Day 4:01 pm
The days before we started our holiday in earnest had been long and tiring, (I’ll post about AdAsia Bali soon!) and so by the time we set off it was already midday. We’d set our ambitions high: a two hour drive to Kintamani to see the lake and the Mount Batur Volcano.
The car was spacious and cool. From our hotel in Nusa Dua, we followed the bridge across the water and through the heart of Denpasar, Bali’s busy commercial centre. The car started to crawl through the terrible traffic. But some while later, the city cleared and the backdrop changed.
We began winding through the villages with their local stores and altars and temples. People whizzing by on their motorbikes. The lush green backdrop of coconut palms framed the single story buildings and shops which sold the necessities of daily life. Some people sat on the floor chatting, others were busy in their businesses. I peered down the side roads and saw the familiar stone lined Balinese lanes with the green leaves and locals zooming forward on their motorbikes, sometimes alone, sometimes two or three riding shotgun.
We passed through several villages, and an hour and a half later the road started winding up in height towards kintamani. We could feel it in our ears and the little two year old yelped in pain intermittently.
At a checkpoint we had to pay an entry fee to enter Kintamani area. We drove past the Geopark which we were told explains about the formation of Lake Kintamani, a modernist interpretation of a pagoda in the signature Bali black.
The road circles round, and you then get the views across to Mount Batur with its dark grey clouds, and then nestled in front of the mountains in Lake Kintamani, blue and clear, with villages sprinkled around it.
We had lunch at a restaurant with several layers of terraces prime for the view across to Batur and the lake.
It was in a surprising area of several halal restaurants, which was unexpected. It did make lunch for us unexpectedly more enjoyable as it opened the whole buffet. At IDR 150K + tax and drinks, it was reasonable given the kids ate free. However, the buffet did run out often and despite assurances from the staff that it would be replenished, this restocking did take quite some time. However, I forgave this because both the Balinese and the Chicken Satay were delicious and I’m a sucker for these.
For parents to know, there are railings, but I did feel constantly nervous about the children throwing themselves over the side.
The noise from the crickets and other creatures was incredibly loud, so you do feel like you’re immersed in the natural surroundings, but you might find it a distraction from lunch. The place has lovely little raised tables to sit Asian style. Great for adults but again we avoid so the little one didn’t fall off. I did feel rather envious of the singles who had their coffees and gazed across to the mountains with no fear of fearless children, while they meditated (or perhaps just snapped their selfies.
Also for parents – the toilets are surprisingly good, they are ‘up’ toilets with sprays and the level of cleanliness was good.
If we’d had more time we would have headed on further to the lake and to visit the villages, but for a short whirlwind tour the views and the fresh air and seeing the delight on the children’s faces made the long car journey worthwhile.
We then headed back south towards the Cegakin Rice Terraces. This stunning landscape cut away into the hillside was the highlight for our six year old. She raced passed the tourist shops and we could hardly contain her from descending the steps through the terraces to the bottom and then all the way up to the top.
At one point a woman in a kiosk demanded a ‘donation’. We shrugged our shoulders as we had already paid tickets to enter and we pointed that out. She blocked our progress. Ticket or donation we asked. ‘Donation’ she said fiercely pointing to a basket of cash. We forked out and proceeded.
It was hot and sticky, but the beauty of the place was motivational. However, you could easily have spent two or three hours there and we were determined to head on towards Ubud to enjoy the markets, shops but not the monkey forest. Many years ago I was bitten by a ‘cute’ monkey in Thailand and have been wary ever since. In our last trip to Bali in 2008 we did the monkey forest and the little creatures really are everywhere and fearless.
Alas – or happily – we got stuck in traffic as a result of the Kuningan Festival and its processions which I’ll blog about later in the week.
And so, by the time we got to Ubud, night had already fallen. The kids were hungry and tired and the markets had closed.
We parked up and walked into the first restaurant we found. There was pizza and the children were happy.
We didn’t get to see much of Ubud other than the drive through. But this proved disappointing. In 2008 this was a cutesy, eclectic village with one main street. The town was surrounded by lush green farmland. On this trip all I saw were streets and streets of high end tourist merchandise. And strangely, a Ralph Lauren Polo shop every few hundred yards. Can anyone explain this to me?
There was extraordinary Saturday night traffic through Denpasar so we arrived back exhausted. Batur, Kintamani and the Rice Terraces had all been extraordinary.
With one more day left in Bali before we head off to Lombok, we spent into the night wondering what to do the next day. I even asked Facebook for suggestions
What did we do? Check back tomorrow for the details!