06 May 2009

Jeep jaunting - day 1

On Tuesday we hired a car for 3 days so that we could see some of the sights of Bali. For our sins we have been driving around in a knackered old Suzuki jeep with more parts of the vehicle broken than actually work. All the tires are completely bald, we have no rear view mirror, the seat belts don't work and it usually takes at least 3 attempts to get either of the front doors to shut. On the plus side it is very cheap to hire, 100,000 rupiah a day (about £6.66) . . . Which is the same it costs to hire an umbrella and two loungers for the day on Kuta beach.

For our first day on the road we headed to the Bukit Peninsular, the blob at the Southern most tip of the island. Our first destination was Nusa Dua which is a gated resort made up of a handful of luxury hotels, an exhibition centre and a golf and country club. It had a slightly odd atmosphere, a little bit like a sterilised, twilight zone version of Bali. We had intended to have a bit of a nose around some of the 5 star hotels but you had to go through some over the top security to get in, including an interior and under car search. It all felt like too much trouble so we moved on to our next destination Tanjung Benoa, a 4km long sand spit that runs into the sea. We didn't hang around there too long either as the beach was a bit grubby and there were a load of boats noisily buzzing up and down the shore. Not really our idea of a tropical beach paradise!

We found a nicer beach that was more what we were looking for when we stumbled upon Geger Beach on the Southern coast of the peninsular.

We even got to find out how woeful the off road capabilities of our jeep were when a wrong turn sent us hurtling across the sand dunes and onto the beach.

Next we headed over to Ulu Watu which supposedly has one of the best surf breaks in Bali. Even though we still had our surfing sick notes we thought it would be nice to check out the beach and watch some of the more experienced surfers in action. However this proved quite difficult as the surf break was about half a mile out to sea. To make things even more difficult the view from the beach was also not particularly good as it was sandwiched into a tiny steep sided cove about 10m wide, which, to add to the fun was accessed via some wonky concrete steps.

We ended the day with a visit to Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, one of the most sacred Hindu temples in Bali. The temple is built on top of a Westward facing cliff and is legendary for its sunsets. Unfortunately it was gray and overcast the day we visited!

The jungle surrounding the temple is also home to a troupe of incredibly aggressive monkeys who would pinch anything they could get their thieving hairy little hands on. We saw them steal (and then eat) two wallets, a pair of sunglasses, a hat, an earring and a sandal. I even had one try to wrestle me for my camera bag!

As well as the temple and the mad monkeys, Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is also famous for the kecek dance which takes place every evening at sunset. The dance consists of about 50 men, stripped to the waist, who sit in a circle chanting "kecak-kecak-kecak" for an hour. Whilst this is happening about a dozen other people in masks act out scenes from the Hindu epic the Ramayana.

Even with a crib sheet detailing the plot neither of us had the foggiest idea what was going on. Still, it was strangely mesmerising. Particularly the finale where a man dressed as a giant white monkey proceeded to kick piles of burning straw into the audience! I can't see that one getting past the health and safety audit back home.

On the way back to Kuta we stopped for dinner at the fishing village of Jimbaran. The beach there is lined with restaurants that serve the catch of the day freshly BBQed over a coconut husk fire.


  1. If you have planed traveling to Bali, find first the suitable Bali hotels to your taste. Finding a hotel in Bali is really simple as there are many online travel booking system providing discount rates for most of hotels in Bali. Check them and compare the prices.

  2. Hi Liz and Si,

    I remember Jimbaran Beach in Bali, we stayed there when we went (Intercontinental Hotel). The sea-food there is fantastic. Glad to read and see you're having fun.

    Smitaa x