Backpacking in Bali

Ceking Terrace Paddy Field
Ceking Terrace Paddy Field

May 21: Lombok to Bali RM80 – Lion Wings

I bid goodbye to Lombok and came back to the familiar Bali. I had visited Bali in 2013 and decided that I did not have enough of Bali then. I wanted more – namely Ubud and Tanah Lot.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple)

Uluwatu temple lies 30 minutes drive away from Kuta. However, with the narrow roads and traffic, it took me around an hour to reach the place. Again, I have to thank Maps.Me Android app for helping me not to get lost in Bali. Entrance fee: 20,000 rupiah. Parking fee for my scooter: 1,000 rupiah.

I did not take me a long time to walk the whole stretch of the 70m high cliff of Uluwatu. I preferred the walk to the left side of the cliff as it stretched out to open field and up close to the cliff for viewing.

Near the temple, I was so cautious when it came to anywhere near the monkeys. Read so much about thieving monkeys and held on tightly to my possession.

I was a witness to a Taiwan girl who was so into posing for photo that she did not realise a monkey was behind her and snatched her sunglasses. Her boyfriend watched helplessly as the monkey bit the sunglasses and jumped away with it. So, now we know who has not been reading TripAdvisor before going to Uluwatu.

Kidding. But seriously, one should read a bit more before going on holiday.

Uluwatu was crowded but there was more space at the end of the trek. It was nice to spend some time away from the temple structure, enjoying the sound of the waves crashing onto the cliff and the breeze.

Uluwatu temple is best to be visited in the late afternoon. I stayed for the 6pm Kecak Fire Dance. There were several places in Bali that showed this kecak dance. However, in Uluwatu, at the right seating, one could view the dance as the sun set. The price was 100,000 rupiah.

To really appreciate the event, explanation of the show was distributed free to tourists. There were 5 acts shown. However, I suspected they skipped Act 3, to give a bigger role to the popular Hanoman (white monkey). The dance was not that really captivating, other than the regular kecak-cak-cak repetition. Things got more interesting when Hanoman showed up.  There were a few stories to how kecak fire dance became popular. The stories were either about the dance popularised somewhere in 1930’s or even earlier.

The fourth photo would show you Ramayana and Sita, who were supposed to be the leads in the show. Entertaining Hanoman stole the scenes too often.
The fourth photo would show you Ramayana and Sita, who were supposed to be the leads in the show. Entertaining Hanoman stole the scenes too often.

The show ran for almost an hour, leaving the exit time somewhere after the sun set. I was afraid the lane would be too dark for me to ride my scooter. However, since other vehicles were leaving too, and there were many, the ride was not so bad.

May 22: Ubud

I let my imagination of Ubud got the better of me. It was still a nice place, but not what I had expected. Perhaps too touristy now. It felt crowded. Still, it was a nice getaway from Kuta, Bali. Perhaps it was nice too because of the right accommodation.

Duana's Homestay. RM50 a night.
Duana’s Homestay. RM50 a night.

Duana’s Homestay was really near to Art Market and offered really quiet, cool accommodation. I loved the breakfast. Free coffee and friendly staff members. If this looks familiar, it is the same design as the Bali house Julia Roberts’ character visited in Bali, when she went to talk to the fortune teller.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Stated in TripAdvisor as the no.1 thing to do in Ubud, I set out for Campuhan Ridge Walk after Duana’s Homestay. Although there was an advice to take a stroll there in the morning (aka cooler), I wanted to see if I could view sunset from the end of the 2km walk.

There was no entrance fee, and I bumped into local lovers hanging out at the beginning of the walk. At the end of the walk, there was a cafe, overseeing the paddy field. And in between, growling dogs that would make Campuhan a less popular place in the future.

Without those dogs and the warm afternoon, the walk would have been nicer.

The whole walk took me around 2 hours.

Ceking Terrace Paddy Field

In 2013, foolishly not knowing what Tegalalang was famous for, I turned down the suggestion by my tour guide to take a walk in the paddy field. I did not know the big deal about it. Yes, it was beautiful and the morning was quiet. But I just thought it was a casual stop. Since then, I had been eager to return to walk around the UNESCO World Heritage Site paddy field.

No entrance fee was imposed. However, to cross the small bridge, a small donation was asked. I gave 5,000 rupiah and was accepted with a kind smile.

Incidentally, a funny thing happened on my way up and out of the terrace. Check youtube and anyone could see black and white videos of old Bali, where it was acceptable for Bali women to be topless. On my way out, I came across an old Balinese woman, topless, holding postcards to sell to passing-by tourists. She was waiting for them along the steps. When someone pointed camera at her, she danced, jiggling her old breasts before asking the photographer and friends to buy postcards from her at the price of 30,000 rupiah.

I was at the bottom of the steps, awaiting to go up. I made way for the other tourists to come down. As I was walking up, I realised I had made a mistake. By waiting, I became the last person to pass by her. I did, and tried not to make any eye contact or even looking at her. She called out to me, wiggling her postcards and said 25,000 rupiah. I declined, politely. Still, no eye contact. As I walked away from her, I could hear her shouting for me to wait. I quickened my pace. It was like I was trying to run away from a naked old woman. I could hear her laughing as I got away.

Phew.

Pura Gunung Kawi

May 24: Mount Kawi Temple

Mount Kawi Temple was wrongly mapped by Google (and it was not 1.5 hours away but merely 30 minutes).

There were two Gunung Kawi in Bali. One was above Tanah Lot. The other one was near Tirta Empul, Tampak Siring. The second one was the right one.

I rode out in the morning to see this Mount Kawi Temple, which was relatively less crowded. There were more popular temples in Bali that somehow, this 1000 year old Mount Kawi Temple complex was outshone.

Pura Gunung Kawi (Mount Kawi Temple)
Pura Gunung Kawi (Mount Kawi Temple)

There was 330 steps down to the complex. Entrance fee was 15,000 rupiah.

I liked this site more because there were less people. There were many young locals on the morning I was there. It was a nice walk to the complex. with a pleasant view of paddy field. Before entering the complex, with your sarong, of course, I was required to sprinkle holy water on myself. The water was provided near the entrance, at the end of the 330th step.

Pura Gunung Kawi is the only temple complex in Bali where candis are carved out from the rock cliff in the valley. There are 9 candis in this complex. 4 are near the entrance, to the left. The other 5 are located across the bridge. The 5 candis remind one of the similar sculptures of Prambanan candis. There is a stream and a small waterfall in the complex.

I enjoyed my morning walk there. It was cooling and less touristy. This complex offered nothing much, but it was a good getaway from the crowd in other tourist areas.

It was a day where many young locals came for offering. I did not manage to ask them what the event was.

On my way out of Ubud, I stopped by and snapped some photos of Ubud Art Market.

Kuta Beach

May 25: Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach, Bali
Kuta Beach, Bali

Kuta Beach did not leave any great impression on me the last time I was in Bali. Perhaps, it was so scorching hot during my last trip. This time, I forced myself to go there in the morning, when the weather/temperature was kinder.

It was a good stroll at the beach. Even in the early morning, beach activities were already picking up. Many stopped me along the way, asking me if I had wanted to learn surfing.

I cut myself, trying to climb up some slippery rocks. So, it was a wounded walk along the beach, where blood was oozing out of my injured foot. Still, nothing stopped me from snapping more photos of the busy, long stretched beach. The waves were strong and I was told that the water was not that deep. Hence, more were willing to learn to surf.

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Busy morning at Kuta Beach, Bali.

Tanah Lot

Pura Batu Bolong, Tanah Lot
Pura Batu Bolong, Tanah Lot

The ride to Tanah Lot took more than an hour. I journeyed out early, in order to be there before the sun set. Just like the day before, the sky was cloudy. And yet, just like that day before, it did not rain.

Entrance fee was 30,000 rupiah and 2,000 for parking fee.

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Same place for posing, as in 2013, for Tanah Lot.

The best journey was to the left, seeing all those other temple lots before the main one.

IMG_7517

To have the famous Tanah Lot temple with the sunset as the backdrop, I have to walk to the further end of the beach. There, in hoping for a good sunset view, I sat and waited. It was not meant to be, with the dark clouds and more. Still, it was nice to see there, enjoying the quiet space and the breeze.

And as the sun set down, it was time to bid farewell to Bali and its famous landmark Tanah Lot. It was a worthwhile trip and an adventure, definitely, to go around Bali on scooter.

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Sunset arrived, signalling the end of my journey in Indonesia for this year.
Goodbye, Bali.
Goodbye, Bali.
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