Lucious Bali

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Monday, August 1, 2011

Coincidentally a Belgian traveler from the shuttle bus from Gili was staying at Indraprastha Homestay as well. When I heard him inquiring about tours, I invited him to join me on the Campuan Ridge hike I was planning to take.

Together we first checked out the Royal Family Palace where 40 or so men were busy decorating and preparing for the huge royal cremation to take place on August 18. In the Hindu religion it is customary to cremate the deceased. In the case of royalty, enormous festivities are planned around the ceremony consisting of a 25 feet tower and a larger than life size paper mache bull designed to house the body to hang from the tower and until burned. The procession will start at the palace and walk 200 meters to the cemetery. This would be a spectacular sight to witness but the chances of me flying back to Bali are slim to none.

From there we walked a half a block into the Lotus Café in search of the Water Palace. In between the restaurant and the temple is a picturesque pond filled with lilies and lotus flowers. I regret the photos don't do it justice.

We proceeded down the main road under the bridge until we came across Hotel Ibatah which per Lonely Planet is the trail head. First we found ourselves walking down some large steep concrete stairs opening up to a running river path, before quickly realizing that we took a wrong turn.

Within two minutes back on the paved road as far as the eye could see was green forest with a lovely landscaped path leading up into the hills. Five minutes later we were greeted by a local, engaged in conversation with Bagus we learned that the hotel in Tulamben where I dove is owned by his uncle. Small, small world. Bagus is a painter with clients in Santa Fe, NM and elsewhere. Koen, my Belgian friend stood bewildered at the coincidence.

The hike took us three hours to complete as we wandered through by galleries and resorts staggered among the rice paddies, taking a zillion photos and admiring the beauty every which way our head turned. We reached the asphalt road, made a left and continued to loop back to town. At first it seemed like it should be all downhill but ultimately it had plenty of steep segments, getting me nice and tired for the massage I was about to have.

Ironically we passed right by Sedona Spa where I had booked my handful of treatments based on a local Australian masseur’s recommendation. But in hopes of getting some shopping in, I chose to keep my 5:00PM appointment and Koen and I continued on. The bigger temptation was the intoxicating smell of barbecue ribs grilling on the sidewalk at a few packed restaurants. Still fighting the clock with hopes of shopping I resisted. Truthfully we had worked up an appetite so by the time we passed Murni’s Warung on the bridge set in a jungle environment we caved in and took a table overlooking the river. We split the Balinese smoked duck which was a perfect amount of food and deliciously tender.

Leaving the shopping for tomorrow morning we took a post lunch stroll up to Sari’s Organic. This Western run fully organic garden with a café is set among more rice fields and draws a big following. The entire set up with a small green house shouts freshness and if we hadn’t just stuffed ourselves I would have easily ordered a red leaf and cherry tomato salad made from the crops I had just passed along the way.

Of course it was now 4:15PM and I was practically running back to the hotel to shower before my 4:45PM pick up to the spa. I have to say after a week of carrying a huge dive tank on my back and five hours of walking I was beyond ready for the full spa package. The session started with a firm but relaxing massage in a private open air bungalow, followed by a green tea scrub and a 20 minute essential oil bath in a free-standing cooper claw foot tub, filled with colorful flower petals. I was served green tea and fresh fruit to sip as I relaxed.

Unfortunately it was now dusk, starting to get cool and the time when the mosquitos come out, so we moved to the inside facility to continue with the facial, mani-pedi and hair milk bath. By the time I left at 8:30PM I was a new woman.

As exhausted as I was, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check out the live music and salsa dancing at Havana Restaurant on Dewi Sita. I got in a couple of great dances with one of the waiters.

The next day I was feeling so good physically that I didn’t dare mess it up with a run or yoga class. Instead I did what I missed the night before and shopped. I guess you could say it was more like window shopping but I did have a custom necklace and bracelet made of waxed thread with silver bits. It was really hard to resist walking into every clothing shop, art and handcraft galleries, homemade organic shops and the local market.

Time was running out as it was before I was to meet the driver Dewa, who would take me to the airport this afternoon via a stop at Tanah Lot (the Temple on the Sea) and a quick stop in Seminyak to pick up my suitcase from Mark’s shop. Tanah Lot was worth the stop. It’s famous for its sunset view but the Asian couple taking her wedding photos made it even more beautiful.

I leave here so fulfilled yet wanting more. Bali is indeed a gem and I will undoubtedly return.
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