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Exploring Bali

Scenic Mount Batur viewBali – most people in Europe associate this Island with a beautiful tropical beaches and 5-star-luxury-resorts. This is inherently correct, but this only, lets say… hm… about 10% of the truth: An island with many different faces: Endless smooth white-sanded beaches with many hotels alongside (as seen in Kuta, Sanur, …), amazingly green paddies (rice plantations, as seen around Ubud), cloud- or rainforest in the more central and mountainous regions, even volcanos and hot springs are to be found or the black-sanded beaches in the northern region… This island truely has to offer something for everyone! I spent only a week there, so it was more a rapid exploration trip than a long-term immersion, but I saw so many different landscapes, scenic views… Really, I’m impressed!

I took another budget flight from Singapore to Denpasar, Bali using JetStar / Valuair, a subsidiary of Quantas. The flight took about 2.5h and was quite relaxing, because I had the choice of Seat 12A, a window seat at the emergency exit row – so much space. After arriving in Depasar, the usual visa-on-arrival procedure took place… Paying another US$ 10, waiting in line, custom clearance… So I went on to draw some money (Rupiah). For the first time in my life, I became a millionaire – Just because 1 € equals around 12000. So 100€ give (current course of 11875 rupiah per euro): 1.18 million rupiah!

I chose to spent my first night in one of the countless guest houses in Kuta, so I searched for some others in order to share a taxi. And I was really lucky: Within minutes I found two other people – one girl from Canada and one guy from Switzerland! We just payed 30000 rupiah for this ride. During the taxi ride, I had some conversations about my plans for the next days and Linus, the guy from Switzerland had very similar plans. Because we just had been on our own, we decided to travel together in order to save money and so on. Perama BusAfter signing in for a guest house (double room w/ fan, cold shower for 50000 rupiad) around Poppies II Lane, we headed for some dinner in a Warung and discussed about further plans. Finally it turned out to be the best way, to jump onto a Perama Bus the next morning and get to the very north of the Island. A ticket is just 70000 rupiah for this 3 hour ride – and if you include lunch at arrical and a night in the Perama Homestay you get this bundle for just 85000! It is worth saying that Kuta, usually the most busy town (in terms of tourism) was absolutely not crowded. Very few people around, but the amount of souvenir shops, commercial places and so on made us leaving instantly.

The bus left at 0900, so we got up around 0800 in order to have the (included) breakfast at the hotel: Some banana pancake and balinese style coffee. Starting in Kuta, the bus took its way to Sanur and further to Ubud stopping at each of those towns with some passengers entering or leaving. The scenery around was quite interesting: Endless rice-fields in Central BaliBlue sky and endless paddies… After Ubud, the terrain got more and more rangy and the street featured many hairpin turns and with any meter you could feel it getting a little colder: Starting around 32°C in Kuta it got down to around 22°C. Finally, we reached the pass at Bedugal at around 1300m above sealevel. Many people stop there in order to visit Lake Bratan and the famous Ulun Danu temple – but we decided not to do so :) After the descend back to sealevel, we reached Lovina around noon.

Banjar Holy Hot SpringThe Perama homestay at Lovina is quite O.K. – nothing special, but enough for a night. Right afterwards, we decided to get to the Banjar Holy Hot Springs rightby to get some relaxing bath after the long bus ride. Black-sand beachThe hot springs are at a temple-like district at the ascending mountains around Lovina, but in the middle of jungle. Very, very scenic! After some hours of immersion in the hot water (around 37°C) we left this place in order to get to the famous black sanded beach of Lovina in order to get a quick-dip and enjoy sunset at the beach. Lovina was like a ghost-town – Linus and me had been the only white-skinned people there. Only locals, no tourists! We spent some hours sitting at the beach, having some satay from a closeby warung and talking with locals about various stuff. Day 1 was over and we already saw a lot…

Beji TempleThe next morning we left Lovina by private transportation: Ulun Danu Batur TempleWe got a deal for a ride to Batur, where the scenic Mount (Vulcano!) Batur and the Lake is located. On the about 70km long way to there, several interesting temples are located – And the driver stopped there of course :) First, there was the Beji Temple at Sangsit (before the hair-pin uphill ascend), later the Penulisan Mountain temple (at around 1400m) in Penulisan and finally the well-known Ulun Danu Batur temple in Batur. The Ulun Danu Batur temple is really beautiful – very impressive architecture and style.

Lake & Mount Batur We had some lunch at one of the crater-top restaurants at Batur – Be sure to do excessive bargaining! Otherwise they rip you off, charging 100.000 rupiah per pax for a buffet that you can get for 40.000 for two! The scenic view while eating was absolutely mindbreaking… (see pic). Finally we found a decent room at right at the lakeside of Lake Batur. After some walking around the little town we had some satay at a local warung paying 5000 rupiah for 20 sticks of satay – incredibly cheap. If you go to Lake Batur, avoid going to the “Hot Spring” – This is just a tourist scam, charging 5 US$ for a swimming pool! We got to bed really early, because we decided to climb Mount, or better Vulcano Batur the next morning in order to watch sunrise from this position. As you can see at the sat-picture, the current Mount Batur is actually a vulcano in a vulcano crater – This old crater was created about 29300 years ago (‘Old’ Batur) and at its bottom Lake Batur formed. To give you a dimension of this caldera /crater that was formed during the old-Batur explosion: It is 10 x 14km wide! So imagine the power of this explosion!

Sunrise at Mount BaturAfter getting up really early (3.45am) we started ascending the Mountain… It is really amazing how many stars you can see, when there is no illumination of the sky by street-lights and so on! Within minutes you could see the milkyway and easily identify major stars. Finally, at around around 5.30am we reached the top crater of the Batur Volcano at around 1600m. The view from there is absolutely great… Especially because the old, big crater at whose bottom you can find the Lake Batur, is completely ‘flooded’ with clouds… From this uphill position you can get a wonderful view of the surrounding (inactive) Vulcano mountains such as Mount Agung (3142m). This sunrise is definitively worth getting up this early and climbing uphill! Clouds arise!But again: Be warned – You need excessive bargaining otherwise they rip you off! In order to climb the mountain, you need a guide of the association of mount batur guides… And they have basic fixed prices – But if you come off-peak season you might get a good deal – as we did: Instead of 300.000 per pax we paid 250.000 together. Quite funny, because some other people that did the trip with up paid 300.000 each :) After a quick breakfast with some pancake, Walking into clouds...boiled egg and (of course) balinese style coffee, our guide took us to a tour of the various craters of Batur. There had been many eruptions throughout the years with the last ones at 1999/2000. There is a lot of smoke and so on around – walking down the vulcanic ash-fields seems like beeing on another planet… After being back at the guest house we had a second breakfast and got ourselves ready for the next destination: Padang Bai at the East of Bali.

Padang BaiThe trip to Padang Bai took about 1.5h – We finally checked into Kembar Inn, a decent guest house in this sleepy village paying just 40000 for the room. After getting some sleep we decided to hit the beach, namely Blue Lagoon Beach, which is just 10 minutes of walking from the main beach. Blue Lagoon Beach Just have a look to the picture… Nothing more to say… Crystal clear blue water, nice waves, very few people around… The only drawback: Some rocks and corals are in the water. We spent there some hours with reading and relaxing in the shade. Unfortunately more and more clouds showed up and it began thundering – We got back to the guest house and jumped into a warung to get some food. We were sitting there for about 5 minutes, when the rain started…

Dreaming...Before jumping onto the Bus to Ubud at 1330, we decided to hit another beach… Mainly because we woke up at 0800…White-sand beach Breakfast at Kembar Inn was pretty good: Omelett sandwiches and fresh fruit. We walked over to the white-sand beach reaching there at around 0900. This is truely a dream beach – even better than the other one. White sand, no rocks, really nice waves (about 1-2m) and again: we were almost on our own… Before getting to the bus, we had some food at the beach, which was actually quite cheap.

Our room at the Merthayasa HomestayWe reached the Ubud Perama Station at around 3pm – and instantly many locals showed up offering rooms, transport and whatsoever… Argh. But somehow we managed to escape them and started to look for some decent accomodation – finally we found a decent homestay for 40000 per night. Ubud itself was disappointing – Monkey ForestJust a boring touristic town with countles souvenir shops, expensive restaurants. We should have avoided this place :( Anyhow we made the best of this situation and got to the Monkey Forest… Nothing really special – Apes. Many Apes. After grabbing some food at a cheap warung (which was quite hard to be found) we decided to get some beer and chill out at the balcony of our room.

Kuta Beach ViewSo the next morning was already my last day in Bali – Sunday. We left Ubud at 0900 in order to spent the day at the Beach of Kuta. Linus is gonna stay in Bali for another week with a friend of him joining. So he got a room for the next night – at the same guest house, we stayed at Tuesday. This had a big advantage: I had the chance to leave my luggage there while being on the beach and grab a shower afterwards… Kuta Beach itself is ok. Nice white sand, decent waves – But way more crowded than the places we had been before… Many surfers and so on. It did not matter at all…Last day was just for relaxing. At around 1630 we left beach heading for the Airport, because my flight was supposed to leave at 1940. We arrived at the airport around 1730 and I got a surprise: Flight was rescheduled, or better delayed to 2140 :( So we had several hours to just sit around… Anyway, I arrived back at Changi at 0030 – Just after ALL public transportation was shutdown. So there were two possibilities: Sleep at the airport or take a taxi – with the extra night+holiday surcharge. Finally I got a cabpaying 37s$ for the ride to NTU campus. It is really funny that a single cab ride costs more than 2 average days in Bali…

Conclusion: Bali was a wonderful experience – But I definitively need another one or two weeks to fully explore this beautiful island. Going there in off-peak season was an excellent decision because you save a lot of money and it is way less crowded. If you avoid tourist hot-spots like Ubud, Kuta and Sanur you still have the possibility to see true Bali – wonderful scenic landscapes and quiet beaches.

filed in indonesia, on tour

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