Day 205: Whistle Stop Tour Of Bali

Wed 6th March 2013

Wild south coastBy breakfast time we still had not heard if our transfer to Pemuteran is booked so Dave uses our Skype account to ring Amanda at Reef Seen where we are staying tonight. We have so far on this trip only used half of our £10 credit on Skype. Good news, the driver is booked for the 1pm collection we would like, the bad(ish) news is he barely has time to get here as it is at least a three hour drive down from Pemuteran in the north of the island.

Morning view of Tanah LotThis all gives us time to visit the temples in daylight for better pictures and, according to the guide book less crowds. Wrong on both counts: It is still overcast and threatening rain yet again; and it is already busy. We did manage some good pictures but head back as the rain starts and shelter in one of the shops and I spot the T-shirts are less than £1 each. That will be good for a nighty in Borneo where we will be in dormitories half the time. Sadly the XL ones I am looking for are too naff for words, but we do settle on two for a fiver with Starbucks for Dave and Hard Rock Café for me.

Interestly coloured birdWe check out and settle down to lunch in the open air hotel restaurant, but it is nearer 1:30 by the time our driver arrives, very apologetic for the lateness. We are not worried as we had been giving the internet a workout as we do not know if there will be any at Reef Seen, as it has been down for the last three days.

More rice fieldsOur driver finds his way back out of the maze that is Tanah Lot compound and we are on our way. Firstly through the traffic of the regions capital of Tabanan and on up into the mountains. The road winds its way up, steeply at times and our ears pop. Behind us is miles and miles of flat plains which is Southern Bali. On the way up we pass many rice fields, bananas, coconut trees, durian trees (very smelly fruits) and coffee plantations.

Pura Penataran, BeratanTowards the top we reach a lake and can see impressive buildings and the driver asks if we want to stop and take pictures and we say yes. After a confusing conversation we agree to go and visit the temple, Pura Peneteran in Baratan, as that will produce the best pictures. As with all these sights it is not expensive to visit. I think the driver is also happy to stop as he has already been driving for over four hours since leaving home this morning.

Impressive carving on temple doorThis was an unexpected surprise as we did not expect sightseeing en route and the temple was very pretty on the water. We could however have done without the screaming girls on the speedboat trips around the lake. There was also the obligatory, it seems, couple having their wedding photos taken in the temple grounds.

Lake with us spoiling the viewWe were soon on our way again and had frequent photo stops of rice fields and mountain scenery. After a second lake the views back across it are worthy of yet another photo. The driver stops in a layby next to a sign saying have your photo taken with the animals and there is a row of live bats on display. We decline, but I notice money still exchanges hands between our driver and the animal owner.

It takes a lot of effort to process these coffee beans you know!We had been promised a coffee stop on Mundak, which was a place on my “to visit” list, so this is another bonus. The main sight here is a waterfall, which we do not see, but the lush green scenery makes up for this. We soon stop by a flight of steps which lead to a patio with tables and chairs set out and music is playing in the background. We are asked if we want to see their animals and we decline so a minute later we are asked again. We take the hint and say yes this time and are shown two white rabbits and a sleeping civet. The sleeping animal is prodded awake enough for a quick photo. Next comes the explanation of where Luwak coffee (kopi luwak) comes from – from civet poo. The civet eats the coffee beans, which are not fully digested and can then be removed from the excrement and cleaned, roasted and ground before being made into coffee. This is confirmed by Wikipedia and so it must be true!

Kopi Luwak and peanutsThis is a speciality of the area so we have to try it. To us it tasted like any other local coffee but cost three times the price! Our driver opted for lemon tea (at our expense but that is the way it works here). We see it on sale in other restaurants but are not bothered to try it again. As we leave the music abruptly stops as there are no other customers!

Pretty Balinese scenerySoon we are heading back to sea level and the temperature rises notably so, enough for me to put the air conditioning back on in the back of the car. We are very lucky to have crossed over the mountains without them being in cloud and we have seen yet another contrast in the varied scenery Bali has to offer. The north west coast is more grey volcanic sand in pretty little bays and we soon arrive in Pemuteran at our small dive centre/hotel of less than ten rooms around a grassy centre. The little restaurant looks out over the beach and we sit drinking beer watching the sun go down. It is great to see such a diverse group of Facebook friends liking my picture of the sun going down and the boats bobbing on the water.

Sunset on north coastWe have booked in for two nights but to stay longer we will need to move to a room with no hot water.For the first two nights we had splashed out on a superior room with air conditioning and hot water in the open air bathroom at the back of our bedroom. In view of this we decide not to extend our stay and will move on to Java. Straight away Amanda has us booked on the snorkelling trip to Pulau Menjangan tomorrow, busy, busy. However, tonight we head out to supper happy having seen much more of Bali than expected today, albeit briefly.

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One Response to Day 205: Whistle Stop Tour Of Bali

  1. Sara Mayes (Churchman) says:

    That lake is beautiful and I think is where Mick Jagger & Jerry Hall got ‘married’.

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