We hired a jeep we named the ‘BFG’ (Big, F…. Grunt) last Friday and decided to do a road trip and circumnavigate Bali. It was such a fun weekend exploring the island and well worth the sore bum!
We took off after our boxing class on Friday afternoon and started the trip from our home base Seminyak. We drove through Canggu all the way along the west coast to Gilimanuk. The road is lined with rice paddies the whole way, a beautiful drive and only took 2-3 hours. There isn’t much to see in Gilimanuk, it’s where the ferries leave for Java and mainly a port with a few hostels.
Heading through Taman National Bali Barat
Continuing on to Lovina we came across a dirt track in the national park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat) armed with a jeep and Al behind the wheel we decided to test the BFG out. We started driving when I questioned Al about what kind of animals were in the park, he replied with tigers and deer’s but was unsure what else would be hiding. That’s when we decided to stop and zip up the canvas windows around the jeep.
The road would finish at an isolated beach, which was 15km away. However we didn’t quite make it, the car was jumping around over the massive pot holes in the dirt track when suddenly Al saw a monkey. Just one wasn’t a problem but then up ahead we saw the track lined with monkeys that seemed to be coming right for us. Usually you would think monkeys would run away from the sound of a vehicle, oh no not these killer monkeys. They are smart bloody things too!
That’s when we thought maybe we should turn around, if anything happened the monkeys could unzip the car and start taking off with our stuff or worst attack us. Just as Al started to turn the jeep around the car stalled, the 30 seconds it to took to restart seemed like ages and the monkeys were coming closer… “HURRY UP THEY ARE COMING!” I screamed. We were off with the jeep in gear and driving faster than we thought the jeep could go on this type of road. Then on the way we saw 3 men on a motorbike with a tyre for swimming and then we realised we had probably panicked for nothing.
Back on the main road we inspected the car and the screws had managed to come off one of the hinges on the back door along with a few other things. Yeah this car wasn’t going back in the same condition as we rented it in. After reading about the park in the Lonely Planet, we discovered there had been no sightings of tigers since 1937 and the park had monkeys, deers, wild pigs, snakes, buffaloes running around. So in hindsight did made the right decision?
The first night we stayed in Pemuteran (far northwest bali) at a little bungalow on the beach. The beach is made up of black sand and not much of a swimming beach but tourists still come here for the snorkeling and diving. The place was $40 per night and the room was very comfortable with an outdoor bathroom, great for hearing the neighbors using the loo. It was around 7pm by the time we got in and made our way to the restaurant for dinner.
We had the most amazing seafood dinner, it was all so fresh. The next day we went for a walk along the beach to a rundown temple perched on top of the hill at the end of the black sand beach. Standing on the top of the hill we had a great view of the beach and oyster farm.
Gitgit Waterfall was Stunning
It was time to hit the road again and head off to Lovina. We checked into a hotel we had heard about earlier, dropped our bags and went for a drive to Gitgit waterfalls which was one hour drive away. We drove up through Munduk, which is a simple mountain village set amongst lush hillsides covered with jungle, rice and fruit trees. The walk down to the waterfall took 10 minutes and the path is lined with stalls selling everything from bottled water to clothing and handmade wooden objects.
At the bottom of the waterfall we were pleasantly surprised… we were the only tourists there! We stripped off and dumped our stuff to go and play in the fresh water. The force of the water was so intense that Al’s hair was permanently parted. We couldn’t take the camera any closer to the waterfall as the spray was intense and the camera isn’t waterproof.
Cold and wet we grabbed our stuff and continued down the the mountain leaving the rice paddies behind to Lake Beratan. Candikuning is the main village and the lake attracts loads of tourists with the important and picturesque temple ‘Pura Ulun Danu Bratanin’ the lake. The area is misty and quite cool compared to Bali’s usual heat. We took a few pics and headed back to Lovina, it had been a long day.[/twocol_one_last]
On the way back we went directly into town for dinner. It had just started to rain and was pretty heavy. We had stopped to turn right into the main street, Al had the indicator on however that didn’t stop a young man from trying to pass us just as we started to turn. The canvas was still up and I had been looking out the back at the traffic when I heard the sound of brakes stretching and saw the bike and rider slide onto the ground and hit the car. Al turned and pulled over to help the rider, he was fine but it was close. The thing with drivers in Bali is – nobody indicates and if they do they usually put the left indicator on when turning right. Madness!
That night the rain intensified and the thunder and lightning was very frightening. It sounded like it was right on top of us. It was only when we returned to Seminyak that we found out there had been a cyclone in Bali. It must have been one hell of a storm as trees were down everywhere, the roads still flooded in parts and the dirt and pot holes in the road were pretty bad.
We were staying in Lovina on the Saturday night at this cool hotel which has Sea World-style swimming pools and five dolphins. Every week day they have a 20 minute show in the morning with the two of the dolphins. After one of the shows we had booked in to swim with the dolphins. We showered first, then strapped on the life jacket and jumped in the pool with our new aquatic friends.
Seriously, if you haven’t done this before I highly recommend you try it. We had so much fun and I was buzzing for the whole day. Johnny is a 17 year old dolphin who made us feel so very comfortable, I was just a little nervous before we started but as soon as he came us and brushed against me the nerves went… very cool.
From Lovina to Candidasa we stopped in a town called Amed. It’s a small little fishing village on the east coast and people say it’s like what Kuta would have been like in the 70’s. Very relaxed with hardly any tourists. There are a few restaurants and the one we selected from the Lonely Planet guide was amazing. I think the fish jump straight onto the grill – it’s that fresh.
After eating four plates of grilled seafood we were stuffed! From Amed to Candidasa took approximately 4 hours at a slow pace taking in the sights. Our bungalow in Candidasa was a little straw hut, position near the beach not bad for $20 a night. It’s low season now and hardly any tourists. We took advantage of that and went shopping that night buying more random stuff we didn’t need.
The last day of traveling took us all the way down south to Sanua, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu. After 4 days of traveling we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at the Banyon Tree Resort right on the cliff. A very chic resort who’s room rates start at $650++ per night. Sadly lunch was pretty over rated and for the price very disappointing. For those looking to do something different with their holiday in Bali I highly recommend doing a road trip around Bali.
In two weeks we are hiring a Harley Davidson and driving up to Ubud (central Bali). We are ticking off our ‘to do list’ pretty quickly and loving every moment. So stay tuned for the next update.