Road Trip, Bali

With Furthur secured at the marina and a host of workers doing great things for her, we popped on the scooter and headed off for a land adventure. The ride started like oh so many motorcycle rides back home, in the rain!

We had a list of known waterfalls and a dicey map so off we went and instantly became lost. The first of several guiding angels appeared, a round chap on a scooter asking where we were going. When we told him he just said “follow me”. Rjun took us into the mountains in the rain, he found us a great restaurant and waited while we ate.

Rjun took us to the first waterfall on the list and we walked down the short path to an amazing scene. As it had been raining the water was murky but the falls were dynamic.

Next he took us to an organic coffee plantation where we took the tour. The plantation produced coffee and an assortment of herbs and spices, fresh nutmeg, ginger and such. The real prize product is the rare and exotic Kopi Lawik coffee. If you saw the movie “Bucket List” you know the beverage. A breed of tree cat lives in these forests and he loves coffee beans but cannot digest them completely. The poop is collected and the beans removed, this produces a drink fit for Jack Nicholson, a drink so rare few know of it and less can afford it. I bought just enough to have a taste.

We left the plantation and our guide led us to the main road across the mountain. I gave him a few bucks for his trouble and off we went. It has been a long time since I have actually been cold. The idea of wearing a jacket is so foreign to me now but I did pack two light rain jackets for which we were grateful. We climbed the mountain and out of the rain and into an eerie mist. The scenery became exquisite, lush green terraced rice fields and jungle on either side.

We reached the mountain top village of Bedugul and looked for lodging. We found a small guest house with twelve dollar rooms, not much but all we needed. The owner and friends, hard to tell who was who, were gracious and welcoming. I found a cheap Adidas jacket in a market and bought it, I was cold! 

As we traversed this wonderful island we saw most of the locals adorned in the traditional attire, not just for show but as a part of daily life. They cling to their traditions in a place often over run with outside influence.

The next day we awoke to sunshine and better spirits, I sat under the sun reading and soaking in the warmth like a Komodo Dragon raising my core temperature. A car full of very elderly people pulled up and they went to the room next door where the locals lived. What I saw next was amazing. It is an old Bali medicine practice to extract blood from the artery in the ankle for cleansing the body. They placed the woman’s old bent feet in a tray and punctured holes in her skin. Dark arterial blood flowed out and filled the tray. I warned Angela that she might not want to look but her intrepid spirit trumped her queasiness and she took the photos. We were invited for a session but I declined.

The warm sun at our backs we headed down the mountain to find more waterfalls. The next on the list was in the mountain village of Monduk. We took the long walk down to the very tall falls and had a look. Up the hill, got my exercise this day, and off we went. We had now crossed the center of the island and the highest ridge of the mountains. We were now heading down the hill to the northern coast.

The windy road made for thrilling riding. Riding a scooter in Bali is one of the most intense, thrilling and flat scary things one can do. The speed is wild and the rules of the road nonexistent. The center line is a mild suggestion not a boundary. I laughed many times at the antics I did and how they would be received riding at home, with horror! Zipping along, passing on both the right and the left on corners and hills, a true test of faith. With this multitheistic land in mind i prayed to the god of the windy road, the god of the scooter brakes, and the god of the “don’t let that truck hit me” fevorishly.

We arrived at the Gigi Waterfalls and parked the scooter. A guide offered his services but we declined. The short walk produced a tropical scene usually reserved for Tarzan. The falls formed swirling pools that beckoned one to jump in and I did. We swam in the one designated for swimming with some other folks. We found another deeper pool with less accessible boundaries but it looked oh so inviting. I studied the pool and more important the exit for a while and found a way up out of the pool, I thought. Angela declined but encouraged my folly so with a lump in my throat I jumped from the ledge and plunged into the deep whirlpool, yahoo! The climb back up the rocks done and I looked back at the pool with a smile.

Back on the scooter we finished the decent from the windy mountain road and followed the coast line. Again we were a bit lost and again a chap pulled up to help. This guy had an agenda and was promoting a guest house as he handed me a card. I told him we had a place to stay but he guided us anyway. We pulled into the coastal town of Lavina, the place we had visited on last year’s rally. I have fond memories of this fun town and was eager to see it again. We found a guest house right in town and when the proprietor showed us the room and the exotic stone lined open air bathroom Angela said “sold!”. After a dip in the pool we ventured out for dinner. Little had changed since last year and I found a small local and very cheap restaurant. After dinner we found a large crowd and discovered a pro volleyball game. We watched the players for a while, they were great.

I found some cruising friends who were anchored off the shore. About 25 rally boats abandoned the given route and were here. Sadly this year’s Sail Indonesia Rally is a flop. The wonderful folks who ran it last year were removed and the replacements just did not do a good job. As oppose to last year’s rave reviews, I did not talk to one person who was happy with the rally. I hope they can repair the damage and bring this fine event back to its past high standards.

We found my friends at the local hot spot and danced to the rhythms of the local band, they were great. Angela had stayed to watch the volleyball but joined us later in the bar. We all danced and enjoyed the music till the wee hours then walked to the room. Lavina is a charming town, just enough night life to make it fun but not so much to attract the wild masses of southern Bali. The ancient building all are adorned with temple like carvings of the glory days of Bali. We will probably return on Furthur on our way north as this is a place to see again and again.

A bit tired from the late night but eager to move on we popped on the scooter and headed out. We had picked a less traveled route back and I had pulled over to look at the map to find the turn we needed. Again a local lad pulled up to offer help; again we followed him through some unmapped turns onto the main rode. We chuckled at the idea of anyone let alone many, offering such help so freely.

It was a long hard ride back across the island, we had stopped for lunch at a wonderful place with a panoramic view of terraced rice fields and then nonstop home. Our bums were very glad to get off the scooter. We had seen sights view will see; exotic medicine, waterfalls, rice fields and so much more. We had also been touched by the kindness of strangers who appeared at our most lost times and guided us to the right path. Bali is a land onto its own, the clashing cultures, the dramatic natural beauty and the unique dance from ancient to modern make this a land of enchantment.

Please take a look at Angela’s blog too: