BALINESE GETAWAY#1: NAPIER PRISON REUNION
Bali has been on my mind for a few years now. Often you can hear the word ‘paradise’ associated with ‘happiness’, ‘culture’, ‘peace of mind’ and ‘amazing landscapes’.
That’s why when Gina asked me to come with her to Bali, on her stopover to fly back to Germany, I cheerfully answered YES. I jumped with joy when I figured out that Selena will be coming as well: I’m going to be reunited with my Napier Girls!
I worked hard as a Kitchen Hand, then as a Banana Girl to afford the plane tickets (almost 1000$ return ticket, what a kiwi would call a good deal) and decided to enjoy this getaway fully when I booked to stay there for THREE WEEKS.
It’s so easy to fall in love with Ubud. On the way, we meet Larissa, a German girl living in Australia thanks to the Working Holiday Visa, Chrissie, and Maria, two Austrian girls backpacking South-East Asia. We soon decide to gather as a group all together with Hannah, an Irish girl met at our hostel soberly called In Da Lodge, to discover the Ubud beauties.
SWEET ORANGE WARUNG
We start by following this sign in the very heart of the city that simply says ‘Rice Field – 50m’ and we stumble upon… Wait for it. Rice fields. In the very heart of Ubud. A little café, Sweet Orange Warung is open along the way. This café serves a very tasty cuisine, made with love and vegetables from the garden and tries to help the rice field’s peasants community to preserve the place and not letting any real estate agent buying it and destroying it. As well, to help to preserve these natural fields and raising awareness about the importance of recycling and not throwing garbage everywhere, you can draw something on a coconut which will also decorate the café.
We spend a few hours there, contemplating the rice fields, attending a beautiful sunset, drinking smoothies and eating Nasi Goreng – a dish you have to try while in Bali. This is the exact moment when I fell in love with Ubud.
A SCOOTER ESCAPADE TO THE TEGENUNGAN FALLS & THE TEGALLAGANG RICE TERRACE
With our girly group, we rent scooters to explore the area. Between the ones who have an International driver licence but don’t have the two wheels stamp, the ones that have the licence and the stamp but never rode a scooter before, the ones that knows how to drive a scooter but don’t have the international driver licence, well it takes us about one hour to rent three scooters. And you have to know that cops are all around the place in Ubud, arresting tourists driving scooters and giving fines like taxi drivers yelling ‘taxi!’ –which means all the time. And well, it’s written on our faces that we’re tourists (and most of us are blondies) so, let’s not tempt fate and find a deal that will arrange everybody and avoids us to pay an expensive fine.
Our first stop is the Tegenungan Waterfalls, some amazing waterfalls in the middle of the jungle. The water here is FINALLY refreshing, and I’m swimming around like a kid.
On the way to the rice terrace, it starts to rain. Not like the little rain you generally have in Summer, no, I’m talking about heavy, pouring rain that flood the roads in no time. Balinese people are used to it, they put up their raincoats and their hoods and keep on driving their scooters. It’s true that it’s the end of Monsoon season here for in Bali there are only two seasons, the Dry season (from Mai to November/December) and the Rain season (from December to April.) Which is also the reason the landscapes are so green at this time of the year. So, as we’re not at all prepared for this rain, wearing shorts and tank tops for it’s still between 27 and 30°C in Bali, we shelter ourselves under a deco shop porch, and then a supermarket one. Once the downpour stops, we finally arrive at the Ceking Tegallalang rice terrace.
And WOOOOW. I’m speechless. Here’s the Bali I was looking for, was hoping for, was craving for. We take a walk on the terrace, like novice adventurers for we’re actually walking in the mud wearing flip flops. Well, I told we weren’t prepared at all for this. It makes me grin because it reminds me a stroll in New Zealand to get to a hidden beach, and when I figured we were going to a beach, well I was only wearing my flip flops. But the little stroll was actually a 30 minutes trek on slippery rocks, then on a sloppy and muddy trail. Man, I felt really dumb to have such little gumption. And I felt exactly the same on those rice terrace, blaming myself for being so blonde.
Anyway, besides my muddy feet, the rice terrace are gigantic, I think you could get lost out there. It’s also astonishing to see tourists like us strolling in the terrace while peasants are still working. But I think they got it smart, there are drinks and sweets huts all along the way to make a bit of money out of it. It’s the end of the afternoon, and the sun is making the water glitter. It’s really hard to explain how it looked back then. The light was just perfect, making this place looks so magical. I’m more than thrilled to be here.
We spend the evening at a lovely restaurant called Biah Biah, eating Indonesian tapas. It’s kind of expensive for a place like Bali, but the food is definitely delicious. Gina discovers a new passion, the Chicken Satay –those chicken kebabs with peanut sauce, while I’m enjoying my first Gado Gado, steamed vegetables covered with peanut sauce: a perfect delight.
SUNRISE AT MOUNT BATUR
I’m not losing my habits while in Ubud. For many, Bali means farniente, laying down on the beach for hours, just enjoying the sun and the sea. Well, that’s really not my type, I’m restless. So when I hear about this night hike on Mount Batur to witness the sun rising on Mount Agung, the sacred mountain, I’m in. It’s a bit harder to convince to other girls to come with me, for the start is at 2:00 A.M, and we’re about to hike a volcano for two hours in the middle of the night.
Yup, waking up this early was harsh on us. We then drive for an hour until a little warung to get some breakfast and pick up our picnic, and here we go again we drive again on those mountain winding roads for another hour to get to the top of the mountain around 4:00 A.M. The guides gives us flashlights, and Komang is the one taking care of us and with whom we’re going to laugh a lot. First observation: our group is only composed of girls. Second observation: I don’t they realised we’re about to hike a volcano, for some are wearing t-shirts… Okay, we’re in Bali, but anywhere in the world is the same: heights are cold and windy. Third observation: Some of them don’t even have backpacks, so Komang is carrying their picnics…
He’s funny, Komang, he tells me he’s so over hiking the mountain every day, he knows the way by heart, and that’s why he’s hiking wearing Converse and moving like a baby goat. But the job is good money, and as he says ‘No money, no honey’ or ‘No money, no Bali!’
The hiking up is hard, though. It’s really sloppy. And he’s dangling a carrot on us, Komang, by always saying there are only 15 minutes left until the top, while it’s more or less looking like there are 30-45 minutes left. When we reach the first platform, Selena decides to stop here. The view is already amazing here and she just can’t go any further, she’s exhausted. It’s tempting to sit down here and stay with her, but with Gina, we want to go on to the top. And like braves, we’re hiking on the hardest part, a huge slope made with… Sand. I almost died 42 times, falling and sliding on my back.
We reach the summit. Batur, we got you, baby. From up there, 1717 meters high, the view is unbelievable. Mount Agung is just in front of us, its brother volcano reaching 3142 meters high. Agung is a sacred mountain, symbolising the centre of the world in Hindu mythology. The sun is slowly rising, painting the sky and the clouds with pinks and oranges. We open our picnic, two slices of bread, a bit of jam, a banana, and a hard-boiled egg. We enjoy the food in silence as well as the cold fresh air. The show is stunning. The only thing that kind of ruins the experience is that the place is crowded. There are people all over the place.
On the way back, everybody’s snoring in the bus. We make a little stop in a coffee plantation for a free tasting. I don’t like coffee but the flavours are unexpected – like the strawberry coffee. There’s still some really tasty tea and it warms up my sore body.
You can read my Balinese adventures in English on Selena’s blog: SelenaInNZ
LET’S GO THERE! :
SWEET ORANGE WARUNG, Rice field, Ubud
TEGENUNGAN WATERFALLS, Kemenuh, Sukawati
CEKING TEGALLALANG RICE TERRACE, Tegallalang
IN DA LODGE, Jl. Ry. Ubud, Behind klinik Dharma Usada, Ubud
BIAH BIAH RESTAURANT, Jl. Goutama No. 13, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud