Tour de Bali – Stage 1

After chilling out in Sanur for several weeks we thought it was time we saw more of Bali than just its beaches, bars and restaurants!

Feeling more confident on the roads we rented a car for a couple of weeks and left for a tour of the island. We headed up the east coast to a fishing village called Candidasa where we stopped off for lunch. As we arrived at the water's edge one of the outrigger boats had just landed and began unloading it's catch. As the photo shows it was yet another example of the women doing all the heavy lifting and carrying!

Naturally, lunch was fish, cooked in the local style which was delicious, not that surprising given that it had probably been caught fresh that morning

Next stop was Tampak Siring water temple. Water holds a special importance for the Balinese, so much so that the former president built a house here so that he could bathe in the waters to ensure that his mind was clear to help him make the right decisions in terms of governing his people. Every day hundreds make the pilgrimage to the temple to bathe in the water. Each of the thirteen water spouts has different healing properties and the idea is to start at one end and work your way to the other taking the benefits of each spout as you work your way along. Whether it works or not is open to debate but I can confirm that the coldness of the water gives your mind and body a huge wake-up call!

Mount Agung, an active volcano which is the highest point on the island provided the next stop. Like almost everything else on the island it has huge spiritual significance with its southern slopes being home to the 'Mother Temple' of Besakih. Balinese legend has it that Agung was created when the Hindu God Pasupati split Mount Meru (the spiritual axis of the universe) and formed Mount Agung with a fragment from this

The volcano last erupted in 1963. On March 18th of that year it blew so violently that the top 100 metres or more was blown away. Lava spewed over much of eastern Bali and the resulting ash cloud swept across many villages destroying all the crops. Up to 2,000 people are believed to have been killed and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.

The fact that the temple of Besakih was relatively untouched by the eruption fuelled the local belief that spirits were to blame for the eruption and that it was a sign of further terrible things to come. They were proved right when the nation was plunged into civil crisis two years later in 1965!

Next on the list was the curiously named Git Git waterfall. The water plummets 35 metres and creates a current so strong that life jackets wouldn't go amiss for those brave or foolish enough to swim in its waters. Being the latter we took the opportunity for a swim before being told of the local legend which says that lovers should not swim in it's waters, because it will separate them. The legend doesn't give a time-limit but as yet we're still very much together!

After Git Git we headed to Bedugul which is best known for its cool temperatures, strawberries and the Botanical Gardens. After a late check-in at the unimaginatively named Strawberry Hill hotel we sat down to dinner in front of a log fire before putting our pyjamas on ready for bed, yes it really was that cold!

The next day we headed to the Botanical Gardens, home to the 'Treetops Adventure Park'. After a safety briefing and a practice run we were let loose on the course itself. The courses are graded from green to black with each more challenging both physically and mentally. We started on the orange course before progressing through the others. The courses involved lots of climbing, swinging and crawling, some of which was 12 meters above the ground. At times it felt like a cross between an army assault course and 'I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here'! I'm pleased to say we both managed the red course but declined the opportunity to do the black after watching others younger, fitter and more fearless get part way round and start wishing they'd never begun!

We then drove up to the north coast and spent the night at a 'resort' hotel that had around a hundred rooms of which only about three were occupied. It was a pretty depressing experience staying somewhere that had clearly been the victim of a downward spiral in fortunes to the point that it now has a skeleton staff who seem incapable of performing even the most basic housekeeping functions.

Early morning saw us in Lovina for a pre-dawn boat trip in search of the dolphins. Any thoughts we may have had that this was an exclusive activity were soon dashed as the sun rose and revealed dozens of other boats all doing the same thing. It soon became like something out of a Benny Hill sketch with a flotilla of boats chasing each other along the coast on rumours of a sighting of the elusive dolphin. Sadly we saw no sign of the dolphins. Clearly the intelligence they're credited with is not misplaced as they have the good sense to stay well clear!



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