Bali: beyond the beaches

Seeing as I’ve now been home for nearly three weeks, it’s probably time I get my mind back on to Melbourne matters. so this post about Bali is the final one in my travel series – but there’s not a beach in sight because I thought I’d show you some of the places many visitors to the usual Ubud/Seminyak/Legian/Kuta areas in Bali don’t see. None of them are really too far off the beaten track – Bali’s pretty small so if you have a driver you can get to them within a few hours from just about anywhere on the island.

Bali Botanical Garden is a quiet place to drop into if you’re doing a road trip out of Ubud – and if you like massive ficus trees like this one…

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There are some beautiful lakes in the area (Bedugul) too – but don’t count on seeing them. The mist you can see in this photo quickly covered the whole mountainside and turned into drizzly rain when I was there.BaliLake2

What I found interesting about getting out of the better known parts of Bali is that the landscape changes completely. While Ubud is lush and green, in the Bali Barat National Park, in the west, mangroves line the coast…BaliMenjangan(and crabs dart in and out of the black rocky sand)BaliMenjangan2

… while slightly inland, the landscape could just about pass for the plains of Africa.

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And then there’s the volcanoes (this one is Batur, I think). It’s possible to climb up it but not if you just happen to be driving past, as I was. A little bit of preparation is required! Maybe next time…BaliBatur

Slightly less spectacular in terms of mountain scenery, Pemuteran is a little town on the north-west coast that is huge on friendliness (the young guy at my guest house took me up the road to meet his extended family and just chat in general). It’s actually very pretty in a quiet way…BaliPemuteran… and it’s doing its bit for marine conservation too (pity I don’t have an underwater camera as the coral and fish are mesmerising). I loved seeing the baby turtles at Reef Seen’s turtle project too – if you’re there at the right time you can even help release them into the ocean.

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From Pemuteran I went on to Candidasa, passing some gorgeous greenery and kids playing in the river in Rendang along the way…  BaliRendang BaliRendang2… and dropping in to Tirta Gangga Water Palace.

BaliTirta2BaliTirtaIt’s a small but charming former royal pleasure garden that’s rather photogenic, I think you’ll agree.
BaliTirta4BaliTirta3Last but not least – TEXTILES at Tenganan.

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You can imagine what kind of a state I was in when I entered this place…
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As I visited here on the way to the airport I only had about half an hour and my finances weren’t in such great shape either, so I only ended up buying one old songket (woven piece) for about $20. This was the first house I came to in the village and I didn’t realise there were many, many more, all full of double ikat and other traditional textiles along with other handicrafts. I could easily have spent half a day or longer here! Especially as the shop assistant was so cute…

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Actually, I would have preferred the shy little cutie as the shop assistant because the lady who did own the shop was rather persistent, and I’ve heard from other people that the shop owners in this particular village can get very pushy trying to sell things. But nevertheless, if you are looking for traditional crafts like woven textiles and rattan, this is probably the best place to find them, at least if you’re in the Candidasa area. The prices weren’t too bad either -although it is quite touristy, the prices are the same whether you’re a foreigner or a local, apparently. And as in any good traditional village, they accept credit cards 🙂 .. kind of lucky for me that I only had (a tiny amount of) cash with me!

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