Bali highlights - 4x4 style & typing in an anorak

Trip Start Sep 10, 2010
Trip End Feb 19, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, October 22, 2010

To see the things you want to see in Bali and avoid the crowds, hire a wee man and a car. That’s just what we did yesterday and it was money well spent. The island is not massive but moving around is not so fast as roads are narrow and in some areas, quite low quality. Prior to the day we had gone through the brochures of all the major tour operators to get a quick idea of the top sites and settled on seeing one of the old the royal palaces (Taman Ayun), twin lakes (Beratan), the rice terraces (Jatiliwuh), lake temple (Ulun Danu Beratan), a couple of volcanoes, some mountain markets, the hot springs and finally Tanak Lot Temple for the sunset.

Luckily we had a 4x4 and a great driver called Dewa who spoke good English - he isn’t qualified as a guide yet so couldn’t escort us into the temples, but he was really helpful and a nice guy. Up in volcano country we went off the beaten track a few times and ended up coming across a brand new restaurant on a dirt track overlooking amazing rice terraces - not much choice and no menus printed yet, but Cheu had pretty good Nasi Goreng and I had some very spicy veg with red rice. Good food and once it gets up and running the location will attract a lot of business - it was also for them the first day of a new quad bike adventure. We didn’t have time to do the bikes, but it’s a two hour ride out into the rice fields and ends with you planting some rice with a local family; I am sure they dig it up and replant it properly when you are gone but nice little ending I thought.

Luckily Dewa was a fast driver, so we tended to arrive at most of the places ahead of the bus tours so we avoided most crowds and could get in close to some of the parades and ceremonies which seem to be going on at most temples on most days. The highlights were the first and last temples - Taman Ayun and Tanak Lot - even if the last is over dominated by markets, cafes and general commercialism, but not so much that it ruins things.

We got back to the hotel 12 hours after we set off and the whole day cost less than 30, so money very well spent. We then found an authentic Japanese restaurant about 10 minutes walk from our hotel and so rounded off the day with great home coking style food in a tranquil setting on platforms alongside rice fields. What more do you need ?

We finally made up our minds about what to do in the next week or so - the wet season has just started in Indonesia and parts of Java are under metres of water. These floods lie pretty much right across our planned route of bus and train travel. It also proved just too complex, time consuming and costly to add Komodo to the trip, so we decided to spend a bit more time in Bali, travelling across to the east coast tomorrow and then taking about a week or so to travel slowly up to the north and along the north coast. The north of the island is not exactly the backwaters but its off the main tourist route so we have struggled to get much bus information. We will just take it as it comes, travel as far as we feel like in each leg of the trip, and stop off where we find somewhere we like. Just hoping the weather improves - its really hot now with high humidity and in the afternoons there are big thunder storms; we are in the middle of one now and the hotel room is shaking violently every couple of minutes under the most amazing thunder claps and spectacular lightning shows. I am, believe it or not, typing this blog hiding in a makeshift tent using my waterproofs as even in the hotels terrace bars, the rain is somehow managing to hit the screen of my laptop. This rain is more powerful than anything we have ever seen - and we’ve been in many monsoons before. It’s fantastic fun if a little scary sometimes J At least the wind is keeping the mozzies at bay for the moment.

We hope that the flooding in Java will have subsided in the next week and if so, we will then head off to Java to take in a couple of temples we want to see, before heading along to Jakarta from where we hope to be able to get some sea transport to Borneo. If no ship available, its back to good old Air Asia who offer the only other alternative. We are not going to miss going to see the Orang-utans orphans, they are hopefully going to be the highlight of the next month.
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Shirley Mcpherson on

Fantastic blog and photos. What the hell with the "not gettin into temple if you have your rads. How would they know. are they vampires and can smell blood.WTF

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