Day 4: Tegallalang
This is part 3 of our Bali vacation. Follow these links for part 1 and part 2.
First thing we did was having breakfast on a floating heart shaped tray in the pool. It was a little overrated, but we had to try it. Then we jumped on the back of a pair of scooters, and went to the area of Tagallalang, which is known for its beautiful rice terraces. Tegallalang is not just one spot but an entire area, and in here was Ceking Rice Terrace among others. On photos from these places you will see the picture perfect rice terraces with little paths, stairs og bridges allowing people to walk around and really enjoy them. They are real, but my impression was, that they had turned everything into a giant tourist attraction trying to sell the nature and everything sellable.
We were dropped of by Uma Ceking and paid the 50.000 (3 €) each to enter their little area of the rice fields. On top of that, you could buy some time on one of the Bali Swings, a zipline ride, zip biking and long dresses for your swing photos as well as posing for a photo in all kinds of little nests etc. before going to the café. To be fair it was a nice view while enjoying a cold drink, but everything reminded more of an amusement park than anything else. It was a nice visit though, and a bit of a must-see if you are in Ubud or in Bali in general. After visiting Uma Ceking we walked in the area for a bit, while constantly being approached by locals trying to sell the exact same goods from their tiny shops. Nowhere could you really look down into the valley of rice fields, cause every bit of roadside was covered with restaurants, cafés, infinity pools etc. trying to make some money of the tourists. The only place that would allow you to go down for free was the café Sundate. From there was actually a quite nice view, and if you wanted to, this was where you could go down, cross the bridge and enter the rice fields… against a small fee of course. In the end we had enough of tourist traps, salesmen and the extreme heat, so we returned back to Ubud. Before we left we saw some locals actually harvesting rice just next to the road, so we just stood there and watched for a minute. The rest of the day we just relaxed, and prepared for a night hike on Mt. Batur.
Mt. Batur sunrise hike
The second last day on our wonderful Bali vacation began at 01:30 o’clock. We got up and got ready, before being picked up by a driver at 02:10, who drove us to the foot of the volcano Mount Batur. After a short nap in the car, we arrived at around 03:15 and were teamed up with Julian from England and Mathilda from Sweden, who were both travelling Asia for a while. Mathilda told us, that she lived at a hostel in Ubud for just 9 € a day, and that was including breakfast. She would really make her money last around here. Before departure we had some tea and coffee, an incredible fresh banana and some biscuits. We were also provided a big bottle of water, a headlight and a hiking stick. At around 4 am we started hiking.
We had a 21 year old guide to the four of us, which is absolutely not necessary, but something the locals require, so that they can make a profit from the mountain. She would tell a bit about the mountain and Indonesia in general, and cooked a breakfast for us. The whole thing was just about 47 € each including the transport, so at the rate we didn’t mind having a guide. We booked using GetYourGuide (sponsored link).
The ascent was 1 hour 17 minutes and a distance of 2,5 km up to the top at 1.7171 m altitude, including a bunch more breaks than we needed. We made it just in time for sunrise, and there was a whole bunch of people up there. As I recall the guide said, that there was around 150, but in peak season it could be as much as 700. While she cooked breakfast (banana, clementine, boiled egg, banana toast and a cranola bar), I prepared my GoPro for a little timelapse and took some photos around the crater. Julian brought a drone, and did some incredible shots with it. The view was incredible. To the east was the much larger volcano Mt. Agung (3.161 m) towering over the clouds below surrounded by colors of red and orange. It wasn’t much we recognized on the descent as it was now light, but you could really see how dusty the grey volcano sand was. When we arrived a the base 57 minutes later, we had to throb our shoes and socks to get them somewhat clean. The guide took off, cause she had to get some rest before her 10-19 shift at a hotel. This week she was also doing some work at the local temple, so she wouldn’t get more than 1 hours of sleep a night. Must be a though life. On the way back to Ubud we stopped at a little coffee plantation, got a tour and a little taster board with some coffee and tea as part of the Batur trip.
We returned at the hotel at 10:45 just in time for a shower and to check out. Our next stop was Amed in the fart north of Bali, where we would join Tine, Al and Daniel once more.
The drive from Ubud was pretty long, and that made it a bit difficult to find a driver. We ended up getting a Grab to Sideman about halfway there, which is meant to be a nice little town. Cecilie had found a strange little yellow bridge online where we started off, before we soaked by sweat found a little lunch café . It didn’t seem like there was much else to do in Sideman besides enjoying the view over the pretty big rice fields, so we moved on to Amed. The ride just north of Sideman was incredibly beautiful. As we finally made it to Amed on the north-eastern coast, we gathered the group and had a few beers and dinner on the beach at Warung Segara.
We got up early the next morning to make the most of our last day in Bali. We had breakfast, banana pancakes with sirup of freshly cut watermelon and dragon fruit, at the front row to the ocean. All of a sudden Al casually said “Dolphins” and pointed towards the sea, where a lille group of dolphins swam by. That was a promising sign for the day, as we had plans for snorkeling. The hotel had some snorkeling gear for us, and they called a captain to pick us up at the beach. For a little more than two hours we would swim around looking at a shipwreck, corals, trumpetfish, parrotfish, rainbowfish, bannerfish, some big blue starfish and lots of other fish. The best part was saved for last however: A sea turtle. It was amazing, and something I didn’t get to see, while I was snorkeling in Hawaii some years back, so we were quite lucky, that they would swim just in front of our hotel.
Tine picked out a lovely café called Rimba for us to meet afterwards, and while Cecilie and I waited for the rest of the group to finish their dive, we went to Rimba for an ice coffee. As they joined us, we also got some cake and a great locally brewed mango beer, which was excellent for the hot climate. Back at the hotel there was suddenly a need for napping, and as the others took care of that, I sat in a bean bag by the ocean, ordered a beer and read i little. Daniel was knocked out cold, and had to be waken up at dinner time. Cecilie unfortunately felt unwell due to the intense heat, sunburns and waves, so it was just Tine, Alasdair and me, who went to a a café on the hill, to watch the sun set behind the volcano Agung. Everyone went for one final dinner at Galanga though. It was a fantastic place, and we would sit on the ground in a small elevated bamboo cabin, partly separated from other guests. On the ground sat a little frog croaking from time to time, and on the ceiling was two tokay geckos looking down at us. The next morning we had breakfast at the same table as the morning before. Cecilie, Daniel and I was early and sat looking at Alasdair, who was on his way in from a morning snorkel. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t see the group of dolphins, who swam behind him a little further out.
It wasn’t easy leaving after such amazing few days in the perfect tropical holiday paradise. I could easily have stayed there for a week, just spending time having great food, snorkeling and relaxing in the beautiful weather. But we had to get up early, cause it was a far way to the airport, and our lives back in Denmark was waiting for us. I really hope to revisit Bali someday, to see Tine and Alasdair again, and also for more snorkeling, hiking Mt Agung and just to chill and enjoy.