After most of our guests left in May it was time for us to complete our favourite bucket list point. It was meant a 600 km long trip around Bali by motorbike. Although we know the south and middle regions of the island pretty well, we visited the mysterious north only a few times as part of some one-day long waterfall tours. So another reason of our adventure was to explore western and northern areas of the island.
How much luggage do we need?
I was particularly happy about our route on the coastline. Finally we did not get fully wet due to heavy rain in those 2000 metres high mountains to reach the North. It does not matter that we are on a tropical island 8 degrees south from the Equator, every time we go to the mountains by motorbike we’d better wear a few pullovers, raincoat and winter hat. Luckily we did not need any of these during this 7 days now. We could manage to pack into two backpacks without taking huge efforts. Our photography equipments were the heaviest things in the package. Being decent bloggers we were prepared to capture all the special moments during the trip. In addition to this we brought swimsuits, snorkel masks and some medicines just in case. Nothing else.
The only „loser” moment we had happened in the very first hour. During the past 10 months this was the first time we forgot Matt’s international driving licence at home. Of course we were stopped by police around Tabanan area for a regular check. With missing licence normally people should pay 250.000 IDR penalty. Fortunately police officers are flexible here. So as a result of our Indonesian language knowledge and our student cards we had to pay only 150.000 IDR.
Heading to the West we felt much stronger javanese influence. There were more muslim locals and small villages with impressive mosques next to the roads. Leaving Tabanan we rarely met any foreigners. We saw various animals instead. Many dogs, birds, monkeys and also a 1.5 metre long monitor lizard crossed our way somewhere close to Menjangan.
Things to do
Two beaches are worth to mention in this area: Balian and Medewi. None of them are suitable for bathing but intermediate and pro surfers can catch perfect waves there. Around Menjangan island you can choose from a wide range of programs. The famous Bali Barat National Park is a conservation area which offers the opportunities of birdwatching, Mangrove tours, snorkeling and also diving. The underwater wildlife in the area is worldwide famous. Many colorful coral reef gardens and various tropical fishes can be seen here. If you do not suffer from early morning activities, it is worth participating on a sunrise tour to Ijen crater in Java which is only 60 km-s away.
We stayed at a peaceful, romantic place called White Sandy Beach Menjangan. Its location was private and separated from others but everything was still easily reachable from there. The staff organises snorkel and diving tours and they grant any other requests as well. The hotel has an on-site restaurant which is especially useful. Except some small family stores it is very difficult to find other dining possibilities around. If you visit this area on your own, do not forget to refuel in Tabanan as later there won’t be any petrol stations. The closest one is 7 km-s towards from Menjangan.
Even compared to West Bali here we could enjoy a much different world. Some locals are muslims as well but we saw more people dressed in traditional balinese clothes. Traffic was less hectic than in Denpasar. We did not have the feeling that we are riding our motorbike in a Bali „shaped” for tourists. We could experience an authentic, raw Bali. this region was extremely unique and refreshing after the crowded south.
Things to do
I have to admit that we could not imagine before that so many amazing programs can be arranged in this area. First of all, snorkeling and diving tours enjoy priority here, too. Another interesting thing is to observe the so called Biorock project which was established by local people in order to save damaged corals and rebuild destroyed coral gardens. This is the world’s largest and most successful coral reef restoration activitiy. As a result of their unique technology with low voltage currents they can stimulate coral growth. As it is only a few metres away from the beach, you just have to grab your snorkel mask and have a look at this miracle by yourself (even without a guide). When you are close, you will feel the low voltage itself on your skin under the water. In the neighbourhood locals are also running a Sea Turtle Hatchery project called Reef Seen with the goal of turtle conservation and protection.
In terms of local culture you can visit two famous temples as well: Pura Melanting and Pura Pulaki. We skipped Pulaki because of my fear of those suspicious monkeys hanging around there. Pura Melanting is the main market temple in Bali where traders and businessmen are praying for their business success.
Amertha Bali Villas resort has a perfect location also for the activities above. Not to mention the peaceful atmosphere of those fantastic luxury villas in the middle of nature. In case you prefer an all-day long panoramic view from the top of a hill, book your villa at Sumberkima Hill Retreat. A romantic dinner with sunset watch is also possible in the on-site Suma restaurant. The area is more densely populated than Menjangan therefore it is easy to find stores, suvenir shops, restaurants and petrol stations.
to be continued..