapura where these places are located. There were points along the road where you can actually stop and take pictures. But we didn't do it cause I was busy taking care of the kids, and Cip was already quite tired of having to stop at every point :D
But I would never forget the views. The intricate details of the padi fields - that you can only see in Bali. The mountains, and the overall feeling. It was a view worth keeping.
Taman Tirta Gangga
The view just outside Taman Ujung
And finally the trip home. I was captivated by the views in the area of Munduk. Determined to stay over there next time around!.
One thing to note when you go through the mid part of Bali - it can get very misty. And since we passed it in wet season and it was raining when we went through it, it was really misty.
But we had a great view of Bunyan and Tamblingan lakes - as we bid farewell to Bali, and as we swore to ourselves that we would come back to explore the mid part of Bali and enjoy the mountain area a lot more.
My effort of making a panoramic view of Bunyan - Tamblingan, the twin lakes
It was really cloudy as we went down from the twin lakes towards Denpasar
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ― Saint Augustine of Hippo
Very true indeed. And as we travel from one place to another, we always have a note - new places to see, new people to talk to, new experiences to enrich life.
So we'll do this again and again. Bali again, or maybe Sumatera next time. Or go further east. Where ever it is, we'll never stop.
(R I R I)