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where to go in bali

Romantic Cruise to Nusa Lembongan

Bali is without a doubt one of the best wedding destinations in the world. However, it is where and how to get there is the most crucial decision that will lead to either a memorable or disaster honeymoon ever. A romantic cruise honeymoon getaway to Bali’s neighboring islands can be an option. There are a number of companies in Bali offering honeymoon cruise packages leading to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and the Gillis Islands. As much as there is a lot to enjoy and appreciate in these islands, the main romance must always be accorded while you are on the sail.

romantic cruise to nusa lembonganIdeally, most of the cruise packages available start with a breakfast before set out for the waters. This is more so the case in luxury cruises. And of course, for the honeymooners, you can expect to go the luxury way. Inside these vessels is fine comfort and sophistication. All the amenities are luxurious, starting with the washrooms, all the way to the ambience of the catering tables. In a normal vessel, there should be some tables for different groups with the possibility of offering a provision for bigger group eating on a single table. Enjoy your romantic cruise with drinks and music that blends with the stunning sea views. And because it is your honeymoon, everything is tailor-made as your request. Special décor, custom prepared cakes, flower arrangements together with other delightful ways are provided for anyone to give their significant other a surprise of their lives. Remember that you really want to pour your heart to your loved one during this cruise. Be assured of getting the real surprise of your life.

Lembongan is a village that anyone would easily spend the whole day in, admiring and appreciating the on goings in an ideal island village. The village has so much in store for you to do and see, yet it is such a small island indeed. Doing a village tour is a must-as this, imprints in your mind the best sense of what an ideal village life looks like on tropical islands.

Catching with the peaceful and quiet early morning ceremonies of Nusa Lembongan ensures you start your day on a high note. And along the main street of the island are a number of shops with some of them selling fresh fruits and super strong coffee, which you can give it a try with your loved one as you head downwards to the seaweed farms. Seaweed farming can easily be concluded as the hardest job within the island as it is tide reliant.

So many things can be done or seen on this island. This includes diving, visiting the underground village house and sailing between the islands. You can also just enjoy the stunning beach views. If you opt for luxury packages, your day’s trip will include total access to private beach. For accommodation, staying at Hai Tide Beach Resort can be another journey to meet people to exchange stories of this beautiful island. In the evening, enjoy the best part by the poolside as you get ready to be in touch with a romantic diner in the hotel. A pool-side romantic dinner is a great option for the two of you and the experience is one worth spending some extra ducks on.

Don’t let dreams be dreams. And when it comes to expressing love, the sky is the limit. To have a luxury experience doesn’t always end up with high budget that will hurt your pocket. You can create your own luxury moment with your own style.

An important note to remember for safety and comfort purposes, when having such cruises, wear as limited jewelry as possible, wear tight tropical clothes, head wear, swimwear, and sunshade and apply sunscreen & UV protection. Also be in flip-flops or sandals for wet landing.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Roving the great lakes of Bali

Bali is known for its achingly beautiful scenery and landscapes; an exploration into which is a spiritually awakening experience for many. Spending time in ‘natural Bali’ is filled with peace and tranquility, giving people the perfect environment to ponder life and widen their horizons as an individual. Besides the island’s beautiful underwater world, white sand beaches and unique culture, Bali hides a reservoir of beauty and charm that are often forgotten; these are the great lakes of Bali. These majestic lakes are well worth your time and effort, as they showcase the beauty of Bali that lies beyond the coast. Make sure your cameras are ready for what is truly a visual feast.

Lake Bratan

Let’s begin the adventure in central Bali with a visit to Lake Bratan. Situated in a crater of an inactive volcano, Mount Catur, Lake Bratan is the second largest lake in Bali and is back dropped by the majesty of Mount Bratan. Located in Bali’s central highlands of Bedugul, this lake is a favourite tourist attraction. Its high altitude allows visitors to enjoy respite from the hot and humid weather. The surrounding area is a natural spectacle offering splendid views of mountains and greenery. The lake is surprisingly shallow with a maximum depth of only 22 metres. Irises of numerous colours – yellow, fuchsia and magenta – dot the edge of the lake. The misty peak of dormant Mount Catur looms above.

Found around the lake are three 25-metre-deep caves excavated by the invading Japanese during World War II. There are also a few shrines worth exploring in the vicinity of Lake Bratan. Another popular sight is Bukit Mungsu Market (or Pasar Bukit Mungsu), located in Candi Kuning. Visitors can buy a variety of fresh spices, including nutmeg and turmeric, fruits and vegetables. Due to the cool weather there, you can also pick strawberries on the fields, a unique find considering Bali’s tropical climate.

There are so many activities you can do around the area. The surrounding mountains are popular destinations for hiking and trekking, offering routes of various levels of difficulty. Water sports lovers will rejoice with the abundance of water activities available. Rides on pedal boats, speedboats or traditional boats known as jukung are all available. Other types of water sports that you can enjoy include water-skiing, parasailing, jet skiing and paddle sports. Swimming is permitted, of course, only if you can stand the cold waters!

Lake Bratan is considered to be the most holy lake in Bali, as it is a home to one of the most famous temples, the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, which dates back to stories told in Balinese mythology. This beautiful 17th century temple of Ulun Danu, which appears to float on the water, is dedicated to worship Dewi Danu or the Lake Goddess. Offerings are made at the temple on special festive occasions, as it is believed this will bring economic prosperity to the area.

The lake is a very important source of irrigation for many farms and rice paddies in the Bedugul region. Because of its surrounding temperatures and irrigation system, the area around Lake Bratan is blessed with high fertility, and for that reason Lake Bratan is also known as the Lake of the Holy Mountain.

It takes around 2-hours to drive from Denpasar to Candi Kuning Village, Baturiti district, Tabanan, where the lake lies.

Lake Batur

Lake Batur is Bali’s largest and widest lake with an area of approximately 18 square kilometres. The large crescent shaped lake sits within the old caldera of Mount Batur and is surrounded by the high walls of the crater rim, with an active volcano of Mount Batur adjacent to it. Located in the mountainous area of the Bangli Regency on the southeastern side of the Batur caldera, the lake lies at the feet of two majestic surrounding mountains, Mount Batur and Mount Abang. The crater is situated approximately 500 meters above sea level, and a couple of hot springs can be seen surrounding the lake with one in the middle of the lake. The water is much cooler than the other lakes in Bali. Try to dip your fingers while boating in this lake to feel how amazingly cold (but fresh!) the water is.

On the journey to the lake via Bangli or Tampaksiring, the ashy residues and active hot springs reveal its volcanic history. As you get closer and continue over the last ridge, the massive outlining of the crater becomes visible; expect a large smile to peel across your face when you encounter this moment. You can continue along the road from Penelokan, it continues right around the rim towards Kintamani to circle around the crater. The majestic and spectacular view of Lake Batur can also be viewed from Kintamani.

The only boat access to the lake is through the Trunyan village, home to the Bali Aga people. These local indigenous inhabitants are true descendants of native Balinese and have been isolated from the other inhabitants on other parts of the island. They communicate in an ancient form of the Balinese language and to date still practice ancient traditional Balinese culture and religion. An interesting part of their culture is that when one of their tribesmen dies, they are neither cremated nor buried, but laid under a sacred tree, the Taru Menyan, inside their open air cemetery. The members of the tribe believe that roots and the branches of this sacred tree helps to mask and remove the odour of the rotting, decomposing bodies.

Lake Buyan

Lake Buyan is one of Bali’s unexposed and untouched attractions. Located in Pancasari Village, in Sukasada District, Buleleng Regency, the lake spans approximately 4.5 square kilometres just below the northern rim of the Bedugul caldera. Situated in a plateau region characterised by generally very wet and cool climates, Lake Buyan is surrounded by lush vegetation, featuring fog and cool air, which allows one to appreciate the authenticity of nature’s wonders. The sight of it alone has wonderfully soothing effects that help to temporarily take away the stress of daily life.

Getting to this lake is a bit tricky, involving a 3-hour drive from Denpasar and following the road winding up the hill, where you can see an increasing number of monkeys, before you arrive at the junction on the top of the hill. Turn left at this junction and continue to follow the quiet asphalt road which leads you to the lake.

A community pool, known as Telaga Aya, is connected to the lake via a narrow canal. Telaga Aya is located between the lakes of Buyan and Tamblingan, which are separated by a forest-covered hill. At the top of the hill, Asah Gobleg village is the primary vantage point with panoramic views of both lakes and the surrounding area. Make sure to get your perfect selfie with the lake in the background from the lookout at Asah Gobleg Village on the trek down to the lake.

Encircled by coffee and clove plantations, Lake Buyan has a camping site at its southern edge with the ground being flat there. However, the most common activities are boating or fishing. Hiking or trekking is doable, but best done with local guides, granting scenic views of the landscape. For those who are into mediation and yoga, Lake Buyan offers a perfectly peaceful, serene atmosphere, ideal for such activities. Nature lovers and eco-tourists should find the entire area as a whole an ideal getaway. With limited tourist activities and the absence of human intervention, Lake Buyan still maintains its natural, intact ecosystem through protection of its fragile environment and promoting eco-tourism.

Lake Tamblingan

Lake Buyan is closely related to Lake Tamblingan in terms of location and ecosystem, and therefore both lakes are generally referred to as Bali’s Twin Lakes. An interesting fact is that Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan used to be one whole lake until a landslide separated them in around the year 1800. Now they are separated by a ride almost 2 kilometres wide.

Lake Tamblingan exudes a mystical appeal and charm, with some regarding it as having the most unspoilt natural scenery in comparison to Lake Bratan or Lake Buyan. The lake is located in the heart of Bali’s farming area and the slopes are covered with coffee plantations, vegetable fields and rice paddies. Its official location is on the north slope of Mount Lesung, Munduk Village area, Buleleng Regency, about 3 hours from Denpasar. You will have the best experience just driving to this place with the cool wind blowing on your face and the feeling of pure, clean air all around you. It is advisable to pull over for a few photographs or have a small picnic by the road.

The entire lake area is protected land within the 4356- acre Batukaru Nature Reserve, which is a major reason that both Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan have become increasingly popular with mountain trekkers, adventure seekers, bird watchers and eco-tourists. And since the lake is located at such great heights, you will find that it is mostly covered in fog that casts a beautiful spell on tourists and locals alike. The depth of the lake and reflection of the surrounding trees creates gorgeous hues of blue, green and grey that shimmer across the water’s surface like a palette of paints.

Though motorized boating is not available on this lake, you can rent a rowing boat or bring along your kayaks to explore further. Fishing is also permitted. You can opt for a jungle tour, which involves crossing the sacred Tamblingan Lake by an old-style, hollow canoe. Near Lake Tamblingan, visitors can perform activities, like trekking in the tropical forest with a variety of distances, with trips ranging from 2 to 8 hours. The idea is to spend quality time in and around the lake, and absorb its breathtaking beauty.

There are a few sights worth visiting in the vicinity: numerous temples can be found on the outskirts of Lake Tamblingan, and the most popular one is Gubug Temple. This water temple, which uses the traditional ‘Subak’ irrigation system at the edge of the lake, is a must visit place if you are around the neighbourhood. It retains much of the architectural design, as Ulun Danu Temple, but is less crowded, offering you good photo-taking opportunities.

If you plan to explore ‘real Bali’ a bit more, these four lakes offer history, culture and nature in one experience. Nourish your soul in their stunning scenery, relax at the lakeside hot springs, stroll in the beautiful local villages, take a tour of the exotic plantations, or camp in the mountains and dense jungles. Very rightly said, that Bali is a true treasure trove of natural beauty. Why not see for yourself.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

True Beauty in the Eyes of North Bali Nature

“He who has stopped travelling, has stopped living.” I guess that quote really stands up when it comes to exploring Bali. It is almost impossible to get bored and feel monotonous living in Bali. For the true explorers who are on the continuous quest for new discoveries, this island is an ideal place to satiate that hunger. Waterfalls, beach, crater lakes, paddy fields, vineyards, North Bali gives you no chance to complaint. Being the greenest area of Bali, North Bali also provides a diverse set of tourist spots to explore.

Where to go

For all those who cannot resist of going to the ocean, Lovina Beach is the only destination in the North Bali. Characterised by calm waves and side-lined by coconut trees, it is visited by all those who crave for relaxation. Lovina is sun-drenched, with patches of shade from palm trees. The tourist area stretches over 8 kilometres, and consists of a string of coastal villages – Kaliasem, Kalibukbuk, Anturan and Tukad Mungga – collectively known as Lovina. A short drive from the black sand beach of Lovina, those who are keen into architecture can visit The Royal Palace of Singaraja, which depicting royal grandeur and majestic European buildings.

If you need to pacify your soul, Pura Ponjok Batu can be an alternative. Meaning Stone Cape, this ancient, spiritual place owes its uniqueness to a rock promontory, which from the crevices of rocks grows frangipani trees and shrubs that grows artistically. This Hindu temple is used for praying to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. For Buddhist, praying at the Brahma Vihara Arama is a must. Located at Tegehe Village, this biggest Buddhist temple in Bali rises majestically overlooking Lovina Beach with lush green hill as a background. Painted with colorful decorations, this place is also a perfect place for relaxation while admiring the beautiful buildings and surroundings.

Soaking in the healing waters of a natural hot spring is the most effective way to relax in nature, and a quick visit to one of the island’s most popular hot springs can be a solution. Located in the Banjar Village, with lush, jungle-clad slopes surrounding the sacred area, Banjar Hot Spring consists of hot ponds filled with warm water. The sulphuric water, which believed to cure skin diseases, spills from the mouths of some stone-carved mythical dragon into three pools at a tempting temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. The presence of brimstones in the water lends the healing property for various skin diseases, which explain why the place is known as the “Magical waters of Bali”.

One of the most famous waterfalls of north Bali is Gitgit Waterfall. Located in the plateau area with the height about 35 metres, the waterfall is surrounded by tropical trees with some plantations protecting the rain forest around it.

The forest lovers will be treated well at the Lemukih village, which lies in the northern slope of the island at an altitude of 638 metres above sea level. It is dotted by gorgeous rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations, making it ideal for those who want to stroll around and explore deeper into Balinese lifestyle. Encircled by green forests and mountains, Lemukih provides a rather picturesque view. The dense tropical rain-forests are a perfect spot for trekking. It is characterised by 3 beautiful, gushing waterfalls which start at different heights. The water is cool and clean and pours out from the greenery above. The pounding sound of water falling and splashing creates a much desired tranquillity all around.

The wine lovers can enjoy the North Bali by visiting the vineyard of Hatten Wines. Situated between the towns of Seririt and Pemuteran, this place offers wine tasting and exploring experience. The Hatten Wines winery is a modern state of the art facility, bottling over 50000 bottles of wine each day. Like most places, Bali also has its own cultural drink called Tuak, universally known as palm wine. It is a milky fermented alcohol made from the sap of palm trees. It has a sour taste, and a strong burn as you swallow. It is available for purchase in some restaurants and shops and should be tried by every wine lover to know the rustic flavour of Bali.

What to do

Apart from the terrific sceneries to gape at, North Bali provides loads of activities to indulge in. The Kalimudah canyon is the next best thing for sporting Canyoning destination. In this activity, you will come across two different sections. The first section is a sequence of water slides, jumps and short rappels with glorious gorges made of volcanic rock, sulphurate water basin that come out from the underground. The second part is sportier, including swimming, floating, enchanting rappel descents along the waterfall and jumps up to 10 metres high.

Another rewarding activity is undoubtedly dolphin watching at Lovina. There is a certain ecstasy to waking up at sunrise, walking to the beach, finding a local boatman and embarking on an adventure. In no time the dolphins appear in pods of ten to literally hundreds. Some mornings, they even put on a full dolphin show with backflips, massive jumps and sometimes even tail-walking.

For trekking lovers, North Bali provides more than enough jungle treks. Trekking at Lemukih Village is a rare and unique opportunity to experience the traditional culture and the beautiful nature. You can trek all the way to temples, rice paddies, coffee and fruit plantations. If you want to burn more energies, follow a track with stone steps that winds down for about 90 meters to the waterfalls of Leimukh through jungles and rivers. If that’s still not enough and you feel like experiencing more of the wild rainforest, the beautifully crafted nests of Bali’s central highlands will make the trek to Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan memorable. Covered by fog most of the times, the two crater lakes are located within the caldera of extinct Bedugul volcano. You can also set a camp near the lakes.

Trekking along the vineyard can also be a part of your itinerary, and therefore a visit to Welcome Center & Observation Deck of Hatten Wines vineyards is an option. The Alphonse Lavallee grapes is grown locally in most Balinese vineyards, producing very tasty wine. Your trip will start with a quick walking tour of the vineyard. The tour will include a lesson in wine making, grape picking, and a visit at Hatten Wine’s laboratory. Finally, the activity you have been waiting for… wine tasting!

The magnificence of North Bali is just endless and gets even better with more exploration. With adrenaline pumping activities to lazing around in beach and strolling across paddy fields, this northern part of the island leaves no stone unturned to satisfy every ounce of your soul. A perfect region to distress one’s mind and body, North Bali truly captivates the heart and soul.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter

Tibumana Waterfall – Feed your soul in solitude

Sometimes exploring the unknown has its own share of surprise and joy. Bali is a great place for the adventure seekers to discover loads of opportunities to explore around. Waterfall is one of the attraction to be discovered, and there are numerous beautiful waterfalls available in this island. Some of these waterfalls are still away from the realms of commercialism and chaos.

Tibumana waterfall is one such waterfall for the explorers. Located in Bangli region, just an hour drive from Ubud and two hours from Kuta, this waterfall is a serene spot for all those who want to enjoy the forest atmosphere. To reach here, it is recommended to bring someone who knows the area pretty well. A tour operator in downtown Kuta charges around IDR 400,000 for this single trip, including a car and an advanced driver. Optionally, you can always hire a scooter and navigate your way with a map, as this will be far more exciting. Bangli houses mountain lakes and water couches that make Bali so fertile. Numerous villages are scatted across a landscape of rice terraces, lush valley and forests. These will treat you well along the way until you reach at the destination.

At the car park, you will find a tiny shack where you need to pay IDR 10,000 as retribution fee. You then need to follow a winding path with stairs for around 15 minutes until you arrive at the waterfall. The pathway is so refreshingly beautiful. There are vines creeping down the cliffs and small, colourful butterflies flying around. The lush, green jungle is filled with the sweet chirping of birds. The air is crisp and clear. There is simplicity and purity all around the place.

As you approach the waterfall, the rumbling of the waterfall becomes more evident as you feel the place is getting cooler and breezier. The waterfall is a single one in the dry season, while in the monsoons you will find twin sheets of water splashing down from the hill. The cascading sheet of waterfall creates unrealistic prismatic formation of sun rays, giving the place a sense of being in a fairy tale. The entire place is enclosed in this green case of green ferns, mosses, vines, which makes you feel that you have entered a secret world away from the world you live in. Because of the enclosure, there is a pond at the end of the waterfall. The shades of the water are mesmerizing. Turquoise, sapphire like shades of the crystal clear water will just take your breath away.

Do carry your swimsuit or extra clothes. Take a refreshing swim in the waterfall and feel your senses invigorated. The water is no more than 6 feet deep, so diving is not an option. You can stand right underneath the waterfall and let the hydro pressure do wonders for your body pain and stress relief. The tranquillity is what draws people here, to idle for long hours of relaxation in solitude. It is one of those places where you want to come just to laze around and sit and marvel at nature’s beauty in isolation.

The entire area is very photogenic. Everything lends an artistic beauty to the waterfall. Be sure not to forget to bring your camera to capture all these beautiful moments. The fact that the place is not crowded, therefore you can strike wonderful poses in this little undisclosed place. Since a temple is situated nearby, you may find smoke remaining of offerings made to the waterfall for all the life it brings. Make sure not to litter the place with food and drinks.

Explore, relax and meditate. Isn’t that all is needed for the soul, once in a while?

About Bangli:

Bangli regency encompasses great natural vista of the island, with scenic roads of rugged hillocks, woody ravines and giant bamboo forest overtaking its trail. And for this reason, while you are in Tibumana, you may want to explore around to check on some places. You can pay a visit to Apuan Falls and the famous Penglipuran village. The trees here are so enormous that it could block the sunlight even in the noon, added more to its mystical atmosphere.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine
 

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter

Kids and the Animals Bonding in Bali

The bond between kids and animals is one of the most fundamental bonds to ever be witnessed. The health and wellbeing of both the animals and kids is boosted a great deal by this interaction. Though adults may also love animals, the amounts of time they can dedicate to these creatures can’t never be compared to the time the kids spend with the animals they love most. Some of the benefits the children may get from loving animals are to learn to be responsible by taking care of them while at the same time to study nature as the great textbook in the zoos, thus this will gain the much needed knowledge and life skills.

In Bali, the wants of children as far as nature and animal studies are concerned has highly been considered. As a result, there are a number of parks that the kids can visit to continue fostering the powerful two-way animal children relationship.

Bali Zoo

Starting in December, perfectly in time for festive season, visitors of Bali Zoo will be greeted with a unique warm welcome from the friendly herd of deer. Situated within the areal of Bali Zoo’s entrance, Bali Deer Park spans over 4,700 meter squares of lush tropical garden, a home to thirty-four Sitatunga deer, eighteen Timor deer, and six wallabies. Guests are welcome to touch, feel, play and feed the free roaming gracious deer while queuing to purchase the entrance tickets.

Walking through Bali Deer Park, visitors’ sights will be indulged with manicured garden offering contemporary feel park that features natural plantations, such as palm oil, banana trees, and other floras that one can only be found in the tropics. The park also features a number of water fountains to soothe the sensory journey into nature.

Bali Deer Park is designed as part of Bali Zoo commitment to offer unique wildlife experiences for the visitors, as they are expected to feel nature’s warm welcome from the moment their first step foot on the zoo’s ground.

Jalan Raya Singapadu, Banjar Seseh, Sukawati, Batuan, Gianyar

+62 361 294357

Bali Safari & Marine Park

Bali Safari & Marine Park has forever been a park that dedicates efforts in encouraging children to be in love with the natural environment thus striving to preserve it to the best of their abilities. Such commitment can be seen by having programmes for kids, and Tiny Paws World is one of them. This activity introduces participants to the park keepers to gain the first-hand experience of what it is like to work with the animals. This programme also provides the opportunity to feed and handle some of the animals while learning about their care and feeding.

This unique and exciting animal experience includes helping the park keepers to prep the favourite food for the animals, learning about the animals from the dedicated park keepers, learning how to groom a horse, and learning about the challenges of becoming a veterinarian. The kids are also offered the chance of joining a motorized Safari tour, which carries them on secured, slow moving vehicles navigating through the homes of animals of India, Indonesia and Africa. Children get the precious opportunity of appreciating encounter programs such as the Elephant Educational Show and the Predator to Prey Shows among others.

After having an educational day out in the natural environment, a playing session is mandatory. Children are released to jump up and down in the Park’s Petting as they get a chance of assisting in the Pony’s grooming. The day of fantasy continues with the little ones being allowed free access to an array of amusement park rides that are positioned in the Fun Zone of the park.

Jalan Bypass Prof Ida Bagus Mantra, Gianyar

+62 361 95000

Bali Bird Park

This is the best place where children are provided with unrivalled opportunity to learn more about birds. Special events are frequently sponsored by the park, to increase the awareness of adults and children alike of the threats faced by wildlife in this era. While in the park, the children will be able to learn and have an experience of about a thousand different birds of 250 species within just a single day. There is probably no other park in the entire world that can offer such a high number of species to their researchers.

Expect to feed the pelicans, the Papua rainforest bird, the lory, and the birdstars among others. To have a practical experience with the geography learnt in school, school children will afford to interact with the rainforest in the park, a rainforest that has been preserved from much disturbance. The kids mostly enjoy birds when they are freely interacting in their natural habitat than when they are confined in cages.

Jalan Serma Cok Ngurah Gambir, Singapadu, Batubulan, Gianyar

+62 361 299352

Bali Butterfly Park

As a centre for butterfly breeding, preservation and research, Bali Butterfly Park is one unique place where the little ones can come to have an experience with the mystery of nature while the parents come to do their research. The park has dedicated its time and resources to ensure that one can be able to see almost all the famous birdwing butterflies in the region. It is no question that butterflies are some of the most beautiful creatures in nature and are really loved by children more than any other age group in the society.

At Bali Butterfly Park, the children explore what they can’t get from anywhere else as this is the largest butterfly park in the Southeast Asia. The park is established in 1996 and arguably among nature’s riches, having almost all the butterflies that can be found in every corner of Indonesia and even beyond. The rare encounter with the endemic butterfly species will surely not disappoint the children.

While on their expeditions in the park, the children can take breaks to enjoy beverages and snacks at the mini restaurant in the park. And to have a memory of the place, souvenirs are available at the Souvenir Art shop.

Jalan Batukaru, Banjar Sandan Lebah, Wanasari Village, Tabanan,

+62 361 8940595

Elephant Safari Park

How about visiting live a group of Sumatran Elephants in the north of Ubud? These giant herds take pleasure breathing fresh air and indulging the cool, humid climate far away from the busy live. In Elephant Safari Park, children will get the opportunity to feed these giant mammals with the food provided in the park, with no extra charge. They are also welcome to meet and greet with the baby elephants at their nursery. To supply more information about elephants, Elephant Discovery Museum is available to provide the information related with elephants from different continents. Elephant Art Gallery is the newest addition in this museum, featuring adorable paintings, unique statues and valuable carvings.

Elephant ride is of course the main reason why kids want to go to this park. The elephant ride takes the passenger for a tour along the track built amidst the locals’ owned plantation and jungle. The beauty of the nature as well as the fresh air will be the additional benefit in this activity. After the ride, lunch at the restaurant is a must, while keep getting distracted by the view of the elephants playing in a lake or roaming around the park.

Jalan Elephant Safari Park, Taro Village, Tegallalang, Gianyar

+62 361 8988888

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Ghostwriter – Copywriter – Scriptwriter

Total solitude in the midst of beauty

Contrary to popular belief, Bali is not just about its beaches. Its water bodies are also equally spectacular. Its rivers have produced a number of beautiful and worth visiting waterfalls. Speaking about waterfall, the first place pops up in most of people’s agenda would be the usual touristy Gitgit Waterfall. But there are so many scenic waterfalls around this island, and Aling Aling Waterfall is one of them.

Located in northern Bali, Aling-Aling Waterfall is 11 kilometres from Singaraja with less than 20 minutes’ drive, while getting from Denpasar will take up to 3 hours. The official location of the waterfall is in Sambangan Village, Buleleng regency. Arriving from Denpasar requires the use of the main highway towards Singaraja. At the junction towards the entrance of Singaraja, turn left to head to Sukasada terminal. Continue along the path to reach Sambangan Village. Signposts (with waterfall banners) will guide you for the remaining approximately 3 kilometres drive to the parking area of Aling Aling Waterfall. As the waterfall is seldom frequented by tourists, it is advisable to seek the help of locals or hire an experienced driver who knows how to get there.

Aling-Aling Waterfall can be visited by all, but young children and the elderly are advised against participating in the water activities and cliff jumping for their own safety. Those intending to participate in the water activities should bring a change of attire and/or swimsuit. Also, you may need to prepare yourself for a tiring walk down hundreds of stone steps about 400 metres to reach the waterfall.

While the descent down the many steps was tiring, but it was definitely well worth the effort. I was greeted with a magnificent view of the waterfall, 35 metres high falling from a steep cliff and surrounded by lush greenery as well as rice fields. The water emanating from the falls was crystal clear, while at the same time the air was cool and refreshing, with a hint of the scent of the surrounding mountain fog.

However, what probably stands out most about Aling Aling Waterfall is that visitors will notice how the falls are separated into two adjacent cascading falls at the top, with the right falls having a much larger discharge and speed than the one on the left. As a result of the greater velocity and volume of water, the thunderous sound of the right falls crashing into the basin fills your ears, creating an impressive juxtaposition with the surrounding serenity of nature that is amplified by the lack of visitors. Interestingly, for budding photographers or those with good photography skills, the waterfall is also a good photo opportunity precisely because its separation into two separate falls with varying speeds can produce stunning photographs using the correct camera settings.

The fun does not stop with the spectacular view of the fall and its surroundings. Adventure junkies will enjoy the water activities, including jumping off of a cliff at a height of 5, 10 or 15 metres. The adrenaline rush that you will attain from the jump is nothing short of what you had expected. However, for those who are afraid of heights can also opt to slide down a natural water slide created by the natural process of erosion. It promises much fun, and yet is not as unnerving as jumping off a cliff. Other water activities include swimming and bathing in the waterfall basin at the base of the 4-metre-deep waterfall. Don’t feel like immersing your entire body in water? Just put your hands in the water and have fun playing and splashing with the fresh and cool water. However, be wary of the slippery rocks surrounding you to prevent any injuries.

If you are not exhausted from the walk and the activities, continue to explore the whole area. Aling Aling Waterfall is only one of the seven waterfalls in the area, with it being the highest. The other waterfalls all within walking distance from Aling Aling are Pucuk, Kembar, Kroya, Canging, Dedari and Cemara Waterfalls. I highly recommend incorporating the visit to Aling Aling with an organised trek as I did, because you get to explore the surrounding area which gives you an insight into quintessential Bali villagers’ life. A long trek would take you to all the waterfalls.

During the hike, I was afforded sweeping views of the surrounding landscape of rice fields and cocoa, coffee and clove plantations. Besides, I had the chance to interact with friendly local people and farmers, allowing me to get a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle that they lead. In fact, so beautiful is the place that many call it “the secret garden of Sambangan”.

All in all, Aling Aling Waterfall is an oasis of unspoiled nature, one that will take your breath away. Moreover, you will be pleased to note that you are supporting the locals who work hard to maintain the pristine beauty of Sambangan Village with your eco-tourism efforts. A waterfall is, to many people, a spectacular product of the fury of nature. Therefore, schedule your next holiday destination to visit a place that will bring peace to your soul.

Aling Aling Waterfall
Sambangan Village, Buleleng Regency

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Historical visit to the Northern Temple

Northern Bali is replete with its own attractions. In particular, it is characterised by a presence of coastal trading towns with a strong Dutch colonial touch, adding a unique atmosphere to any traveller’s itinerary. So, while Northern Bali may not have the allure of the sun, sand and sea, its other historical sites may warrant a visit.

If you happen to be in the north side of the island, you might want to make a quick stop at Pura Ponjok Batu, a rather small temple of significant historical value. The temple is easily accessible from Singaraja, about 24 kilometres or 45 minutes away. Located in Pacung Village, Tejakula district, Buleleng regency, this stone Hindu temple spans an area of about 35 acres. The area surrounding the temple is promontory comprising stones and Frangipani trees. The views of Java sea and the hills will also feast your eyes.

Pura Ponjok Batu was believed to be constructed between 1460 and 1550 during the reign of the Kingdom of Dalem Gelgel, Sri Waturenggong. At that time, the entire island of Bali was alleged to require protection from evil spirits. Mystical stories and archaeological findings seem to tell a story revolving around priest Dang Hyang Nirartha, whom the temple honours today.

Legend has it that in the year 1489, priest Dang Hyang Nirartha arrived in Bali and settled in Gelgel. He decided to explore the northern coast of Bali after a while there. One day, he happened to see a boat washed ashore with its mast broken and screen torn. The crew on board (a total of 7 people) became unconscious. However, with his spiritual power, he magically healed the victims of the boat disaster, saving their lives and rendering them conscious again. The following day, they woke up all fresh and healthy.

Priest Nirartha then sailed to Lombok after some discussion with the boat crew. After his departure for Lombok, a number of miracles occurred in Tanjung, attracting the attention of the locals. The locals at that time decided to worship priest Nirartha and subsequently built this temple, surviving until this day having been restored a few times. The Balinese words of the temple “Ponjok Batu”, a rock promontory in English version. The temple was aptly named as such because this is the location at which it is situated in.

Pura Ponjok Batu is not as photogenic as most of temples in Bali, but its setting and architecture is unique and alluring. It is one of those rare temples to be along the sea shore, affording views of the beach and the sea, inducing a sense of peace in visitors. Besides, the whole building is distinctively made of natural (black) stones, symbolic of purity, which makes it an interesting archaeological monument for visiting. And despite the temple’s small size, there are close to 20 shrines in total in the whole temple complex, each worshipping a different person with the main figure of worship being is priest Dang Hyang Nirartha.

Yet to be discovered by most tourists, especially foreign ones, the temple is however still usually crowded with locals for practical reasons – for worship and prayers. It is believed that worshipping in the temple is for salvation or blessing purposes. To the Hindus, however, worshipping there takes on more meaning. They see it as a place of purification (Melukat). How they purify themselves is by washing water from the spring in the face and in the head, and then drinking it. Additionally, worship in the temple, according to Hindus, helps to invoke safety.

On certain days when there is a festival known as Piodalan, the crowd tends to be even larger. You will get to enjoy typical Balinese dances staged to support the course of religious ceremonies. Apart from observing or participating in the usual worship or the festival, if you happen to be present on the correct day, another key attraction would be the 500-year-old boat shrine by the sea. This shrine is supposedly placed where the first monk is said to have set foot on Bali.

My time spent at Pura Ponjok Batu was well worth it. Although special clothing must be worn by all visitors, which will be provided, the architecture and setting of the temple are unparalleled. If you need a quick bite, there are also food stalls nearby. The entrance fee is by donation of an amount of your choice. A guide is strongly recommended, although not mandatory. You would need to pay an additional amount for the guide. As with all temples in general, it is best to visit the temple in the morning or early afternoon when most of the activity is taking place, unless you are into viewing a sunset.

A quote says, “The contemplation of the unbroken continuity of life ‘from eternity to eternity’ is the very purpose and function of the temple.” Referring to that, a visit to Pura Ponjok Batu will surely leave you enriched with what our ancestors had passed down since ages ago, and imbue you with the importance of cultural heritage.

This article is also published at NOW! Bali Magazine

Ubud’s Trekking Sites

Ubud is one such place in Bali offering umpteen beautiful places waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Not only the tourists, but also the local people of the island are still on this never-ending journey of discovering exquisite spots and soaking in its serenity. Though it is popularly known as the “Town of the Artists,” Ubud is also famous for its trekking trips through the rice fields and deep – dense forest. It is a highly recommended activity owing to the fact that there are amazing journeys to undertake and unbelievable destinations to reach.

ubud trekking siteThe famous trekking spot is the Campuhan Hill Ridge. To be on the safe side, start your morning or afternoon walk at the temple near Warwick Ibah Hotel. You will be entertained by tropical forests, charming houses and villas perched on the steep embankments of the river gorges. The trail surges along the open ridge line for about 2 kilometres before leading to a wide, broken road. The road then passes through a housing area and small art galleries, before finally emerges into few stunning terraced rice fields. The road continues on until meeting a main country road, and from there you can make a circle by turning left and following the main road back down into Ubud or else backtracking along Bukit Campuhan. Backtracking is the discreet, most charming route. You just need to stick to the path and you will be just fine.

Elephant treks are also arranged around Ubud. You can experience the feeling like a king atop an elephant trampling its way through the tropical, dense jungles. The jungle trails are steep in some places so you need to hold on to your seats tight. You can get off the elephants near the streams, lakes and take a quick dip. The same trek can also be experienced at night. This is a completely enchanted elephant experience through the dimly lit forest.

Taman Sari Temple is another trekking spot you may want to consider if you are up for rice fields view. Go for a short walk in the lush, green, terraced rice paddies to see villagers planting and harvesting rice as well as the traditional Balinese irrigation system. As you hear a numerous little birds chirping, you can absorb the greenery and freshness of the paddy fields. Continue your walk through the lush forested areas, plantations full of Balinese staples and cash crops like cloves, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, tapioca, taro, local vegetables and exotic tropical fruits. You will definitely come across some traditional craftsmen at work producing exquisite craft items tirelessly.

ubud trekking siteTegallalang Rice Terraces can also be your trekking spot. Internationally well-known for its beautiful scenes of rice paddies, involving the traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system called Subak, Tegallalang is one of the most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud region. The roadside location is cool and breezy, perfect combination for trekking. However, if you are looking for a quiet and peaceful surrounding, this is not the place to be as you will see tourists taking photos as well as numerous art kiosks and cafes near the ledge offering their ware.

The best time to trek in Ubud is the dry season. Rainy seasons make the mountains as well as the forests a dangerous place, and trekking is not recommended. Always aim to start a trek very early in the morning so that you can complete it by noon before the sun is up. Sunrise treks require you to be up all night, so a good sleep is recommended before it. You definitely need to carry sum woollen clothes since the mountains can get really windy and chilly. The sunset treks are also equally beautiful, but it is better that you come back in a car and not by walk for your safety in the dark. Ensure that you stay hydrated at all times to fight fatigue. Try the Balinese sweet coconut water to hydrate yourself.

Alternatively, you can always create your own trekking spot. Simply put on your walking shoes and start exploring the area. As a quote says, “Not all those who wander are lost”, the idea of walking around Ubud is to meet a lot of villagers, farmers, craftsmen who are very friendly and ready to interact with you. This way you can explore the Balinese lifestyle and culture very closely. At the end of the day, trekking is all about discovering places and yourself. So, be a traveller! Bring out the kid in you and plunge into trekking to see a new side of the island.

Living Life to the Fullest at Tegal Wangi Beach

Every once in a while you need a getaway vacation to relax, enjoy and see what else the world has to offer apart from your usual daily routine. The trick for the vacation is the choice of destination, be it the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean or even the remote beaches in enchanting Islands. It matters a lot where you choose to enjoy your holidays.

So there I was, riding my motorbike heading to the entrance gate of Ayana Resort and Spa Bali, about 30 minutes from the airport, and continued along the countryside road to the right. A five minute drive led me to this so called Hidden Beach with its killer view. It is originally named Tegal Wangi Beach as it is located in Tegal Wangi Street, but I guess the backpacker community who found the place changed it to whatever they wanted it to be; Hidden Beach. However, since the post signs telling the location of the beach are everywhere, I don’t think to put a label as “Hidden” would be appropriate anymore.

tegal wangi beachIt was almost 5pm when I got there, and I noticed a group of people (mostly Korean, Chinese or Japanese) lined up to take turn pre-wedding shoot in the sideline of the cliff. I parked my motorbike in this huge parking space next to Pura Segara Temple. From where I stood, I could feel the ocean breeze greeted my face, and it was a good feeling. As I waltzed closer to the cliff… magnificent view! Clear blue water with curling waves hitting the beach down there. Hiked down was the only option. Fairly terrifying for the first timer, but actually it is quite easy once you get a hold of one rock to another. Well at least for me, because after all, I was just following the path that people do to travel down.

It was a perfect day to go to the beach. Gratitude to the man up there for this lovely day. All the sudden, I was surrounded by cliffs and white clean sand. If there was no pre wedding session near me, I would be like Tom hanks being isolated in ‘Cast Away’. I mean there are spots to fish not far from the beach. There are cozy rocks to lie down. There are small caves to hide you from the rain or sun. So basically, this beach provides shelter, food, and bed. So I said to myself, “Man, I could live here.” God must have spent a little bit more time on this beach.

This semi hidden beach has two ‘ocean Jacuzzis’ facing directly to the ocean wide as if welcoming to the glorious waves. Unfortunately, these beach basins are only available during low tide. It is impossible to see them when the high tide is on. It is dangerous and I wouldn’t recommend to hangout near or even stay inside the cave as the big waves will always hit the cave and suck everything back to the ocean in seconds! I have to warn you, big waves come and go quite often. Keep alert and be prepared.

When the sun began to set behind the western of horizon, new faces were popping up at the beach. That was my cue to hike back up to the cliff. Looking back at the hidden jewel beneath me, I realized that only a small number of locals were down there at the beach. It was hard for me to comprehend the fact that this beautiful site was unknown to even the locals, such amazing facts I got to learn. I must say that this trip was definitely worth it, and it goes without saying that it is one of those places that I will never tire of. I will definitely return not for the fun part of it but for the serenity the beach offered me. I will remain myself to revisit this beach in the morning.

On my way back to the parking lot, I stumbled on an Italian couple. Quick chat led to another thing, and next thing I realized the guy quoted something that stick in my head until now. “You can be the most beautiful person in the world that everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but all of that doesn’t even matter if you don’t realize it.” Referring to what he said, I guess Tegal Wangi Beach realizes its beauty, allowing me and the visitors here something to be remembered for the rest of the day.